Exercise / Fitness
There comes a point in many people’s lives where they begin to experience a shift in perspective when it comes to what’s important. No matter how much money you have or how successful you’ve become in your endeavors, it’ll all be for naught if your body begins to fail you. There are some things money simply cannot buy.
Health is one of them. Even when looking after our bodies finally become important to us, we fail to ask ourselves the relevant questions such as what longevity looks like, and the difference between endurance versus stamina.
Somewhat ironically, the most valuable aspects of life are free. A strong and dependable body is something most people are born with.
This gift is often taken for granted and allowed to deteriorate until the damage is irreversible. If you’re ready to give your fitness the attention it deserves, read on to find out more!
Overlooking Foundational Importance
In general, we don’t give enough thought to the function of our bodies, despite their importance. Everything we do is reliant on our physical form. Take a moment to look at your hands and appreciate how you’re able to interact with the world around you.
The divide between mind and body is a little murky and not fully understood. The question of where the mind ends and the body begins is a topic to be fought over by philosophers. What’s more evident is that no matter their connection, they’re inextricably linked.
The idea of being able to manipulate physical matter with our minds seems an extravagant idea, one best suited to the realms of science fiction and fantasy. However, that’s exactly what we do every day without a second thought. The fact is, we are each in possession of a machine capable of manipulating the world around us in any way we can conceive of.
The physical matter we manipulate with our minds isn’t what we reach out and touch, rather it’s our bodies themselves. Somehow we’re able to move our flesh, a physical construct, with something as intangible as thought. This ability is nothing short of magical, yet is overlooked as commonplace and unremarkable.
Appreciating the Body
Appreciation is often forgotten until degradation begins to set in. Our bodies run with the kind of flawless precision that’s only remarked upon until things start to go awry. We don’t appreciate our teeth until we get a toothache, or the strength of our backs until they give us a warning twinge each time we bend over, for example.
This is a backward state of affairs to be in. It’s crazy not to appreciate what we have, and not to do our utmost to keep things running smoothly. Attending to our bodies and their needs should take precedence above all else.
In terms of possessions, our body is the only thing that matters. An expensive watch can be taken from you, your house can burn down. No matter what happens to the things you hold dear, you’ll still be standing in your body.
A body in perfect working condition is something to cherish. Time spent in the pursuit of maintaining and bettering our bodies is never wasted.
By this rationale, it makes sense to take care of the only possession we have until our dying day. Taking pride in our bodies isn’t only a good idea, it’s fundamental for our mental health. We are our body and mind, but somehow the idea of taking care of the core of our beings is becoming unpopular or even viewed with contempt.
Weights / Resistance
If you’re looking into improving your body in all aspects, weight training is an incredible asset. Lifting weights implements cardio, endurance, balance, and flexibility all at once, improving them all as they’re called into play. It’s worth remembering that the process of improving our bodies isn’t a mysterious one, we simply need to apply ourselves to the cause.
It’s as simple as using our bodies and trusting them to adapt to ensure they’re better equipped to handle the same task next time. To this end, lifting weights to target particular muscle groups you feel could use some work is a wonderfully effective solution. Lifting weights is also a rewarding activity, while our strength grows so do our options when it comes to interacting with the world around us.
Lifting weights isn’t a competition with the people around you, it’s a competition with your previous self. Becoming a stronger individual than you once were isn’t something that can be faked, and for that reason alone it’s worth applying yourself to. When you see you’re capable of doing something that used to be impossible for you, it’s not only your body that benefits.
The mental gains are also significant as you begin to understand that positive change is possible through an increasing strength of will, not just muscle. These strengths work in tandem to improve each other and will benefit your life in every aspect outside of the gym, too. Much of the difficulty of weight training is getting yourself to the gym, rather than the act of lifting weights itself!
STRENGTH / CONDITIONING
Strength training and weight training are similar, but not the same. While it’s possible to improve your body in many ways using a variety of weights and movements, strength training is specifically focused on increasing the force you’re able to exert. This is done by gradually increasing the weight of the equipment you use, commonly referred to as weight resistance training.
As we’ve already established, the human body quickly adapts to better suit the tasks asked of it. The most popular way to increase muscle mass is through resistance training for exactly this reason. Putting our muscles under increasing amounts of strain allows us to gradually increase the amount of weight we’re capable of lifting.
