What is Fitness?

We hear about physical fitness numerous times every day. However, it is worth asking yourself just what is physical fitness and what does it entail. The Department of Health and Human Services defines physical fitness as a set of attributes that people attain or have in relation to their ability to complete various physical tasks. As you will find out below, functional fitness is more than simply being able to lift weights or running over long distances or fast. This term covers a variety of attributes in addition to the above pair.

Now that you know what physical fitness is let’s look at some of the exercises you can use to attain the attributes it encompasses.

Cardiorespiratory Fitness

This refers to just how effective the cardiorespiratory system can deliver the necessary fuel to the muscles to keep up with functional fitness needs. The exercises known to help improve cardiorespiratory fitness strengthen the heart so as to enable it pump more blood to the muscles for every beat it makes. The best cardio exercises are those that elevate the heart rate for an extended period of time. Some of the best examples here include jogging, cycling, and swimming among others.


Another important attribute of functional fitness is strength. This is the ability to exert pressure when performing a certain activity. To build strength, you have to build muscle mass. This is why strength training exercises usually lead to the development of bigger muscles. When building muscles, you need to understand the importance of contractile proteins. These are responsible for the contraction of muscles to provide the pressure which represents a measure of strength. Strength training exercises usually help expand muscle fibers as well as ensuring that neurons fire at the same time for application of maximum force when necessary.


Endurance is very different from strength; it is another important attribute of functional fitness. Endurance exercises usually help develop the cardiorespiratory system in a way that boosts the delivery of oxygenated blood to the muscle tissues faster and for longer. As such, these exercises do not actually lead to larger muscles as is the case with strength training exercises. It is also worth mentioning that endurance exercises work on developing the action of slow twitch fibers. They help in maintaining the application of force or pressure for a longer period. Some great exercises here include rowing and long-distance running.


Perhaps the most important attribute of functional fitness comes in the form of flexibility. This refers to the range of motion possible with a given joint in the body. Flexibility helps you carryout movement combinations fluidly and also helps prevent injuries. Exercises that are known to help improve flexibility include those that stretch the tendons, ligaments, and joints.

Use the above knowledge about physical fitness to enhance your wellbeing and capacity to accomplish physically demanding tasks with relative ease.