We know that the road to reaching any goal starts with a step. And, when it comes to your personal fitness, your first step may be on a walking path, along a beach, on a treadmill, or even standing in place. As long as you’re using your own energy to move—whether running, walking, swimming, kickboxing, or riding a bike—you are on the road to fitness.
And, making small, incremental changes in your daily habits can help you become healthier, stronger, and help you stay more active as you age.
Four for Fitness
Being fit involves four key factors – it encompasses your aerobic capacity (endurance), strength, balance, and flexibility. The National Institutes of Health has developed a fitness program that focuses on these four key areas.
- Endurance activities increase your breathing and heart rate. Also known as aerobic or cardio exercise. Endurance activity improves the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system and can delay or prevent many diseases. Endurance activities include walking, biking, running, dancing, swimming, and climbing stairs.
- Strength exercises work all the major muscle groups - legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. Strengthening activities include weights, circuit training, using resistance bands, swimming, calisthenic and mat exercises.
- Balance (agility) exercises are important because they help stabilize core muscles, improving balance. Good balance and agility tend to deteriorate with age, so it’s important to maintain and improve good balance in order to prevent falls and broken bones. Exercises to improve balance include Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates.
- Flexibility and stretching exercises can help your body stay limber and give you more freedom of movement. Flexibility activities include yoga and stretching exercises.
Many exercises help with more than one of these categories. For instance, strengthening exercises performed in a circuit (also known as interval training) will also provide endurance (or cardio) exercise.
The Benefits of Being Fit
Regular physical activity can produce long-term health benefits by helping to:
- Prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke (the three leading health-related causes of death)
- Control weight
- Strengthen your muscles
- Reduce body fat
- Promote joint development
- Strengthen bones
- Condition heart and lungs
- Build overall strength and endurance
- Improve sleep
- Decrease potential of becoming depressed
- Increase your energy and self-esteem
- Relieve stress
- Increase your chances of living longer
See National Institutes of Health for more information.
Tips & Resources - Built to Move
Even if you spend long hours in a sedentary job, there are ways to improve your fitness.
One solution is simply to move more often:
- - Stand while at your desk.
- - Pace while on a conference call.
- - Take the long route to the coffee pot.
Making small, incremental changes in your daily habits achieves results. A good place to start is with your annual checkup. Always consult your physician before starting a new program. Your benefits through the Medical Trust include an annual physical for a $0 copay.
Physically active adults are healthier and less likely to develop many chronic diseases. Recommendations from health.gov for adults include the following:
- - Avoid inactivity – Stand or walk whenever you can throughout the day
- - Do aerobic/endurance activities – 150 min/week at moderate intensity (such as brisk walking) or 75 min/week at vigorous intensity ( such as jogging, swimming laps) in at least 10-minute episodes.
- - Strengthen muscles – Do exercises that work your muscles at least twice weekly, such as weight lifting, resistance bands.
Health benefits are offered through plans maintained by Church Pension Group Services Corporation (doing business as The Episcopal Church Medical Trust), 19 East 34th Street, New York, NY 10016.
This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional with any questions about personal healthcare status and prior to making changes in approaches to diet and exercise. This material is not a guarantee of coverage under any Episcopal Church Medical Trust health plan.
Unless otherwise noted, websites referenced herein that are outside the www.cpg.org domain are not associated with The Church Pension Fund and its affiliates (collectively, the Church Pension Group) and the Church Pension Group is not responsible for the content of any such websites.