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What Does It Mean To Be Fit?

I’m sorry to have to say this, but there really is no single definition of physical fitness that works for everybody.  As you have probably noticed if you have read other articles on this website, we often say that that your program, or your goals, should be specific to you!  So, with that being said, what does “being fit” mean to you?

What science and research tells us is that there are five “indicators” of fitness.  While these indicators are by no means perfect, they can generally tell you where you might be at in relation to societal norms.

  1. Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI is the number used by most doctors, health insurance companies, and life insurance companies to indicate your level of “risk” for certain types of health issues and diseases.  You can look at a variety of websites which will show you a chart of where one should be on the scale.  While this might sound scary, the good news is that research is now showing that even if your BMI might be elevated, a simple walking program can create huge benefits for you and drastically reduce your chances of heart disease.  We’ll talk more about BMI at the end of the article.

  2. Cardiovascular Fitness: Cardiovascular fitness simply refers to your body’s ability to get enough oxygen in order to do daily routines or exercises without getting winded.  research tells us that the better your level of cardiovascular fitness, the higher correlation with: Lowered risk of heart disease, stronger bones, lowered risk of developing cancers, increased mental cognition and functioning, and a better ability to enjoy life’s daily activities. While we often focus on weight gain or loss, your cardiovascular fitness is the single biggest indicator of well-being.

  3. Muscular Fitness:  It wasn’t until very recently that science and research caught up to the importance of strength training. Not only is strength training the best way to burn off fat, it is essential for enhancing your ability to live a healthy lifestyle well into your golden years.  Strength training not only increases muscle mass (which helps burn calories even when you aren’t working out), but it also increases bone density, improves cardiac output (your ability to pump blood throughout your body), and it improves joint function.

  4. Flexibility: While flexibility will never top the fitness list, it is an important component of one’s fitness. Flexibility is vital for improving one’s agility, balance, and coordination.  Beyond that, flexibility is also important for preventing those dreaded muscle pulls and cramps that can derail a workout.

If we look around the world around us, we see many examples of what “fitness” is supposed to be.  The advertising world is constantly bombarding us with images that denote what they think “fitness” is.  What we believe is that you can be healthy at any size.  The most important step that you take is the first one.  The step off the couch and out for a walk will not only improve your mood, but it will also be a great way to a happier and healthier you.