There are ten elements of fitness that are important to you now, and in your future. They are important because quality of life, I believe, is affected by these ten elements.
There are ten elements that define your ability to move your own body weight, to move other objects, exert force on objects, and the time duration you are capable of doing it. These elements can and should be practiced and perfected. Unfortunately, most people don’t make this a goal in their physical training or exercise routine.
The good news is, however, that these ten elements can be programmed into a regular physical training routine and be perfected and practiced by any Normal Human.
Let’s begin with balance. Balance is the state of equilibrium. Simplifying the term equilibrium, it is how we exist with the force of gravity. When equilibrium is off, relating to gravity is more difficult.
Why is good balance important? I grew up in the Midwest. There were times when the weather began to get cold, and an awkward phenomenon would occur where it was too warm for snow, but too cold for rain. Driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots would become a sheet of ice, and walking on them became a sudden and unexpected test of balance.
As we age, as with most things, sense of balance begins to diminish. According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention,
• One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year.
• Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.
• Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
• Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
• Each year there are 29 million falls, resulting in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 28,000 deaths.
• Older adult falls result in more than $31 billion in annual Medicare costs.
These numbers are expected to increase. If everyone had an exercise routine that helped improve balance, how would it affect these statistics?
Next is accuracy. Accuracy is the precision or exactness with which something is performed or executed. How is the accuracy of your foot placement when you walk or run? Climb stairs? How does your accuracy affect your balance? I’m sure you don’t enjoy stubbing your toe any more than I do, so let’s work on that accuracy. There’s no denying that having better accuracy with your physical movement can bring you nothing but positive effects, including better balance!
Agility is the power of moving quickly and easily. Think of this as the ability to change direction quickly. Avoiding a sudden crack in a sidewalk, for example, is an instance where agility is used in everyday life. Training your agility also trains and improves specific neural pathways in the brain.
Agility in sports is important, of course. The ability to move quickly and easily makes it easier to score points, evade the defense, and be a better player in general.
Coordination is the harmonious combination or interaction of your body, in this case. Tripping over your feet while moving could cause falls, bruises, and aggravation. As with agility, training coordination trains specific neural pathways in the brain. Exercising the brain is beneficial to its health and fights conditions like dementia.
Power is the capability of doing or accomplishing something. More specifically, it is the ability to apply maximum force, in a minimum amount of time. Power is also the combination of strength and speed. Training this develops mind-muscle connections and can improve brain health and physical intensity.
Speed is rapidity in moving, proceeding or performing. Training speed improves efficiency of movement.
Flexibility means something is susceptible of modification or adaptation; it is adaptable. Having flexible muscles decreases injury susceptibility and improves movement. And, flexible muscles adapt easier to the demands placed on them.
Flexibility is also related to accuracy, agility, power, and speed. In physics, force is defined by Newton’s Second Law. Force equals mass times acceleration. Acceleration is improved with flexibility.
Strength, muscular power, force, or vigor, is desired by nearly everyone. Strength increases lean body mass, bone density, and can improve the immune system. But strength as a whole needs to be improved, focusing on the body’s core, and main engines of the hips and shoulders. Train strength with compound movements, with the body as one unit, and avoid traditional isolation exercises.
Stamina is strength of physical constitution; the power to endure. The stamina of your muscles determines whether or not you can carry the groceries from the car to inside the house. It also affects your 40 yard dash time, or how well you fare against your wrestling opponent.
Cardiovascular endurance is the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions. It is the ability of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels to deliver oxygen to your body’s muscles and other tissues. Cardiovascular endurance makes aerobic exercise easier. Aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure, aids sleep, strengthens the immune system, and boosts mood. It also increases oxygen supply throughout the body, benefitting the red blood cells and the brain.
You may not consider yourself an athlete or think things like physical accuracy and agility are important to you. But these ten fitness elements determine how we relate to, and exist in our physical environment. They are also a measure of our fitness and overall health. Training these elements keep us sharp, healthy, and protect us into old age. Does your physical training or fitness routine include a focus on all ten of these elements?
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and is not intended for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your physician.