I’m truly glad you’re reading this, hopefully, you’ve decided to get fit Or maybe you’re pretending to get fit by reading this article. Well, whatever your intention is, all I want you to do is to get off that couch, get out of that bed and start your fitness journey today, Get Fit! The amazing thing is to get fit you really don’t need a PhD in physiology, all it takes is understanding what fitness is all about and making effort to get started. 

Like many people in today’s society, I am very passionate about fitness and also passionate about helping others live a healthy life. In our own part of the world (Northern Nigeria)  the fitness movement is a bit low and comes with lots misconception, So at times when I talk to people about starting a fitness journey they see it as something strange and they’ll be like I can’t go out or I can’t afford all those expensive fruits and foreign vegetables. Some see it as an exciting experience but at the end, they give up due to lack of consistency and motivation. Some even feel fitness is just about losing weight, going to gym lifting weights and whatnot, but truly fitness is much more than that. In fact, you’ll have more success if you know what being fit truly feels like.

Understanding Fitness

Fitness, which some people refer to as wellness, has a lot of different meanings. You can be fit to run, fit to walk, fit to do a headstand in a yoga class, you might even look fit and not actually have much stamina, strength, flexibility, or balance, Or you can possess all those attributes but still consume junks. You just need to pick and choose which areas of fitness you want to focus on, so I’ll discuss the five key areas in fitness which might help you decide: cardio, strength, flexibility, balance, and nutrition. 

1. Cardio fitness: These are workouts that get your heart pumping and continuously work a lot of large muscles such as the arms, torso, and legs are known as cardio ( short for Cardiovascular) exercises. Cardio fitness measures how well your body can perform a rhythmic, dynamic activity at a moderate to high intensity for extended periods of time. 

There are many types of cardio workouts that you can explore to determine what is right for you, but I’d recommend that you check with your doctor first, especially if you have an existing health condition. You will want to determine where you are with your fitness level. Because for someone who is used to just sitting around and lying around, you might just start with walking, go out mornings and evening and just work this may be best. With consistent effort, you will gain more fitness and be able to do more over time! So truly determine what works best for you. So other types apart from walking are cycling, jumping, swimming, rowing, running, going up and down the stairs, stairs and using an elliptical machine, etc. All these improve your heart, lungs, blood vessels, stamina, and, to some extent, strength. 

2. Strength training: Whereas some men focus on weight training to the exclusion of all other fitness activities (you may meet a buff bodybuilder who can’t run a mile), some women shy away from lifting weights for fear of looking like that buff bodybuilder. But, let’s face it: Putting everything else aside, life is easier when you’re strong.  Carrying groceries? One trip. Children to carry? No problem. Things getting stuck? Push it out with ease. 

Unfortunately, Strength Training is still widely viewed as an exercise primarily for bodybuilders and athletes. As a result, key groups of people neglect to perform this rewarding activity, including those who need it most (women, seniors over 85, and people with obesity are among those most at risk of not strength training). Once you’ve gotten past the stigma that strength training is “only” for bodybuilders, you might resist it because you think it’s repetitive or boring. One thing is certain—strength training need not be monotonous, and if you incorporate several different types of activity, your fitness will progress faster and you’ll have a lot more fun doing it. Strength training is anything but boring!

Is there anyone who SHOULDN’T strength train? I did a lot of research on this one, because I wanted to find a single group of people who should not strength train.  I even found studies on how strength training can be beneficial for paraplegics.  Not to mention it can be safe for children, adolescents, and pregnant women.  Obviously, you should take a break from strength training if you’re injured, and always check with your doctor before you start any sort of strength training program, but it’s natural for us, as humans, to move around and carry things. Just to give you a quick list of the types: Hip Extension (Glute Bridges/Hip Thrusts), Planks, Pushups, Squats, Tricep Dips, mountain climbing, pilates. etc.

