Physical Fitness: why it is so important?

Physical fitness is the utilisation of excessive calories by cardiovascular and muscular processes bringing the body to optimum efficiency. It comprises the following factors.

1) utilisation of excessive calories

2) purification and circulation of blood by cardiovascular and muscular processes.

3) Bringing the body to optimum efficiency

The energy provided by the food is measured in terms of calories. These calories are used by our bodies for normal functioning such as respiration, digestion and circulation etc. The excess calories are converted into fat and stored in the body for future use.

Physical fitness envisages the utilisation of these excessive calories resulting in the non-accumulation of fat.

Food habits differ from region to region and country to country. Food is categorised as proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The food we eat may contain some of these basic components.

We consume approximately 2000 to 2500 calories of food per day. Of this, approximately 1200 calories are utilised for normal body functions such as respiration, digestion etc. Of this, approximately 600 calories are consumed by the body for normal day-to-day activities such as housework, office work etc. The remaining calories are converted into fat and stored in the body.

Calories consumption applies to body weight and intensity of activity with a simple formula of 1:3:6 per kg of body weight per hour.

Dieting

Dieting is commonly understood to mean eating less or reducing the calories intake to reduce the body weight or body mass.

The best form of dieting is the low-calorie diet which does not eliminate any of the basic components of food such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats since a lack of them will upset the metabolic function of the body. The basic components required by the body for the building of tissues, growth, repair and energy for day-to-day use. It is a marked tendency to increase body weight after the age of 25 years since, after school and college years, we are less active. An accumulation of 3500 calories will increase to 500 grams in body weight.

B) Purification and circulation of blood by cardiovascular and muscular process

The cardiovascular and muscular process of the body involves

a) the heart and circulatory system of veins,arteries, and capillaries

b) the lungs and purification of blood

c) the supply of purified blood to the muscles and different parts of the body

2) Heart and Circulatory system

A physically active life is one in which the heart, lungs, and muscles of the body are kept active.

Oxygenated blood is pumped into the heart from the lungs through pulmonary veins. From the heart the oxygenated blood is pumped into different parts of the body through aorta.

The supply of oxygenated blood varies according to the needs of the human body and the rate of heart beat.So any increase in the body activities will automatically cause the heart to increase the supply of oxygenated (pure) blood.

This cardiovascular and muscular process is called circulation.

2) Lungs and Respiratory system

Atmospheric oxygen is drawn through the nose and mouth into the lungs which are located in the chest cavity for the oxygenation of blood. When we breathe out, the polluted deoxygenated and stale air from inside the lungs is exhaled. The more deeply we breathe the more purified and oxygenated becomes for supply to other parts of the body. The oxygenate breathed in during inhalation is absorbed by the blood in the capillaries and pumped to all parts of the body by the heart.

3) Musculature

The muscles of the human body are divided into voluntary and involuntary. The voluntary muscles are the muscles of the arms, legs, chest, abdomen etc. which can be moved at our will. These muscles are located on the outside of the skeletal system giving the body mass and shape and facilitating easy movement of the body. The involuntary muscles are the muscles of the heart and other internal organs of the body which can not be moved at our will and function independently. Over 500 muscles cover more than 60% of the body mass.

Cardiovascular test

When we sleep, since the muscles are at rest and only the internal organs are functioning, the heart requires not more than 60 heartbeats per minute to meet the body’s requirement of oxygenated blood.

Below 40 years

In a standing position, the total muscle mass is activated for coordination and balance of the body and the heartbeat is increased to approximately 88 beats per minute to meet the additional need. When we are walking due to the complete mobilisation of muscles mass, the pulse beat increases to over 100 beats per minute depending upon the intensity of walking.

It has been found that in persons who are not physically active, the pulse best is much higher in the above situation. Physically inactive person’s heart beats at approximately 10 beats more than a fit person’s heart in the above situations.Under stress and exertion, the physically unfit heart has at certain times to almost double the heart beat rate to meet the same body requirement.This shows that the heart beat is weak and shallow and the blood output per beat is much less than a fit person’s.

A strong and well-exercised heart is capable of a much stronger best which pumps out a longer volume of oxygenated blood through the arteries. So, total well-being is heavily dependent upon the heart, lungs and muscles of the human body which, if not properly maintained, will result in the deterioration of the body before its time.

4) Optimum efficiency

Strength

Optimum efficiency is the ability of the body to function according to its chronological age.

Above 40 years

Flexibility

A physically active body that is well-exercised remains in good condition. However, a body that is not exercised due to modern time-saving devices cars, volume cleaners etc.

To determine the physiological age as opposed to the chronological age of the body, it is necessary to consider three factors:

1) Excessive calories

2) Cardiovascular process

3) Muscular process

The following tests will indicate whether or not you have consumed excessive calories and the efficiency of your body, heart and muscles.

Physiological Age tests

Height – weight ratio

Cardiovascular test

Muscular efficiency

a) co- ordination

Above 40 years

Below 40 years

To test the round coordination of muscles for the age group below 40 years, persons of this age group must pass the following test.

Above 40 years

Speed

Stand with both legs firmly on the ground. with a jump in the air turn 360 degrees and land back firmly on the ground.

In case your foot moves after landing on the ground or you lose balance, you have failed the tests and you should add one year to your age.

Stand with one leg on the ground and another leg raised 12″ off the ground with both knees straight. Close your eyes and balance for 30 seconds. In case your standing foot shifts or you lose balance, you have failed this test and added one year to your age.

Strength

Below 40 years

Do one push-up in the following rule. Take the basic portion of a push-up with only toes and palms touching the ground and the body raised. Lower your body towards the ground without touching the ground. In one explosive upward movement lift the body and the arms off the ground with the toes still in contact with the ground without the body touching the ground. In case, you fail, add one year to your chronological age.

Above 40 years

Do one push-up in the following ways. Take the basic position of a push-up with toes touching the ground and both palms together under the face, with only toes and palms touching the ground. Lower your body to touch the back of the palms with the forehead or nose and raise the body back to the starting position. If you fail, add one year to your chronological age. This single test is sufficient to indicate basic body strength.

Flexibility

Below 40 years

Stand upright with legs shoulder-width apart. Bend towards the waist with straight knees and touch the ground between the legs with the palm of your hand. If you fail, add one year to your chronological age.

Above 40 years

Stand with legs shoulder-width apart. Bend forward without bending the knees and touch the ground with your fingertips. If you fail, add one year to your chronological age.

Speed

This test is common to both age groups. It indicates the coordination of the mind and body.

Stand upright with arms at the side, elbows bent at 90 degrees with palms facing each other 12″ apart. Have a colleague hold a pen between the palms with the tip of the pen in line with the upper ridge of the palms. Have the pen released suddenly. Catch the pen before it slips through the palms without lowering the hands or bending down. If you fail, add one year to your chronological age.

Optimum Efficiency and Results

Your physiological age

After completing the above tests , fill in the results of the tests in the format given below to ascertain the physiological state of your body.

Tests. |passed|failed|add one year if fail

1) height\weight ratio

2) pulse rate test

3) coordination test

4) strength test

5) flexibility test

6) speedy test

Total=add your chronological age+your physiological age

In case, your physiological age and chronological age are the same, it means that you are physically fit. In case, your physiological age is more than your chronological age, it indicates the body is not functioning with optimum efficiency and needs immediate attention.

Dr S.k.jha

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