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What Does it Mean to be Physically Fit?

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Physiology
Wordcount: 2516 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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What Does it Mean to be Physically Fit

 Our whole lives we have heard it said that it is hard to lose weight when we get older. We should be physically active and eat healthy when we are young so it will be easier to maintain the weight as we age. Although we should know better, we ask ourselves if eating healthy and doing some sort of physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight, or for this purpose be physically fit? Maintaining a healthy weight is something that we can all do to make our everyday lives easier. When it comes to the topic of being physically fit, most of us will readily agree that we should have a healthy weight and tone muscles. I am not saying that we all need the “six pack” abs, but to have tone muscles makes us feel good about ourselves. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of what does physically fit mean to each one of us individually. Whereas some are convinced that being physically fit is following a healthy diet and regular exercise, others maintain to be healthy is to resist disease or to react to a difficult situation. With many ideas floating around out there, what does it mean to be physically fit?

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 As we get older, we find that we do things that make us comfortable. We hang around people who share the same interests as us, and we do the same thing day in and day out because we have a routine. The routine we do day to day ends up being longer over time because we as people do not like change. If we are not exercising as part of our routine, we could find ourselves becoming lethargic and possibly putting on weight as time goes by. We make our own decisions, “we’ve got to remind ourselves that decision is the ultimate power” (Robbins, 2006). Some say that changing your routine to include physical activity can have a good outcome on your health. I agree that changing our routine to become physically fit can start with eating right because we are what we eat. According to David Katz, M.D. “eating well is part of the formula that can reduce our risk of any major chronic disease by 80 percent and reach into our innermost selves to improve the health of our very genes” (2010). One way to become more fit and maintain a healthy weight would be to eat lean proteins, plant-based foods, and foods high in fiber along with fruits and vegetables. “A healthy weight is important for overall health and can help prevent many diseases. If you are overweight, you are at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers” (“Maintain a Healthy Weight,” n.d.). It would go without saying that a healthy weight can help in many ways. The best way to know what your ideal weight should be is to visit your doctor.

 Along with clean eating, we should include exercise as part of our change in routine. Some claim that there are five components to being fit. Being fit means “being able to provide for one’s own life and wellbeing; the fittest are those who can do so the best” (Mahoney, 2012). These components are, body composition, the comparison of muscle, fat, water, and bone. Healthy body composition is a low percentage of body fat and a high percentage of fat-free mass, which includes muscle, bones, and organs. There are many ways to measure these that are available by visiting a gym such as skin calipers, and hydrostatic weighing. Getting these measurements can give you a better evaluation of your overall health. Cardiovascular activity, increasing the heart rate to deliver oxygen rich blood throughout the body and can decrease cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular activities include jogging, swimming or bicycling. Flexibility, the range of motion through stretching such as yoga or Pilates, designed to stretch joints, ligaments, and tendons. Muscular endurance, whereas you build your muscle to be able to work longer with less fatigue. And muscular strength, to build muscle through exercises like lifting weights. The longer a muscle is worked the stronger it becomes. “So, you can tell if someone is physically fit by determining how well they perform in each component” (Newman, 2017). There are many ways to implement these five components, what works for you may not for others. I believe that one way is to change up your routine.

 Most athletes will tell you that you need to eat right, lift weights, and do some sort of cardiovascular activity in order to be physically fit. I agree that having a routine of going to the gym, eating right, and working up a sweat can keep you healthy and feeling good about yourself. Because according to a recent study, a “High Intensity Functional Training (HIFT) can help to build strength, skill, and metabolic performance” (Feito, Hoffstetter, Serafini, & Mangine, 2018). This study was focused on both active males and females where they were supervised by a trained, certified professional who was pushing them to succeed. This method combined resistance training, gymnastics and aerobic conditioning. Compare this HIFT to other cross-training models without trainers which can lead to an on and off routine with no real commitment or visual results. Those unfamiliar with this type of training may be interested to know that it basically boils down that a sixteen-week HIFT program “aims to improve performance over a broad spectrum of physical demands with increased performance in all workout challenges” (Feito, Hoffstetter, Serafini, & Mangine, 2018). Showing that this program is another great start to becoming physically fit.

 During the HIFT study some of the exercises that were used included kettlebell swing, 350-meter row, burpees, jump rope, squats, bench press, curls, and running. The following chart (Fig 1) shows a sample of changes in repetitions per minute and squats by weight increased. Proving that this type of program is beneficial to any individual that would like to become more fit. This study also supports that having a trainer during the time you exercise is valuable for peak performance compared to putting together a workout schedule and going to the gym to do your own workout unassisted. “The data indicate that 16-weeks of HIFT resulted in positive outcomes in strength, metabolic conditioning performance, and body composition” (Feito, Hoffstetter, Serafini, & Mangine, 2018). Other intense training opportunities are popping up all around. There are events such as Spartan Race and Warrior Dash as well as gyms like CrossFit gyms that combine cardiovascular activity with muscular strength and endurance to push you to become physically fit.

(A) WOD-1, (B) Absolute 5-RM Front Squat, (C) Relative 5-RM Front Squat, (D) WOD-2, and (E) WOD-3 following 16-wks of high-intensity functional training. Note: # = Significantly (p < 0.05) different from PRE.

