Often enough, someone being described as “fit” has a lot more to do with their physical appearance rather than their physiology. If you were to ask a distance runner, however, they may describe being “fit” more along the lines of one’s physical ability. A gymnast or yoga enthusiast may be akin to relating flexibility and range of motion to one’s fitness level.
To my mother, being able to perform daily tasks without shoulder, hip, or knee pain would make for an “in-shape” person. Physical Fitness means different things to many people, and they are all correct.
As a personal fitness trainer, I look for a combination of five different factors:
1. Cardio-respiratory 2. Muscular Strength 3. Muscular Endurance 4. Body Composition 5. Flexibility
Cardio-respiratory refers to how well our body can supply during physical activity via the circulatory and respiratory systems. You can improve your cardiorespiratory fitness by performing exercises that elevate your heart rate such as jogging, cycling, or swimming.
Muscular Strength is your body’s ability to exert force against an object during an activity. For a normal person, that may mean moving furniture or opening the pickle jar. The amount of muscular strength that a person needs depends on their daily activities and purposes.
Muscular Endurance is our body’s ability to continue exerting force without tiring for longer periods of time. Our Muscular endurance can be changed based on the way we exercise. For example, a sprinter will have more fast twitch muscle fibers than a long distance runner, who will have comparably more slow twitch muscle fibers.
Body Composition measures the relative proportions of muscle, bone, fat, and water. There can be many shapes and sizes of a 6-foot, 200-pound adult man, depending on his body composition. A “fit” individual will have more muscle and less fat and an overall leaner appearance than a person of the same height and weight who has a higher body fat percentage.
Flexibility is our body’s range of movement across a joint. Range of motion is important because it allows our muscles to work properly and reduces the risk of injury.
Do these five factors of “fit” match well with your lifestyle? The important thing to take away is to be “fit” enough to do the things that you like to do. What good is having a boat if you struggle with operating and getting in and out of it?
Life is too much fun to live with limitations. Treat your body like the wonderful gift that it is, and fit fitness into your daily routine.