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Definition: Fitness from Black's Medical Dictionary, 42nd Edition

An ability to perform daily activities without becoming overtired. Fitness is dependent on strength, flexibility and endurance, and the level of an individual's fitness will often depend upon their type of employment and the extent to which they indulge in physical exercise, whether training in the local health club or at home or regularly participating in sport. Regular fitness improves one's health and well-being. Fitness exercises should be matched to a person's age and abilities, and there is a health danger if someone regularly exercises beyond their capabilities.


Summary Article: physical fitness from The Columbia Encyclopedia

combined good health and physical development. The object of any program of physical fitness is to maximize an individual's health, strength, endurance, and skill relative to age, sex, body build, and physiology. These ends can only be realized through conscientious regulation of exercise, rest, diet, and periodic medical and dental examinations. Exercise should be regular and vigorous, but begun slowly and only gradually increased in strenuousness. Short periods of vigorous exercise repeated several times during a day can be as beneficial to physical health as one longer daily session. Popular exercise methods include jogging, cycling, and the use of body-building machines. It is more important that periods of sleep be regular and restful than that they extend any fixed number of hours. A properly balanced diet in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals is essential. Conscientious dental hygiene and periodic checkups are also strongly advised. Complete and regular physical examinations should be the basis of any program of physical development. Tobacco smoking, as well as alcohol and drug consumption, are counterproductive to any physical fitness program. Although sports are related to physical fitness, care must be taken that injuries do not occur, and that the skin is adequately protected against the cancerous effects of solar radiation.

  • See historical study by J. Whorton (1982).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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