Maximize Your “Fitness” Time

Health & Wellness

Tips for Living Healthy in South Arkansas

Jason Rogers
Manager, JRMC Wellness Centers

Just as in life, there are many clichés in the realm of health and fitness. One that most of us have heard is: “doing something is better than doing nothing”. While that may be true, is that the extent to which we value our time and effort? Not me! And as a result, I strive to make sure I am getting maximum benefit out of the time I do have. The time we dedicate to our health should be highly valued as well. In the interest of maximizing your “fitness time”, I’d like to introduce the overload principle.

The overload principle states that in order to continue making gains from your exercise program, you must find some way to make it more challenging. During my last few orientations at the Wellness Center I have found myself really emphasizing the importance of overload, almost pleading with people to increase the “difficulty” of their workouts over time. The variables available to us to accomplish this can be remembered with the acronym FITT: Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.

Frequency refers to how often we perform the health/fitness related activity. For example, the recommended minimum frequency for cardiovascular exercise is most days of the week (that’s 4 or more), with 2 or 3 (nonconsecutive) days per week per body part recommended for strength training.

Intensity is how hard we work during the physical activity. Depending on the activity, intensity can be measured in different ways. Heart rate levels correlate directly with the intensity of cardiovascular exercise. Intensity during strength training can be measured by the amount of weight lifted during a workout. When you are training for flexibility, intensity is very closely related to the time variable as the longer a stretch is held, the more intense it becomes.

Time is simply how long the activity lasts. We mentioned above that the recommended frequency for cardiovascular exercise was 4 or more days per week. The recommended duration for each of those sessions is at least 30 minutes. Typically, the longer an activity is continuously performed, the more difficult it becomes.

The last variable that we have is Type. This refers to the specific physical activity we choose to accomplish our goals. This is fairly straightforward. If your goal is to run a marathon, you will want to do more running, not dumbbell biceps curls.

So, utilizing the FITT variables, we can readily make modifications to ensure that we are always overloading. If we want a well-conditioned cardiovascular system, we should pick a cardiovascular exercise and (over time) do it for longer periods of time, with more intensity, more often. To be stronger we must lift increasingly more weight. If we do these things, our bodies will adapt, because that’s how they were made!

The JRMC Wellness Centers, located in Pine Bluff and White Hall, offer a variety of fitness options for all ages and interests. Free weights, machines, cardio equipment, personal trainers and a full schedule of Les Mills classes are available at both facilities. For more information call the Pine Bluff (541-7890) or White Hall (850-8000) facility.


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