Fitness and Health: Intro to Staying Fit
Whipping yourself into great physical shape is no easy task, anyone who has tried can attest to that. Perhaps even more difficult a task is staying fit once you have reached your fitness goals. While a difficult task, it clearly is not impossible; the key to success lies in being aware of your body and adjusting to its changing needs. A successful maintenance plan requires attention in two key areas: Physical Activity and Diet.
The key to becoming or staying fit lies in a program rooted in sound and effective physical activity. In fact, it is so important, plan to make time for physical activity each and every day. The benefits of daily physical activity list into the hundreds, if not thousands, and include: managing weight, blood pressure and cholesterol; normalizing heart rate and decreasing stress levels; and improving mental and emotional well being.
The specific types of physical activity are a little less important than ensuring that you engage in physical activity, however, a few tips to keep in mind include:
- Exercise everyday
- Include a mix of low intensity and high intensity workouts (low intensity: roughly 60 minutes, burns fat; high intensity, roughly 30 minutes, burns calories and speeds up metabolism)
- Exercise can include gym workouts and running, but brisk walks, tennis or even playing with your kids are viable options.
If physical activity is tool that whips you into shape, your diet is the secret weapon that ensures your body is growing and repairing itself properly. To stay fit, physical activity and diet work hand in hand. In fact, the two, when implemented correctly, create a powerful synergistic reaction. Each one is effective in helping your overall health and fitness level, but when used together, the results are very powerful.
As you increase your fitness level, your nutritional requirements change. In fact, many people tend to stick to the same nutritional program used when trying to lose weight or get into shape, doing so can lead to frustration and poor results. As you exercise, your body uses body fat to fuel the increase call for calories.
Overtime, this increase in caloric requirements results in the loss of body fat. However, as you become more fit, your body also builds more muscle; this requires more calories to sustain and nourish the body. So, while it may seem counterproductive, staying fit often requires you to actually increase the number of calories you eat each day. This doesn’t mean you can add these calories through any type of foods you want, rather through following a plan that ensures you are ingesting roughly one gram of protein for each pound of body weight, then adjusting your caloric requirements to include healthy carbohydrates such as wholegrains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Great, on the go sources of protein include hard-boiled eggs, cheese and lean meats.
The most important aspect of your diet when staying fit is to ensure you are eating the right amount of calories, from the right sources (protein and complex carbohydrates), at the right time. The most counterproductive thing you can do is deprive yourself of the calories you need to keep your body building muscle and burning calories.