A common practice for people seeking to become stronger is to start with relatively light weights. The most important aspect of strength training is learning to safely do each exercise. Rushing ahead often leads to making mistakes, which could potentially result in severe injury.
Taking the time to research which weight-lifting exercises target particular muscles is a good place to start. Once you’ve found a lift that uses the muscles you want to strengthen, you need to study how to execute the lift with proper form. Adhering to proper form allows for strength training movements to be done safely.
Safely exercising is important. The idea is to get stronger, not put yourself out of action completely!
Cardio / Endurance
Cardio and Endurance
These days the most taxing cardio most of us will face is walking to the car, or perhaps a flight of stairs when the elevator is broken. In much the same way we lose the flexibility of youth, we lose our endurance from a lack of ever needing any. Simply put, our bodies change to adapt to the stresses we put them under.
If you’ve ever dreaded the thought of taking the stairs, it’s because you know you’re going to get out of breath. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable in more ways than one to struggle with such a simple task. On the other hand, if you know yourself to be capable of taking the stairs in your stride, there’s a certain amount of pride and enjoyment to be had in doing so.
Just as it’s possible to regain lost flexibility and balance, cardio and endurance can be improved in the same way. Our bodies are incredibly versatile and capable of strengthening in the face of the stresses they encounter. If you feel like your cardiovascular endurance is lacking, all you need to do is put yourself in situations where it’s taxed.
The name of the game when it comes to improvement is incremental gains. However hard it is to run a mile for you at the moment, it will only get easier with practice. Seeing yourself improve bit by bit is a powerful aid in continuing your journey toward a body you can rely on and be proud of.
Remember, many small changes add up to a big change and you’ll soon thank yourself for making the effort.
Endurance Versus Stamina
Both endurance and stamina are directly improved while using your body, but they’re not quite the same thing. Training for one will undoubtedly improve the other, but only up to a certain point. Eventually, if people hope to compete, it pays to specialize.
Endurance is the name given to the ability to endure something for an extended period, such as going for a jog. The longer you’re able to continue, the better you can say your endurance is. The key is in the name!
Stamina relates to how long you can sustain maximum output before dropping to your knees out of breath. Sprinters rely on their herculean stamina, giving it their absolute all with no thought to keeping it up for long. The strategy of the marathon runner has endurance in mind as they try to endure a measured pace for as long as possible.
To train either is to train the body as a whole, and they both rely on the same system. Endurance and stamina both rely on the cardiovascular system for fuel and continued exertion. As soon as we ask more of our body than it’s able to give us, the result is usually flopping down on the ground, gasping for air.
AEROBIC / ANAEROBIC
Aerobic and Anaerobic Respiration
This is where aerobic and anaerobic respiration comes in. Aerobic respiration is what we do most of the time, it’s the name given to normal breathing. When you begin to exercise your breathing rate increases to compensate because your body is experiencing an increased need for oxygen.
In situations where your muscles are being used intensely, anaerobic respiration works to supply them with what they need in the absence of oxygen. This happens after all available oxygen has been used up. When you feel your muscles begin to burn, this is a sure sign anaerobic respiration has begun.
The burning sensation is produced when your muscles begin to produce lactic acid. This is done by the breakdown of glucose and pyruvate to produce energy for the cells.
The better your cardiovascular fitness, the longer you have before this process happens, and the more efficient it is when it does occur.
FLEXIBILITY / BALANCE
Flexibility and Balance
Balance and flexibility go hand in hand, as the more flexible you are the easier it’ll be to keep your center of gravity under control. Quick movements that right your body are sometimes necessary to stop you from falling, for example. The wider range of motion your limbs have to freely move, the easier you’ll find it is to balance yourself.
There are several different attributes worth focusing on when seeking to improve and secure your body’s general ability. Flexibility isn’t just for gymnasts, it’s for everyone with a body, so that means you. In the event you do fall, flexibility will also protect you from sustaining injury from forced overextension.
You don’t have to be able to get your ankles behind your head to consider yourself flexible. The ability to touch your toes without bending your legs is a good metric to work out where you stand. If you’re unable to reach them, you’ll be happy to learn that with a little practice, you’ll see significant improvement over a relatively short period.
Much of the ability that’s lost from lack of use can be restored, and flexibility is a perfect example of this. If you cast your mind back to your childhood, you’ll likely remember that touching your toes was a cinch. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and it’s incredibly satisfying to watch yourself improve in this regard.
