Definition of Physical Fitness

definition of physical fitness

Why the Definition of Physical Fitness is Relative

Definition of Physical Fitness


When you think of physical fitness you may think of athletic feats such as Lance Armstrong riding endlessly through the Swiss Alps.

Maybe you think of professional football players sprinting past their competition? You may even think of bodybuilders flexing their ripped muscles on stage.

What about the contortionists performing on stage bending their bodies as far as they can bend?

What about someone who is confined to a wheel chair? Do you think physical fitness means the same thing to them as it does to you or a professional athlete?

The Point is, Physical Fitness vastly Differs from Person to Person

What you consider physically fit others may not. You may be proud of your 7 minute mile, but professional track stars may think your time is very slow. You may feel tremendously proud for your 200 pound bench press but a professional powerlifter wouldn’t be happy at with a 200 pound max.

Athletic feats are part of physical fitness but there is far more reasons why physical fitness is important. It is best to look at physical fitness as a hierarchy to attempt an accurate general definition.

Definition of Physical Fitness

How to Interpret Definition of Physical Fitness Hierarchy

Base Level
The base level of the physical fitness pyramid highlights the primary reason why physical fitness is important. This level of physical fitness directly relates to quality of life. A physically fit body has less chance of acute health problems and chronic disease.

The base level of physical fitness represents your ability to efficiently perform the anaerobic and aerobic activities of daily living (ADLs) which exist in your environment on a daily basis in addition to novel tasks which may arise during day to day living.

Mid Level
Only after your body has grown accustomed to the the base level of physical fitness you can advance to the mid level. The middle level of the pyramid is about adaptation and improvement.

Most people remain at the mid level for their entire lifetime as they adapt and progress only to regress and start the process over and over again.

In order to improve mid level physical fitness it is important to have a balanced exercise program. Exercise selection should focus on all 5 components of fitness.

Top Level
Very few are able to reach the top level of the physical fitness hierarchy. Elite athletes often spend their entire lifetime aiming to reach the very top level.

The top level of physical fitness tends to mesh physiology and psychology. In order to reach the top level of physical fitness one must reach their full potential.

Why is Physical Fitness Important to You?

Agree or Disagree with the Fitness Hierarchy you will Have your Own Definition of Physical Fitness

The hierarchy of physical fitness consists of general ideas that apply to the population as a whole.

The meaning of physical fitness varies from person person.

For example, if you are a former athlete born to an athletic family you will have higher expectations than a sedentary person from a sedentary family who is new to exercise.

Physical fitness may be important to you because it improves the quality of your life or it may be important to you simply because it’s what you enjoy to do. Regardless of why physical fitness is so important to you, it is important.

What is Your Definition of Physical Fitness?

Personal Trainers from Around the World Express their Definition of Physical Fitness

“The human bodies ability to move with desired speed, balance, agility and strength gained through proper exercise and nutrition.”
–Don Hoskins, Phoenix AZ, USA

“Physical fitness is training for LIFE. It’s the body’s ability to be able to withstand whatever life throws it’s way! Sprinting, jumping, walking, playing with grandchildren…physical fitness is specific to the individual and therefore, training to improve and maintain it should be as well!”
-Sarah E. Rippel, Baton Rouge, LA, USA

“Physical fitness is going through the day with a sense of confidence that you can put whatever the day has in store for you on your back, hold it there for awhile, and then set it back down later, with good form. It can give you peace of mind that you are better equipped to handle the physical challenges of daily life, from reaching high to bending low, from running with a purpose, or running with no purpose at all. You can be carrying your whole life in a bag everyday to carrying just you, everywhere. Physical fitness is not a race, it’s a pursuit. There is no finish line to look for, but a new starting line to cross everyday. The only real “goal” is to never finish. Physical fitness is human, being.”
-Tom Bravo, Jacksonville, FL, USA

“Fitness is the ability to adapt to the demands placed an individual by their
environment. Physical Fitness is just applying such a definition to the
physical demands an individuals environment may place on them.”
-Daniel Andrews, Champaign, IL, USA

“A structurally sound foundation to prevent injury, develop quality, and find wellness to enhance our function of life.”
-Drew Foster, Spring TX, USA

At the very least, the body’s physical ability to efficiently cope
with the specific and intermittent extraordinary imposed demands
which occur on a daily and intermittent basis.
-Jerry Telle, Lakewood CO, USA

“The synergy of flexibility, mobility, power, strength and endurance over a continuous set of cyclic or acyclic movements in order to beat the opposition.”
-Frederick Levy, Southampton, UK

So… What is Your Definition of Physical Fitness?

Why Physical Fitness should be Important to You

  • Physical Fitness
    You now know the definition of physical fitness but you can find much more information about the world of physical fitness here.
  • Benefits to Exercise
    The definition of physical fitness is very individual. The benefits of physical fitness are universal. Read about the obvious and not so obvious benefits of physical exercise.
  • 5 Components of Physical Fitness
    According the the definition of physical fitness, you should be proficient at all 5 components of physical fitness in order to consider your self physically fit.
  • Exercise Information
    Now that you know Why Physical Fitness is Important you can begin weight training to become more physically fit.

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About Michael Behnken

Mike Behnken is a personal trainer who holds multiple NASM certifications and a MS in Exercise Science. Mike loves fitness, travel, and photography among many other interests.

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