Moving Towards Physical Fitness

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension


Moving Towards Physical Fitness.

We all hear that we need to move more and stay physically active but in our busy lives, that can be harder than it sounds to get done each day. Also, just being physically active doesn’t mean we are physically fit. Physical Activity, Exercise and Physical fitness are not the same and sometimes we confuse them.

Physical Activity is simply moving our bodies. You don’t need special clothes or equipment to do it. You can take the stairs more often, take a short walk, clean the house or park further away in the parking lot. These activities are beneficial and we can feel better and reduce the effects of stress when we increase physical activity.

Exercise is a type of physical activity that’s more specialized. It’s something that’s done especially to make our bodies healthier and stronger. Examples are walking, jogging, lifting weights, taking an exercise class, swimming laps, or stretching.

Physical Fitness is where you’re headed once you climb the ladder of physical activity and exercise.  It’s your goal. A person who has Physical Fitness has a stronger heart and lungs, as well as muscles that are both stronger and more flexible.

The exercises that help improve your physical fitness are:

Aerobic exercises to strengthen your heart and lungs.

  • Do activities that make you breath harder, makes your heart beat faster. You should be able to talk but not sing during these activities. To get the maximum benefit do aerobic exercises 3 to 5 days a week for 30 to 60 minutes each time.

Strength building exercises to strengthen muscles.

  • Examples of strengthening exercises are lifting your own body weight by doing push ups and sit-ups. Use stretch bands to create resistance and make your muscles stronger. You can also use hand weights or household items like cans of soup or empty milk cartons filled with water to lift. To allow our muscles time to strengthen, you need to give them a day of rest between lifting exercises.

Flexibility exercise, such as yoga, to create a more flexible body.

  • You can join a class or get a video. You can also start to reach and bend more in your everyday activities. To build our flexibility we need to do these activities at least 2 to 3 times a week.

With all activities, pay attention to your body. You should not be in pain or feel strong discomfort or soreness. If you do, back off and give yourself time to rest and start back up slower. Slight soreness is okay. Listen to your body. Being physically active is a lifelong journey, you want to stay healthy not risk an injury.

Another thing to keep in mind, is that if we enjoy the activities we are more likely to continue to do the activities and more likely to improve our fitness. If you are concerned about medical or health conditions, talk with your health provider before changing or adding a new exercise to your day. They can help determine whether an exercise or activity is right for you. So, start today, not tomorrow and move more towards getting more physically fit.