Setting Health and Fitness Goals

by : Glen Smith

What is the benefit of a health and fitness plan? When you are healthy and fit, you have better mental alertness, you respond quicker, you relax more under pressure, and you are able to wind down out of stressful situations by getting exercise.

Some people when they relate exercise to the idea of going to a gym or going to a sport and working out so hard after the training that it actually hurts. That's not the kind of health and fitness I am talking about. Some people do that and every now and again they will go to training, but in general the idea is to get enough exercise that is actually enjoyable without going to the absolute limit all the time.

I can relate this pretty well to the way that you look after a motor vehicle. If you always drive your motor vehicle to its absolute maximum performance, right up to the red line and then change, what you find is that your maintenance costs start dramatically going up.

I remember when I was a teen-ager we used to take out our cars into the forest around Canberra, and go rally-driving with our street cars, and what we found was that all of a sudden you get all these loose bolts and things falling off and all sorts of things start breaking, simply because the cars were never really designed for that sort of punishment, and the people who have race cars, that are rally cars, once they bring them back from the bush, they go through all the bolts and tighten them all up and put lock-tight on the bolts and get rid of all the dirt out of the joints, and so on, and yet here we were, packing the vehicles out, wrapping them around, and then trying to go to and from work the next day. Guess what happened, sooner or later things started to break, usually sooner.

If you treat your body in the same way that we were treating our cars, that is, taking it to the absolute limit all the time, you will start breaking things, hurting muscles, hurting bones, you need to make sure that your body has time to recover from minor injuries. On the other hand, if you work so lightly that you don't even get a decent work-out; you are totally wasting your time.

We know that going to the gym is not going to be every one's cup of tea; doing marshal arts is not going to be every one's favourite activity - some people might like to play baseball or basket ball , or walking down the street, or walking through the park. A lot of people say "I can't afford a sport", and that may be true but you cannot afford not to exercise.

The process of exercise makes the body subtle; actually before I started doing marshal arts I had to go and see a chiropractor every week or couple of weeks, because I was having back problems, and what I found was that after I started exercising regularly, I didn't get anywhere as near as the amount of problems I was getting before.

Heart attacks are caused typically by cholesterol, and healthy exercise will actually help, but it doesn't actually eliminate the risk of a heart attack. Let's say that you happen to be blessed with a metabolism that is really high or you work out 18 hours a week and you are really fit, it doesn't really mean that you won't have a heart attack, because if you still have high cholesterol or LDL from animal products in a large degree, you can still have a heart attack. It is as simple as that because it is not the fat that gives you a heart attack but the cholesterol.

So don't you think if I work out and I've got this really good-looking body, I really don't need to worry about cholesterol because I am not fat. I am not saying to overly worry about it but keep it in mind that you need to keep a good balance between the types of food that you eat.

There are some interesting aspects about health and fitness. One is that bone strength is improved by doing resistance training, whether it is lifting weight or doing some sort of exercise where you put resistance against your bones even playing games such as baseball or basket ball.

When you start exercising your bones, you actually strengthen them and managing your bone density or bone strength is partly achieved. Both bone strength, muscle strength adds flexibility. The health of your spine is important so that it is exercised in such a way that the joints get moved and they don't calcify. If you don't do any sort of exercise, what happens is that your back stiffens up, the joints calcify and you are more susceptible to pain.

In my job as a computer programmer, I had a stage where because my arms were always stretched out, I had a problem starting to appear in my back; I went to a personal trainer who did a little bit of work on my posture and strengthening the right muscles and I've never had a problem since. If I tried to manage that, without doing some remedial exercise or maintenance type of exercise, I would have so much pain that I couldn't work.

Some of you probably have jobs where you get plenty of exercise, that's fine.

What sort of goals should you set in health and fitness?

After consulting a health and fitness professional, perhaps go to the gym three times a week. You will be able to measure how much you have done by looking at your score card, and/or setting up a reminder notice in whatever calendar tool you happen to use.