Exercises for Components of Fitness: Part I

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, healthy adults between the ages of eighteen and sixty-five should do AT LEAST two hours and thirty minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week or seventy-five minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. It is suggested that this be spread out over at least three days/week. The guidelines also suggest at least two days of strength training per week. Flexibility activity is also suggested by the guidelines in addition to the other activities.
There are five components to physical fitness: Cardiovascular (aerobic) fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. Improving these components is key to being physically fit. I have picked some of my favorite exercises and described them below. They are broken down into the first four components. Cardiovascular fitness is Part I. Check back over the next few days to see the exercises for muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility.

Part I. Cardiovascular Fitness
There are so many varieties of cardiovascular exercises that can be done to improve this component of physical fitness. Three of my favorites are plyometrics (which also improves muscular endurance), kickboxing, and jumping rope.

 Plyometrics means jump training. It is high impact and involves a lot of squatting, jumping (forward, backward, lateral), and lunging. An example of a plyometric exercise is a squat jump. To do this, squat down with the knees in line with the ankle and jump up as high as you can, lifting your arms toward the sky, then back down into the squat position. Try doing this as many times as you can for sixty seconds. It is very important to make sure the knees do not go past the toes and to keep the landing soft.

Kickboxing is a lot of fun and includes different punching and kicking moves. Here is an example of a kickboxing move: Stand with feet hip width apart, then bring the arms up so the fists are at the face. Keep the left fist up at the face and punch the right arm out at shoulder level. As you bring the punching arm back in, squat down and punch again in the squatting  position, then stand up and keep repeating the sequence. Then do it with the left arm.

Jumping rope is pretty self explanatory. To make sure the rope is the proper length for you, step on the rope in the middle and pull the ends so the rope is taut. The ends of the rope should come to the chest. One can make this exercise more intense by doing intervals. Jump really fast or try to bring the knees higher to the chest for thirty seconds or more, then recover with normal jumping.

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