Your body is the result of the choices that you make. When you chose a certain kind of workout, you may have different motivations: to lose weight, to feel the endorphin rush, or maybe just to check out the latest fitness class that everyone is talking about. Anything that motivates you to exercise is great — but keep in mind that there are four important elements to fitness that should guide the routine that you carve out for yourself.
These four elements each play an important role in creating an exercise routine that will help you look better, feel better, perform better in the real world, and prevent the physical decline of aging. They are the cornerstones of physical fitness and cutting edge health prevention — and you may be missing one of them in your workout.
The Four Elements of Fitness:
Also known as cardiovascular fitness, this refers to your heart and cardiovascular system’s ability to provide oxygen and energy to the rest of your body; this function declines with age if we don’t maximize our aerobic abilities. Aerobic training improves these abilities through workouts that keep your heart rate elevated for a sustained period of time.
Your muscles work for you, and the more you increase your strength through resistance or weight bearing exercises, the better you will be able to handle all of the physical demands of life. This is especially important as you age. Without proper training, most adults will lose muscle and bone mass in old age resulting in a decline of physical strength.
Flexibility training lengthens the muscles, improves range of motion, keeps our body running smoothly and reduces risk of injury. Every complete fitness regimen needs to include flexibility exercises, with movements that stretch the muscles.
Stability and Balance
Stability refers to your body’s ability to hold itself in alignment, and this depends on the strength of the core muscles to support your upper body and protect your back. Stability and core strength help maintain balance — and they also prevent injury, improve posture and reduce back pain. Movements designed to improve stability and balance are essential to a full body workout, but this is the fitness element that is most likely to be missing in the average workout regimen.
The Importance of Balance
Good balance is not just for athletes and gymnasts. We rely on balance to walk, reach for objects on high shelves, and climb stairs; good balance prevents falls and other injuries as we age and keeps our body fitter overall. Balance and stability training go hand in hand, and they rely heavily on core muscle strength and flexibility.
The best way to improve stability and balance is through movements that challenge your balance and your core strength, while also promoting flexibility. You could also use equipment like a stability ball, a Bosu ball, a foam balance beam, or a trampoline to add balance and stability movements to your regular workout.
If you’re missing a balance and stability component in your workout, you’re not getting the full benefit of your efforts, and your risk of injury will be higher as you age. If you’re still not sure where to start, find a personal trainer who can help you with stability and balance so that you can reach and maintain your optimal fitness and performance level.