THE WHY OF PHYSICAL FITNESS

“Of all the causes which conspire to render the life of a man short and miserable, none have greater influence than the want of proper exercise” (Dr William Buchan, the 18th-century Scottish physician)

Everyone from physical educationalists, sports scientists, coaches, and performers talk about physical fitness and uses the words freely on the assumption that listeners have a clear understanding of its meaning.  It is very surprising to discover that physical fitness means different things to different people.  When it is said that someone is ‘looking fit’, this is usually a reference to a general condition of apparent well-being, of looking good, which is often confused with being healthy. Good looks, having a moderate body size, are not the major indicators of a physically fit person. This is because physical fitness is only a part of total fitness, which should be the goal of every individual regardless of your profession.

Total fitness includes physical, nutritional, medical, mental, emotional and social fitness and it can be described as the ability to meet the demands of the environment, plus a little in reserve for emergencies. Many people associate fitness with a well-toned body, but it is much more than just the curves. It is a state of complete physical fitness and mental well-being.  Staying fit is not an optional choice but a necessary routine. These days every person has to face physical as well as emotional challenges in life. Physical fitness along with that of the mind helps one to overcome these challenges and lead a healthier and active life.

Physical fitness is only a part of total fitness; it is the capability of the heart, blood vessels, lungs and muscles to function at optimal efficiency. Physical fitness makes possible a lifestyle that the physically unfit cannot enjoy.  The importance of physical fitness cannot be emphasized enough. In today’s society that is moving towards a more sedentary lifestyle, there is a greater need than ever to increase the daily activity level to maintain both cardiovascular fitness and body weight. 

It is a common perception that people involved in sports are physically fit. The fact is that they may not be completely but partially fit. While a weightlifter might have strength and power he lacks the agility and flexibility of a gymnast, and a gymnast might not have the same endurance and capacity as a runner.

Physical fitness has various components as follows:

  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Muscular strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Motor skills (Power, agility, balance, co-ordination, and speed)
  • Flexibility

All the above components at its optimal level are what qualify a person being called physically fit.  This is why you have athletes that have cardiovascular fitness but have very poor muscle tone, and even other health issues. There are sport professionals who concentrate on one particular kind of exercise at the expense of the others forgetting that to be physically fit, different exercises that promotes the above mentioned components must be engaged in.

• Balance is the ability to maintain a specific body position in either a stationary or dynamic (moving) situation.

• Coordination is the ability to use all body parts together to produce smooth and fluid motion.

• Agility is the ability to change direction quickly.

• Reaction time is the time required to respond to a specific stimulus.

• Speed is the ability to move rapidly. Speed is also known as velocity (rate of motion).

• Power is the product of strength and speed. Power is also known as explosive strength.

• Mental capability is the ability to concentrate during exercise to improve training effects as well as the ability to relax and enjoy the psychological benefits of activity (endorphins). 

The various exercises embarked on from the other components will help to achieve motor skills needed for everyday life.

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