What is Fitness?

Would you be able to define ‘fitness’ to an unfit, but interested individual? What does the term encompass? If someone exercises regularly, are they fit? How is fitness measured? Can someone be ‘fat’ and ‘fit’? These are the hot topics circulating in the wellness circles today. I’d like to expound on the defintion of  ‘fitness’ today, and then tackle the intricacies involved with substantiating fitness and its relationship to physical activity.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, fitness (physical) is defined as ‘a set of attributes or characteristics that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity’ (ACSM 2010, Guidelines to Exercise Testing and Prescription). Furthermore, these attributes can be divided into components (health related and skill related).

The health related  components of fitness measure an individual’s cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition (% fat vs. lean tissue). The skill related components of fitness rate an individual’s agility, coordination, balance, power, reaction time and speed.

As you can see, determining an individual’s fitness level can take some time to measure and evaluate, but this is what exercise and fitness professionals are trained to do when they receive clients desiring to improve their health and fitness levels.  A trained fitness professional will use valid industry standards (tests) to quantify her client’s readiness to engage in physical activity and thereafter, develop an appropriate program of activity which will target not only areas of weakness but build on areas of strength as well.

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