The 4 Elements of Fitness

Most people want to be fit but that raises a question. What does it mean to be fit? The answer is fairly simple. To be fit, one must have physical capability in four areas: aerobic capacity, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition.

1. Aerobic Capacity. Aerobic capacity, which is also known as cardiorespiratory fitness, refers to the health and function of the heart, lungs and circulatory system. Simply stated, aerobic fitness is the ability of the cardiorespiratory system to deliver an adequate supply of oxygen to exercising muscles. As your aerobic capacity increases, your ability to participate in more intense and longer lasting exercise also increases (e.g., walking, running, swimming and bicycling). It can be argued that aerobic capacity is the most important of the four elements of fitness because of the health benefits it bestows. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, increased aerobic capacity leads to reduced blood pressure, decreased total cholesterol, increased HDL (good) cholesterol, decreased body fat, increased heart function and decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

2. Muscular Strength and Endurance. Muscular strength is the maximum amount of force a muscle or muscle group can generate during a single contraction. Muscular endurance is the number of repeated contractions a muscle or muscle group can perform without tiring. Both are important components of overall fitness because increasing your strength through various types of resistance training (e.g., weightlifting) leads to increased bone strength, decreased bone loss, decreased muscle loss, increased tendon and ligament strength, increased physical capacity, improved metabolic function (e.g., burn more calories at rest), and decreased risk of injury.

3. Flexibility. Flexibility is the range of motion within a joint. Increased flexibility provides a variety of benefits such as decreased risk of injury, increased flow of blood and nutrients to joint structures, increased neuromuscular coordination, decreased risk of low back pain, improved posture and reduced muscular tension.

4. Body Composition. Body composition refers to the relative percentage of body weight that consists of body fat and fat-free mass (everything other than fat such as muscles, organs, blood, bones and water). Generally speaking, the lower your body fat percentage the better because of the diseases linked to excess body fat such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and sleep disorders. I am often asked, “Can you be fat and fit?” The answer is an overwhelming NO. A significant element of fitness is the possession of a healthy body fat percentage because increased fat leads to decreased athletic performance and increased risk of disease (although it is possible to be overweight and healthy since health is merely the absence of disease or illness). According to the American Council on Exercise, the average body-fat percentage for men is 18-24%. For fit men the percentage is 14-17%. The average percentage for women is 25-31%; however fit women will be in the range of 21-24%. Body-fat percentages above 25% for men and 32% for women are considered obese.…

The Three Types of Health We All Need

When we hear the word health, we probably think first of our physical health… Our mental health and our financial health come second and third.

But, as with all things, we should look for balance in life; and although our physical health is the most important of the three, it is good to realize that one without the other two does not make for a great life. We have to maintain all three if we are going to have the optimum existence; we must work at all three if we are to find any sort of peace in our daily lives.

Our physical health is the basis to our daily ability of movement and general achievement. If we are not physically healthy, it will effect both our mental and our financial health; if we feel unwell or unable, then we are mentally challenged through each day to overcome the pain we endure and the lack of movement we battle against. Added to this, we are less likely to be on our game when it comes to earning money and we are more likely to spend our time in medical treatment centers which will cost us money.

When it comes to our mental health, we are dealing with emotions, the most notoriously difficult aspect of our existence, the hardest thing to overcome, the most powerful part of any human; if we can learn to control or come to terms with our emotions then we have the ability to achieve anything; our mind is our strongest ally when it works for us and our biggest enemy when it conspires against us, it is the one thing we have with us all the time, chattering away, telling us that we can (or cannot) do something; our mind has the ability to cause illness or avoid illness, it has the strength to give us the adrenaline to enact feats of heroism or collapse into moments of weakness and desperation. Positive mental health is imperative if we are to be happy.

Financial health is the least important of the three, yet it has the power to breed confidence. If we are financially stable we have the ability to enjoy many forms of freedom, to experience numerous ways of life, to devour unending types of pleasure. However, the imbalance of financial ‘success’ can also cause enormous amounts of stress, the responsibilities mount up with the assets, the inequalities with our mental and physical health can grow more acute with the financial burdens. The other end of the scale is no more attractive – financial poverty often leads to mental and physical poverty too. Balance is essential if we are to find what we truly desire.

To achieve the balance required, to come to a place of physical, mental and financial health is not easy. We are (as in so many things) ‘miseducated’ about what we truly need and what we can truly do without; we are not encouraged to find a balance in life, we are …

Lentils Health Benefits – Nutritional Facts of Masoor Dal

Lentils are an integral part of the daily diet in India. Rich in proteins, lentils have an earthy, nutty flavor and come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. From the south Indian staple Tuvar dal to the ‘very lite to digest’ Moong dal, to the ‘packed with power’ Chana dal, to the oft fermented Urad dal, and on to the ‘vegetarians delight’ Masoor dal; they all have their pride of place in the Indian kitchen. It is now a scientifically proven fact that eating nutrient-rich lentils can curtail several kinds of medical problems.

Compared to other legumes like Rajma, Cowpeas, Black Beans, etc., lentils have a shorter cooking time, and they don’t require to be soaked. Lentils are thus very easy to cook and a perfect addition to all meals.

Masoor dal or Red lentil is a vegetarian’s delight. Its color and flavor make it one of the tastiest lentils. It is extensively used in Ayurveda as it has several medicinal properties. Rich in antioxidants it is anti cancerous and good for anemic people. Apart from this roasted powder makes an excellent face and body scrub.

Power to lentils:

Lentils, come from the legume family and are packed with nutrition. Protein dense lentils have numerous health benefits. Not only packed with dietary fiber, folate and iron they are full of calcium, potassium, zinc, several vitamins, and niacin. Listed below are the full health benefits of lentils which will make you reach for your daily fix of dal.

Lean protein: For vegetarians, lentils are the third major source of proteins after soybeans and hemp. A cup of cooked lentils gives about 18 grams of protein. What is wonderful is that this is lean protein without any cholesterol or saturated fat. Though they do not contain all the amino acids combining them with rice or wheat provides the complete range of proteins.

Complex carbohydrates: Lentils contain a high amount of complex carbohydrates which burn slowly so that you feel fuller for longer.

Balances blood sugar: Presence of soluble fiber and manganese helps in stabilizing and balancing blood sugar levels.

Decreases blood pressure: Some good news for people with high blood pressure! The potassium, calcium, and manganese present in lentils help in lowering blood pressure.

Monitors digestive disorders: Lentils have a high amount of insoluble fiber which is great for reducing digestive disorders like constipation, flatulence, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Reduces cholesterol: Regular intake of lentils reduces arterial and blood cholesterol thereby reducing the risk of stroke and keeping your heart healthy.

Fights obesity: Full of fiber, proteins and several minerals, lentils act as a bulking agent, keeping hunger pangs at bay. They are very low in calories thus helping in weight management.

Provides energy: Lentils are full of iron and provide you with instant energy to keep you going. Eating lentils is a great way to fight fatigue, especially for women.

Fights cancer: Selenium present in lentils fights inflammation thus reducing tumors. It stimulates the production of cancer-killing cells in the body …