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Components of a Fitness Plan
By Dan DeFigio   View more articles by this author
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August 14
So you've set some goals for yourself, and you've committed to start taking better care of yourself. Maybe you want to lose twenty pounds, or try the half-marathon this year. Or perhaps you received a disturbing medical report from your doctor's office. In any case, you realize that regular exercise and better nutrition have to become a part of your weekly routine.
So now what?
Let's talk about some of the basic components of a health and fitness program, so you know where to spend your time and effort.
1. Nutrition
Nutrition is the very foundation of our health. We can't make our own food like plants can, so the old adage of "you are what you eat" is exactly right. Any exercise or diet program is only as good as the nutrients you put into your body. You can never have true health and wellness without a good diet. My next education article will cover some of the most important concepts of healthy eating:
* Why you should eat often.
* How much protein?
* Getting enough vegetables and fruits.
* Why diets don't work.
2. Cardiorespiratory Exercise
The cardiovascular system (your heart, lungs, and circulatory system) supplies the body with oxygen. Good cardiorespiratory health drastically lowers your chances of heart disease or stroke. There is also evidence that cardiovascular exercise raises HDL (good) cholesterol, and may prevent Alzheimer's disease, type-2 diabetes, and even some cancers. Aerobic exercise trains the cardiovascular system, and it is also the primary way to burn extra calories. 
Aerobic exercise is defined as a repetitive physical activity of sustained duration that elevates the heart rate to at least 50% or 60% of its predicted maximum. Examples include walking, jogging, swimming, elliptical machine, cycling, etc.
How much cardio exercise should you do? The basic recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association are:
* Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
* Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week.
"Moderate-intensity physical activity" means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. It should be noted that to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary. The 30-minute recommendation is for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease.
3. Muscular System
In this category, I lump together all the muscular system variables, such as strength, posture, flexibility, and muscular endurance. The type of muscular training that you do will depend on your goals and your needs. For most people interested in general health and weight loss, basic weight training combined with basic flexibility training will be indicated. This will typically include eight to ten different strength-training exercises, 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, two or three times per week.
For general health and conditioning, the best types of strength training exercises to perform are those that use large muscle groups, with multiple body parts moving at the same time. Examples would be squats, rows, deadlifts, and pushups.
It is important to perform these exercises correctly and carefully, especially if you have any pre-existing orthopedic or medical conditions. In order to find the types of exercises that will be best for you, and to select the variations and appropriate levels of difficulty for your individual situation, it is suggested that you consult with a qualified personal training professional.
4. Attitude and Perception
If you keep telling yourself that your life and circumstances are difficult, oppressive, or hopeless, that is exactly what you will get. Positive energy breeds positive results. Negativity brings more negativity and frustration. Constant stress wreaks havoc on your system and stalls your progress. Work with your personal trainer or workout partner to set some realistic and attainable goals, and be sure to discuss how you define success. No one can solve your problems except you. Things can only be as good as you will allow them to be!


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Comment by eagle29
14 Mar 2012 04:16 AM
i dont like your article. I dont think I can implement any of your suggestion as harsh as you make it sound.
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