The overall benefit of fitness is improved quality of life.  Being able to do things that you enjoy and doing them for a longer period of time.  There are many benefits of a good fitness program that is followed routinely.  Short term benefits include a healthier heart, stronger muscles, bones, and joints, ability to cope with stress, as well as reduced feelings of depression or anxiety.  Long term benefits include the reduced risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and colon and breast cancer.  In addition, fitness plays a positive important role in atherosclerosis, asthma, osteoporosis, and low back pain. 


Until physical fitness becomes a habit, the effort to remain active may seen difficult.  When you first start a program, try to exercise at the same time every day.  You need to try to create a habit right from the beginning and you may alter your time and place later.  Block off a part of your day for physical activity.  Mark it off on your calendar or day planner and do that for several months in advance.  The most important is the fact that you have to do your physical fitness program regularly for at least 3 months.  It takes 3 months of repetition to form a habit. Fitness classes or groups provide a consistent approach to an activity as well as joining a local gym or participating in a team sport that will also allow for some competition.


Another benefit of fitness is called flexibility fitness in which, through stretching, you work to maintain normal movement.  Your muscles are repeatedly shortened when they are used, especially when exercising.  To counteract the shortening, your muscles need to be slowly and regularly stretched.  The stretching results in increased flexibility or your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion.  As you become more flexible, you will find it easier to perform normal activities and perform at higher levels in sport activities as well.  Benefits of flexibility include increased range of motion as well as balance and stability, increased blood circulation, and relaxation.  Doing stretching for 10-12 minutes/day is generally recommended.  Participating is activities such as dance, martial arts, tai chi, or yoga can allow you a way to be consistent in your flexibility fitness program.


Different activities provide different levels of aerobic fitness, strength, and flexibility.  Activities such as bicycling, whether outdoor or indoor stationary, running, jump roping, walking, and swimming will give you excellent aerobic fitness with a good strength component.  Activities that provide a good flexibility component to the exercise include martial arts, yoga, and gymnastics.  The most important part of fitness is choosing the right activity for you, one that you will enjoy and get the most benefit.  Mark your calendar today and start benefiting from your fitness program tomorrow.