What is Physical Fitness (PF)? Well, According to the American College of Sports Medicine our PF has 5 categories: cardiorespiratory or aerobic fitness, body composition, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. Our ability in each category can be assessed and increased with some very simple methods, so let’s start our quest with Aerobic Fitness (AF). AF involves our ability (heart, lungs, and muscles) to utilize oxygen as energy for sustained physical activity. AF has been linked to: increased cognitive/mental ability, positive mood, restful sleep, proper sex functioning and lean body composition. Those are more than a few reasons to get aerobically fit. I bet now you’re thinking, “Just how do I improve my AF?” Well, the answer is: one simple old mile at a time. No matter if it’s the city or a country variety, any type of mile will do!
Completing one mile as fast possible can help predict your aerobic health. So let’s get that cardio up. Step 1: initially assess your aerobic fitness via a test like the “The Rockport 1 Mile Walk Test.” Step 2: Design an aerobic workout from your one mile time. For ease let’s use a standard running track (1600 meters/4 laps) and good mile goal time (16min.) for our base. Here is the basic premise of this workout: walking faster speeds for shorter distances will help the body adapt to the stress of the task, grow stronger, and let you move faster for longer. The following are some sample workouts to help decrease your one mile time:
Because we are training for the mile, you will complete a mile in each workout. Fitness isn’t rocket science, so don’t get complicated. If your present exercise program involves distance workouts, just add in some speed work (2-3x a week) always making sure to alternate days (distance vs. speed). After a few weeks, increase the workout intensity by decreasing either: the time to complete the distance or the rest time between each repetition, but never adjust both in the same week. For those folks that like to run, simply cut the above workout times in half (8 min. mile = 2min. x 400meters, 1min. x 200meters, 30secs. x 100meters) and pick up the pace. When you feel a mile just ain’t cutting it for ya any more, upgrade to the “1.5 Mile Run Test” for your next aerobic fitness goal, apply the same simple steps and beat feet.
Stay Active, Stay Strong,
James F. Thomas, M.S., B.A., ACSM EP-C, SFGII, BLS
Joshua Gray, BS, CSCS. NASM CES, USATF 1