Monday, March 28, 2016

Importance of Fitness in the 21st Century

Picturize this – It’s 6 o’clock in the morning. You wake up and peep through the window. What’s the most common sight you’ll get to see? Apart from the winter fog, you’ll see an army of uncles and aunties, grandpas and grandmas walking briskly up and down the alley or the nearby jogger’s park. They do this mostly in hopes of “losing weight“. But, how much have they changed ever since they started their “morning walks”? 

Most often than not, these morning walks are usually touted as “the tool” for getting fit. Next one is yoga. However, “practitioners” still don’t achieve their goals. So let’s find out what are the effective ways to get fit. Oh wait, lets understand fitness first. 

Fitness - the way we see it

Fitness is a concept that’s majorly misunderstood and every individual seems to have his/ her own definition of this concept. What we need to understand is that fitness isn’t just one thing but a combination of five components. If you want to get fitter, you need to improve these five components within yourself.

It doesn’t matter who you are as an individual (housewife, corporate executive, athlete, actor, teenager or geriatric {Senior Citizen} etc.), physiologically all human beings are the same. Hence, there isn’t a single category of people who wouldn’t need to work on all the components of fitness.

So what are these five components of fitness? Let’s have a look:

1.       Cardio-vascular Endurance: the ability of the cardiovascular and the respiratory system to transport oxygenated blood to the working skeletal muscles for an extended period of time without fatiguing.

2.       Muscular Endurance: Ability of a skeletal muscle or group of skeletal muscles to continuously contract at submaximal levels for an extended period of time without fatiguing.

3.       Musculoskeletal Strength: It is the combined strength of muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments. It includes muscular power which is defined as the ability of a skeletal muscle or group of skeletal muscles to perform maximally against load/ resistance in a given timeframe.

4.       Flexibility: it is the ability of the body to sustain full and complete range of motion (ROM) around joints.

5.       Ideal Body Composition: It is the ability of the individual to maintain the ideal ratio of adipose tissue (AKA Fat under the skin) to lean body mass. A man should have a body fat percentage of no more than 15% and a woman’s body fat ratio shouldn’t go beyond 20%.

So how do we work around the 5 components?

These five components are all inter-related. When you take a walk around the park or go running or rigorous dancing or even swimming, you’re only addressing one aspect of fitness – cardio-vascular endurance. Yoga is best for flexibility alone- these postures do not give musculoskeletal strength or cardiovascular endurance. Resistance training will make you strong. And, in spite of doing these three types of activities, if you don’t watch your food habits, you’ll still not be called fit because bad food habits will add to fat in your body.

After all, yoga won’t make you better at lifting heavy household items when the maid bunks work. And neither will your morning, evening or even afternoon walks let you do that. Remember, fitness is an integral part of life today. The fitter you are, the more productive you will be in office.  

Prosenjit Sarkar,
Student, INLEAD

Jan 2016 batch, INBM

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