How fit are you? 5 key areas to improve your fitness and activity levels

Written by
Evergreen Life

So, you’ve taken your fitness activity check in your Evergreen Life app, and there are a few things that you may want to improve or change about your current fitness levels. In this article, we’ll address the aspects covered in the questionnaire to help you understand more about each area so you can decide where you might want to focus your attention.  

5 key fitness elements

Physical fitness isn’t just about one thing. It's important to consider all the different areas before you can really know how to get fit. We’re going to go through five major components of fitness that were highlighted in the fitness activity questionnaire: cardiovascular endurance; muscular strength; muscular endurance; flexibility; and body composition. Taking these all into consideration might help you to shape your own well-balanced workout routine.  

Cardiovascular fitness  

For adults, a normal resting heart rate ranges from 60-100 beats per minute (bpm). Outside these ranges may suggest a health issue. A resting heart rate below 60bpm (unless you are a professional athlete) may not necessarily be a concern – but you should watch out for symptoms like weakness, dizziness and low-level energy. Studies show that a high resting heart rate is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular incidence in diabetics. Given that heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the UK, boosting cardiovascular health is particularly important.

You can improve your cardiovascular fitness by doing regular exercise. Running, walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, and boxing are just a few of the many workouts you could try out. The key is to be consistent. Carry on reading to see how much exercise you should be aiming to do.  

Muscular strength  

To train your muscular strength, you can perform controlled movements with larger loads of weight increased in increments. For example, you could do squats with weights sufficient enough to make 6-15 repetitions difficult. Other strength training exercises include the bench press, leg press or bicep curl.  Better muscular strength can improve your muscle mass, and also induce a metabolic effect that helps in burning fat. Bonus!  

Muscular endurance  

Muscular endurance is the ability of muscles to perform a repetitive motion for a prolonged period without fatiguing.  

Examples of muscular endurance training include plank holding; skipping; and long-distance cycling, where you can develop fatigue-resistant muscles in your legs and glutes. You can also try performing any single movement such as squats or sit ups for 90 seconds or more. Basically, it’s muscle group-specific. This means you can develop high levels of endurance in some muscle groups but not others.    

So, where you choose to focus your muscular endurance should correspond to your personal fitness targets. Being able to climb several flights of stairs may be your goal; but if you want to become an endurance athlete, using high-repetition exercises can help you achieve this.  

Flexibility   

Can you touch your toes? Flexibility is the range of motion you have around a specific joint. For instance, you might have very flexible shoulders, but tight and inflexible hamstrings or hips. Improving your flexibility can have a massive impact on your overall wellbeing - at any age. It can help increase your muscular performance, reduce tension, stress and chance of injury.  

Examples of flexibility training include yoga, Pilates, stretching individual muscles, lunging, and self-myofascial release. Wait...what on earth is that? Check out this article which explains a bit about self-myofascial release.

Get stretching to improve your flexibility!

Body composition

This final component refers to your body’s ratio of fat mass to fat-free mass, including lean muscle, bone and organs. Maintaining a healthy body composition is the goal of almost all regular fitness routines, reducing the chance of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  

But good news - by working on the other four components, you’re well on your way to a healthier body composition. Why not measure your body fat percentage and record it in your Evergreen Life app so you can keep track of your body composition?  

Increasing your daily activity

Here’s a few tips to increasing your activity if you want to improve your overall fitness:

Little and often

If you’re not exactly a gym-bunny or you can’t imagine anything worse than attending your local spinning class, making an effort to increase your activity levels and performing small tasks repetitively throughout every day could be your key to success.

For example, doing 5 minutes of press ups, abdominal crunches or lunges every half an hour over the course of an 8-hour shift could burn the same number of calories burnt in an average gym session (based on a metabolic rate of 2000kcal per day).

Watch your step!

You’ve probably heard that you should be walking 10,000 steps per day to stay healthy. But why? And how did they come up with this number? Is it just a fitness myth?  

Well, the 10,000 steps mantra has been traced back to a public health initiative in Japan in the 1970s. But it is a good indicator of how much physical activity you achieve in a day. And the more active you are, the lower your body mass index (BMI) is shown to be.  

However, there are other studies indicating that it’s not the number of steps that are important but the intensity of the activity. So, getting your heart rate up may be just as beneficial as the number of steps you take. Studies are currently looking into whether moderate activity with 10,000 steps is better than a shorter but brisker walk or playing sport.  

An attempt has been made to count the number of steps that match up with the national guideline of 150 minutes a week of moderate activity and has shown this to be approximately 7500 steps.  

walking nature hiking 10000 steps
How many steps do you take every day?

How much exercise is enough?

Current guidelines say you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous high-intensity exercise. It’s even beneficial to do short 10-minute bursts of an activity that raises your heart rate. Keep this up 3 times a day for 5 days per week and you’ll have hit that 150-minute target!  

Being physically active has been shown to have a range of highly important benefits, including:  

  • Reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and depression.  
  • Less likely to fracture your hip or vertebrae.  
  • Higher level of cardiovascular fitness and muscular fitness as well as a healthier body composition.  

You can achieve this level of exercise by carrying out any of the following types of moderate activity for 150 minutes per week:  

  • Brisk walking  
  • Riding a bike on level ground  
  • Pushing a lawn mower  
  • Hiking  
  • Water aerobics  
  • Or any other type of moderate activity you enjoy!  

Maintaining a balanced fitness routine can benefit your health and wellbeing in almost every way, just remember – it has to work for you!  

Track it and improve your Wellness Score

If you decide to increase your daily activity or take up a new fitness routine, be sure to take your fitness check in the Evergreen Life app again in around 12 weeks to see how your Wellness Score has changed – tracking changes over time can help motivate you and help you understand areas that you might want to focus on next.  

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