The urge to be physically fit is not a new phenomenon; over the ages men have strived to achieve the perfect body. Only, by now, they have hundreds of advanced fitness programs at their disposal to sculpt their body and maintain sound health. In earlier times, the sole purpose of physical fitness was to carry out daily work. But now, with immense technical support, daily work requires a physical labor. Therefore, fitness regimes of different levels of difficulty are needed now more than ever.

Types of Programs

Fitness programs can be broadly categorized into three main components: aerobic, strength training and stretching.

Aerobic routines mainly involve exercises of low intensity and high durability. Stairmaster, treadmill, jogging, cycling, Nordic walking, swimming and kickboxing are all exercises that belong to this category.

Strength training is an anaerobic form of fitness program aimed at harnessing strength and endurance while increasing the size of skeletal muscles. Pilates, Super Slow or working with equipments like Swiss Balls and Indian clubs are some common methods of strength training.

Stretching, as a fitness routine, is often done before the other forms of exercises to increase muscle flexibility, which is important to avoid injuries and cramps. The amount to which a body can stretch differs from person to person. For instance, females can stretch more than males.

Benefits

Apart from overall toning of muscles, strengthening heart muscles to increase its pumping efficiency, strengthening respiratory muscles for better use of the inspired air and general improvement of mental and physical health are few of the benefits of aerobic exercises.

Strength training is adopted by individuals, mainly men, wishing to develop a more attractive physique, with bulging muscles. Women, due to lack of testosterone, can not gain as much volume as men but can achieve a 'toned' figure. Strength training increases flexibility and durability, so individuals following this routine are less susceptible to injuries during daily activities.

Stretching, done about 15 minutes prior to other exercise or before participating in sporting activities loosens up the skeletal muscles, thereby minimizing risks of sprain and cramps and improving physical performance.

Myths

Weight training turns fat into muscle: The body gains muscle through weight training and with strict diet and aerobics loses fat. The two processes are separate and not merely a conversion.

You should lose weight before weight training: Weight training not just helps gaining muscle, but also burns up calories, thus reducing fat.

As long as you exercise you can eat anything that you want: Probably a comfort thought, but a myth anyhow. The basic principle of losing weight is to burn more calories than consuming. No matter how much you work out, the only way to shed the extra kilos is by accommodating it with a restricted diet.

It is safer to lift weights slowly: As long as you are in control of the movements during lifting and lowering of weights, there is little chance of injury. In fact, speeding up the process, if one feels comfortable with it, can actually activate more muscle fibers, giving more muscular gain.

If you exercise hard enough, you will definitely get the results you want: Again, a reassuring idea, but not entirely true. Yes, exercising rigorously will give you results, but extremely, how much the body can respond to the workout depends a lot on genetics. For this reason, the same routine may produce different results in different individuals.

Prevention and Care

Although it is a healthy choice to opt for a fitness program, it is advised to consult a physician before underrating any particular routine to avoid short-term and long-term injuries.