What is fitness?
Fitness means being able to
perform physical activity. It also means having the energy and strength to feel
as good as possible. Getting more fit, even a little bit, can improve your
You don't have to be an athlete to be fit. A brisk half-hour walk every
day can help you reach a good level of fitness. And if this is hard for you, you can work
toward a level of fitness that helps you feel better and have more
What are the benefits of fitness?
you feel better and have more energy for work and leisure time. You'll feel
more able to do things like playing with your kids, gardening, dancing, or
biking. Children and teens who are fit may have more energy and better focus at
When you stay active and fit, you burn more calories,
even when you're at rest. Being fit lets you do more physical activity. And it
lets you exercise harder without as much work. It can also help you manage
Improving your fitness is good for
your heart, lungs, bones, muscles, and joints. And it lowers your risk for falls, heart attack,
high blood pressure, and some cancers. If
you already have one or more of these problems, getting more fit may help you
control other health problems and make you feel better.
Being more fit also can help you to sleep better,
stress better, and keep your mind sharp.
How much physical activity do you need for health-related fitness?
Experts say your goal should be one, or a combination, of
- Do some sort of moderate aerobic activity, like brisk
walking, for at least 2½ hours each week. You can spread out these 150 minutes
any way you like. For example, you could:
- Take a half-hour walk 3 days a week, and
on the other 4 days take a 15-minute walk.
- Take a 45-minute walk every other day.
- Or do more
vigorous activities, like
running, for at least 1¼ hours a week. This
activity makes you breathe harder and have a much faster
heartbeat than when you are resting. Again,
you can spread out these 75 minutes any way you like. For example, you
- Run for 25 minutes 3 times
- Run for 15 minutes 5 times a week.
Children need more activity. Encourage your child (age 6 to 17) to do
moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day.
Here's an easy way to tell if your exercise is moderate: If you can't talk while you're doing the activity, you're working too hard. You're at a moderate level of activity if you can talk but not sing during the activity.
What types of physical activity improve fitness?
The activities you choose depend on which kind of fitness you want to
improve. There are three different kinds of fitness:
- Aerobic fitness makes your heart work harder for a while. Aerobic activities include walking, running, cycling, and swimming. Aerobic fitness is also called cardio or cardiovascular training.
- Muscle fitness (strength) means building stronger muscles and
increasing how long you can use them. Activities like weight
lifting and push-ups can improve your muscular
- Flexibility is the ability to move your joints and
muscles through their full range of motion.
Stretching is an exercise that helps you to be more
How can you be more physically active?
Moderate physical activity is safe for most people. But it's always a
good idea to
talk to your doctor before becoming more active, especially if you
haven't been very active or have health problems.
If you're ready
to add more physical activity to your life, here are some tips to get you
- Make physical activity part of your regular day.
Make a regular habit of using stairs, not elevators, and walking to do errands near your home.
- Start walking. Walking is a
great fitness activity that most people can start doing. Make it a habit to take a daily walk with
family members, friends, coworkers, or pets.
- Find an activity partner. This can make exercising more
- Find an activity that you enjoy, and stay with it. Vary it with
other activities so you don't get bored.
- Use the
Interactive Tool: How Many Calories Did You Burn? to
find out how many calories you burn during exercise and daily
Frequently Asked Questions