Explaining a couple key definitions is a great way to get things started. Two important terms are Physical Fitness and Exercise Physiology.  I don’t plan to load you down with terms and definitions, but it is a necessity at times to emphasize the importance of the subject.  Technology has enabled us to make some amazing accomplishments and have made our lives much easier than previous generations. When searching for the occasionally lost television remote control, I remind my children that when I was their age, I was the remote and sometimes the antenna also.  We got up off the couch to change the television channel.  We rode our bikes to friend’s homes and playgrounds. Bottom line, we led much more active lifestyles.

Chika Christenson, CPT, discusses the Importance of Motion & Exercise and some of the challenges today’s youth and adults are facing as our society becomes less active. I have experience many similar situations as discussed in the video.


Physical Fitness The ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with energy left over for enjoying leisure-time activities and meeting emergency demands. It is the ability to endure, to bear up, to withstand stress, to carry on in circumstances where an unfit person could not continue.  Physical fitness is a major basis for good health and well-being.     
 Exercise Physiology  The study of how the body functions during exercise.


Five Components of Physical Fitness


Mr. G talks about the Five Components of Physical Fitness with a group of children in a gym. I like his presentation, because he keeps it simple and uses examples that anyone can relate to and understand.


Physical Fitness is best described by its five components; each of these components should be addressed in a well-designed and well-balanced exercise program:

  Cardio-respiratory Endurance(Cardio) The capability of the heart, blood vessels, and lungs to work over sustained periods of time, delivering nutrients and oxygen to the working muscles and tissues and removing the metabolic waste products.  This is also referred to as aerobic endurance.
  Muscular Strength The ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert a maximum force for a brief period of time. (One way that we assess Muscular Strength is by measuring the amount of weight lifted once–1-Rep Max).
  Muscular Endurance  The ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert force against a resistance repeatedly over a sustained period of time. (One way that we assess Muscular Endurance is by measuring the number of repetitions- Number of muscle contractions).
Flexibility The ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion.
Body Composition The makeup of the body in terms of lean body mass (muscles, bone, vital tissues and organs) and body fat.

Five Exercise Principles

Improving your physical fitness levels takes some work. There are five basic principles of exercise.  Exercise programs should be designed to improve the function of the body’s muscular and cardiovascular systems.  The degree any muscle of the body improves its ability to act, move or function depends on the activity it is exposed to.  The following principles describe how the body adapts to exercise, ultimately becoming more physically fit.  


  Overload To become stronger, the body must be exposed to workloads greater than its norm.  Work levels must gradually overload the body above its resting level to bring on improvement.
  Specificity The training effects resulting from exercise or an exercise program are specific to the exercise done and the muscle(s) involved in the activity.  Strength training results in specific strength gains; aerobic training increases cardiovascular ability.
  Progression The body must be exposed to progressively greater workloads as it adapts to the demands of exercise.  The intensity, frequency, and duration of exercise must be gradually increased over time in order to improve.
  Regression Training improvements are quickly lost when training stops.  Significant reductions in fitness levels can be seen in as little as two weeks without training.
  Plateau The gains usually seen in the early stages of an exercise program level off after a few weeks and no further gains are apparent. This is normal and progression will start up again as the program is revised and continues.


Three Training Elements

  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Muscular Strength and Endurance
  • Flexibility

 The design of any exercise program must include four factors in order to develop and maintain a level of physical fitness.

  1. Frequency of exercise (how often you exercise)
  2. Intensity of work (how hard you work)
  3. Duration or Length of time (how long you workout)
  4. Mode of exercise (what type of exercise)


Frequency – As Fitness Trainers, people often try to pick our brains.  Without realizing it, people tend to ask us questions closely relating the 4 factors of exercise programming.  Steve Turano discusses a popular subject, weight training frequency.

Intensity – In order to get the result you want, you must work safely and consistently.  In order to make your workouts effective, you must carefully step outside your comfort zone and exercise with intensity.  In this video, Steve Turano discusses why we lift weights with intensity.

Duration and Frequency – ACSM’s Dave Patania gives some great advice on how to look for your appropriate mode of cardio exercise, duration of workout, tips for getting started and more…click here.


