Consider these statements:
* Physical inactivity contributes to 300,000 preventable deaths every year in the United States.
* In 2002, 30 percent of school-age children overweight.
* Only 50 percent of teens participate in regular physical activity.
* Twenty-five percent of young people spend four hours a day watching television.
You’ve probably heard all these statistics, and the information scared you into exercising. You carry a 20-pound backpack three blocks home from the bus. You play in-line hockey for an hour on Saturday. You bought a set of weights and you play around with those while you watch TV. What more do you have to do to be fit?
What Does It Mean to Be Physically Fit?
According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, fitness is:
“The ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with energy left over for enjoying leisure-time activities and meeting emergency demands. It is the ability to endure, to bear up, to withstand stress, to carry on in circumstances where an unfit person could not continue, and is a major basis for good health and well-being.”
“Everything we do involves movement,” says Scott Fushi, a weight-training instructor, “whether catching the bus or hiking to the top of a mountain. Fitness helps your body function better all the way around.”
Develop Your Fitness Program
First, you must decide to make physical fitness important in your life. Then follow these steps:
1. Make physical activity as much of a routine as brushing your teeth. Exercise becomes a priority, not something you happen to do if you have the time and the inclination. You can’t “save up” physical activity. Doing twice as much today won’t let you take tomorrow off–it will only make you sore.
2. Next, set specific fitness goals for yourself and write them down. Your list might include:
–Jog for three miles to increase endurance.
–Do 30 push-ups to improve upper-body strength.
–Stretch for 10 minutes to increase flexibility.
3. Formulate a plan to achieve your goals. Many experts recommend at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. You don’t have to do 60 minutes all at once, but be sure to do a minimum of 10 minutes each time. On the plus side, the time needed to get physically fit depends on your effort. Thirty minutes of bike riding equals 60 minutes of light walking. Crank up the intensity and you can lessen the time–but do at least 30 minutes four days a week.
4. Include a variety of exercises. Start each session with a 15-minute warm up that gets your muscles warmed up and uses easy flexibility stretches. Throughout the week, alternate 20 to 30 minutes of muscular strength and endurance activities with aerobic ones. End each session with a cooldown of 5 to 10 minutes of slow walking and stretching.
Fitness is an individual goal. What makes one person fit might not apply to another. You can, however, check your personal fitness level by asking yourself a few questions.
? Am I choosing one activity from each of the four fitness areas?
? Have I increased the intensity and/or the duration of my exercise?
? Do I exercise for at least 30 minutes four times a week?
? Can I pass a fitness test such as the President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test? (Visit www.fitness.gov or ask your teacher about these requirements.)
Exercise keeps both body and mind healthy. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, chemicals that create a positive feeling in your brain. In addition, exercising can take your mind off of the stressful issues in your life–you feel better and look better too.
Fitness isn’t just exercise; it’s a lifestyle.
4 Components of Fitness
Physical fitness can be best understood by examining its four parts:
1. Aerobic or cardiorespiratory endurance. This is the ability of your heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to your muscles. Exercises such as running, swimming, bicycling, and walking quickly force you to take in large amounts of air and work your heart muscle.
2. Muscular strength. This component allows you to exert force for a brief period of time, making you stronger. Weight-lifting activities develop muscular strength. Curls and push-ups also are ways to build muscular strength.
3. Muscular endurance. With good muscular endurance you can work your muscles for a longer period of time. Climbing stairs, biking, hiking, and exercising with weights can build muscular endurance.
4. Flexibility. Flexibility lets you move your joints and muscles through their full range of motion. After warming up your muscles by walking slowly, do slow and smooth stretches using muscle groups that you will be using in your aerobic exercises.
FOOL YOURSELF into Fitness
Your mind says EXERCISE, but your body resists. Try these tips to get in the swing:
* Exercise with a friend. Once you commit to someone else, you’re more likely to stick with the plan. Do something that both of you like, or take turns trying out each other’s specialties. Try a little friendly competition as well.
* Walk or ride your bike instead of driving or taking public transportation.
* Take the dog for a walk.
* Rake the leaves or shovel the snow. You’ll get fit and surprise your parents.
* Increase your exercise time and, at the same time, decrease your non-exercise time. Walk for a half hour and eliminate a half hour of TV or the Internet
* Try something new–the indoor climbing wall or a yoga class.
* Get a pedometer and count the number of steps you take. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends taking 10,000 steps a day, which equals about four to five miles.
Students will understand the concepts of total fitness and be able to convey these concepts accurately and in an age-appropriate manner to others. Students will create a fitness plan that reflects all five components of fitness. (See Reproduction Master 2.)
* Differentiate between muscular strength and muscular endurance. (Muscular strength allows you to exert force for a brief period of time, making you stronger. Muscular endurance is the quality of fitness that allows you to work your muscles for a longer period of time.)
* Summarize several suggestions for building a successful workout plan. (Identify time in your busy schedule when you will exercise; it might be time when under usual conditions you would be inactive, but be sure it’s not too late at night. Set clear, specific goals for your program and devise a plan you can follow that will help you to reach those goals. Include variety in the activities you do to keep it interesting. Remember to help avoid injuries by following a pattern of warming up, stretching, doing heavier exercise, cooling down, and stretching again.)
1. Assign students to create a display that can educate others across the age spectrum about the essential components of a total fitness plan. They may choose a song (a jingle), a collage (with text included), or a poster series that will communicate the different types of physical activities needed to work toward a total fitness program.
2. Use Reproduction Master 2 for recording and planning fitness activities. Ask students to make comments on the chart that would help them revise and expand their programs for future weeks.
* PE Central: The Premier Web Site for Health and Physical Educators (www.pecentral.org) offers many types of resources for teachers. An example of a handy device you can link to is the Activity Calorie Calculator (you can find it directly at http://primusweb.com/fitnesspartner/jumpsite/calculat.htm).
* Another resource is the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, which has a segment of the Web site for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (www.aahperd.org). From there you can locate any of its several sub-organizations and their resources.