What is Physical Fitness

What does it mean to be physically fit? The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has defined physical fitness as a set of characteristics (i.e., the work capacity of your heart and lungs, the strength and endurance of your muscles, and the flexibility of your joints) that relate to your ability to perform physical activities.

Regular physical activity leads to improved physical fitness and many other physiologic, cosmetic, and psychological benefits. Depending on personal goals and job requirements the level of physical fitness to attain can range from basic, health-related to more specific, performance-related fitness (Figure 4-1).

Figure 4-1. The Fitness Continuum

Health-related

General

Lowers stress, increases metabolism, promotes health, prevents disease.

Increases muscle and heart and lung fitness, leads to a healthy body composition, improves flexibility. Most Navy personnel are in this category.

Performance-related

Enhances specific physical tasks or skills. For Navy personnel who perform physically demanding tasks. Also, for people competing in organized sports.

Lowers stress, increases metabolism, promotes health, prevents disease.

Increases muscle and heart and lung fitness, leads to a healthy body composition, improves flexibility. Most Navy personnel are in this category.

Enhances specific physical tasks or skills. For Navy personnel who perform physically demanding tasks. Also, for people competing in organized sports.

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