Once a fitness routine is firmly established, what can we do to ensure that we get the most out of it? Ideally, we want a routine that allows us to crush our goals and simultaneously doesn’t neglect any of the other components of fitness. It all comes down to prioritization of the things you need to do and those you want to do.
There are five main components of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, mobility, and body composition. A good fitness routine should look to address all of these in some way. A weight training routine that incorporates all the major muscle groups will develop muscular strength and endurance and promote healthy joint mobility. Aerobic activity, such as jogging, cycling, running, or swimming, will keep our cardiovascular system healthy. Regular physical activity and healthy eating habits with an appropriate balance of calories burnt vs calories eaten will promote a body composition associated with a lower risk of health concerns.
So it’s clear that we should be doing a little bit of everything for the long term maintenance of our physical health, but we only have so much time and so much energy. So how do we achieve that perfect balance for ourselves? It depends, but we can start by asking the following questions.
- What needs to improve?
Think about your fitness level. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you dealing with any injuries or mobility restrictions? Looking to improve areas of weakness is important for the long-term maintenance of your overall physical health.
Tip: If you want to get a good picture of your overall fitness level, consider meeting with a personal trainer for a fitness assessment.
- What are my goals?
There may be some overlap between this section and the previous one; or you might have some specific goals based on your interests. If there are certain things that you want to achieve, try to tailor your routine to put yourself in the best spot in order to do so. Our bodies adapt specifically to the demands we place on it with exercise, so the best way to get better at something is to regularly do the thing we want to get better at.
- What else needs to be maintained?
While pursuing our specific goals, we want to make sure that we don’t ignore any of the other components of fitness. Having a routine that addresses all components of fitness will give you a solid base to pursue your goals from. For example, if you’re training to run a half marathon, running regularly will be the most specific way to develop the necessary cardiovascular endurance for the race. Including some strength training and mobility work will also help build the strength and resilience needed to tolerate the repetitive impact that running can have on the our joints. So even if we don’t have goals for every fitness component, the value of addressing them from a health maintenance standpoint is still there.
- Am I getting an appropriate amount of rest and recovery?
The final thing we need to consider, which is especially relevant for those who are exercising most frequently and at high intensities, is rest and recovery. Positive exercise-related health adaptations occur when we are at rest. Training too frequently and/or not getting enough sleep can interfere with the adaptation process and leave us feeling burnt out without seeing much progress. Take note of how you’re feeling and adjust the frequency and intensity of your workouts as needed to keep yourself feeling fresh.
Throughout your life, your answers to these questions may change. Continuing to reflect on your exercise habits will allow you make the adjustments needed to remain strong and healthy for the long run.
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