Why is physical fitness important? Most people realize it is, but may not know the many reasons why. First we need to define it.
The government defines it as "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity."
A more complete definition would be: the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases, and to meet emergency situations.
Physical fitness can be broken down into the following components: Body Composition, Flexibility, Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Cardiorespiratory Endurance.
So why is physical fitness important? Here are the benefits you can get from each of the components of fitness and why they're important.
Staying fit will help you maintain your proper body weight. Obesity (especially abdominal fat) is a risk factor for many diseases, as well as, decreased longevity.
Staying flexible is especially important as you age. Maintaining your range of motion for your joints will make everyday movements easier and help prevent injuries. Lack of flexibility is a frequent cause of back pain.
As we age, we lose some muscle every year after the age of 25. You can prevent that deterioration with proper strength training. Strength is important for not only sports, but for everyday activities as well, like lifting and carrying objects, going up stairs, etc.
Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time.
Cardiorespiratory endurance (Aerobic fitness) is the most important component of physical fitness. It is defined as the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen during sustained physical activity.
Aerobic fitness will allow your body to perform prolonged, large-muscle, dynamic exercise at moderate-to-high levels of intensity. Your heart and lungs become stronger and more efficient. The result will be lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, and less risk of plaque buildup in your arteries.
Your energy and stamina will increase, along with your resting metabolic rate and your "good" cholesterol (HDL). You will be able to maintain everyday activities for much longer periods without having to stop because you're tired.
Longevity: There is a direct correlation between longevity and fitness. Simply put, the fitter you are the longer you'll live. Being fit can greatly reduce the risk of premature death.
Mental Health: The Greeks knew about the correlation between a healthy mind and a healthy body. Regular exercise can ease depression, reduce anxiety, boost your mood and promote relaxation. It can also keep your mind sharp.
Immune System: Regular exercise will strengthen your immune system. You'll be less susceptible to minor viral illnesses, such as colds and flu.
Bone Health: Strength training and weight bearing aerobic exercise can help maintain your bone density and avoid osteoporosis.
Appearance: Regular exercise tones your muscles, lowers your body fat, and helps control your appetite, all of which can improve your appearance. It can help you look your best.
Better Sleep: Sleeping well is another reason why physical fitness is important. Fit individuals fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and sleep sounder.
So why is physical fitness important? The overall health benefits of physical fitness (as demonstrated above) have become well-known, particularly in the last decade or so. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by becoming more physically fit.