Being fit is a goal many people have yet most struggle to define what it is. In a general sense, fitness is the ability to complete all the tasks you need throughout the day and still have energy left. In reality, fitness can mean many things such as being able to swim fifty laps, run five miles, or play five sets of tennis. But if fitness is so broad, how do we know what it is and why is it so important?
What is aerobic fitness?
Also known as cardiovascular fitness, aerobic fitness is the form of fitness most people think of when they talk about fitness. Aerobic fitness relates to your lung capacity and your ability to perform tasks that increase your rate of breathing and heart rate. If you consider that fitness is your ability to complete daily tasks with ease, you can begin to see how 'being fit' is about your body's ability to cope with the physical demands you put on it. That's great but what does it have to do with my health? I hear you ask. Read on and I'll explain.
Why aerobic fitness is so important
As you are probably starting to realize, fitness runs on a continuum. At one end are people with very little to no aerobic capacity to the point that getting out of bed is a struggle, while at the other end is a group of extremely fit people and professional athletes who train for hours each day. Although most people say they want to be fit, in most cases, people simply want to get through the day without collapsing into bed the second they get home from work. Being physically fit brings peace of mind, knowing that you can complete all your daily tasks and still have energy to spare should something else arise.
The current recommendations for good health suggest thirty minutes of exercise per day to improve your fitness and your health. Any exercise is beneficial but aerobic (or cardio) based exercise that raises your heart rate and increases your breathing are the best choices. Activities such as walking, running, dancing, swimming, cycling, rowing, and skating are just some of the choices you have. If you're just starting out, don't be to scared by the recommendation of thirty minutes. Three bursts of ten minutes, two lots of fifteen minutes or even six bursts of five minutes will all help to improve your health and fitness. The key is to find the exercise and time to suit you.
Benefits of aerobic fitness
Being aerobically fit offers more benefits than just helping you get through your day. Some of the many benefits you can experience from regular exercise include:
- reducing your risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke
- reduced stress levels and a better ability to cope with the stress you face
- better control over medical conditions and the opportunity to cut your medication
- increased energy levels
- the ability to handle and cope with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
- better sleep pattern and more sound sleep
- improved body image and self-esteem
As you can see, fitness is more than athletic ability. Being fit enough to get through your day has many benefits, not just for your health but your well-being as well. If you're finding it a struggle to do everything you need to do, it may be time to add some exercise to your day. Improving your health is something we all should do and thirty minutes a day is a small price to pay for some big improvements.