Definition of physical fitness

Are you a good example of health and vitality?

A good working definition of physical fitness includes your physical abilities, general health, and resistance to illness or injury. Answer the personal fitness questions as you read about each category of physical fitness. Your answers will help you see which areas you need to improve the most.

Cardio endurance

How long are you able to exercise vigorously without stopping? This depends on your heart’s ability to supply blood to working muscles and the muscles’ ability to use the oxygen in the blood. As you can see below, many everyday activities depend on a fit cardiovascular system.

Goals: Work toward being able to exercise vigorously for at least 30 minutes, and reach at least an average level of cardio fitness for your age. (The Rockport walking test is the easiest way for you to determine your cardio fitness level.)

Muscular Performance

Strength--How easy is it for you to push, pull or lift heavy objects? Strength requires powerful muscular contractions and good coordination between muscle groups.

Muscular endurance--Are you able to resist fatigue and participate fully in sports and active hobbies like dancing? Can you complete all your manual labor / yardwork type activities with ease? You can last longer and perform better in your activities with good motor skills such as agility, balance, and coordination.

Goal: Aim for average strength or greater for your age group. The Cooper Test includes upper body strength testing and charts for comparison to your gender and age group.


The ability to move your joints freely without strain...Good flexibility is helpful in all activities. It allows you to squat, bend, and reach, for example, with a full range of motion. Maintaining and improving your flexibility is helpful for injury prevention.

Freedom from pain

Pain is common but it is not normal. Do you overlook pain in your own definition of physical fitness? How much does pain affect your work day, hobbies, family time and restfulness?

To be more specific, answer the questions above with this 1-5 scale

Body composition

The percentage of body fat compared to lean tissue in your body. The lower your body fat, the lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, lower back pain and some types of cancer. Find out whether your weight is healthy here.

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Hi! I'm Rob Cowell, PT, the author of I enjoy sharing from my experiences in physical therapy, fitness & athletics. Thanks for visiting!

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Back strengthening exercises
Illustrations and 7 videos. Core exercises included.

Metabolic Equivalent
Compare the calories burned for any type of physical activity.

Cooper Test
Compare your physical performance to your peers.

Back stretching exercises
Illustrated routine to relieve stress and tension in the spine.

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