What Is Physical Fitness?

Many people enjoy biking as a way to be outdoors and stay fit.
Jumping rope can be a fun way to improve cardiovascular health.
Staying physically fit might include regular use of exercise equipment.
Running can provide a good cardiovascular workout and improves physical fitness. .
Muscular strength plays a role in physical fitness.
Article Details
  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Physical fitness refers to one's overall measure of physical, bodily health; it is typically made up of things such as cardiovascular endurance and body composition, as well as overall muscular strength and stamina. Fitness is often broken down into two categories. These are general fitness, also known as health related fitness, as well as specific fitness, also known as performance, or skill related fitness.

General fitness refers to one's overall levels of health, such as those measures mentioned above, including overall endurance. Specific fitness, on the other hand, refers to one's ability to perform specific physical tasks, as related to one's occupation or when playing sports. There is no standard definition for fitness, whether one is referring to general or specific fitness, and different measures or skill levels might lead to different conclusions. Cardiovascular measures as well as body composition measures are some of the most commonly used definitions for determining whether or not someone is physically fit.

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When cardiovascular endurance is used to determine one's fitness level, the heart rate is the measure that is often used. Resting heart rate, as well as the maximum heart rate that one achieves, are important when determining cardiovascular health; a measure of the amount of time it takes the heart rate to return to its resting pace after exercise is a good indicator as well. Body composition is another measure of fitness; this refers to one's weight as well as Body Mass Index, or BMI. Genetics play a large part in body composition, which is why a BMI analysis of the percentage of fat versus muscle in the body is a more accurate measure of body composition than just weight.

Other measures of physical fitness are more subjective, such as muscular strength, flexibility, or speed. Skills required to perform a certain job, or play a sport, will also differ for each individual situation. One person's standards of fitness may be drastically different from another's, but they may be equally physically fit. Achieving good fitness takes regular, persistent work; it does not happen overnight, but instead happens gradually over a period of time, generally with a combination of aerobic, strength training, and stretching exercises. A physician or a trainer at a gym may be able to offer specific fitness tests designed to give an individual a clear picture of his or her areas of strength, and where he might need to improve.

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Discuss this Article

subway11
Post 3

@Sunshine31 -I agree. I think that physical fitness workouts are important and they don’t have to be complicated.

I sometimes will take a jump rope to the park and while my kids are playing, I will do jump rope sets. I usually will do about 250-300 repetitions about four to five times while at the park.

I really feel the workout all over and it does strengthen my heart because jumping rope is very aerobic. I always try to find a way to do exercise every day even if it just for twenty minutes or so.

You may not think that it makes too much of a difference in a day but after a few weeks you will be able to tell the difference. You will also be able to sleep better and have more energy.

sunshine31
Post 2

@Latte31 - I have seen those tests and to be honest I probably wouldn’t do so well either. I have to say that I love that the schools offer physical fitness programs.

My daughter was telling me that they had to jog a mile in her PE class and next week they will do swimming laps. I think that children’s physical fitness programs help them control their mood and their weight.

In fact, exercise is so important that in Japan, they begin their school day with exercise because it allows the students to focus more. I also think that aside from the obvious benefits of a physical fitness workout, I also think that it is a lot of fun and allows kids to bond with each other.

latte31
Post 1

I recently looked at balance exercises and these can also determine a different level of fitness. For example, I have a video game that offers balance games along with testing to determine my age with respect to balancing abilities.

The first time that I took the fitness test, I scored the same as a 58 year old woman even though I am only 42. I am a little clumsy and this test really confirmed it.

So although my cardio fitness is good, it is not the only measure of a physical fitness definition.

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