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How is you're endurance?
Health advice
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Do you enjoy watching the TV shows where one contestant pits her strength and endurance against another? Would you last any time as a Survivor or would you get axed in the first round?
The ability to endure, to bear up, to withstand stress, to carry on in circumstances where an unfit person could not continue is what pits one contestant against another on these shows. The examples of physical fitness among people of different ages, spiced with interesting personality traits is the drawing card for viewers.
But physical fitness is not just something to watch, it is the basis for good health and well-being in all of us. It is to the human body what tuning is to an engine. When physical fit, we are able to perform to our potential. In addition to the performance of the heart and lungs and muscles, fitness influences qualities such as alertness and emotional stability.  
Scientists have found that people who are active at a moderate level experience a long list of health benefits. Physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Inactive people, on the other hand, are at risk for disease and lose muscle fiber at a rate of three to five percent every decade after age 30. That's 30 percent lost by age 60.
Body composition is often considered a component of fitness. It refers to the makeup of the body in terms of lean mass (muscle, bone, vital tissue and organs) and fat mass. An optimal ratio of fat to lean mass is an indication of fitness, and the right types of exercise will help you decrease fat and increase or maintain muscle mass. To understand what causes physical fitness, it helps to understand four essential components:
Cardio-respiratory endurance - the ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues, and to remove wastes over sustained periods of time.
Muscular strength - the ability of a muscle to exert force for a brief period of time.
Muscular endurance - the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions or to continue applying force against a fixed object.
Flexibility - the ability to move joints and use muscles through their range of motion.
Obviously one of the keys to a life of fitness is consistency. But it is also important to know that it is never too late to start exercising. Poor muscle tone and flexibility can always be improved no matter how out of shape or old you are.
Here's how to make exercise a habit:
• Choose an exercise that fits your lifestyle and that you enjoy. When possible, find a partner.
• Choose more than one type of exercise to give your body a thorough workout and to prevent boredom. You might also want to choose one indoor exercise and one outdoor activity to allow for changes in your schedule and the weather.
• Tailor your program to your own fitness level and set realistic goals. Don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results.
• Give your body a chance to adjust to your new routine and remember to build some rest days into your schedule. Don't give up if you miss a day. Work toward being active at least 30 minutes a day, for 10 minutes at a time, five days a week. Then gradually increase the time. Find out what your fitness potential is.
• Listen to your body. If you have difficulty breathing or experience faintness or prolonged weakness during or after exercise, consult your physician.
Physical fitness equates to a healthier body and mental attitude. You'll know this is so because you'll feel so much better and you'll begin to believe that you could be a survivor.

Ratcliffe works with the Coastal Health District.

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