Physical fitness is a condition of well-being and healthy living and, in particular, the ability to do certain tasks, sports and activities without experiencing excessive pain or difficulty. Physical fitness involves your body’s ability to move and work effectively. It involves your ability to breathe efficiently and to use your muscles effectively, such as when lifting weights. And it includes your capacity to do activities that are of an above average amount of intensity, to keep up with advancing age, or to cope with conditions that may cause you discomfort, like obesity.
The term “physical fitness” can be defined as various aspects of an individual’s ability to engage in physical activity, including endurance, muscle strength, muscular power, flexibility, and balance. These aspects can be improved through exercise, dieting, occupational training, or disease control. Exercise promotes circulation, strengthens bones and joints, prevents osteoporosis, decreases the risk of certain diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, increases blood pressure, improves lung function and lowers blood cholesterol. Some diseases that physical fitness prevents include obesity, heart disease, asthma, stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration and HIV/AIDS.
Menopause is a natural part of aging. But even during menopause, women can still benefit from regular exercise. Menopause doesn’t necessarily cause a loss of energy, but it does mean reduced estrogen production. That’s one reason why exercise during menopause is especially important, since exercise helps control estrogen levels and may promote prevention of breast cancer, endometrial diseases, stroke, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, colon and prostate cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, gallbladder disease, and some forms of depression.
The benefits of physical fitness extend beyond the biological benefits. It also has mental and emotional benefits. One study found that those who were more fit and mentally active were more satisfied with their lives. Other studies have linked the improved memory and concentration of physically fit individuals to lower rates of serious accidents on the job, in school, at home and on the road. In fact, those who exercise are less likely to experience stress, depression, alcohol abuse and other negative lifestyle changes.
The three most important components of physical fitness include cardiovascular activity, muscular strength and flexibility, and balance. If you can do light aerobic exercise (such as walking, swimming, or jogging) or some weight-bearing exercises every day for three minutes, you’re already on your way. The easiest way to get started is to find a good, low-impact, enjoyable activity, such as walking, cycling, or rowing.
If you’d like to increase your fitness level and your ability to live a healthier life, consider taking a physical fitness class. With a good instructor and a variety of interesting, challenging activities, you can improve your health and reduce your risk for disease and injury. Exercise doesn’t have to be an overwhelming burden. Consider starting a walking routine today. You’ll be glad you did.