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The 3 Pillars Of Fitness

Sheela Nambiar The Hindu 2017-07-11 16:42:37

  When your doctor asks you to exercise, you will probably look at walking or yoga or ‘gym-ing’. These are all forms of exercise that will help you build the three main pillars of fitness: stamina, flexibility and strength, respectively. And it is good to add all three to your exercise programme.

Now, to check whether what you’re doing helps you build all these three pillars.

1. Stamina

  In order to increase your heart health, cardiovascular exercises or ‘cardio’, like walking, running, swimming, cycling, aerobic dance, are all beneficial. Walking is obviously the most accessible, as there is minimal impact and therefore less stress on the joints. It can be very easily amped up by speed-walking or increasing the incline.

2. Strength

  This primarily involves the muscular-skeletal system. You may ask at this point: Don’t walking and running also use the muscular system? Yes, they do. But the primary focus of those activities is to challenge the heart and lungs. In strength training however, the primary focus is the muscle.

  Using your own body weight and/or external weights to challenge individual and groups of muscles is essential to build both quality and quantity of muscle. As we age, muscles deteriorate with disuse, and there are several benefits to increasing your muscle mass.

  Strength training gives your metabolism a boost and increases your body’s ability to burn fat. It also builds bones, protecting you against osteoporosis. It increases the strength of the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the joints, so they can buffer impact, thereby protecting joints. You’re sure to develop good posture and stay injury-free. In a line: you’ll have a better-looking, stronger and better-functioning body. Include weight training twice or thrice a week, addressing all the muscles in the body. Each muscle needs to be addressed at least twice a week.

3. Flexibility

  Our muscles are inherently elastic, allowing them to stretch as we perform a daily activity. If you watch children sit, stand, twist and play, you will understand just how capable our bodies are. As we age, we lose this ability to use our bodies optimally, and if we don’t sustain the flexibility and strength of muscles, they tend to become less flexible and weak, making simple movements difficult and fraught with pain.

  Flexibility is improved with yoga or simple stretches. If done every day, even for 15 minutes, these help keep muscles supple. Better posture, fewer aches and pains, a lower propensity to injury, graceful movements and functionality are the benefits. In addition, if you work with a trainer or physiotherapist, muscle imbalance, which is the result of unequal strength and flexibility between opposing muscles, can be taken care of.