In a general sense, physical fitness defines the ability of the body to move with an appropriate degree of force and pace against opposition. This definition is sometimes used synonymously with health and welfare. Physical fitness in today’s culture is frequently equated with good health but the two concepts are not exactly the same.
Fitness means more than just being in good shape. It also includes the capacity to sustain that shape or form. Muscular fitness relates to the ability of the muscles to generate or produce the requisite amount of force to move the body with ease and with sufficient efficiency. Nutritional fitness on the other hand refers to the quality of the nutrients absorbed by the body. Nutritional quality is primarily achieved through proper nutrition, regular moderate-to vigorous physical activity, adequate rest, and the control and management of dietary intake.
Exercise plays a major role in maintaining or improving physical fitness. It may be either a strenuous physical activity such as cardiovascular exercises, resistance training, or aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises involve high levels of heart-rhythms or the pumping action of the heart in order to supply oxygenated blood to all the body tissues. Resistance training involves the use of large muscles for a greater amount of force to obtain a greater speed or strength during an exercise routine. A combination of cardiovascular and resistance training provides the best possible overall conditioning of the body.
Some people argue that the definition of fitness should also include sport and recreational activities such as dancing, swimming, field sports, and gymnastics. Such activities are intended to enhance the participant’s skills, compete against other individuals, or increase personal fitness. These kinds of exercise programs are considered part of the individual’s fitness program. While recreational physical fitness activities are intended for fun and leisure and therefore are not considered to be a form of physical fitness activities. This is different from competitive or high intensity exercise routines.
Many forms of exercises are done in order to increase muscle strength and to develop muscular endurance. Muscular endurance refers to the power of muscles to continue an exercise routine for an extended period of time. Increase in muscle size usually accompanies an increase in muscular endurance. This means that if a person can lift a certain weight, he/she will be able to lift that weight for a longer period of time before succumbing to fatigue. This is necessary in order to prevent overtraining syndrome. Over training syndrome causes the muscles to grow stronger but they no longer have enough endurance to perform at their optimum levels.
The idea that there are two separate concepts of fitness is not correct. Overall, both health-related and skill-related fitness are important to overall wellness. Fitness can improve the quality of life of people who are fit, while poor fitness can reduce their quality of life and cause them to become disabled. People who are fit have greater happiness, longer life expectancy, greater self-esteem, and a better quality of personal relationships. Those who are not fit do not enjoy a good quality of life and are at high risk for many health problems.