Cardio and Sustained Effort
Using our bodies needs our cardiovascular system to be in tip-top condition if we’re to exert ourselves for any meaningful length of time. Our bodies run on a complex arrangement that hinges on the creation and expenditure of chemical energy. This system requires a few key components to run smoothly, the most important of which is oxygen.
To supply the body with enough oxygen to exert itself fully is no mean feat. Countless processes are occurring in tandem while sprinting, for example. The main organs under stress in this situation are the heart, the lungs, and the circulatory system at large.
If you’re carrying a lot of extra weight, this puts undue stress on these systems meaning they’re not capable of working as well as they would otherwise. If you get out of breath easily, that’s a sure sign you need to make a change.
The heart has to work harder to pump blood around a larger surface area. The lungs are under stress due to the body requiring more oxygen. Excess weight can also lead the circulatory system to become clogged, further increasing the pressure on the entire system.
The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can make for a considerable improvement. Most important of all is to take care that what you’re eating isn’t making things worse.
Taking Diet Into Account
The pursuit of improving your fitness, in general, is an admirable one. As with most things, however, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. It won’t matter how passionate you are about making a change for the better if you don’t understand the fundamentals.
When it comes to building a body you can be proud of, it doesn’t get much more fundamental than what you eat. Unfortunately, much of the information available online concerning the correct diet for general health is nonsense. Many people espouse special diets with secret ingredients or unsustainable methods to snare the unsuspecting into paying them for useless information.
The truth is that while diet is undeniably important, it’s also quite simple. Once you understand the key mechanisms of how our bodies process the nutrients we give them, dietary choices narrow considerably. While it doesn’t sound appealing at first to cut out many of our favorite foods, the reasoning behind doing so is solid.
Once the decision is made to prefer longevity and quality of life over certain eating habits, the transition isn’t so painful. Many people struggle to get in shape simply because they don’t understand the impact their diet has. For the most part, our bodies are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.
The Importance of Diet
Many of the foods and drinks that are commonly available to us are essentially poison. That might sound somewhat extreme, but the evidence is all around us. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA, and has been for years.
Highly processed foods packed with sugar and chemical preservatives are overwhelmingly responsible for the majority of heart disease cases. Diabetes is also caused by a poor diet and plays a large part in the heart disease epidemic. Consuming the wrong things day in and day out doesn’t simply prevent you from being fit and healthy, it outright kills you, albeit slowly.
The bulk of food has been designed to be as palatable and long-lasting as possible to maximize potential revenue. Notice that the health of the consumer is far from being a priority. Even foods touted as healthy are often full of sugar and use clever marketing loopholes to evade false advertising claims.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you’re struggling to avoid consuming your favorite foods. They’ve been rigorously designed by food scientists to adhere to the “bliss point”, among other metrics, to ensure your desire for more is as strong as possible. Expecting to stick to your diet while experiencing constant cravings is a recipe for failure and misery.
The Crux of What Not to Eat
If you’re serious about cultivating a stronger, more flexible, and generally healthier body for yourself, start by looking at what you eat. Exercise is a fruitless endeavor before getting your diet under control. No matter how dedicated you are to an exercise regime, there’s no hope of counteracting a bad diet if you persist with it.
Cutting out sugar completely is a fantastic start, though it may seem a daunting prospect at first. Sugar quantities as we know them don’t exist in nature and our bodies struggle mightily with them once ingested. You might have heard the term “empty calories”, that’s sugar in a nutshell.
If the empty calories of sugar weren’t bad enough, the way our bodies process them certainly causes pause for thought. Excess sugar is stored as fat and causes insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes. It’s also worth noting that while your body has access to simple sugars or complex carbohydrates, it will never burn fat for energy.
Sugar promotes cravings rather than satiation, and when you’re looking to slim down this is hardly ideal. While it’s best to avoid sugar altogether if you can manage it, this doesn’t mean all your hard work will be for nothing if you have a cupcake. Moderation is key, but if you’re looking for fast measurable results, a drastic change is your best bet.
A Welcome Change of Pace
The decision to improve your health is always worth making. Take your time to ease your way into a new lifestyle and forgive yourself if you slip up now and again. It’s never too late to make a positive change!
If this article has helped you better understand the difference between endurance versus stamina, among other things, check out the rest of the blog today!