Are you fit?

20 September 2021


Some people have lots of it, others only a little: fitness. People talk about it all the time – but what actually is it and why is it important for your health? 5 things you didn’t know about fitness. 

1. Fitness is more than just endurance
Fitness and endurance are commonly often used interchangeably. But that’s not quite right, because your endurance is about how long you can sustain a lengthy effort like running or cycling. Can your muscles absorb enough oxygen? Is your heart pumping the blood around fast enough? The umbrella term ‘fitness’ is about much more than that, namely your performance on the five basic motor skills that define our physical ability, namely: agility, strength, speed, coordination and endurance.

2. There is a clear link between fitness and quality of life
Good fitness is not just beneficial because it means you can walk up stairs without panting. Your chances of living longer also increase significantly. For instance, good fitness has a positive impact on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, building bones and nutrient absorption in your muscle cells. You also feel more energetic and happier when you’re fit. Furthermore, recent research has shown that your cognitive performance benefits from physical exercise. In other words: you become more productive and sharper.

3. You can measure for yourself how good or poor your fitness is
You can assess your fitness with some tests at the gym or by doing a breath gas analysis with an exercise physiologist or a sports medicine adviser. But you can also test your fitness yourself by reviving the classic old-school Cooper test: running really fast for 12 minutes to cover as many metres as possible – after a good warm-up, of course. What constitutes a good score depends on your age and gender. If you are a woman of around 40, for instance, then running two kilometres in 12 minutes is an excellent score.

4. Just running or cycling is not enough for good fitness
Endurance sport uses a lot of muscles, but it doesn’t make them grow. If you do a lot of cardio, you may even lose muscle mass. If you want to build and/or maintain fitness, in addition to devoting between half an hour and ninety minutes to endurance sport (cycling, skating, rowing, running or swimming at a heart rate around 70 to 85 per cent of your maximum heart rate) three times a week, it is advisable to do half an hour of strength training twice a week to build muscle.

5. Your fitness decreases by 1% every year after the age of 30
This is even greater if you don’t exercise, because sitting on the couch has never made anyone fitter. When you are ill, your fitness starts to decline after about one week. It takes a little longer on holiday, but after two weeks of doing nothing your muscle strength and endurance will start to decline. Fortunately, your fitness has ‘memory’, so you’ll quickly recover that when you start training again. You can also limit the 1% annual decline by exercising properly on a regular basis. The golden tip: combine strength training and endurance sport, and train in a varied way.

Fitness destroyers
Absolute fitness killers are smoking, a bad diet, not exercising and consuming alcohol and drugs.

How financially fit are you?
Besides a healthy life, you want a healthy pension. By staying aware of the pension market and react to it in a flexible way, we keep your pension in top condition. Do you already have a pension scheme with BeFrank? Then you can see how your pension is doing on your Personal Pension page. Here you will also find the most important updates. Do you not have a pension scheme with BeFrank yet? Ask your employer about the possibilities.