For physical fitness activity to benefit an individual, the exertion triggers a response called a stimulus. Exercise with the correct amount of intensity, duration, and frequency can produce a significant amount of improvement. The person may overall feel better, but the physical effects on the human body take weeks or months to notice and possibly years for full development. For training purposes, exercise must provide a stress or demand on either a function or tissue. To continue improvements, this demand must eventually increase little over an extended period of time. This sort of exercise training has three basic principles: overload, specificity, and progression. These principles are related to health but also enhancement of physical working capacity.
These types include cardiorespiratory endurance, which is how long or fast a person can perform an activity and how this impacts heart rate and oxygen consumption. Muscular strength, which is how much weight can be moved in relation to repetitions and muscular power, which is how much force can be generated during a given activity. There is also flexibility, how far a muscle group can be stretched or joint can be moved. Balance how long a particular position can be held with or without some type of activity being performed. Speed, how quickly an individual can move from one point to another. And body composition, the amount of fat on the body versus other tissues such as muscle, bones and skin.
Gymnasiums which would seem familiar today began to become increasingly common in the 19th Century. The industrial revolution had led to a more sedentary lifestyle for many people and there was an increased awareness that this had the potential to be harmful for health. This was a key motivating factor for the forming of a physical culture movement, especially in Europe and the USA. This movement advocated increased levels of physical fitness for men, women and children and sought to do so through various forms of indoor and outdoor activity, and education. In many ways it laid the foundations for modern fitness culture.
A comprehensive fitness program tailored to an individual typically focuses on one or more specific skills, and on age- or health-related needs such as bone health. Many sources also cite mental, social and emotional health as an important part of overall fitness. This is often presented in textbooks as a triangle made up of three points, which represent physical, emotional, and mental fitness. Physical fitness can also prevent or treat many chronic health conditions brought on by unhealthy lifestyle or aging. Working out can also help some people sleep better and possibly alleviate some mood disorders in certain individuals.
Physical fitness has proven to result in positive effects on the body's blood pressure because staying active and exercising regularly builds up a stronger heart. The heart is the main organ in charge of systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Engaging in a physical activity raises blood pressure. Once the subject stops the activity, the blood pressure returns to normal. The more physical activity that one engages in, the easier this process becomes, resulting in a more ‘fit’ individual. Through regular physical fitness, the heart does not have to work as hard to create a rise in blood pressure, which lowers the force on the arteries, and lowers the overall blood pressure.
New (July 2011) guidelines in the United Kingdom include the following points: The intensity at which we exercise is key, and light activity such as strolling and housework is unlikely to have much positive impact on the health of most people. For aerobic exercise to be beneficial it must raise your heartbeat and make you sweat. The more exercise you do, the better. Everyone should do a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise but that really is the minimum for health benefits. If you can go beyond 150 minutes, you’ll gain even more health benefits. Sedentary time (time spent sitting down to watch TV, use a computer, read or listen to music) is bad for your health, even for those who are achieving 150 minutes of exercise a week. These guidelines, are now much more in line with those used in the US, also include recommendations for muscle-building and bone strengthening activities such as lifting weights and yoga.