November 2008: Making Fitness a Convenient and Lifelong Commitment

November 2008: Making Fitness a Convenient and Lifelong Commitment
Making Fitness a Convenient and Lifelong Commitment

The majority of people are aware that fitness is an important component of overall health and well-being. The President's Council of Physical Fitness defines fitness as the "ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with energy left over for enjoying leisure-time activities and meeting emergency demands [for energy]" (Fitness 1). While physical fitness directly concerns the heart, lungs and muscles, it is important to remember that physical fitness affects mental and emotional health, as well, so physical fitness is a key component for overall well-being (Fitness 2). Physical fitness programs improve health in a variety of ways - from reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke, to improving bone health and muscle strength, as well as reducing stress and anxiety and increasing psychological and cognitive well-being (Klein 5).

Many people have every intention of starting an exercise program, but intentions are not good enough. According to Janet Rankin, Ph.D., FACSM, the number one reason that people give for not exercising is having no time. However, this excuse is a rather poor one, as the most recent research shows that even 30 minutes of activity a day, five days a week, is effective for building fitness. This same research even shows that the 30 minutes do not have to be consecutive - splitting the activity up into 10 minute blocks is just as effective (Rankin 1). Another source stresses the importance of varying the activities done, stating that it is best to do resistance training of some sort at least two days a week as part of a personal fitness plan (Klein 5). Other barriers, aside from lack of time, include available opportunities for exercise, prior experiences, resources, and risk (Klein 4-5). Home Gym Fitness Equipment can eliminate some of these barriers. For instance, a home gym assures ample opportunities for exercise, while it also eliminates the need for concern over outside resources like sidewalks. Additionally, those who have had poor experiences early on, such as at a public or private gym, do not need to have the anxiety of similar experiences when they own their own fitness home gym equipment. Finally, exercising at home with home gym equipment eliminates concern over risks such as crime or poor weather.

Rankin also points out that it is essential to reward yourself for a job well-done, but make sure to tie it to the workout so that the two are inextricable. For instance, buy an MP3 player that is solely for use during the workout (Rankin 2). Similarly, a workout partner seems to motivate many people to continue working out (Rankin 1). She also points out that a workout partner will force a person to explain an absence, increasing the difficulty of simply quitting a fitness plan (Rankin 1). While many people immediately think of a walking or jogging partner, it is important to consider that many home gyms now offer separate weight stacks, making them suitable for use by multiple people at the same time. Both the BodyCraft Xpress Pro, or BodyCraft Xpress, and Powertec Workbench Multi-system, or other Powertec home gyms, offer this kind of design. As a result, nearly any style of fitness program can be completed with a partner - even from home.

Rankin adds that convenience is another component of sticking with a fitness plan. Plan a time to workout that accommodates your schedule. Bring a set of workout clothes to work, or schedule a time after work so that you do not have to finish the work day uncomfortably (Rankin 2). It is also important to remember to have patience - results will not be immediate, nor is it necessary (or even safe) to start with a program too advanced for your current level of activity (Fitness 1). Similarly, John Jakicic, Ph.D., FACSM, has done research that shows that fitness equipment at home increases the likelihood of exercising (Rankin 2). Consequently, it may be a good idea to purchase fitness equipment to use at home. Some of these types of fitness equipment are a(n) Olympic bench, Olympic weight set, Roman chair, and other pieces of a home gym. Of course, when considering fitness equipment for your home, it is essential to consider available space. Individual pieces, like an Olympic bench or Roman chair, may not be as effective at conserving space while providing a complete workout as a fitness home gym, which combines a number of fitness equipment designs into a compact unit.

Finally, creating a successful fitness plan involves ensuring that the program can be a lifelong commitment, as much a part of daily routine as getting dressed in the morning (Fitness 1). One point to consider is that the human body is designed to use 1,240 calories per day, but the average person today uses only 555 calories per day (Rankin 1). This means that the human body is designed for activity, and that fitness is a requirement throughout one's life. Diane A. Klein, Ph.D., states that exercise plans should be built around moderate activity - activity that is not so strenuous as to prevent the participant from carrying on a conversation (4). She also suggests several steps for designing a successful fitness program. First, consider the reasons for the program and see the appropriate health professional, if necessary (Klein 5). If you are over 35 or have certain health conditions or risks, it is important to consult a health professional before designing a fitness program (Fitness 1).

Next, set goals that complement the reasons for beginning the program, and write them down. Klein stresses that recording different components concerning your fitness plan will lead to greater success. In addition to aligning goals with the reasons for beginning a fitness plan, it is important to align the activities with the goals, and to ensure that those activities are activities you enjoy, especially since this is a lifelong commitment. Write the plan down and record what you do - what the activities are, how often they are done, when they are done, etc. This is essential for the next step, which is revision (Klein 5). If the plan calls for walking five days a week, but the records show that only happens three times a week, perhaps another activity is called for during the other two days.

Furthermore, research by the President's Council on Fitness shows that to maintain continuous advancement in a fitness program, a person must perform at or beyond his/her threshold (Kraemer et al. 1). This means that a person must continuously adjust and vary the exercise plan s/he has designed (Kraemer et al. 2). This also means that choices in fitness equipment should reflect the necessity of varying the types of exercises in a fitness plan. It is possible to choose a variety of smaller pieces of fitness equipment, such as a(n) Olympic bench, Olympic weight set, and Roman chair. The Olympic bench is designed for power lifting, working muscles in the upper body, while the Olympic weight set will provide various free weight exercises and the Roman chair can work the muscles of the lower back. It is also possible to choose, instead, fitness home gym equipment that combines a number of resistance training exercises. Some home gyms that provide exceptional versatility are BodyCraft Xpress, or BodyCraft Xpress Pro, and Powertec home gym equipment, such as the Powertec Workbench Multi-system.

Thus, creating a lifelong commitment to fitness is a rather easy process. While most people cite lack of time as a reason for not exercising, very little time is needed to commit to the average fitness plan. Convenience is essential to remaining committed to a fitness program; one way to accomplish this is with fitness home gym equipment. Another crucial aspect of a successful plan is record-keeping - record reasons, goals, the plan, and completion. This is especially critical in revising the plan, a vital component of continuous progression. Choosing home gym equipment that accommodates the necessity of variation is equally critical in a successful fitness plan. Once you have met all these criteria, you have all you need to make fitness a convenient and lifelong commitment.

Sources:

Fitness Fundamentals: Guidelines for Personal Exercise Programs. President's council on Physical Fitness and Sports. 26 Oct. 2008. <http://www.fitness.gov/fitness.pdf>.

Klein, Diane A. "Exercise Adherence: What Works, What Doesn't!". American College of Sports Medicine Fit Society Page. (Fall 2007). 25 Oct. 2008. <http://www.acsm.org/>.

Kraemer, William J. and Ratamess, Nicholas A. United States. President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Research Digest. Series 6, No. 3. (Sept. 2005). 26 Oct. 2008. <http://www.fitness.gov/Digest-September2005.pdf>.

Rankin, Janet. "Keeping Balance in One's Life: Act on Activity." American College of Sports Medicine Fit Society Page. (Fall 2007). 25 Oct. 2008. <http://www.acsm.org/>.

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