According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, physical fitness is defined as “a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.” In other words, that number on the scale is only a piece of the body’s puzzle.

Class stretching hands at yoga class

Getting started may be the most difficult part of any exercise program. Seek expert advice, learn or train with an exercise specialist at your local gym. Be sure to research what is available at your local hospital and talk with family and friends about personal referrals

The following table highlights different types of exercise and how each benefits your health.

Muscle Strength The ability of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel during physical activity
  • Burns calories
  • Increases energy
  • Promotes healthy aging
Exercise using free weights and resistance bands (or use your own body as resistance by adding sit-ups and push-ups to your routine) Always warm up and stretch before exercising
Muscle Endurance The ability of the body’s muscles to contract for extended periods of time
  • Increases metabolism
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Improves posture
  • Reduces injuries
Plan full-body workouts that include all of the muscle groups. Change your strength-training routine every month to continually increase endurance
The ability of the body’s heart, blood vessels, and lungs to supply fuel during sustained physical activity
  • Delivers oxygen and nutrients to tissue
  • Removes waste products
  • Maintains overall heart health
Aerobic exercise (walking, running, etc.) Dancing Swimming Bicycling
Body Composition The relative amount of fat verses muscle, bone, and other vital body parts
  • Describes the percentage of fat-free mass (muscle, bone and water) in the body
Aerobic exercise (walking, running, etc.) Resistance exercise
Flexibility The range of motion around a joint in the body
  • Improves circulation
  • Improves athletic performance
  • Reduces injuries
Always stretch before and after exercise. Avoid hunching over when sitting