What is fitness?

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Sue Hitzmann
Fitness

That's a loaded question. In a nutshell, fitness is defined as the state of being physically fit and healthy. A better question to me would be: What does it mean to have a healthy body? Just because you engage in fitness doesn't mean you are healthy. So I equate fitness with both the mental and physical states and working towards having a body that can function well in everyday life. A body with no pain, a person with boundless energy, great digestion, one that takes no medication to curb a symptom, no disease — that is a healthy body. 

"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 as a term is contextual. I would describe it as "being fit for taking on challenges set in front of you." One should always be mentally fit and physically fit.

Being mentally fit is important for critical thinking in daily operations. Being physically fit is important so you are able to handle the physical challenges life puts in front of you, including but not limited too: 

  • Walking up stairs
  • Moving house-hold items around
  • Playing with your children
  • Competing in sports
  • Being able to do anything in life that brings you pleasure

Here's to your health and fun in life!!

There are five components of physical fitness which includes body composition, flexibility, muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance.

Body Composition refers to the percentage of fat, bone, muscle and organ mass in one's body. (ex: Two people who are the exact height and weight but look completely different.)

Flexibility is the range of motion possible at a joint.

Muscular Strength is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert force.

Muscular Endurance is the muscle's ability to perform an activity without fatigue.

Cardiovascular Endurance relates to the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to the body during sustained physical activity.

However, fitness does not only include a person's physical health but also encompasses the entire mind and body. Fitness includes an individual's mental and emotional state of being and social well-being. A person should strive for a high quality of life which includes being physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually healthy! And this of course is different for each person!

Fitness is an act of healthy living. Living a healthy lifestyle involves activities that are beneficial to your health. Fitness means making good eating choices, not putting toxins in your body and most importantly staying active. We live in a fast paced world with little time for ourselves. Making fitness a priority like going to the gym, playing with the kids, playing a recreational sport, or even gardening in your own yard are all a part of staying active and involving fitness in your life. Instead of sitting down and watching television take a walk or jog outdoors and take advantage of all the activities you can enjoy. Eating healthy goes hand in hand with fitness and you must fuel your body properly to get the energy required to stay active. Make it a point to add fitness in your daily schedule and watch your mood enhance, energy increase, and health reach great heights!

Fitness is FREEDOM. Your fitness level is a balance of your body’s ability to perform physically, your mind’s ability to actively focus and think about the important aspects of life, and your spirit’s ability to seek an ever improving lifestyle beyond your current state of being.

Fitness is being able to do WHAT you want, WHEN you want, with WHO you want. If you are wholly-fit, you can perform your occupational skills, recreational athletics, and activities of daily living on any level you wish without limitations produced by illness, injury, low self-image, stress, and spiritual disconnectedness.

Fitness can take place in a gym or throughout a fitness program but, physical fitness does not complete the person. When you use set the right goals and act with the right intentions, physical fitness (strength, endurance, balance, nutrition) acts a vehicle to move you, mental fitness (goal setting, success tracking, self-talk) acts as the driver to steer you, and spiritual fitness (seeking the why to drive the what) acts as a map to guide you when you are losts.  Seek all three buckets and you will succeed.

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.)

Wikipedia's definition of fitness is the following:

Physical fitness comprises two related concepts: general fitness (a state of health and well-being) and specific fitness (a task-oriented definition based on the ability to perform specific aspects of sports or occupations). Physical fitness is generally achieved through exercise, correct nutrition and enough rest. It is an important part of life.

In my career as a trainer, I have seen various levels of fitness.  Just because someone else can do something that you can not, does not make you less fit than they are.  It just means that you can not perform that particular task.  I have learned through experience that there are two different forms of fitness: cardiovascular fitness and physical fitness.  A combination of both forms creates what I would call a complete fit individual.

Cardiovascular fitness which is fitness of the heart means that you can exert more energy for extended amounts of time without reaching your max heart rate.  In essence the more your heart can endure the more fit you are.  Let's use running as an example.  If you sprint from point A to point B at max speed your body is telling your heart to pump the blood faster causing you to breathe faster.  The amount of time it takes your heart to recover from that sprint should be half the amount of time it took you to get from point A to point B.  An untrained or an unconditioned heart will take double that amount of time.  I learned this through my years as an athlete and my experience as a personal trainer.

Physical fitness is fitness of the body.  A physically fit body has a strong core, great posture and little to no kinks in the kinetic chain.  The kinetic chain consists of the muscular system, skeletal system and the nervous system.  A physically fit body can endure the normal rigors of life such as bending, walking, standing and sitting.

Physical fitness is also not to be confused with physical strength.  There is a difference.

For me to fully understand something it is best to see what it is not. Fitness is not unhealthiness, sickness, unsoundness or illness. It is being able to live in the moment energized, balanced, centered and tension free. It is the ability to physically and mentally do exactly what you want to do and have the desire to want and help others do the same. 
Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Fitness
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 a state of being in good physical condition, and is different for everyone.  Fitness for the average person might be the ability to perform functional activities required in his or her daily routine.  Athletes have a higher level of fitness requirement in order to perform their sport.  In general, muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, nutrition, and mental health are all crucial in fitness.  Make sure you eat a well-balanced diet, exercise daily, and include flexibility training in your workout schedule.  Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, resistance training and aerobics are all forms of exercise that can go a long way in helping you reach your physical fitness goal.
Mr. Donovan Green
Athletic Training
Fitness for me is bringing yourself to a state of total balance. You have to spend quality time developing and fine tuning all of the major components in your life. The main guidelines to acheiving full overall fitness will be to increase strength physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, financially and also nutritionally. You cannot allow yourself to lose focus on one or the other, it has to work as a unit. Stay focus and keep yourself balanced. Good Luck.
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
Physiology

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.