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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Three Critical Elements of Fitness

Aug 30, 2013 11:02AM ● By John Goss

Fitness can be elusive and challenging to maintain. There are tens of thousands of books available on the subject of physical fitness. Add to those the thousands of video training programs, websites, YouTube channels, gymnasiums and yoga studios. There is no shortage of information on the subject. However, that knowledge only works when people act on what they learn by getting out there and doing it.

Physical fitness may be defined as a set of attributes that enable people to perform physical activities, and yet those characteristics differ for each individual. Physical fitness is not one-size-fits-all, but it provides a number of benefits that include experiencing minimal limits when performing various physical activities and enjoying a long lifetime with few medical interventions. Each individual must articulate his or her own fitness goals and make a balanced plan to achieve them.

For almost anyone, physical fitness is like a three-legged stool: movement, nutrition and rest are equally important. Attaining fitness almost always requires some level of exercise, but if the other two legs are neglected, goals cannot be achieved.

Despite taking up a physical fitness program, many people fail to achieve long-term fitness. Although some have spent years walking on treadmills in an attempt to become more fit, they still are not getting their desired result. It would be easy to think that the exercise program they chose was faulty. In fact, the massive fitness program industry depends on that exact type of thinking.

Perhaps the real problem is that although they are working hard building the movement leg of their fitness stool, they are neglecting the two other legs. In his books, best-selling author Joel Fuhrman, M.D., a board-certified family physician, suggests tying nutrition into every fitness program. “If you want ideal health, you need to overcompensate and eat an excellent diet,” says Fuhrman, a former world-class figure skater who now specializes in nutritional research and disease prevention.

Attesting to the benefits of proper rest, “There are over two dozen studies that suggest that people who sleep less tend to weigh more,” says Sanjay Patel, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio. Patel cites one study where every two years for 16 years, 68,183 women ages 30 to 55 were asked to report their weight and habitual sleep duration. By the end of the study, women that slept five hours or less per night were more likely to experience major weight gain (defined as an increase of 33 pounds or more) and 15 percent more likely to become obese than those that slept seven hours a night.

Finding a good support person, such as a doctor, health coach or other professional, can help individuals set personal fitness goals and find a balanced approach to becoming fit. Fitness need not be a grind or overwhelming. Movement, nutrition and rest support each other. When all three legs of the stool are strong, fitness fits comfortably into one’s life.

John Goss, a certified holistic health counselor, has been involved in the holistic health movement for more than 35 years. Connect with him at [email protected] or visit JohnLockeGoss.com.

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