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Exercising for Total Fitness

A comprehensive exercise program will consider all of the components of physical fitness: cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition.

There are many different combinations that can be used to assure that all physical fitness are adequately developed. For example, some people may desire a weight training program combined with an aerobic workout each session, while others may engage in strength training one day, and then aerobic training the next. Some may prefer a daily walking program supplemented with flexibility and muscular endurance calisthenics.

The aerobic exercise session has several components:

* For the warm-up, emphasize slow aerobic activity, preferably the aerobic activity that will be utilized in the workout session. This will provide a cardiovascular and neuromuscular rehearsal for the aerobic session itself. Flexibility exercises are best conducted when the body is warm following the aerobic session.

* Have your exercise leader help you to determine the appropriate F.I.T. criteria based on your fitness test results. Plus be sure to ask how to measure your training heart rate.

* Warming down helps the body through the transition from hard aerobic exercise to rest, especially for those who are engaging in high-intensity exercise.

For the development of joint and muscle flexibility, review the principles emphasizing the importance of stretching the muscles utilized in the aerobic session. Have your exercise leader help you in selecting at least four to six different stretching exercises, and practice two to three repetitions of each, sustaining the stretched position for 10 to 30 seconds.

For resistance training have your exercise leader help you in developing a program based on your personal goals and fitness test results. Remember that a minimum weight training program, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, involves at least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of eight to 10 different exercises conducted two days per week. There are many different weight training regimens, and this stage of the exercise prescription should be highly individualized to meet your needs. Weightlifting focuses on five different variables (repetitions to fatigue, sets, rest between sets, order of exercises, and type of exercise), and these can be manipulated according to specific goals. Some people may prefer a calisthenics program while others may center their entire exercise program around this component of physical fitness.

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