According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical fitness is defined as 'the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies.' Based on this definition, fitness involves everything from getting out of bed to hiking to performing CPR.
Physical fitness has always been important part of life. It is theorised that when people left a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and formed fixed communities based around agriculture that physical fitness levels declined. This is not to say that levels of physical labour decreased but that the type of work undertaken was not necessarily as conducive to a general level of fitness. As such, regimented fitness regimes were either invented or became more common. This was especially the case in classical civilisations such as Ancient Greece and Rome. In Greece especially physical fitness was considered to be an essential component of a healthy life and it was the norm for men to frequent a gymnasium. Physical fitness regimes were also considered to be of paramount importance in a nation's ability to train soldiers and field an effective military force. Partly for these reasons, organised fitness regimes have been in existence throughout known history and evidence of them can be found in many countries.
Studies have shown that physical activity can improve mental health and well-being.This improvement is due to an increase in blood flow to the brain and the release of hormones. Being physically fit and working out on a consistent and constant basis can positively impact one's mental health and bring about several other benefits, such as the following.
These types include cardiorespiratory endurance, which is how long or fast a person can perform an activity and how this impacts heart rate and oxygen consumption. Muscular strength, which is how much weight can be moved in relation to repetitions and muscular power, which is how much force can be generated during a given activity. There is also flexibility, how far a muscle group can be stretched or joint can be moved. Balance how long a particular position can be held with or without some type of activity being performed. Speed, how quickly an individual can move from one point to another. And body composition, the amount of fat on the body versus other tissues such as muscle, bones and skin.
An example of a test with average results would be a woman doing between 20-25 push-ups during a muscular endurance test. In all cases of activity, proper precautions should be taken to avoid injuries or other health complications. Consulting with a physician prior to starting an exercise program is recommended. Other professionals, such as personal trainers or exercise physiologists, should also be considered as resources to help create a program that is the best fit based on personal needs.
For physical fitness activity to benefit an individual, the exertion triggers a response called a stimulus. Exercise with the correct amount of intensity, duration, and frequency can produce a significant amount of improvement. The person may overall feel better, but the physical effects on the human body take weeks or months to notice and possibly years for full development. For training purposes, exercise must provide a stress or demand on either a function or tissue. To continue improvements, this demand must eventually increase little over an extended period of time. This sort of exercise training has three basic principles: overload, specificity, and progression. These principles are related to health but also enhancement of physical working capacity.
These recommendations are also widely supported by the American Cancer Society. The guidelines have been evaluated and individuals that have higher guideline adherence scores substantially reduce cancer risk as well as help towards control with a multitude of chronic health problems. Regular physical activity is a factor that helps reduce an individual’s blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels, two key components that correlate with heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The American Cancer Society encourages the public to "adopt a physically active lifestyle" by meeting the criteria in a variety of physical activities such as hiking, swimming, circuit training, resistance training, lifting, etc. It is understood that cancer is not a disease that can be cured by physical fitness alone, however, because it is a multifactorial disease, physical fitness is a controllable prevention. The large associations tied with being physically fit and reduced cancer risk are enough to provide a strategy to reduce cancer risk. The American Cancer Society asserts different levels of activity ranging from moderate to vigorous to clarify the recommended time spent on a physical activity. These classifications of physical activity consider the intentional exercise and basic activities are done on a daily basis and give the public a greater understanding of what fitness levels suffice as future disease prevention.