physical fitness

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

physical fitness

physical fitness, combined good health and physical development. The object of any program of physical fitness is to maximize an individual's health, strength, endurance, and skill relative to age, sex, body build, and physiology. These ends can only be realized through conscientious regulation of exercise, rest, diet, and periodic medical and dental examinations. Exercise should be regular and vigorous, but begun slowly and only gradually increased in strenuousness. Short periods of vigorous exercise repeated several times during a day can be as beneficial to physical health as one longer daily session. Popular exercise methods include jogging, cycling, and the use of body-building machines. It is more important that periods of sleep be regular and restful than that they extend any fixed number of hours. A properly balanced diet in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals is essential. Conscientious dental hygiene and periodic checkups are also strongly advised. Complete and regular physical examinations should be the basis of any program of physical development. Tobacco smoking, as well as alcohol and drug consumption, are counterproductive to any physical fitness program. Although sports are related to physical fitness, care must be taken that injuries do not occur, and that the skin is adequately protected against the cancerous effects of solar radiation.

See historical study by J. Whorton (1982).

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