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Physical Fitness

Regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy. People who are active live longer and feel better. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. It can delay or prevent diabetes, some cancers and heart problems.

Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days per week. Examples include walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming for recreation or bicycling. Stretching and weight training can also strengthen your body and improve your fitness level.

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It has been defined as a set of attributes or characteristics that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.The above definition from Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General is the most common currently used definition of physical fitness. It was originally used by Caspersen and has been used extensively. An alternative definition by Howley and Frank that provides additional descriptive information is: Physical fitness is a state of well-being with low risk of premature health problems and energy to participate in a variety of physical activities. While either is a good definition, most experts agree that physical fitness is both multidimensional and hierarchical.

In previous years fitness was commonly defined as the capacity to carry out the day’s activities without undue fatigue. However, as automation increased leisure time, changes in lifestyles following the industrial revolution rendered this definition insufficient. In current contexts, physical fitness is considered a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations.

Fitness

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports — a study group sponsored by the government of the United States—declines to offer a simple definition of physical fitness. Instead, it developed the following chart:

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control encourages the adult public, ages 18 to 64, to engage each week in at least one and a quarter hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity; that time can be met in any increments.

Diet is an important component to overall health that works best in combination with exercise.

Training

Specific or task-oriented fitness is a person’s ability to perform in a specific activity with a reasonable efficiency: for example, sports or military service. Specific training prepares athletes to perform well in their sports.

Examples are:

  • 100 m sprint: in a sprint the athlete must be trained to work anaerobically throughout the race, an example of how to do this would be interval training.
  • Marathon: in this case the athlete must be trained to work aerobically and their endurance must be built-up to a maximum.
  • Many fire fighters and police officers undergo regular fitness testing to determine if they are capable of the physically demanding tasks required of the job.
  • Soldiers of the United States Army must be able to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).
  • Hill sprints, this training requires a level of fitness to begin with, the exercise is particularly good for the leg muscles. The army often trains doing mountain climbing and races.
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