Most individuals want to be healthy but that raises a question. What does it mean to be fit? The solution is fairly simple. To be fit, an individual has to have physical capacity in four areas: aerobic capacity, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body makeup.
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- Aerobic Capacity. Aerobic capacity, which is also called cardiorespiratory fitness, describes the health and function of the heart, lungs and circulatory system. Simply stated, aerobic fitness is the ability of the cardiorespiratory system to provide an adequate supply of oxygen to exercising muscles. As your aerobic capacity increases, your ability to take part in more intense and longer lasting exercise also increases (e.g., walking, jogging, swimming and bicycling). It may be argued that aerobic capacity is the most important of the four components of fitness due to the health benefits it bestows. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, improved aerobic capacity contributes to reduced blood pressure, decreased total cholesterol, increased HDL (good) cholesterol, decreased body fat, improved heart function and diminished risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Muscular Strength and Endurance. Muscular strength is the maximum amount of force a muscle or muscle group can generate during a single contraction. Muscular endurance is the amount of repeated contractions a muscle or muscle group can do without tiring. Both are important elements of overall fitness since increasing your stamina through various kinds of resistance training (e.g., weightlifting) leads to increased bone strength, decreased bone loss, decreased muscle loss, increased tendon and ligament strength, improved physical ability, enhanced metabolic function (e.g., burn more calories at rest), and decreased risk of injury.
- Flexibility. Flexibility is the range of movement in a joint. Increased flexibility provides many different benefits such as decreased risk of injury, increased circulation of blood and nutrients to joint structures, increased neuromuscular coordination, diminished risk of low back pain, improved posture and reduced muscular tension.
- Body Composition. Body composition refers to the relative proportion of body weight which contains body fat and fat mass (everything aside from fat such as organs, muscles, blood, bones and water). Broadly , the lower your body fat percentage the better due to the diseases associated with excess body fat such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and sleep disorders. I’m frequently asked,”Can you be fit and fat?” The solution is an overwhelming NO. A substantial element of fitness is the ownership of a healthy body fat percentage since increased fat contributes to diminished athletic performance and increased risk of disease (although it’s likely to be overweight and healthy since health is simply the absence of disease or sickness ). According to the American Council on Exercise, the typical body-fat percent for men is 18-24%. For fit guys the percentage is 14-17%. The average percentage for women is 25-31%; nevertheless fit girls will be in the array of 21-24%. Body-fat percentages over 25% for men and 32% for women are considered obese.
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