What does it mean to be physically “fit”?
09/ 07/ 2016
Common Physical activity and Fitness terms
Calorie: A measure of energy from food. (3,500 kilocalories of food energy = 1 pound of body weight). Also the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1° C (1000 calories = 1 kilocalorie). An interesting fact: When we see “Calories” on a food label it is actually measuring kilocalories.
Cardiorespiratory fitness: (also called aerobic endurance or aerobic fitness). Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel and oxygen during sustained physical activity.
Exercise: Exercise is physical activity that is planned or structured. It involves repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain one or more of the components of physical fitness-cardiorespiratory endurance (aerobic fitness), muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
Household physical activity: Household physical activity includes (but is not limited to) activities such as sweeping floors, scrubbing, washing windows, and raking the lawn.
Inactivity is not engaging in any regular pattern of physical activity beyond daily functioning.
Kilocalorie: The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water 1° C. Kilocalorie is the ordinary calorie discussed in food or exercise energy-expenditure tables and food labels.
Leisure-time physical activity: Leisure-time physical activity is exercise, sports, recreation, or hobbies that are not associated with activities as part of one’s regular job duties, household, or transportation.
MET: The standard metabolic equivalent, or MET, level. This unit is used to estimate the amount of oxygen used by the body during physical activity. 1 MET = the energy (oxygen) used by the body as you sit quietly, perhaps while talking on the phone or reading a book. The harder your body works during the activity, the higher the MET.
- • Any activity that burns 3 to 6 METs is considered moderate-intensity physical activity.
- • Any activity that burns
- • 6 METs is considered vigorous-intensity physical activity.
Moderate-intensity physical activity: Moderate-intensity physical activity refers to a level of effort in which a person should experience:
• Some increase in breathing or heart rate
• a “perceived exertion” of 11 to 14 on the Borg scale
– The effort a healthy individual might expend while walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming, or bicycling on level terrain, for example.
• 3 to 6 metabolic equivalents (METs); or
- • any activity that burns 3.5 to 7 Calories per minute (kcal/min)
Occupational physical activity: Occupational physical activity is completed regularly as part of one’s job. It includes activities such as walking, hauling, lifting, pushing, carpentry, shoveling, and packing boxes.
Physical activity: Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that result in an expenditure of energy.
Physical fitness: Physical fitness is a set of attributes a person has in regards to a person’s ability to perform physical activities that require aerobic fitness, endurance, strength, or flexibility and is determined by a combination of regular activity and genetically inherited ability.
Regular physical activity: A pattern of physical activity is regular if activities are performed:
- • Most days of the week, preferably daily;
- • 5 or more days of the week if moderate-intensity activities (in bouts of at least 10 minutes for a total of at least 30 minutes per day); or
- • 3 or more days of the week if vigorous-intensity activities (for at least 20-60 minutes per session).
Note: These are minimum recommendations, greater health outcomes can be achieved by doing additional types activities and/or increasing time spent doing activities.
Transportation physical activity: Transportation physical activity is walking, biking or wheeling (for wheelchair users), or similar activities to and from places such as: work, school, place of worship, and stores.
Vigorous-intensity physical activity: Vigorous-intensity physical activity may be intense enough to represent a substantial challenge to an individual and refers to a level of effort in which a person should experience:
- • Large increase in breathing or heart rate (conversation is difficult or “broken”)
• A “perceived exertion” of 15 or greater on the Borg scale;
– The effort a healthy individual might expend while jogging, mowing the lawn with a nonmotorized pushmower, participating in high-impact aerobic dancing, swimming continuous laps, or bicycling uphill, carrying more than 25 lbs up a flight of stairs, standing or walking with more than 50 lbs for example.
- • Greater than 6 metabolic equivalents (METs); or
• Any activity that burns more than 7 kcal/ min
Weight-bearing physical activity: Any physical activity that imparts a load or impact (such as jumping or skipping) on the skeleton.
Components of physical activity
Physical fitness is defined as “a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity” (USDHHS, 1996). In other words, it is more than being able to run a long distance or lift a lot of weight at the gym. Being fit is not defined only by what kind of activity you do, how long you do it, or at what level of intensity. While these are important measures of fitness, they only address single areas. Overall fitness is made up of five main components:
- 1. Cardiorespiratory endurance
- 2. Muscular strength
- 3. Muscular endurance
- 4. Body composition
- 5. Flexibility
In order to assess your level of fitness, look at all five components together.
What is “cardiorespiratory endurance (cardiorespiratory fitness)?”
Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel during sustained physical activity (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Corbin & Lindsey, 1994). To improve your cardiorespiratory endurance, try activities that keep your heart rate elevated at a safe level for a sustained length of time such as walking, swimming, or bicycling. The activity you choose does not have to be strenuous to improve your cardiorespiratory endurance. Start slowly with an activity you enjoy, and gradually work up to a more intense pace.
What is “muscular strength?”
Muscular strength is the ability of the muscle to exert force during an activity (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Wilmore & Costill, 1994). The key to making your muscles stronger is working them against resistance, whether that be from weights or gravity. If you want to gain muscle strength, try exercises such as lifting weights or rapidly taking the stairs.
What is “muscular endurance?”
Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscle to continue to perform without fatigue (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Wilmore & Costill, 1994). To improve your muscle endurance, try cardiorespiratory activities such as walking, jogging, bicycling, or dancing.
What is “body composition?”
Body composition refers to the relative amount of muscle, fat, bone, and other vital parts of the body (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Corbin and Lindsey, 1994). A person’s total body weight (what you see on the bathroom scale) may not change over time. But the bathroom scale does not assess how much of that body weight is fat and how much is lean mass (muscle, bone, tendons, and ligaments). Body composition is important to consider for health and managing your weight!
What is “flexibility?”
Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Wilmore & Costill, 1994). Good flexibility in the joints can help prevent injuries through all stages of life. If you want to improve your flexibility, try activities that lengthen the muscles such as swimming or a basic stretching program.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention