Nolan Ryan Fitness Guide: Benefits of Physical Activity (page 2)
WHY GET FIT?
NOLAN RYAN ON FITNESS BENEFITS
"Being active not only helps you feel good physically, but it gives you time to yourself to sort through your schedule and prepare for the pressures of your day. The better you feel about yourself, the more productive you can be — at work and at play."
No one would argue the value of fitness to overall health. But "being fit" means different things to different people. To the professional athlete, physical conditioning is the vital link to staying in the game. To most people, its more a matter of meeting the demands of everyday life without getting overly tired — and handling the occasional fastball thrown your way.
The health benefits of physical fitness are both physical and mental, lowering your risk for many diseases, while helping to increase longevity and improve your self-esteem and ability to manage stress. Youll be more productive and safe at work, and better equipped to hit home runs when theyre needed.
WHAT IS FITNESS?
There are several components to overall physical fitness. The primary building blocks are cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility. Other factors include your muscle-to-fat ratio (body composition), agility, sense of balance, and reaction time (especially important for sports).
The most beneficial program for overall fitness is one that addresses each of the primary fitness components:
- aerobics for cardiorespiratory function
- strength training and conditioning for muscular strength and endurance
- stretching for improved flexibility
If that sounds like too much to handle, don't despair. You don't have to do it all every day, and every bit you do, helps. Just start slowly, and build gradually. Commitment is a must, but if you think fitness requires lots of time and grueling workout sessions, you haven't heard the good news...
WHAT CAN BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE DO FOR YOU?
Here are some of the specific health benefits of regular physical activity:
Heart Health: Can cut the risk of heart disease almost in half, and also may help prevent major risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
Cholesterol Control: Can improve blood cholesterol profiles by raising HDL levels (good cholesterol) and lowering triglycerides, another fat carried in the blood.
Muscling out Fat: Improves the bodys muscle-to-fat ratio by building or preserving muscle mass, which, in turn, increases calorie-burning efficiency to reduce body fat.
Bone Support: Seems to slow the bone loss associated with advancing age a major cause of fractures in later life.
Insulin Enhancement: Enables the body to use insulin more efficiently, helping to control adult-onset diabetes.
Cancer Check: By combating obesity, appears to lower the risk of certain cancers, particularly cancers of the breast, colon and uterus.
Aerobic Improvement: Slows the decline in aerobic capacity (the maximum volume of oxygen the body can consume) that is associated with aging, helping to improve cardiorespiratory health.
Weight Control: When combined with proper nutrition, can help control weight and prevent obesity, a major risk factor for many diseases.
Attitude Adjustment: Reduces anxiety and depression, improves self-esteem, and helps you better manage stress.
MAKING ACTIVITY EASY
Our understanding of fitness has evolved since the fitness craze first took hold. Scientific evidence now clearly indicates that regular moderate-intensity physical activity offers many of the health benefits traditionally associated with more intense exercise.
Based on this evidence, a panel of health and fitness experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, has urged Americans to lead more active lifestyles in general. The minimum goal for all Americans: to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity over the course of the day, for most days of the week.
Moderate-intensity activity includes many of the things you may already be doing during a day or week: walking the dog, raking leaves, playing with the kids, even housework (it may not be fun, but chores, such as vacuuming, can be a workout). For many people, being more active may simply mean taking advantage of or creating opportunities for activity.
For example, walking to work even if it means parking the car farther away than is typical can help you accumulate active time. So can foregoing the elevator for the stairs, gardening or mowing the lawn with a push mower, or doing other things that can give you a workout. The point is not to make physical activity an unwelcome chore, but to seize the opportunities you have and make the most of them.
Of course, if your job or sport requires a higher level of fitness for success, you will need to condition yourself appropriately. In other words, train to meet the specific demands of your lifestyle.
There's really no mystery to fitness. And though there may be barriers, there are also solutions. (See sidebar.) Once you commit yourself, the barriers to fitness will be easily surmountable, and the rewards of better living will be yours.
"The minimum goal for all Americans: accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity over the course of the day, for most days of the week."
Reprinted with the permission of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
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