Ask people to define fitness and you might be surprised to find that this one word means a number of things. To a young person, fitness is something that older people have to worry about. To an older person, it might be something that they think only a younger person has to deal with. It is sad that children need to be reminded to think about fitness, but that is a fact of life these days. Fitness, as defined by the dictionary, is “being physically fit”- which can be further defined as the absence of chronic or acute illnesses. From children to older adults, it is important that everyone does something to work toward physical fitness.There are several aspects of fitness, including physical, mental and emotional. Each of these aspects can work toward helping or hindering the others. If you are having an emotional upset one day, for instance, you may find yourself eating too much or not being able to exercise at all. Or you could find yourself not being able to eat at all and exercising too much because of your emotions. Maybe you are trying to work out a serious problem and you take a walk to clear your head. As you keep thinking about the problem, you walk farther and farther until the answer finally comes to you. When fitness from every angle comes together, it is a beautiful thing. When one aspect of fitness is off, it can throw the whole body off and may cause illness.The Two Major Steps Toward FitnessWhen a baby learns to walk, he starts off by taking one wobbly, unsure-of-himself step forward. When someone starts working toward fitness, there are two steps to take. The first is eating correctly, and the second is getting exercise. These two steps work hand in hand with one another- after all, what good is a four-mile run if you are going to live on greasy cheeseburgers and fries every day? You can’t chug a cola on the way to the gym and consider yourself healthy. It would be the same as heading down to an AA meeting with a beer in hand or going to your cardiologist after eating a pound of bacon.
Making small changes a little at a time in both your eating and your physical activity can be easier to handle and therefore more successful than trying to overhaul both completely at one time. You can’t get up off the couch one day and trot off for a marathon and you certainly can’t go from eating all of the wrong foods to making better choices in one day, either.Learning About Proper NutritionBefore you can make any changes to your diet, it is important for you to understand what makes a good diet. You do not need to pull up any of the fad diets – the dangerous, ineffective and only developed to sell a few books kind of things you learn about on infomercials. A healthy diet is one that includes all of the food groups in the right amounts so that you get a full array of the vitamins and minerals that you need. All foods, even the bad choices, are made of micronutrients and macronutrients. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that we need; the macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It is important to know that all three of these are vitally important to a healthy diet.CarbohydratesLong thought to be the worst thing you could possibly have in your diet, complex carbohydrates are actually very healthy and necessary. The brain, the most complex and mysterious organ in the body, will accept energy that is generated from carbohydrates.FatsFor many dieters and best selling diet plans, the word ‘fats’ was the absolute worst four-letter word ever heard. Trying to eliminate all sources of fat from the diet proved to be not only virtually impossible but also foolhardy. The body actually needs healthy fats, including monounsaturated fats and fats that contain Omega 3 and Omega 6.ProteinJust like carbohydrates can be found in both good and bad foods, proteins have lean, healthy versions as well as fatty and high calorie versions. In addition, you can choose your protein from the plant world and the animal world.There are also a number of protein supplements and snacks that can be used as a meal replacement or between meals. There are even versions that are perfect for use for children who have a different nutritional profile than adults do.Learning About Safe and Effective Physical FitnessWhen a doctor, friend or family member suggests that you start taking better care of your fitness or that you should get some exercise, they are not saying that you should achieve an Olympics-ready body within a week. It is important to start slowly and to progress as you go, adding more time, more reps or more challenges as your body gets accustomed to your workout routine. If you are new to exercise, it is important to start slowly and learn proper form for whatever you plan to do. If you want to lift weights for instance, you must do so correctly or you will injure yourself.
For a beginner, great exercise choices include swimming, walking and light stretching. Adding in weights to your in-pool workout when you are more advanced keeps your fitness moving in the right direction. Most experts agree that you should get at least some physical activity every day, even if you have to strive for ten minute burst of physical activity throughout the day. If you can get a full 30 to 40 minutes in though, you may actually get more exercise by default.In addition to using “real” exercise, you can also sneak in other exercise as you go, especially if you are trying to get the lazy ones in your family to move around a little bit. Park a little farther away when you go to the store, or park your car in a central location for all of your errands and walk the whole time. If you are a big fan of gadgets, use a pedometer so that you can get an idea of how much you are really moving throughout the day and set goals that you can actually accomplish.