The discussion of why physical fitness is important is not a new one. The value of fitness for improving health has been discussed for much of human history. Hippocrates prescribed exercise for health around 5 BCE. Fitness is important for people in all age groups. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with numerous health problems. So why is physical fitness important? Before answering that question it is important to answer an even more important one:
What is Fitness?
The standard medical view is that physical fitness is mainly a measure of the body's capacity to perform work. How strong an individual’s heart and other muscles are along with their lung capacity help to determine an individual’s level of physical fitness. If someone is physically fit, their body will be able to handle exertion with less difficulty. Along with personal records in the gym, ways to measure fitness include body mass index and resting heart rate. Physical fitness is a different concept from physical activity though the two are clearly related. Physical activity refers to musculoskeletal movements while fitness is a measure of endurance and strength when performing those movements. Workout clothes are an important part of the effort to build fitness. Wearing the right workout apparel like FIRM ABS activewear can reduce discomfort and keep an individual motivated to continue exercising. Read on for a look at the importance of physical fitness.
Benefits of Physical Fitness
1. Lower Risk of Obesity
Building fitness requires exercise, which helps to prevent weight gain. Lack of exercise tends to result in a person being overweight. The body burns calories with exercise. The more work that an individual does while working out, the more calories they burn and the fewer calories will be stored as fat. Along with the calories being burned, exercise can enhance the metabolism of muscle. The fitter or more metabolically active muscle is, the more calories it will burn in a resting state.
2. Lower Risk of Injury
Fit people are less likely to suffer injuries during physical activity. Among the benefits of fitness are the positive effects of regular exercise on bone density and muscle strength. It also affects other factors like how flexible they are and how stable. Strong muscles enhance stability and balance both of which can make it less likely that a person will fall and injure themselves. The risk of falls tends to go up with age. Higher bone density means that an individual is less likely to suffer fractures.
3. Prevention of Serious Diseases
Exercising to increase fitness is a great way to fight serious diseases. Heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes can all be prevented or managed with regular exercise. The same is true for some cancers and arthritis. Fitness can also bring benefits in the area of respiratory health.
4. Longer Life Expectancy
Because of its ability to treat or prevent various diseases, physical fitness also tends to have a positive impact on life expectancy. There is no way to calculate how many additional years of life one can expect from a certain level of fitness but studies do show that the fitter an individual is, the less likely they are to die prematurely.
5. Improved Brain Health
Exercise can improve memory and other brain functions. It can also encourage the growth of brain cells by triggering the production of certain hormones. Studies have found that it causes the part of the brain that is important for memory to grow. Exercise is particularly important for brain health in older adults since aging tends to come with inflammation that affects changes in the brain’s structure and function.
6. Mood Boost
Along with increased fitness, exercise can improve mood. The brain chemicals that are released during a workout will create a feeling of calmness. Exercise is a proven method of countering stress and can help to relieve depression. Exercise is so effective at relieving depression that its effects are sometimes likened to those of antidepressant drugs.
7. Energy Boost
Researchers from the University of Georgia have found that exercise lowered fatigue among subjects who suffered from persistent fatigue. There are also reported benefits for sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome. Some experts believe that pursuing physical fitness is the most effective treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. The reason probably has to do with the fact that exercising produces more mitochondria, which is what produces the energy that the body needs.
8. Improved Sleep Quality
Fitness and sleep are closely connected. With fitness comes improved sleep. According to a study titled Association Between Objectively-Measured Physical Activity and Sleep, it is possible to see up to a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality from 150 minutes of exercise each week. Regular exercise will help shorten the time it takes to fall asleep. Other sleep-related benefits include deeper and longer sleep, which can contribute to other benefits mentioned above like improved emotional health and cognitive functioning. Getting the recommended amount of sleep per night can provide the energy needed to exercise and build fitness.
9. Help With Quitting Smoking
Regularly exercising to improve fitness can also improve an individual’s chances of quitting cigarettes successfully. It can do this by making the cravings and withdrawal symptoms less intense. According to smokefree.gov, the cravings for a cigarette will decrease during exercise and for as long as 50 minutes post-exercise.
10. Improved Productivity
The aforementioned benefits like energy and mood boost all play roles in productivity but increased focus can help as well. Research from the University of Otago suggests that fitness and focus are connected. The study suggests that exercise can improve focus and productivity because of the increased flow of oxygenated blood to the brain.
For many people, understanding the importance of fitness is the first step on the path to a healthy and active lifestyle. Improved fitness comes with a reduced risk of certain diseases, a longer life expectancy and an improved quality of life.