What IS Fitness?

Photo Credit: lululemon athletica CC-BY-2.0
What does it mean to be fit? What is fitness? Your level of fitness is measured by your ability to do physical activity. It’s more than just being able to run for 5 miles or lift weights for an hour. Fitness is measured by your strength, endurance, body fat and flexibility. Your overall level of physical fitness is measured by your cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular endurance and strength, flexibility and body composition.
Cardio-respiratory endurance is your body’s ability to efficiently move fuel and oxygen through your body and remove waste products during physical exercise. Cardio exercises that can help improve your endurance include brisk walking, jogging, running, bicycling and swimming. Any aerobic activity that increases your heart rate will help improve your cardio-respiratory endurance.
Muscle strength is the force exerted by your muscles. Muscle endurance is the ability of your muscle to continue to exert that force without becoming fatigued. Your muscles grow stronger when you use them to work against a weight or gravity. Resistance exercises, such as lifting weights, resistance machines and push-ups, help improve your muscle strength. Sustained muscle workouts help improve your muscle endurance. Perform repetitive weight/resistance exercises to increase muscle endurance. Increase the weight or number of repetitions when you can exercise without experiencing muscle fatigue to continue improving your muscle strength and endurance.
Flexibility is the range of motion of your joints and muscles. Improving your flexibility can reduce your risk of injury from strains and sprains. Stretching and swimming are great ways to improve your flexibility. Yoga and Pilates can also help improve your range of motion by increasing your flexibility.
Your body composition is the ratio of muscle, fat and bone. Your weight is not a good indication of your body composition. You cannot assess how much of your weight is muscle and how much is fat just by weighing yourself. There are numerous ways to assess the ratio of body fat to lean muscle and bone. Your doctor can do an fairly accurate assessment of your body composition. Fitness experts can also help you assess your body composition and advise as to the best way to lose the fat and build lean muscle.

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