There are many definitions and misconceptions about what constitutes “fitness.” It can be defined as a state of being healthy and fit, and more specifically, the capacity to do physical activities and parts of everyday activities. Physical fitness usually involves proper nutrition, frequent moderate-to-vigorous activity, and adequate rest. It is not a specific number or total quantity of calories; rather, it refers to having the appropriate body composition for one’s height and age. While fitness is usually associated with sports and exercise, it also encompasses activities such as gardening, caring for children, playing musical instruments, taking part in physical therapy, participating in recreational activities, going for medical appointments, gardening and other housework, and more. In some ways, fitness is similar to how one views oneself.
For many people, the definition of fitness relates to being healthy and strong. Being healthy and strong does not necessarily mean being overweight or underweight; rather, it is an overall sense of well being, or bettering one’s self-image. This is important for women, who are increasingly more conscious about their appearance and health issues. A healthy body is also essential for avoiding common illnesses such as breast cancer, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. One’s level of fitness affects not only the current physical condition but the future as well.
While it may seem difficult to incorporate fitness into one’s daily life, there are many small things that people can do to improve their health and fitness. Exercising regularly is a good way to get started; it involves slow, measured movement that is low impact. Walking, running, jogging, swimming and bicycling are good examples of exercises that involve steady, low-impact movement. In doing so, these exercises provide the body with the opportunity to work on developing good posture, muscles and joints while getting the heart pumping and strengthening the immune system.
Strength and muscle endurance are important for maintaining healthy joints and bones. They are also often used in strength training to increase strength and build muscle mass. Flexibility exercises are often used in resistance training to help build and tone muscles, increasing overall muscular endurance. Aerobic exercise is often used for weight loss and conditioning, improving cardiovascular fitness. These exercises improve body composition, reducing fat and emphasizing muscles for increased strength and mobility.
In order to successfully develop a fitness routine, an individual must first determine their individual fitness goals. These goals can include increasing muscle mass, decreasing body fat percentage, increasing cardiovascular endurance, or increasing muscular endurance. A training program should start with a careful assessment of an individual’s current health status and medical history, to assess current physical capabilities and any potential obstacles that might be encountered during fitness training. Then a training program can be devised that will help to achieve the desired goals. A comprehensive fitness program should include cardiovascular training, flexibility training, and strengthening activities such as weight training and aerobics.
Fitness professionals recommend that everyone get a minimum of thirty minutes of exercise on a daily basis to keep the body fit and healthy. Fitness professionals also recommend that a combination of diet and exercise be used to improve overall fitness. A well-balanced fitness program will help to increase strength and muscle endurance, while decreasing body fat and cholesterol.