There's a lot of diverse information out there about fitness plans – and that's putting it mildly!
For one thing, exercise science is a rapidly evolving field that's learning new things about our bodies all the time. For another, fitness is a huge business, and it can seem like everyone and their uncle has a different routine that you just have to try.Given all the competing voices talking about health and fitness, looking to the Internet for information about fitness plans can feel kind of like trying to get a sip of water from Niagara Falls.
With that in mind, I'm creating a series of posts with lots of health and fitness basics to make your life easier. We started a few weeks ago with How to Choose the Right Personal Trainer for You.
Next up, it's time to start talking about how to create a fitness plan that will really work for you. With that in mind, here are the eight basic components to create your optimum health and fitness:
- Strength training: Whether you choose to work with resistance machines, free weights, or body weight exercises, strength training is literally an essential building block of optimum health and fitness. The lean muscle mass we build through strength training helps promote a healthy weight because muscle burns more calories than fat. Not only that, but strength training also promotes bone density, and there's even evidence that it helps prevent disease.
- Cardio training: Exercise that raises our heart rate for an extended block of time – vigorous walking, running, dancing, and more – strengthens our hearts and lungs. Additionally, cardio exercise can reduce stress, provides temporary relief when we're depressed, promotes brain health, and helps us sleep better.
- Nutrition: Just like you wouldn't put Regular gas into a high-performance engine, it's a bad idea to put junk into your body if you want to achieve optimum fitness. On the other hand, you can do wonders for your body just by eating the right foods!
- Flexibility: Stretching to increase our flexibility increases blood flow to our muscles – which, in turn, makes our muscles perform better. In addition, increased flexibility through stretching helps prevent injuries – which makes everything from cardio and strength training to everyday activities easier and more enjoyable.
- Balance: Good balance isn't something that just happens – just like all the other essentials of a solid fitness plan, our sense of balance needs to be trained and reinforced. In return, balance training prevents falls and other injuries that can have a hugely negative impact on our overall health and fitness.
- Stress management: Both positive and negative stress have so many impacts on our overall health and fitness that I could (and probably will) devote an entire article to the importance of stress management alone! For the moment, it's enough to say that stress management techniques are good for our heart rates, blood pressure, and immune systems.
- Posture: Proper posture does everything from preventing spinal injuries to supporting our internal organs. At the same time, most people spend the majority of our waking hours engaged in activities that are absolutely horrible for our posture – and that's why exercises to counteract the effects of these activities and improve our posture are a hugely important part of any fitness plan.
- Sleep: When we don't get enough sleep, or enough good sleep, we pay for it. Sleep is vitally important for everything from our immune systems to preventing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Looking over the eight basics that are essential to a solid fitness plan, you've probably noticed that they all work together. Proper posture, for example, makes cardio and strength training much easier. Good nutrition, other things, lets our bodies get the most possible benefit from the exercise we do. Meanwhile, exercise is a great part of any plan for stress management – while managing stress well frees up energy that, in return, allows us to enjoy our workouts.
All eight basics, put together correctly, create a fitness plan that will go a long way to keeping you healthy and fit for life. But how do you put them together? That's the topic for our next post in this series.
Looking for help to start creating and working your fitness plan right now? Here are some options:
Check out Better Living Fitness' personal trainers and consider signing up for a FREE initial consultation. Every Better Living Fitness trainer has the training and experience to help you create the right plan to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Look into the list of classes at Better Living Fitness Center and consider becoming a member. Some of our fitness classes will help you focus on just one or two of the eight basics outlined in this post, while others – notably, Full Body Fit – combines exercises to improve your strength, cardio fitness, posture, AND flexibility.
***Image courtesy Jurgen Appelo via Flickr.