1) Aerobic fitness: Aerobic activities condition your heart and lungs. Aerobic means “with oxygen.” The purpose of aerobic conditioning is to increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles, which allows them to work longer. Any activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it up for an extended period of time will improve your aerobic conditioning.
2) Muscle strengthening: Stronger muscles can mean either more powerful muscles that can do bigger jobs (such as lifting heavier weights) or muscles that will work longer before becoming exhausted (endurance). Weight training (aka resistance training) or simple body weight based exercises such as push-ups are two examples of ways to focus on muscle strengthening.
3) Flexibility: Like aerobic fitness and muscle strengthening, flexibility is a result of physical activity. Flexibility comes from stretching. Your muscles are repeatedly shortened when they are used, especially when exercising. They need to be slowly and regularly stretched to counteract the repeated shortening that happens through other activities.
Understanding the differences between the three types of fitness will help you set your fitness goals. Reaching a balance between the three is important, because they affect each other and each contributes to total fitness. Some physical activities involve more than one kind of fitness. Some activities that are thought of as aerobic exercise, for example, also strengthen muscles (i.e. cycling and skiing).
Should I do upper and lower body strength training in separate workout sessions?
There’s no need to choose between legs/glutes and arms/back on a single strength day; you can incorporate all muscle groups into your routine without risking injury, as long as you don’t overdo the amount of weight/resistance or the number of sets and reps. In fact, full body workouts are a great use of limited time, since you’ll get in the maximum amount of muscle-building. Just be sure to take time — about one to two days — between workouts to allow your muscles time to recover. If you would prefer to focus on one area of the body (either lower or upper body), remember to switch the next time you strength train.
As humans we are constantly growing and learning. It’s important to realize that in life – and living – there is no failure, only feedback. At some point in your life, when it comes to achieving your health and fitness goals, you will get off track, get lost, have a setback and lose motivation. This is completely normal. The real question is what are you going to do about it?
- Remind yourself of a growth mindset. Every fall and failure can be a lesson moving forward. What can you take away from setbacks? What can you learn?
- Take a 5 minute action to get back on track (book a gym session, make a shopping list). After recognizing that you have hit a road block, it’s important to take time to reflect on what that means and what you can do to get back on track and move forward. Make one small decision – take one small action – to help you get back on track.
- Change your learning environment to reduce distractions and improve your focus. It may be that you didn’t fail, but rather your original plan didn’t consider your environment (lifestyle, work-life balance, obligations, etc.). Set yourself up for a success and make a plan that suits your needs. Don’t try to adopt a plan that requires you to make more changes than is practical.
- Get support to move forward. Having a support system (friends and family) that supports you on your journey is key to success.
- Learn from what happened. Learn, reflect and move on.
From an early age we are taught that we can do and be anything we want (with some obvious exceptions). At what point do we stop believing that anything is possible? At what point do we stop aspiring for more? Identify what motivates you and grab a hold of it. When it comes to your health and fitness, you can achieve greatness! So, what motivates you?
When you’ve been training for a while and have noticed little to no progress in weight loss (or strength gains), you have likely reached what we call a plateau.
This means that your body has become too used to the activities and/or exercises you have been doing in order to lose weight. In order to overcome the plateau, it’s important to challenge your body with new exercises or to increase intensity/difficulty of your regular exercises.
If you like to run or walk, for instance, you may want to consider increasing your speed every two minutes to increase your heart rate even more. For example, walk two minutes, run two minutes and repeat for 20-30 minutes. For runners, run two minutes at your normal speed then sprint for one minute and repeat for 20-30 minutes.
Have you ever wondered how you weren’t losing weight, when you were eating ‘healthy’? You may not realize it, but there are often more hidden calories in certain foods and beverages than people are aware of. As an example, consider a chicken salad, this meal is full of protein (chicken), micronutrients (salad, vegetables) and healthy fats (avocado, nuts) – so would this not be a smart healthy choice for someone looking to lose weight? It sounds like it would be, but with this salad, you may also be consuming more dressing than you would have necessarily needed. Additionally, you may be drinking a cappuccino with your salad – adding an extra 200+ calories
Some hidden calories to watch out for are:
- Olive oils (approximately 60 calories in 1 tablespoon)
- Alcohol (approximately 154 calories in 1 can of beer)
- Sauces (approximately 100 calories per 100ml)