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By Nathalie Bonilla

What exactly does it mean to be physically fit?

As people age, they quickly realize that they want to live longer, healthier lives. Being physically fit is one of the most important factors to making this achievable for everyone. Being physically fit goes beyond skin deep and beyond anything that anyone can see. There are a number of aspects that go into one's physical fitness.


One of the first things people think about when considering physical fitness is how much they weigh. When thinking about your weight, it is important to also consider your height along with it. One hundred thirty pounds on one person will look entirely different on another person.

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index, is the number relationship between weight and height. BMI between 18.5 to 24.9 are considered healthy weight to height ratios.

BMI does not take into consideration body fat distribution though. Ever heard of an apple- or pear-shaped body? These shapes are the face of body fat distribution. People with apple-shaped bodies carry more of their fat and body weight above their waist. This kind of body type has been linked to those who develop diseases commonly linked with obesity. Diabetes and heart disease are examples of such diseases. Those with a pear-shaped body carry their weight below their waist in their hip and thigh areas. Body shape reflects the physical fitness level an individual has attained. Women with higher levels have a waist size of 35 inches or less and in men it can be seen with those who have waist lines of 40 inches or less.

Both body fat distribution and BMI are easy to see and determine, but there are other key parts to physical fitness that we cannot necessarily see. We can easily see excess fat on the body, but seeing excess fat in our cells isn't something we can see in the mirror. The cholesterol levels that doctors test for through blood tests are a measurement of the fat in our cells. A healthy cholesterol level is considered anything between 100 mg/dL to 199 mg/dL. The diet that one consumes on a daily basis is responsible for the cholesterol levels they have.

Cardiovascular fitness

Another unseen potential enemy to physical fitness is cardiovascular fitness. How well the heart can pump blood through the body during strenuous activities determines cardio fitness. Any form of cardio can improve your heart's health. These exercises can include running or swimming. The heart is a muscle, just like the ones in the arms and legs, and these kinds of exercises strengthen it.

Muscle strength

Perhaps a little more obvious to physical fitness is the strength and endurance that the muscles in the body actually possess. Muscle strength is measured through lifting and pulling. That's also how muscle strength and size increases. Going to the gym, lifting weights are cross fit are great examples of how strength can be developed. Muscle endurance is much like cardio fitness; it is determined by how long the body can exert energy without tiring. Both the muscles in the body along with the heart determine muscle endurance. Muscle size doesn't necessarily determine the endurance as much as the body's ability to bring oxygen to the body, allowing it to continue going.

The body's physical fitness level is important to leading a healthy life. It can be measured by combining a number of different attributes together from visual cues like BMI to internal cues like cardio strength. No single factor determines one's fitness level wholly and it's crucial to know this when trying to live a healthy life.

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