Physical fitness is defined as the ability of the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and muscles to function at optimum efficiency in leisure and work, and to be healthy and resistant to disease. This definition evolved from a more general meaning, that fitness was the ability to move through the day without experiencing extreme fatigue. As the automobiles grew in popularity, it became obvious that this way of explaining fitness was not sufficient, and a more well-rounded, precise definition was needed. It is further divided into five categories that include flexibility, agility, body composition, muscular endurance, and aerobic fitness.
Fitness – Flexibility
Sometimes the definition of flexibility is confused with that of range of motion. Flexibility is a more generalised term than range of motion, and the ability to achieve a full range of motion without pain or stiffness is defined as flexibility or suppleness.
Things that can decrease flexibility are a lack of physical activity, and arthritis. Flexibility may be increased through exercise, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Depending upon individual activities, athletes will see greater or lessened flexibility, which is determined by their training regimen. Certain activities such as gymnastics, figure skating, martial arts and yoga rely on flexibility for success.
Fitness – Agility
Agility, often misunderstood, is defined as the ability to change a body’s position. It requires a combination of speed, coordination, speed, balance, reflexes, and strength. Agility is usually achieved when a person is using his ATP or lactic acid (anaerobic) systems. More often than not, one will hear agility described in terms of reaction to one’s opponent. It is a term popular in field and racket sports, used to describe a change in direction or velocity in response to the stimulus.
Fitness – Body Composition
The percentage of fat, muscle and bone in the body is defined as body composition. Muscular tissues uses less space in the body than fat, and this, as well as weight, determine how lean a person is. If one were to compare two people of the same height and weight, they may find that the people are visually quite different, due to their differing body compositions.
The recommendations from the National Institute of Health are for a male to have between 13 and 17 percent body fat, while a female, within a healthy range, would be between 20 and 25 percent. It is not uncommon for athletes to have lower levels than this, and still be considered healthy. Typically though, those with higher body fat percentages are not considered healthy.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is the function of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to muscles during ongoing physical activity and exercise. Consistent exercise increases the efficiency by enlarging the heart muscle, which makes it possible for more blood to be pumped with each stroke. This increases the number of small arteries in trained skeletal muscles, which supply more blood the muscles at work. Cardiorespiatory activity acts in a cyclical motion because more exercise increases the ability to exercise more, and for longer periods of time, which in turn, increases one’s ability to do so.
There are several types of strength training, weight training being one of the most popular. It is used to increase the strength and size of the muscles. It utilises the forces of gravity by using dumbbells, weight stacks and weighted bars. These items work in opposition to the forces generated by the muscle via concentric or eccentric contractions. There are a variety of specialised pieces of equipment that are used to target specific muscle groups, as well as types of movement. Weight training is a form of exercise, as opposed to a sport, like weight lifting, bodybuilding and power lifting. When weight training, it is important to maintain good form in order to work the appropriate muscle group. One does not want to transfer weight to the incorrect body region. Not using good form can also create injury, as well as not being able to meet one’s training goals.