Why do we need fitness?

Sylvia Braaten (left) says that one good way to maintain one's fitness is to lift weights in the Totino-Grace weight room (right).

Sylvia Braaten (left) says that one good way to maintain one's fitness is to lift weights in the Totino-Grace weight room (right).

Conner Samson, Editor

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     What does fitness mean? According to google.com, fitness is “the condition of being physically fit and healthy.” Both health.usnews.com and mayoclinic.org say that regular physical activity is one of the best ways to be healthy and fit.

Sylvia Braaten, the strength and conditioning coach at Totino Grace high school, believes that being fit is important for sports performance and life in general. Being able to perform not only better at one’s sport, but also to recover faster from practices, training and games were two main points she stressed. “Being fit for your sport is really important in terms of maximizing your performance on the field, court, or whatever your domain is,” said Mrs. Braaten. In terms of your sport, certain positions will require different demands of fitness. An example she used was in soccer, comparing the goalie position, which is stationary in the goal for periods of time, versus a midfielder or forward, who is constantly in pursuit of the ball. For life in general she said that, “Cardiovascular health is important to increase your longevity and your quality of life, especially as we get older and as we age the better quality of life we will be able to maintain.” Health.usnews.com said that physical acitvity is important for many reasons, such as: “stronger ability to fight off illnesses, quicker recovery from illnesses and injuries, improved overall cardiovascular health due to increased strength and resiliency in the heart muscle, arteries and blood vessels; more efficient metabolism, decreased depression, anxiety and stress; improved mental ability, and better cholesterol through higher levels of high-density lipoproteins” (soluble proteins which combine with transport fat and other lipids in the blood plasma). One should exercise daily, performing activities that promote cardiovascular health (aerobic, meaning with air), build strength and increase flexibility and balance. mayoclinic.org says that at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity should be performed a week.

Besides being physically active, Mrs. Braaten said, “Your diet also plays a tremendous contributor to your fitness level. How you eat, what you eat and when you eat will largely determine how fit and healthy you will be. This ties in with physical activity, for eating a healthy diet helps with sports performance and recovery.”

There are plenty of opportunities to increase your fitness level at Totino-Grace. Besides seasonal sports, there is offseason training available to any student, involving lifting and speed, agility and conditioning training. An example of this is the winter lifting program, which allows students to choose between a three day or four day lifting schedule. Partnered with this are opportunities for running and speed and training. In the summer, speed and strength camps are offered. This camp takes place on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays for high-school students. This allows for another opportunity to improve one’s fitness before they participate in a fall sport.

When asked by ENN what the best way to keep fit is, Mrs. Braaten responded, “The best way to keep fit is to be consistent with your training year round and with your strength training through lifting. This will help your general fitness and strength. In terms of general fitness, running, elliptical, biking, swimming and cross-training, (playing different sports outside of one’s mainstream sport).” For sports specific fitness, Mrs. Braaten offered ways to change up one’s speed training to allow them to be fast for repeated bouts in their sport(s). Some variations in speed training include, but are not limited to: different intervals, modified length of sprint, and modified rest.

Being fit is crucial for living a healthy and productive lifestyle. Fitness affects many areas of life, including your mind, sports performance, and recovery from illness and injuries. There are many opportunities to maintain your fitness at Totino-Grace, such as through sports, the Totino-Grace weight room, and summer strength and speed programs. Take advantage of these opportunities, and increase other controllable areas of your health such as sleep and diet. Explore these and other ways to maintain your fitness today!