Defining Fitness: Body, Heart & Mind

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Personal/Fitness Training Blog

The actual definition of fitness is a rather vague one describing the condition of being physically fit and healthy. Of course, the word carries much more weight than that, and to complicate things even further, the concept of ‘physically fit’ means different things to different people.

I might consider myself physically fit for completing a triathlon in less than twelve hours; while somebody else might find completing a 2km run in fourteen minutes a good measure of their ability.

Then there is the idea that is only pertains to the ‘physical’, which suggests nothing for the mental focus and fatigue of completing something like a triathlon; or working up the motivation to become fit enough to do so. Worse still it leaves out the ever-present benefits that it can have for the mind and for emotions.

Personal trainers understand this well, which is why sports psychology is a huge part of their skillset.

What is Meant by Being Fit?

Fitness pertains to so much more than its definition of being physically fit and healthy.

Taking it for granted that we consider a fit person to be one who completes exceptionally challenging feats (such as triathlons), maintains and constantly builds their performance through regular and carefully conducted routines and works out alongside a beneficial eating plan; we can start looking at it from various points of view:

Its different types; what it does for the body; and also what it does for both the mind and the heart, and how those things also affect one’s performance.

Fit in Different Ways

The first problem with defining what it means to be fit, is that it varies in the way it is practiced. There are different types, and they all have a different way of transforming the human body for the better.


Cardiovascular fitness is the one most commonly associated with the absolute definition of fit. The ability to cycle, run, swim, climb and dance for exceptional amounts of time without tiring. Think aerobics.

It targets the heart and lungs, improving blood-flow (and therefore oxygen) and endurance throughout the body. Exercises from this type typically elevate the heart and breathing rate, then maintains them in that state for at least 10 minutes.


Where cardiovascular activity is about stamina, anaerobic anaerobic is about power and speed. It allows for short but intense bursts of physical activity using energy that has been stored in the muscles through glycolysis.

Examples of anaerobic exercises include HIIT (high intensity interval training), sprinting and weight training.

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Joint Flexibility

Joint flexibility describes a type of fitness that is related to a person’s range of movement and limberness.

It is also associated with the length of muscles in the body, which account for how flexibility exercises such as Yoga and Pilates improve on rigidity in the body.

Endurance and Strength

Endurance and strength training are directly related to muscle energy, and even the two have slight differences in the type of fitness that they offer:

Endurance allows weight lifters to do more repetitions with relative accuracy throughout; whereas strength allows lifters to increase the weight they can handle in far shorter bursts.

Mind and Moods

There is something to be said about how the definition only includes the ‘physical’ relation to health. There is a very evident relationship between performance, the mind and moods.

Perhaps it is a knock-on effect from the physical relationship, but fitness and the way we think and feel are also closely related.

Physical activity releases endorphins which stabilize moods, and help combat anxiety, stress and depression. Moods then, in turn, affect your motivation and performance; both of which can stand in the way of reaching your objectives.

The need to focus during workouts represents an overlooked type of mental fitness, one that often gives way, and is built through just as much effort as the physical. This has a reciprocal effect on everyday life, where a trained sense of focus benefits everyday life.

Learn More about the Professional Side of Fitness

There is a science to being fit, and to get the most out of it you need a specialised understanding of it that takes a complete approach to all factors of its definition.

If you would like to learn more about the professional world of fitness, contact the Trifocus Fitness Academy or visit our website for details on our internationally accredited courses.

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