Physical Fitness for Life

Physical fitness is a major component of military units and sport teams – people that our society loves to admire and emulate. But it’s important that we realize that the physical fitness qualities we admire the most were forged over years…not weeks.

From the initial recruitment days, military members start and continue a routine of Physical Training (PT). If you were to ever witness a military unit’s PT routine, you might be a bit disappointed by the brevity and simplicity of the workout. A few sets of push-ups, crunches, calisthenics and a short, slow run….not very “Hollywood”.

If you see the schedule of a professional athlete and watch their training, you’ll see the same pattern: constant, continual, simple training…not the stuff that highlight reels are made of…but the stuff it takes to be physically fit.

Physical fitness is about patience, persistence, and maintaining good habits. It’s more important to start and maintain the practice of doing a few push-ups & crunches in the morning than it is to try to do as many push-ups and crunches as you can in one day. It’s better to start a walking / jogging program that gradually increases the mileage, than it is to over-exert yourself and ‘go for broke’ on Day 1.

If your fitness goals and aspirations are to be the best you can be, allow yourself some time to get there. Physical fitness is a way of life. There’s no T-shirt or car sticker that marks the pinnacle. Physical fitness is about your daily routine. The day you achieve your goals of today, you’ll likely be focused on the goals of tomorrow. It’s easy to get caught up in the glamour and glory that our paparazzi-society frames around athletes. They focus on the snap shots...but it’s the continuous physical fitness building blocks that usually go unnoticed. It’s the building blocks like: morning runs before dawn; the bed-side crunches; the daily push-ups along with all of the basic exercises and the multitude of daily habits. It’s these habits that create the ability to “make the big play”.

If you want your physical fitness plan to start and maintain these habits, it should include the following components:

  1. Cardiovascular exercise:
    This can range from a regular walking routine to a running program. Make it something you enjoy. If you like to go hiking, bike-riding, or use a piece of equipment at the gym – make it part of your weekly routine.
  2. Sensible nutrition:
    Make a conscious effort to know the quality and quantities of foods that you eat. Keep a food log. Workouts are the ‘output’, and are only half of the equation. The foods you eat are the ‘input’….too much of which can erase countless hours of hard-working output! ;-)
  3. Strength training:
    From daily basic exercises to weight training, learn different exercises for different muscle groups. This can be as simple as doing a few at-home exercises per week to a more complex weight training program. As a runner, I do some daily basic exercises and some leg strength-training 2-3 times per week…it really doesn’t have to be too complex.
  4. Flexibility:
    By warming up, stretching, and cooling down, you’ll give your muscles a chance to prepare for & heal from the stresses of your work-outs. Flexibility and strength go hand-in-hand. It’s the portions of the workout that are often over-looked or even skipped altogether, but they are very important elements to a physical fitness program. A warm-up could be as simple as starting slow on your walk or jog. A cool down could be a walk around the gym with some stretching and light muscle massages. Muscles need rest after stress to repair, re-build and grow stronger. It’s really worth the short time and effort.

Next time you watch a baseball game or observe any individual that’s being paid to stay in shape, think about how they started – whether it was little league, boot camp, or some other indoctrination, they each started somewhere and at a pace far les intense than their current routine. They built up to where they are from a few hours per week to a few hours per day. Physical fitness is not a destination – it’s a journey. Start your journey one step at a time and you’ll be on your way!

Return from Physical Fitness to Lifetime Fitness

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