In recent years, the focus of fitness has become an increasingly important issue for both men and women. Physical fitness refers to a condition of good health and well being and, more specifically, the capacity to do everyday activities, including mental activities, with minimal effort. Proper nutrition and regular physical activity help you maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and burn calories. Having a strong body and staying active can also reduce your risk for a variety of diseases and illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and some types of depression. Fitness is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for those of us who are growing older or at higher risks for these or other problems.

The first step in making your lifestyle and your healthier is to find your fitness goals and establish realistic goals that are challenging but within reach. It’s not wise to set goals that are too difficult to achieve, because in the long run, you may not see results or feel like you are working at all. Your fitness goals should be challenging enough to prompt you to action, but not so challenging as to be unrealistic. Maintaining a positive attitude and making sure you are getting plenty of rest are also important aspects of working towards a fit and healthy body.

The most common question most people have is whether to work out in a gym, take a class, use fitness equipment, go for a walk, or buy fitness products. There is no one answer for this question, since each person has different fitness needs and strengths. The key thing is finding a regular physical activity you enjoy that provides good benefits for your health, such as strengthening and flexibility.

Aerobic exercises, also called cardiovascular, are the most common type of physical activity. These activities increase your heart rate, strengthen muscles, provide increased stamina, improve circulation, and burn calories and fat. To achieve maximum benefits from your workout, it’s important to vary your routine and intensity. Start slowly and gradually build up your fitness level. The fastest way to develop muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness is to start slowly, work your way up, and then gradually ease off.

Strength and Flexibility training are two additional ways to improve your physical fitness. Strength training improves your muscle endurance and builds muscle mass while flexibility improves your body’s stability. These exercises improve your range of motion, which decreases the chance of injury and discomfort during daily activities and increases your overall fitness level. Flexibility exercises are great for increasing range of motion as well, but in particular improve your hip flexor, or inner abdominal muscles. Both of these exercises can also help to reduce back pain.

A final and somewhat controversial aspect of fitness is the physical fitness test. This test measures an individual’s ability to tolerate pain and does not assess actual fitness. Rather, this type of test assesses an individual’s physical endurance level relative to their perceived exertion. This means that the test doesn’t necessarily measure how hard you’re working out, but how much you can tolerate before you experience pain. Some doctors and trainers argue that this type of test doesn’t accurately reflect actual physical fitness since it doesn’t include any activity that might reduce the participant’s ability to tolerate pain. However, if a test such as the physical fitness test is done correctly, it provides valuable information about the exercise you are doing and can help you make better decisions about your exercise regimen.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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