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Physical Fitness

What is physical fitness?

Physical fitness is a state of health that's influenced by your physical activity. To stay physically fit, you need to participate in activities that do three basic things: Get your heart and lungs pumping (aerobic conditioning); keep your body limber (flexibility); and tone your muscles (strength). The following table shows how different exercises rate in these three areas.

Activity Aerobic Flexibility Strength
Aerobic dance High Medium High
Biking High Low Medium
Cross-country skiing High Medium Medium
Running High Low Medium
Stair climbing High Low Medium
Swimming High Medium Medium
Tennis Medium Low Medium
Walking Medium Low Medium
Weight lifting Low Medium High
Yoga Low High Medium

Why is physical fitness important?

People who get regular exercise (about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, three times a week) experience the following benefits:

  • Feeling better: Regular exercise gives you more energy, helps you cope with stress, and helps you feel less tired (by improving your ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well).

  • Looking better: Regular physical activity helps control your appetite, tones your muscles, and lowers your body fat, all of which can improve your appearance.

  • Improved health: Keeping physically fit can help you prevent coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and osteoporosis. It can also help people manage diabetes and some mental health disorders.

How do I start a physical fitness program?

You should consult your doctor before beginning any physical fitness program. Consider the following points as well:

  • Choose an exercise routine that's right for you. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I enjoy this activity? Does this activity fit into my schedule and is it convenient? Do I need any special clothing or equipment to participate in this activity?

  • Vary your routine. Switch between several different types of exercise. This gives you a balanced fitness program and keeps you from getting bored with your work-out.

  • Don't push yourself too hard.Start slowly and gradually lengthen your work-out to avoid burn-out and injury.

  • Find an exercise buddy. Exercising with a friend is fun and can keep you motivated.

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