There are many aspects to physical conditioning. This includes aerobic and anaerobic training for muscles, the cardio-vascular system, and other systems of the body. Conditioning also includes diet. The goal here is not to go into detail on each aspect of conditioning, since this information is readily available elsewhere.
Physical conditioning can be done for general health, or past that, for athletic performance. The three keys factors in exercise are as follows.
|Frequency--how often you work out|
|Duration--how long your workout lasts|
|Intensity--how hard you work out|
The body is very efficient and will respond by growing to meet the needs you place upon it, as long as what you do is appropriate for your current level of fitness. If the body is asked to do activity that is too far past its current level, a negative response will occur.
Physical conditioning for general health need only be mild activity (intensity), which raises the heart rate to about 60 to 70 percent of VO2 maximum (this formula can be obtained from charts available from many fitness resources). This should be done for about 20 to 60 minutes (duration) and averaging three times per week (frequency). The key to conditioning for general health is to be consistent, which means focus on your frequency.
Training for athletic performance requires increasing effort in all three areas of physical conditioning. Intensity and duration, as well as frequency, become increasingly more important as higher performance levels are desired.
In the early stages of conditioning for a specific sport, doing that sport generally will produce positive results. Once a more advanced level is reached, supplementary exercise such as running and weight training may be required to effectively increase performance.
At the highest level of training for athletic performance is conditioning like that for a professional athlete. This requires a life style change, since sleeping and eating habits must be altered and a strict schedule for all daily activities must be followed. This requires a much greater time commitment and is unrealistic for most people.
In summation, conditioning can be done for general health at one end of the spectrum, to training at a professional level at the other end. Each individual must decide on his or her personal goals and engage in a routine appropriate for those goals. In any event, frequency, duration, and intensity are the three key factors which should be considered.
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