What is Fitness?

Fitness can be described as a condition that helps us look, feel and do our best. That means being able to rely on your body to perform when you need it to,whether it be doing daily household tasks, enjoying a brisk walk on a beautiful fall day, running a race or bench pressing your own body weight.
Only you can set your fitness goals. Your present fitness level, age, health, skills, interest and convenience are among the factors you should consider. If you start out slowly, you may find that a simple success spurs you on to take it to the next level.
The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports outlines five basic components to physical fitness:
  • Heart and lung endurance – The ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove wastes throughout sustained periods of time. Long runs and swims are among the methods employed in measuring this component.
  • Muscular strength – The ability of a muscle to exert force for a brief period of time. Upper-body strength, for example, can be measured by various weight-lifting exercises.
  • Muscular endurance – The ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles, to sustain repeated contractions or to continue applying force against a fixed object. Push-ups are often used to test endurance of arm and shoulder muscles.
  • Flexibility – The ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion. The sit-and-reach test is a good measure of flexibility of the lower back and backs of the upper legs.
  • Body composition – Often considered a component of fitness. It refers to the make up of the body in terms of lean mass (muscle, bone, vital tissue and organs) and fat mass. A particular ratio of fat to lean mass is an indication of fitness, and the right types of exercise will help you decrease body fat and increase or maintain muscle mass.
Your exercise program should include something to improve each of these five basic fitness components. Each workout should begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down. A warm-up generally consists of five to 10 minutes of low intensity movements, such as walking, slow jogging, knee lifts, arm circles or trunk rotations. A cool-down consists of a minimum of five to 10 minutes of slow walking, low-level exercise, combined with stretching. As a general rule, you should try to get moderate intensity exercise, like brisk walking, most days of the week.

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