Healthy Life and Fitness

Living a healthier life can not only extend your life, it can also improve the quality. Feeling physically better and having control over your own life can greatly increase your mental health as well.

Although there are some aspects of physical and mental health that are beyond an individual (and science's) control, there are many things that people can do to improve their quality of life.

Every person (physical health or abilities) is unique. Starting your personal fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health.

After all, physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight, and even boost your self-esteem. And the benefits are yours for the taking, regardless of age, sex or physical ability.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults include aerobic exercise and strength training in their fitness plans.

At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. Strength training exercises at least twice a week. Regular exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and strengthen your bones and muscles.

But if you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.

Designing Your Fitness Program

When you're designing your personal fitness program, consider your fitness goals. Think about your fitness likes and dislikes, and note your personal barriers to fitness. Then consider practical strategies for keeping your fitness program on track.

Starting a fitness program is an important decision, but it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can make fitness a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime. Strength training helps you by making you stronger and giving you better endurance (so you can do things longer).

This makes day-to-day activities easier and reduces your chances of injury. While many people think of weight lifting when they hear 'strength training', there are many different types of exercises you can do to improve your strength (and you don't have to be a muscle-man or woman to do them.)

Some common strength training exercises include sit-ups, push-ups, and using nautilus machines, strength bands, and free weights.

Exercises that increase your flexibility give you greater range of motion in your joints and make your body more supple, again, making day-to-day activities easier and reducing your chances of injury.

Many people do specific stretching exercises to increase their flexibility but other types of exercise (such as dancing, yoga, and martial arts) can also improve flexibility.

Regular aerobic activity such as bicycling can help you live longer and healthier. Need motivation? See how aerobic exercise affects your heart, lungs and blood flow.

Then get moving and start reaping the rewards. During aerobic activity, you repeatedly move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. You'll notice your body's responses quickly.

You'll breathe faster and more deeply. This maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart will beat faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs.