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Fitness 101:;Many benefits of cardio, weight training

By Pfc. Dustin M. Rawls | | February 13, 2003

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A person's physical fitness level can reflect on him or her in many different lights and can also effect him or her in many ways. For servicemembers and their families, fitness levels can effect their health, the way they look and the way they feel about themselves. A Marine's Physical Fitness Test score is directly affected by the level at which a Marine performs in physical training, and, of course, PFT scores can effect promotions and, perhaps even duty assignments and responsibilities. In order to perform with excellence, it is important to know the basics behind staying physically fit and preventing injuries, said Rebecca Haug, fitness coordinator, Semper Fit. Haug highlighted different benefits of aerobic exercise and weight training that should be focused upon when intentions of becoming and staying fit are in place. Aerobic exercise, or cardiovascular exercise, can have effects on several components of physical health. "It has proven to increase blood volume, cause your heart to grow stronger, decrease blood pressure, and improve bone density," explained Haug. With all of the physical benefits also come emotional benefits. According to Haug, "Aerobic exercise improves productivity and self image, and it can help to relieve stress and depression." There is a minimum amount of time that should be spent in aerobic activity per week that is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine. "You should do cardiovascular exercise three to five days a week for at least 30 minutes at a time," said Haug. Cardiovascular exercises can include time on a treadmill, taking part in one of the station gym's aerobics classes and going on a run. "They're also recommending now that you are physically active at least 60 minutes during the day, everyday," Haug explained. Activities can include cleaning the house, walking to the store rather than driving and doing yard work. Weight training is recommended twice a week. When doing weight training, each muscle group should be targeted. "Biceps, triceps, deltoids, traps, lats, abs, hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles are all areas that should be targeted," said Haug. The most common motivation behind weight training is the desire to look better, bigger and stronger, but weight training offers many behind-the-scenes benefits too. "Weight training can decrease risk of injury, increase bone density and increase metabolism, which assists in weight loss," explained Haug. Haug said a big misconception in the fitness scene is that it is possible to spot reduce. Spot reducing is performing area specific exercises in hopes of doing away with excess fat in that area. According to Haug, "The way to burn excess fat is through cardiovascular exercise, and your diet, of course. Also, the more you weight train and the more muscle mass that you gain, the higher your metabolism is going to be, which is what we want." Weight training and aerobic exercise aid in injury prevention during physical activity, but in order to prevent injuries during training it is highly recommended to incorporate flexibility training into the training routine. "Static stretching is when you hold your stretch without bouncing, and it is the most recommended stretching to do," said Haug. When someone bounces or shakes while stretching, it's called ballistic stretching. There is a much greater risk of tearing something when performing ballistic stretches, explained Haug. Before doing any stretching it is recommended that a quick warm up is done. Something along the lines of a five minute jog on the treadmill will suffice, said Haug. Knowing the benefits and recommended dosages of cardiovascular and weight training is a great place to start in a quest to become physically fit. If cardiovascular and weight training are completely foreign to someone, the fitness trainers at the station's gym can teach them the exercises, weights and/or machines that need to be used in order to maximize training productivity. "You can either get a basic one-on-one orientation, or you can even get a full-blown personal program made," said Haug.
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