Fitness is an all-encompassing term that encompasses many aspects of life. Physical fitness refers to a condition of well-being and health, and more specifically, the capacity to do various parts of normal activities, jobs and sports. Fitness is usually achieved through proper nutrition, regular-intensity physical activity, adequate rest, and adequate restorative sleep. It is also important to determine your level of fitness before undertaking new fitness programs or modifying an existing fitness program. For example, if you are currently sedentary or overweight, you may want to talk to your doctor about how adding a stair master race to your routine will help improve your fitness level.
Exercise is defined as any activity that increases an individual’s ability to move his or her body at a maximum level of efficiency. Fitness can be measured in numerous ways, including pulse, heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle strength. The definition of an ideal fitness level is relative to age, gender, and other factors. Fitness professionals agree that there are five key areas of physical activity that are important to maintaining an individual’s overall health and fitness: cardiovascular fitness, endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, and body composition. In order to be considered fit, an individual must demonstrate these five areas at a minimum and exceed them at least weekly.
Cardiovascular fitness means a steady rate of heart rate during exercise and the maintenance of an appropriate maximum heart rate for age and physical condition. Aerobic fitness, on the other hand, involves the movement of the lungs and heart during breathing exercises, such as exercising while sitting down or standing up, without consuming oxygen. Flexibility refers to the ability of the joints to bend and twist without injury. Body composition is the ratio of fat to muscle and the percentage of calories that come from fat vs. those taken from carbohydrates.
The other five areas of consideration when considering fitness are flexibility, muscular strength, body composition, and aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity involves the energy needed to complete an exercise session; it can also be calculated by multiplying the time it takes for a heart rate to reach its peak power (in beats) with the amount of oxygen needed (milliliters of oxygen per minute). Body weight and body fat can be measured using bioelectrical impedance and body composition can be calculated by using the percentage body weight. The healthy person can maintain their current level of fitness for up to six months by following a plan of specific intervals of exercise and relaxation. Low intensity interval training (LIT) has been shown to be very effective in improving fitness, body weight, and body fat.
Fitness professionals agree that a physically fit individual is more likely to live a long, disease free life. An individual who is fit has greater stamina and is less likely to get sick on a daily basis. For example, someone who exercises regularly is considered fit if they can complete a mile within three minutes, while an inactive person would have a difficult time completing a mile. A fit person is also considered to be more likely to have strong bones and muscles as well as a healthy nervous system.
Strength is also a factor in fitness. Fitness experts agree that muscle strength alone can improve circulation and reduce the risk of heart disease, while muscle flexibility improves circulation and bone density. Aerobic fitness includes cardiovascular conditioning such as running or cycling. Flexibility, on the other hand, encompasses activities that improve and tone the joints. To get the most from fitness, it is recommended to incorporate all five of these factors to achieve the best overall fitness.