Four Key Components of the Fitness Lifestyle

Man and Women with great fitness bicyclingThe Fitness Lifestyle isn’t EASY But it is SIMPLE!

The fitness lifestyle as I describe it in part one of this series is one that brings great opportunities and challenges – all of them positive and worthwhile. There is no “downside” to choosing for one’s health and fitness needs because any energy expended toward this worthy goal always yields something that encourages and inspires us. I thought it important to share some additional thoughts on this subject since I am now in the stage of my life where health risks naturally rise and the timeline shortens. Many of my classmates from high school are dying now so it is important that I share additional information on “living as though there is no time left”.


The idea that there will always be “more time” for us to make necessary changes to our lives is inaccurate. There is only a finite amount of time available to each of us in this life and it is important to face our key issues earlier in life and not later when there is little anyone can do about our circumstances. We are the “cause” of all that happens to us in life and the “results” we see are the outcome of our choices. To exercise or not exercise, eat healthfully or not, deal with stress or not, plan for our future health needs or our retirement – we face these and other choices every day and it is in how we prioritize them that we will either fail or succeed.

My “future self” will happen the way I want him to if I am thoughtful about my training today. Every day of our lives provides us with an opportunity to prepare for our later years by choosing what it is we want to be in later life and this includes the following:

The Four Key Components of the Fitness Lifestyle

1. Cardiovascular training

Our hearts are the center of our beings. The heart pumps blood and nutrients and I feel this part of training is critical to my future so I plan my runs every day – thoughtfully and carefully. I am using new techniques this year that I have not used before and through this new pattern of training I am becoming a more versatile and flexible runner. Speed, endurance, and power come from the heart.  If our hearts are stressed properly age becomes “only a number”. In my case I am using high intensity interval training, steady state training, hill climbs and other variables in my daily sessions to insure my resting heart rate remains low and my training heart rate is adaptable – and capable – of handling the “loads” I provide it during my training.

2. Strength training

I am using multiple set, multi exercise training methods in my strength training sessions. I am currently employing 16 exercises using a variety of modes from free weights to machines to accomplish my goals of increasing my strength, power and endurance. I am using the pyramid where I increase the weight with each set and then decrease it on the declining sets. I am also doing what I call “super sets” where I will do as many as 100 reps for one set and continue that strategy through heavier sets by not focusing on range of motion but speed and limited movement. Each set is different and each exercise stimulates my body in different ways. The key is to keep making changes over time to your routine so that continued growth and flexibility increase opportunities for doing the activities that interest you most.

3. Flexibility

Flexibility is a key component to preventing age related challenges from becoming debilitating and ultimately life changing. Stretching every day is critical to a healthy life and focuses our attention on how our bodies are responding to the training stimulus we provide it with each training session. Scheduling flexibility training time is essential to preventing injury and encouraging balance in our lives. Balance is a function of thought and action. Through our minds we connect our feelings and our thoughts and this translates into creating new ideas about how we want to be in the world. Stretching BOTH our minds and our bodies is good idea if we want to remain young and vital.

4. Planning for results

Planning for results is a daily activity for me. I think about my plan for my health and fitness needs every day and I record my results in a journal. For my runs there is my runner’s calendar in which I note times, speeds, program selection, accumulated mileage and day to day progress. I also record milestone performances and records I set along the way month to month. At the end of the year I have a total “picture” of my year and can then make decisions about what I want to accomplish next in my ongoing efforts to remain strong, vital and capable of doing the things I love most. With strength conditioning and training I record the resistances used, number of sets accomplished and the totals for the session that then allows me the opportunity to make changes to my program as necessary. Finally, flexibility and stretching remain a challenge for me – a “work in progress” – and I suspect we ALL have those to deal with every day of our lives. I will in the final analysis develop as I go – the operative word being “go”!

Final Thoughts

The fitness lifestyle is not EASY but it is SIMPLE. You either buy into it – or you don’t. If you accept the challenges of creating a healthy body and mind then the next step is obvious – you start and keep going! The rewards are enormous and because I AM now in my 60’s training for my 70’s I can tell you it never stops being a challenge for me but it is one I embrace with all my heart and mind. I LOVE training and it never gets old for me. I get up each day KNOWING I am going to run or lift weights and challenge myself as I never have before – and it FEELS great!  Live like this and see what happens to you. Make the choice to become more than you ever dreamed possible and commit yourself to not only training but having FUN and you WILL be surprised at the result!

Author Profile: Nick Prukop

Website:      Email: [email protected] Nick is an author, teacher, and speaker and has been a certified personal trainer and lifestyle and weight management consultant since 1992. He is currently recognized as a master trainer by the IDEA International Health and Fitness Association. He has been a runner since 1964 and has accumulated over 60,000 miles in that time.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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