3. Flexibility: Unlike cardio exercise and strength training, flexibility training (stretching ) doesn’t get any glory in the fitness world. Most people skip stretching altogether or do a few cursory toe touches and call it a day. That’s because the benefits of stretching your muscles and joints aren’t immediately obvious; being flexible doesn’t make you slender or buff or able to outrun your teenager. As as you age, your joints become less mobile, so you’d be wondering, why bother stretching? 

Well, flexibility training helps keep the body fit and healthy and makes exercise interesting. It stretches your muscles and can help your body stay flexible. These exercises may not improve your endurance or strength, but being flexible gives you more freedom of movement for other exercises as well as for your everyday activities. It may also help you avoid discomfort when confined in a space for a long period of time (like a long meeting, traveling in a car or a plane flight).

Some examples of Flexibility Exercises are: Lunge with a spinal twist, standing hamstring stretch, Tricep stretch, figure four stretch, frog stretch, butterfly stretch, etc. Just go for Yoga exercises.

4.  Balance: If flexibility is the forgotten stepchild of fitness, then the balance is the ignored third cousin. But like flexibility, balance is an aspect of fitness that’s important when you’re young and absolutely essential when you’re not. A good sense of balance helps you move more fluidly and prevents unnecessary falls. Even if you have no aspirations to become a tightrope walker, doing the basic balance moves should be more than enough to help you maintain your sense of balance.

Balance exercises improve your ability to control and stabilize your body’s position. This type of exercise is particularly important for older adults because as you age, your ability to know where you are in space, called proprioception, gets worse, which contributes to a decline in balance. They can also benefit those who are obese since weight is not always carried or distributed evenly throughout the body. A loss of balance can occur when standing or moving suddenly. Often we are not fully aware that we may have weak balance until we try balance exercises. So Yoga is perfect for this.

5. Nutrition: I’m not a nutritionist, so I’d definitely not dive deep into this. But when you make wise food choices, you have more energy to exercise, and you recover more quickly from your workouts. And of course, cleaning up your eating habits is the key to losing weight and staying fit. But when you’re faced with conflicting research reports and sneaky marketing tactics by food manufacturers, making good choices is tough. Just make sure you eat clean and healthy.

Some Benefits of Fitness

1. Weight Loss: It is no secret that exercise can help with weight loss. Combined with a great diet of lots of fruits and vegetables, cardio workouts can provide weight loss results quickly. Cardio, especially on the intense variety, can burn a lot of calories and help you lose weight fast. But make sure you add in some resistance training to retain and maybe even increase your lean muscle. The Key is Consistency.

2. It Increases your Bone Density: When our muscles are strong, it provides support to our bones and therefore, helps to increase bone density, build bones and keep them strong, but if you have broken a bone due to osteoporosis or suffer from osteoporosis, you may need to avoid high-impact exercises.

3. Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease and Lower Blood Pressure: Your heart is a muscle and needs to be worked just like your other muscles. Workouts can provide the much-needed health to your heart, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease while strengthening your lung capacity. Cardio workouts help the heart to work more efficiently, positively affecting overall body health.

4. Reduce Effects of Diabetes: In diabetic patients, regular physical activity affects the body’s ability to use insulin to control glucose levels in the blood — thus working as a natural treatment for diabetes. It is through a consistent exercise that, when combined with other lifestyle modifications such as proper nutrition, etc, it can provide dramatic results and health benefits.

5. Reduces Stress & Depression, and Boosts Self-Esteem: Exercise decreases our stress levels by releasing endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Exercise also helps to provide better sleep, which decreases stress levels and provides more energy. Like you feel so confident and really strong.

So, you need to clarify why you want to improve your fitness. Maybe heart disease runs in your family, and you want to avoid carrying on that tradition. Maybe your kids, or grandkids, run you ragged. Maybe you’re tired of spending money on new and bigger clothing every year. Whatever the reason, make sure you’re doing this for yourself — not simply to please people or to attempt to match your high- school-era Facebook photo.  Next, you need to set concrete fitness goals. All the best! Thank you for reading through.