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After completing this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  • Explain why fitness is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle.

  • Give several reasons why being fit should be important to you.

  • Discuss the physical, social, and psychological benefits of being fit.

  • List the component parts of physical fitness.

  • Determine your specific goals and your reasons that motivate you to become physically fit.


  • physical fitness

  • wellness

  • health-related components

  • cardiorespiratory endurance

  • muscular strength

  • muscular endurance

  • flexibility

  • body composition

  • atherosclerosis

  • caloric intake

  • caloric expenditure

  • performance-related components

  • speed

  • power

  • neuromuscular coordination

  • balance

  • agility

  • reaction time

So, you've finally decided it's time to get fit. Why is that? People have many different goals and motivations for beginning a physical activity program. Have you decided that it's time to improve your overall health and well-being? Are you concerned about the way you look to your friends? Are you tired of being a couch potato? Are you interested in fitness primarily because you are required to take this fitness class? Whatever your motivation happens to be, there is no doubt that consistently engaging in physical activity not only can make you physically fit but also can have many positive benefits on your health. But it is also true that living an unhealthy lifestyle can interfere with your ability to become physically fit.

Why Should You Care About Being Physically Active?

Have you noticed that it is virtually impossible to go through a day without being exposed to something involving some aspect of wellness or fitness? We eat, sleep, go to class, and some of us even try to include some form of physical activity in our busy schedules. Fitness information comes from many sources. In our world, that information can be accessed instantly from our smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Anyone can give advice—through the social media on Facebook, Twitter, or blogs, on television or radio, and in magazines, books, and newspapers. Some may actually be "experts"; some may not. Even our friends and classmates are willing to give opinions on the best ways to work out or on how to lose weight. Furthermore, the image of the attractive, healthy, physically active person is used to market everything—clothing, food, cosmetics, health care products, sports equipment, weight loss programs—the list goes on.

Our society is characterized by a fast-paced lifestyle, with obligations and stresses that affect our physical and emotional well-being. A common misconception is that daily living activities incorporate enough physical activity to maintain overall health. Surveys indicate that virtually all adults believe that physical activity is a critical aspect of health and wellness and that regular physical activity is essential for themselves and for their children. Still, despite this increased interest in fitness and wellness, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that only 24 percent of adults participate in a minimum of ...

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