What physical fitness really means?

A woman athletic stretching her muscles.

One only has to look at the multitudes of joggers, bicycle riders and sports enthusiasts to agree that ours has become an age in which people are aware of physical fitness.

In recent years people of all ages have taken stock of themselves and come to the conclusion that more exercise could improve their health, appearance and quality of life.

Why is this?

Simply put, in this age of modern conveniences and machinery, many no longer have to exert themselves physically in their daily routine.

Many jobs are of a sedentary nature, and in many lands even those that are not, such as that of housewife, have diminished in some of their more strenuous aspects.

This leaves much of mankind with bodies that were designed for physical activity but with no way to get sufficient exercise in their normal daily routines.


What 
is the definition of physical fitness?

A woman jogging.

Physical fitness, as defined by the Society of Sports Medicine, involves all the qualities of the body, including physique, function and mental ability.

A person who is physically fit should be able to do prolonged work or exercise without undue fatigue.

Fitness is not dependent on strength but, rather, on the body’s overall health, especially that of the cardiovascular system.

Physical exercise might simply be divided into two basic groups.

Aerobic exercises (jogging, tennis and field sports that require oxygen to be delivered throughout the body rapidly to produce energy), and muscle toners (including most calisthenics, isometrics and therapeutic exercise).

The theory is that overall physical fitness is dependent more on the aerobic type of exercise because it utilizes all the body’s resources, sending life-giving oxygen to all parts of the body.

However, muscle-toning exercises also have their place in maintaining physical health.

Benefits of physical fitness

Benefits of physical fitness.

Regular exercise is said to improve, not only the work capacity of the heart and lungs, but also the condition of other body organs.

Blood circulation and overall health are improved because more oxygen is delivered to body cells.

Additionally, in a test study made by the Education Ministry, it was found that men who regularly exercised had the physical stamina of men ten years younger; and women, that of women five years younger.

This led to the conclusion that those who don’t exercise age faster than those who do get regular exercise.

Summing up his own experience and the benefits of exercise, one psychologist said

the physical changes are obvious but, . . . the change in attitude is the big change. Even at work. I’ve got a frustrating job, now I love it. I’ve learned to relax. I can accomplish so much more, get so much more done without worry or fatigue, I can recommend it for anyone who is depressed.”

He not only slept better at night but worked better during the day.

Add to this the muscles that gain strength and firmness and the excess pounds that can be lost and you have an idea of some of the benefits of physical exercise.


What some are doing about it

Mother and daughter doing push ups.

Attention to physical fitness is nothing new.

When doctors in the were recommending bed rest for ‘that tired feeling,’ some were out doing push ups to combat fatigue.

Recognizing the need for exercise, many individuals now have embarked on some sort of fitness program.

Even big business has taken the plunge.

For years, many large companies have started each workday with group exercises in which the whole force of employees participate.

As one walks down a street in the business district of any city it is not unusual to see groups of people in company uniform doing calisthenics.

However, in recent years, due to an increased interest in physical fitness and its relation to overall health, some large corporations have introduced additional physical-fitness programs to aid their employees.


TRIM exercise program

A woman's exercise program.

The word “TRIM” is taken from Norwegian shipbuilding jargon and means to keep balance on the sea.

But, in relation to this exercise program and in keeping with the overall meaning of physical fitness, it means to build a healthy body and maintain physical and mental balance.

With this purpose in mind, a point system was devised to aid all who participate to gain and maintain physical fitness.

Along with the point system, there are specific hints to good health given for those of all ages and occupations.

It proceeds on the assumption that everyone needs exercise.

For example, the elderly are encouraged to get out and walk.

There is a saying in that “aging starts from the feet up,” so to combat this process older persons are told to use their legs as much as possible.

Taking up a new sport may be dangerous, but almost anyone can walk.

“Above all, just don’t sit home holding the cat,”
senior citizens are admonished, “that’s the sure way to old age.”

Those with desk jobs and drivers are encouraged to do at least five minutes of vigorous exercise, until they work up a sweat, both morning and evening, and to use their day off, not to sit in front of the TV, but to get out and walk.

Engaging in a sport like golf or tennis as often as possible is suggested as ideal.

Also, taking a few minutes daily to jog near home would fill the bill.

Individuals with irregular work schedules, whether their jobs are sedentary or not, are told to take a set amount of time each day to devote to strenuous exercise, preferably the same time every day.

The point system devised by the TRIM program suggests that everyone strive for three points a day gained doing what suits him the best.

Of course, those points can be increased as the individual sees fit.


A word of caution

A elderly man cautious about his health.

Along with the point system the TRIM program gives some helpful tips and warnings for the participants.

They encourage having a health checkup before embarking on any exercise program and then following the doctor’s advice.

If you are sick, in lack of sleep or hungry, they caution not forcing yourself to exercise.

Exercise should be balanced with proper rest.

Also, warm-up and cool-down exercises are recommended for those who do strenuous exercise.

Wear loose clothing so circulation will not be hindered, and choose a program that suits you as to pace and quantity.

Remember, exercise should be enjoyable, not an endurance test.

Exercise energetically and, lastly, don’t give up!


Therapeutic exercises

A man doing therapeutic excises.

Not to be overlooked are those muscle-toning and repairing exercises.

For those who want to strengthen a particular body part or just trim down their waistline, these have their place.

Groups of exercises have been devised to help to strengthen nearly every muscle and body part.

But persons with an injury or history of health problems should get advice from a doctor as to which exercises they should do.

Since lower-back pain seems to be one of the most common complaints today, we have included here some exercises suggested on the Today’s Health program mentioned earlier.

But before attempting them it would be wise to ascertain the cause of your problem.

Whatever benefits you may receive from exercise, it must be recognized that exercise is not a cure-all for disease.

Many other factors, such as diet and healthful, balanced living, are also important to maintain health.

But it seems that those who do get some sort of exercise just feel better in general than people who don’t.

So, does exercise really help?

Yes, answers the evidence.

It helps to maintain physical fitness and all-around good health.

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