Clarifying Key Health and Fitness Terms

Common health and fitness terms may seem interchangeable, but there are differences. Understanding their meanings will help you to communicate more effectively with your clients. Some key terms are clarified below:

Chronic disease. Booth, Roberts & Laye (2012) define a chronic disease as an ailment slow in its progress (i.e., decades) and long in its continuance, as opposed to an acute disease, which has a swift onset and short duration.

Exercise. “A subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive and purposive in the sense that the improve- ment or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective” (CDC 2015).

Health. “A human condition with physical, social and psycholog- ical dimensions, each characterized on a continuum with positive and negative poles. Positive health is associated with a capacity to enjoy life and to withstand challenges; it is not merely the absence of disease” (CDC 2015).

Maximal functional capacity. Booth, Roberts & Laye (2012) explain that maximal functional capacity is the upper limit of a cell, tissue, system or body to maintain homeostasis when under stress.

Physical activity. “Any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that increases energy expenditure above a basal level” (CDC 2015).

Physical inactivity. “Physical activity levels less than those required for optimal health and prevention of premature death” (Booth, Roberts & Laye 2012).

Physical fitness. “The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies.” Physical fitness includes cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle endurance, muscle strength, muscle power, flex- ibility, balance, speed of movement, reaction time and body composition

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