What is Physical Fitness?
Being physically fit means having the energy and strength to perform daily activities vigorously and alertly without getting "run down," and to have energy left over to enjoy leisure-time activities or meet emergency demands. When you are physically fit, your heart, lungs and muscles are strong and your body is firm and flexible. Your body weight relative to your height, or Body Mass Index (BMI), is within a healthy, desirable range.
Physical fitness will help you control your weight and cope with stress. You'll feel and look better and that often means success in anything you want to do, such as work, sports, dance, and other recreational activities. You may even do better in school.
Getting in shape is important for your future. You'll be healthier both now and as an adult, and that means a more enjoyable and active life. Fitness is feeling GREAT!
How do you measure Physical Fitness?
Physical fitness can be broken down into three main parts: endurance, strength and flexibility. Each one can be measured and there are specific exercises to improve each area.
ENDURANCE is the ability to keep moving for long periods of time. There are two types of endurance:
Cardiorespiratory endurance means that your heart and lungs are able to supply your muscles with lots of oxygen and nutrients. “Aerobic" exercises like running, walking, jumping rope and cycling build endurance in your heart and lungs. How fast you can run or walk ¼, ½, or 1 mile is one test of heart/lung endurance.
Muscular endurance means that your muscles are strong enough to move for long periods of time. Exercises such as push-ups, leg raises, and curl-ups build muscular endurance and strength. How many curl-ups you can do is a test of abdominal muscle strength and endurance.
WHY BUILD ENDURANCE? With high levels of endurance you have more energy and are able to play harder and longer during sports or games. You don't get out of breath easily and your muscles are firm. When your heart and lungs are in good shape you're healthier and less likely to develop some forms of disease. Also, doing "aerobic" exercises burns extra calories and helps keep your weight under control.
STRENGTH is how much force you can exert with your muscles. You can measure this by seeing how much weight you can hold in place (static strength), how much weight you can move (dynamic strength), or how fast you can move a weight (power). This weight can refer to your own body weight or special equipment such as a barbell or strength training machine. Always make sure you talk to someone who knows a lot about strength training before you use special equipment.
WHY BUILD STRENGTH? When you are strong you don't need to rely on others to do the "heavy" work and you are less likely to injure your muscles. You can do things like lift your body weight and move heavy objects. Hard jobs become easier and you'll also do better in sports, games and other activities.
FLEXIBILITY means that you can move your muscles and joints through their "full range of motion." Stretching exercises increase flexibility. Seeing how close you can come to touching or reaching beyond your toes is one measure of flexibility.
WHY BUILD FLEXIBILITY? When your muscles are flexible you can reach, bend and stretch more easily. You are less likely to injure your muscles and joints. Stretching helps decrease tension and stress, and makes your body feel good.
Other factors that will affect how well you do in the President's Challenge are Speed, Agility, and Coordination. These factors also will help improve your performance in your daily activities, or sports and games.