What is fitness?

"Fitness" is a broad term that means something different to each person, but it refers to your own optimal health and overall well-being. Being fit not only means physical health, but emotional and mental health, too. It defines every aspect of your health. Smart eating and active living are fundamental to fitness.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Complete Food and Nutrition Guide (3rd ed.), when you are fit, you have:
  • Energy to do what's important to you and to be more productive
  • Stamina and a positive outlook to handle the mental challenges and emotional ups and downs of everyday life and to deal with stress
  • Reduced risk for many health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis
  • The chance to look and feel your best
  • Physical strength and endurance to accomplish physical challenges
  • A better chance for a higher quality of life and perhaps a longer life, too

Fitness includes five essential components, flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular endurance, muscular strength, and body composition. Fitness is vitally important to health and wellness as well as to the ability to engage in normal activities of daily living (ADLs) without excessive fatigue. Physical activity and exercise training programs should be designed with the intent of improving each of the key components of health-related physical fitness in addition to preventing chronic disease (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis etc.)

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Fitness is a very personal term!  Fitness is is having a healthy mind, body, and spirit to allow you to maximize your potential and help others maximize their potential.  Your definition of fitness will be influenced by your interests, physical abilities, and goals.

Being physically fit and healthy involves having a fit:
1. Mind
2. Body
3. Spirit 
Fitness is the ability to function efficiently in an active environment that suits your personal interests and goals. You should have your own unique definition and create a baseline that you can build on throughout your life.
Your fitness goals should always be realistic and something you look forward to as part of your active lifestyle. Whether it's running a marathon or taking a walk, always operate in an environment that you can manage. 
Bob Greene
Bob Greene on behalf of The Best Life

Functional fitness refers to how well you’re able to do all the physical tasks you need to do each day. For example, if you’re functionally fit, you can carry a bag of groceries without strain, bend down to pick up laundry from the floor without pulling a muscle, lift a child without injuring your back or even perform regular exercise. A large factor in functional fitness is flexibility - and staying active can help. Movement helps loosen up the body, keeping muscles limber.

Fitness is the condition of being physically fit and healthy and involves attributes that include, but are not limited to mental acuity, cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, and flexibility. While there is a standard definition for fitness, each individual can have their own personal understanding of what fitness means. To some individuals, being fit means the ability to complete a marathon or lift a lot of weight. To another, it could mean walking around the block without becoming short of breath. Your definition of fitness will be influenced by your interests, physical abilities, and goals. No matter what the definition, it is important for every individual to keep their personal definition of fitness within a healthy framework This means you should have realistic expectations and maintain balance and moderation in all aspects of life. Set small , attainable goals and avoid giving too much power to the numerical measurements of fitness. This can help your journey to fitness seem much less daunting and much more enjoyable.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.