Mode – ACSM’s Dave Patania talks about modes or types of cardiovascular exercise and is generous with tips on how to get started.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9VG26var34


Cardiorespiratory Fitness

  • Frequency – 3 to 5 days a week
  • Intensity – 40-85% (40-50% for the deconditioned) of HRR OR 64% to 94 % of maximum heart rate (max HR) 
  • Duration – 20 to 60 minutes of continuous or intermittent (10-minute bouts accumulated throughout the day) aerobic activity  
  • Mode – Large-muscle, rhythmic activity, such as walking, jogging, biking, aerobic dance, step aerobics, swimming, rowing and stair climbing


Muscular Strength and Endurance

  • Frequency – 2 to 3 days a week
  • Intensity – Sufficient intensity to enhance strength, muscular endurance and maintain fat-free weight 
  • Duration – One set (8 to 12 repetitions) of 8 to 10 exercises that condition the major muscle group



  • Frequency – A minimum of 2 to 3 days a week
  • Duration – Sufficient to stretch all of the major muscle groups and develop and maintain range of motion (ROM)
  • Mode – Use appropriate static and dynamic techniques. Techniques will be discussed later in the course.



 Benefits of Exercise

American College of Sports Medicine lists 10 of the Best Reasons to Exercise:

  1. Improves Mental Sharpness
  2. Relieves Depression
  3. Can relieve Stress and Anxiety
  4. Improves the Quality of your Life
  5. Prevents certain Types of Cancer
  6. Increases Good Cholesterol
  7. Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease
  8. Improves the Quality of Sleep
  9. Enhances Self-Image
  10. Can Slow the Aging Process




Exercise is Medicine™- Exercise and Your Health

ACSM and the American Health Association have teamed up to establish a great program called, Exercise is Medicine™.

  • Program goal: to encourage communication between doctors & patience about Physical Activity.  Also to encourage physicians to record physical activity in the same way blood pressure and weight are recorded.


As many of you know, physical inactivity is a major public health problem and contributor to a variety of diseases and health complications (such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and many others). 

Consistent physical exercise has proven to be effective in the treatment and prevention of chronic disease.

The physical benefits of exercise, especially in reducing coronary heart disease risk factors, have been well established.  Here are some of them:

Cardiorespiratory Benefits  
  • Increases the efficiency of the heart
  • Improves lung capacity and breathing efficiency
  • Aids the circulation of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body
  • May lower or normalize blood pressure
  • Aids the maintenance of healthy blood chemistry by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels – the good cholesterol
  • Aids in the increase insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance (for people with diabetes this means better use of insulin and regulation of blood sugar)


Body Composition Benefits  
  • Helps in the reduction of body fat
  • Helps in maintaining or building muscle mass
  • Slows age-related declines in basal metabolism, the minimum energy required to maintain life processes


Muscular System Benefits  
  • Helps reduce loss of muscle mass
  • Improves muscle strength and endurance
  • Improves muscle flexibility


Skeletal System Benefits  
  • Helps reduce loss of muscle mass
  • Improves muscle strength and endurance
  • Improves muscle flexibility


In addition to the obvious physical benefits of exercise, health and fitness programs help meet our personal basic needs of spirit, mind and body.  You are a better person when you are strong, healthy and happy.  Here are some ways the benefits of exercise improves these areas and how you can use exercise to help others:

  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Emphasize a positive attitude toward the body –accepting it, choosing to take care of it and appreciating it. Your body is a temple. It feels like a temple when healthy and strong.
  • Help classmates, family members, co-workers, etc… develop personal relationships and become supportive of each other.
  • Include a period of relaxation for peaceful introspection.
  • Create an open atmosphere for fun and self-expression.
  • Develop an appreciation for and celebrate the uniqueness of others.


  • Helps reduce emotional stress and anxiety
  • Immediate effects can range from improved short temper to less difficulty sleeping
  • Enables the mind to relax
  • Provides a source of fun and enjoyment or a break from activities that are stressful and cause tension


  • Lower risk of chronic disease
  • Provide activities that promotes all aspects of physical fitness
  • Provide opportunities for fitness appraisal and assessment
  • Participate in appropriate physical activities and sports
  • Enhance overall health by emphasizing additional healthy habits