Fig. 1. Changes in performance during. Adapted from “Changes in body composition, bone metabolism, strength, and skill-specific performance resulting from 16-weeks of HIFT,” by Feito, Hoffstetter, Serafini, & Mangine, 2018, PLoS ONE, 6, p. 10, Copyright 2018 by Feito et al

 Through research I have found that exercise such as a HIFT or CrossFit, is beneficial to your overall health. Incorporating the five components of physical fitness along with intense cardiovascular training, people can become more fit. Common sense seems to dictate that being physically fit would be the healthy way to a long-fulfilled life. However, there are studies that suggest being too fit could also be dangerous. “Evidence is growing that pushing the body beyond normal limits may damage the heart. Austrian researchers found that, of 16 cyclists competing in the “Race across the Alps”, at least one quarter showed heart muscle injury immediately afterward” (Collingwood, 2018). You would think that pushing yourself to be a top athlete or to just exercise to stay healthy, that there wouldn’t be too many hazardous consequences. For some of the cyclists, striving to be the best hurt them. In her research, Collingwood found that “Increased adrenaline levels during prolonged exercise may lead to the narrowing of coronary arteries. It’s also possible that the body produces a certain enzyme during strenuous exercise, which could even trigger mini-heart attacks” (2018). If having a mini-heart attack isn’t bad enough, side effects from pushing yourself too far can be obsessiveness, cause chronic stress, anxiety, or even depression all influencing mental and physical health. “Dangers of pushing yourself too far is taking it to extremes and becoming addicted to exercise. In rare cases, it can become an obsession” (Collingwood, 2018). This is where yoga or Pilates can come into play. A form of exercise that is related to stress relief as well as releasing anxiety.

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 Although exercise is a great way to be and stay fit, too much could be damaging to the heart. There are extreme circumstances with everything and there are a lot of people that take things to the extreme causing damage to their bodies without realizing what they are doing. One extreme form of exercise is cycling, such as the “Race Across the Alps”. During this race, 16 cyclists were studied to see if they had increased levels of Troponin I and T. A study found that some of the cyclists did have elevated levels of Troponins I and T. Troponins are proteins found in the heart muscle fibers which regulate muscular contraction. Doctors can test for high levels of Troponin to help detect heart injury. Calculating for Troponin in the blood can identify people who have damage to their heart, according to Neumayr G. et al. “the available clinical and experimental information suggests that Troponin release reflects irreversible cardiac injury” (2002). They also go on to say, “with regards to the extraordinary cardiopulmonary strains of ultra-endurance races, we recommend athletes who regularly participate in such events to undergo thorough cardiovascular medical examinations” (Neumayr G. et al. 2002). Super-fit athletes are perceived to be physically fit, nevertheless there could be dangers associated with obsession fitness.

 What are the benefits of being healthy? Conventional wisdom has it that eating healthy and regular exercise of 30 minutes a day will keep you healthy. But we have discussed that it takes more to be physically fit. We have outlined High Intensity Functional Training and the five components to being fit as guidelines to becoming physically fit. We also discussed that being physically fit has health benefits. With these intense trainings being rich in cardiovascular activities we have shown that there can be significant health benefits too that can lower disease. As stated by Reimers, D., et al “Physical activity reduces many major mortality risk factors including arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus type 2, dyslipidemia, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer” (2012). Be careful because excessive exercise for too long has its own side effects that we have already discussed. What else can be a benefit of being physically fit? How about living longer. “All-cause mortality is decreased by about 30% to 35% in physically active as compared to inactive subjects” (Reimers, Knapp, & Reimers, 2012). Living longer to enjoy time with family and friends has no price tag, we can live longer with just a little more physical activity a few times each week.

 We have discussed the pros and cons of exercise and different viewpoints on physical fitness. Too much exercise can lead to many health problems, leaving us mentally unhealthy and at risk for heart issues. Should we start with a high intensity functional training session or go for a quick jog around the park? Do we hire a personal trainer or go to the gym and figure it out on our own? “The important take-home message is that embarking on any regular exercise will be of benefit to your health. The more exercise that is carried out, the healthier an individual will look and feel” (Newman, 2017). There is no right answer that fits all of us. Everyone has their own scale of being considered physically fit, fitness means different things to different people. Therefor after my research, I believe that to be physically fit, one must incorporate eating healthy, maintain a healthy weight, perform a type of CrossFit cardiovascular activity, and include a weight training program consisting of the five components of fitness.


  • Collingwood, J. (2018). Is It Possible To Be Too Fit?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21,2019, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/is-it-possible-to-be-too-fit/
  • D. Reimers, C., Knapp, G., & K. Reimers, A. (2012). Does Physical Activity Increase Life Expectancy? A Review of the Literature. Journal of Aging Research, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/243958
  • Feito, Y., Hoffstetter, W., Serafini, P., & Mangine, G. (2018). Changes in body composition, bone metabolism, strength, and skill-specific performance resulting from 16-weeks of HIFT. PLoS ONE, (6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198324
  • Katz, D. (2010, July 25). Mom was right: You are what you eat. Retrieved May 14, 2019, from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35350889/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/mom-was-right you-are-what-you-eat/#.XNtSKo5KiUl
  • Mahoney, M. (2012, November 2). What Does Being Fit Mean? Exploring the 5 Components of Physical Fitness. Retrieved May 4, 2019, from https://www.midtown.com/blog/whatdoes-being-fit-mean-exploring-the-5-components-of-physical-fitness
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2019, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/
  • Neumayr G. et al. (2002) Effect of the “Race Across The Alps” in elite cyclists on plasm cardiac troponins I and T. American Journal of Cardiology, 89(4), 484-486. Retrieved April 21, 2019, from https://www.ajconline.org/article/S0002-9149(01)02280-9/fulltext
  • Newman, T. (2017, July 14). Fitness: Definition, factors, and types. Retrieved May 4, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7181.php#overview
  • Robbins, T. (2006). Transcript of Why we do what we do“. Retrieved May 14, 2019, from https://www.ted.com/talks/tony_robbins_asks_why_we_do_what_we_do/transcript?lanuage=en#t-706270


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