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|The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (June 2011)|
Physical fitness is a general state of health and well-being or specifically the ability to perform aspects of sports or occupations. Physical fitness is generally achieved through correct nutrition, exercise, hygiene and rest. It is a set of attributes or characteristics that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.
Before the industrial revolution, fitness was the capacity to carry out the day’s activities without undue fatigue. However with automation and changes in lifestyles physical fitness is now considered a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations.
The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports — a study group sponsored by the government of the United States—declines to offer a simple definition of physical fitness. Instead, it developed the following chart:
|Physiological||Health related||Skill related||Sports|
A comprehensive fitness program tailored to an individual typically focuses on one or more specific skills, and on age- or health-related needs such as bone health. Many sources also cite mental, social and emotional health as an important part of overall fitness. This is often presented in textbooks as a triangle made up of three points, which represent physical, emotional, and mental fitness. Physical fitness can also prevent or treat many chronic health conditions brought on by unhealthy lifestyle or aging. Working out can also help people sleep better. To stay healthy it is important to engage in physical activity.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages the adult public, ages 18 to 64, to engage each week in at least one and a quarter hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity; that time can be met in any increments.
Diet is an important component to overall health that works best in combination with exercise. A balanced diet and exercising regularly are important for maintaining good health. Obesity is defined as body mass index, a measure of weight in relationship to height (Blair, 1993). With obesity on the rise, the U.S. has implemented more exercise and diet plans. There are millions of programs, websites, television shows, magazines, and movies regarding health and fitness. Recently, the trends of diets and lifestyle habits have become more and more encouraged. Understanding the importance of the health benefits resulted from diet and exercise will help decrease the amount of obesity in this country. Physical activity and exercise is defined in terms of type, intensity, duration and frequency (Blair, 1993).
Developing research has demonstrated that many of the benefits of exercise are mediated through the role of skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ. That is, contracting muscles release multiple substances known as myokines which promote the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and various anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases.
Specific or task-oriented fitness is a person's ability to perform in a specific activity with a reasonable efficiency: for example, sports or military service. Specific training prepares athletes to perform well in their sports.
In order for physical fitness to benefit the health of an individual, an unknown response in the person called a stimulus will be triggered by the exertion. When exercise is performed with the correct amount of intensity, duration and frequency, a significant amount of improvement can occur. The person will overall feel better but the physical effects on the human body take weeks, months, or even years to be noticed or fully developed. 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 (Blair, 1993). 
The menopausal period in women is frequently associated with many subjective complaints including vasomotor symptoms, sleep disturbance, alteration in mood, lowered libido, and musculoskeletal pain. All of these symptoms could lead to a lower quality of life. Physical Fitness has the ability to alleviate or even eliminate the effect of most of these. Women experiencing their menopausal period should engage in regular exercise to achieve better physical fitness.
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