Outline Your Fitness Plan

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Outline Your Fitness Plan

There are four components to an effective physical fitness plan, and each should be considered when putting together your program: Cardiorespiratory, Resistance, Endurance and Flexibility

l Cardiorespiratory Endurance - the ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues, and to remove wastes, over sustained periods of time. Long runs and swims are among the methods employed in measuring this component.

l Muscular Resistance - the ability of a muscle to exert force for a brief period of time. Upper-body strength, for example, can be measured by various weight-lifting exercises.

l Muscular Endurance - the ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles, to sustain repeated contractions or to continue applying force against a fixed object. Pushups are often used to test endurance of arm and shoulder muscles.

l Flexibility - the ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion. The sit-and-reach test is a good measure of flexibility of the lower back and backs of the upper legs.

l Body Composition is often considered a component of fitness. It refers to the makeup of the body in terms of lean mass (muscle, bone, vital tissue and organs) and fat mass. An optimal ratio of fat to lean mass is an indication of fitness, and the right types of exercises will help you decrease body fat and increase or maintain muscle mass.

Your exercise program should include something from each of the four basic areas, and each day should begin with a warmup and end with a cooldown. Space your workouts throughout the week and try not to put in consecutive days of hard exercise.

l Warmup: Five to ten minutes of low-intensity exercise such as walking or general movement to get the muscles warmed up and elastic.

l Muscular resistance: Two 20-minute sessions per week of weight training is the minimum for increasing strength bone health.

l Muscular endurance: Three 30-minute sessions per week with such exercises as calisthenics, pushups, situps, pull-ups and weight training for all the major muscle groups.

l Cardiorespiratory endurance: At least three 20-minute sessions of continuous aerobic, rhythmic exercise each week, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, jumping rope, rowing, cross-country skiing, etc.

l Flexibility: Ten to fifteen minutes of slow, non-bouncing daily stretching exercises can be included in your warmup and/or cooldown.

l Cooldown: Five to ten minutes of low-intensity exercise to cool your muscles down slowly to avoid injury.