Physical fitness has long been seen as an aspect of wellness that cannot be neglected. With the onslaught of a busy and fast-paced lifestyle, many people find it difficult to engage in any form of physical activity, let alone exercise. However, physical fitness is more than simply getting your body in shape. It is about attitude as well.
Physical fitness refers to the ability to do everyday activities and tasks, and more specifically, the capability to do physical activities that are both aerobic and anaerobic, which involve high heart rates and substantial exertion of energy. Common examples of these include walking, running, bicycling, rowing, and weight training. The primary goal of physical fitness, unlike other forms of fitness, is to improve cardiovascular health, decrease risk for cardiac diseases, stroke, and hypertension. In other words, fitness improves the quality of life.
To measure one’s level of fitness, there are several methods that can be utilized. These include physical fitness testing, such as a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical trainer, and step machine; treadmill testing; cycling test; and the multi-gym method, where an instructor can be used to train different muscle groups to fatigue at the same time, thereby recording the average force on a particular muscle group. The 2nd method, cycling test, requires the use of a stationary cycle with pedals. Fitness testing can be conducted both under the supervision of a qualified health professional and without.
The most popular test measures muscular endurance, which is defined as the ability of a person’s muscles to withstand maximal or near maximal exertion for a specific period of time. Muscular endurance was first studied by American College of Sports Medicine in its early years, before becoming a leading component of the American College Physique Fitness test. This test measures both aerobic and anaerobic capacity, while power, strength, and endurance only evaluate the latter. The test was originally designed to assist the competitive track athlete, but now is used for other athletic disciplines such as football players. The purpose of this test is to determine which activities a participant is most capable of doing, so that athletes can choose whether to improve their performance by increasing strength, power, or endurance.
One of the most common forms of fitness assessment involves the use of electronic pulse oximeter, which is worn on the arm, and monitors the metabolic activity of the heart. Through the pulse oximeter, oxygen consumption is measured and the levels of carbon dioxide are simultaneously analyzed. This type of fitness assessment also helps to determine the body fat percentage. The results are displayed immediately on the computer screen, and the individual is then instructed of the proper amount of exercise to be done for optimal health. In order to be effective, fitness programs should be incorporated in addition to regular exercise, diet, and proper sleeping habits.
Fitness evaluation is also useful for professionals such as nurses, teachers, and police officers. The results from the test can be used to monitor improvements in daily life and to identify weaknesses in specific areas of functioning. The data provided from the testing can also be used to modify the exercise and diet programs. Proper feedback from the tests can help to ensure that individual responses are effective and that changes do not make the person uninterested in continuing with their exercise program or in completing any nutritional program.