Yin and Yang of Healthy Living, Part 2
By Bridget Magnus on February 05, 2012
You will never get in shape through diet, and you will never control your weight through exercise.
Yesterday, we talked about diet. Today we talk about exercise. Together they work like two halves of a fitness and health puzzle that fit together perfectly.
To clarify my initial statement, exercise makes a great part of a weight loss strategy. However, if all you do is add a few workouts to a crappy diet, you won't get good results. It would be more accurate and less pithy to say that you will never control your weight through exercise alone.
Visualize with me, if you will, a table with 3 legs. It will look a lot like this one from Amazon:
Now, imagine that we label these legs strength, cardio, and flexibility. Each of these is an important part of fitness. Strength, briefly, is your ability to lift and move things. That includes moving your own body. Cardio is shorthand for cardiovascular or cardio-resperatory fitness, your ability to provide oxygenated blood to your muscles while you move. Flexibility is the ability to move your joints through a complete range of motion -- for example, moving your arm around in a big circle or lifting your leg up in front of you and putting it back down again.
At this point, some people violently disagree with me. "What about endurance? Agility? Speed? Coordination? Balance? Accuracy? Sports performance? You idiot!" Here's my answer: all those are abilities you put on top of the table, like you'd put books or a vase on a real-life table. They'll slide off if you don't already have 3 legs to support it!
Let's say you have to go to the grocery store to buy a 20 pound bag of something: cat food, rice, water softener salt, bag of ice, whatever, it doesn't matter. You will still need to be able to walk through the store, because these things are invariably near the back. You'll have to kneel down to pick it up, because it's on the bottom shelf (wouldn't want it falling on someone). You'll have to lift it and carry it to the cashier, then out to your car. To do those things, you need cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility. If you don't have that, it doesn't matter how fast you can do it, how long you can carry the bag, how precisely you can lay it down on the cashier's conveyor belt, or anything else.
So, not surprisingly, an exercise regimen for a beginner must focus on becoming more strong, getting a healthier heart through cardio training, and becoming more flexible through activities like stretching or yoga. An exercise regimen for someone more advanced can certainly include training for such qualities as endurance, speed, and agility.