The popularity of yoga pants and the rise of spornosexuals are clear indicators that a considerable percentage of the population have become obsessed with getting fit. It is also worth mentioning that the recent years have witnessed the emergence of several trademarked workout regimens and disciplines—from specialised routines such as TRX and HIIT as well as home training programs such as P90X and Insanity Max 30, to highly commercialised programs such as CrossFit and Rev-4.
Different individuals have nonetheless different preferences regarding their ideal workout habits. There is also a divide between the workout-crazed population. Some maintains the habit for aesthetic purposes while others are more inclined toward functionality. But regardless of these differences, individuals should remember that the goal of achieving physical fitness should be at the core of their workout habits.
What is physical fitness: Defining the essence of fitness
The definition of physical fitness varies. This is because individuals or groups have ascribed varying attributes or indicators that determine the “fitness” of a person. In the most general sense however, physical fitness can be defined as the capacity to display general physical skills, which include endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Moreover, it can also be defined as the capacity to perform well at any and every task imaginable.
There is also a view that considers fitness as the ability to effectively and efficiently produce and utilise energy, specifically by creating a balance on how the human body produces energy. This balance is only achievable through a thorough understanding of two types of cellular respiration: aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration.
What is cellular respiration: Aerobic respiration vs. anaerobic respiration
A cellular respiration is a specific metabolic process that occurs inside the cells of an organism. It involves the production of energy, particularly by converting biochemical energy into a usable form known as adenosine triphosphate or ATP.
Biochemical energy comes from food sources, notably nutrients such as sugar, amino acids, and fatty acids. Hence, cellular respiration is the process of converting these nutrients into ATP.
There are two types of cellular respiration: aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration. In physical fitness, these two types of cellular respiration also serve as the basis for categorising physical activities into two types: aerobic activity and anaerobic activity.
Aerobic respiration is a metabolic process in which chemical substances from food is converted into energy using oxygen. It is also worth mentioning that the word “aerobic” also refers to activities in which majority of energy requirement is produced through aerobic respiration.
Examples of an aerobic activity include running on a treadmill for 20 minutes, swimming a mile, and dancing, among others. Note that these activities usually last longer than 90 seconds. Most of the energy needed to do these activities is produced through aerobic respiration.
Sports that require training that largely involves aerobic activities include long distance running, cross-country skiing, and 1500 yard swimming among others.
Aerobic activity benefits an individual, specifically by improving its cardiovascular function and decreasing body fat. This allows him or her to engage in tasks that require low to moderate energy for a long period. However, too much aerobic activity can decrease muscle mass.
On the other hand, anaerobic respiration is a metabolic process in which chemical substances from food is converted into energy without the use of oxygen. Take note that the word “anaerobic” also refers to activities in which majority of energy requirement is produced through anaerobic respiration.
Examples of an anaerobic activity include running a 100-meter sprint, squatting, lifting weights, pull-ups, and push-ups. These activities are usually no longer than 120 seconds. Most of the energy needed to do these activities is produced through anaerobic respiration.
Sports that require training that largely involves anaerobic activities include basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, boxing, gymnastics, wrestling, weight lifting, running under one mile, and swimming events under 400 mile among others.
Anaerobic activity also improves the cardiovascular function of an individual while also help reduce fat. More than this however, this activity also helps an individual to exert tremendous force over a brief period by improving muscle mass, power, speed, and strength. Remember that a properly structured anaerobic activity also exhibits feature of an aerobic activity without the risk of losing muscle mass.
Four basic physical skills: From strength to flexibility
It is a common knowledge that physical activity results in a myriad of health benefits. As mentioned however, physical activity through exercise should have an end goal of achieving physical fitness, especially by improving and maintaining these four basic physical skills: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.
Strength is one of the four basic physical skills determined by muscle capacity. An individual who possesses this skill can easily carry his or her own weight or even carry heavy objects without assistance from others. Improving and maintaining strength generally allow a person to remain largely independent of assistance.
Activities aimed at promoting strength include all forms of strength or resistance exercises such as push-ups or weight lifting, among others.
Endurance is another basic physical skill determined by the capacity of an individual to optimise cardiovascular functions that in turn helps him or her to easily carry out different everyday physical activities. Improving and maintaining endurance thereby mean keeping the heart, lungs, and the entire circulatory system healthy.
Activities aimed at promoting endurance include brisk walking or jogging, dancing, swimming, biking, climbing stairs or hills, playing tennis, and playing basketball among others.
Balance is another one of the four basic physical skills determined by the capacity of an individual to maintain the line of gravity of a body within the base of support with minimal posture sway. Improving and maintaining balance allow a person to prevent falls or maintain stillness in different obscured bodily positions or situations. It also helps maintain or correct proper posture.
Activities aimed at promoting balance include standing on one foot, heel-to-toe walk, and other lower-body strength exercises.
Flexibility is also a basic physical skill determined by ability of an individual to perform bodily movements in different range of motions or in other words, to have more freedom of movement. Improving and maintaining flexibility allow a person to perform other physical activities without the risk of injury or pain.
Activities aimed at promoting balance include different stretching exercises such as arm stretch, calf stretch, and even yoga.
Some important points about physical fitness
Physical fitness is an important determinant and an outward or observable manifestation of health and wellness. As discussed, physical fitness can be defined as the capacity to display general physical skills, which include endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Only a healthy individual can have the capacity to demonstrate these skills.
As a field, physical fitness is broad. The concepts discussed and enumerated herein only serve as a primer. Take note that there are competing schools of thought and programs, each having its unique way of defining the concepts and determining standards.
It is important to note that individuals are unique and each has his or her requirements or needs. In the context of physical fitness, this means that there is no one size fits all, especially when it comes to choosing or designing a workout regimen or program based on a particular category of physical training.