The US guidelines continue: For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.[14]

To get in top physical shape, you’ll need to work on three different areas of cardiorespiratory fitness. Capacity is the amount of work you can do, such as how fast you can perform a sprint or dash. Stamina refers to how long you can exercise. For example, a sprinter is faster than a marathon runner, but probably can’t run as long or as far as the marathoner. Anaerobic conditioning helps you work at very high intensities and helps you recover more quickly afterward. For example, many basketball players have no problem making fast breaks down the court, but afterward, you see them grabbing their knees, gasping for breath as they try to recover. Interval training consists of many high-intensity bursts of activity, each followed by a recovery period. These recovery periods, which occur many times during an interval workout, help you improve your ability to catch your breath after a point or play and recover for the start of the next one.
Physical activity boosts the immune system. This is dependent on the concentration of endogenous factors (such as sex hormones, metabolic hormones and growth hormones), body temperature, blood flow, hydration status and body position.[37] Physical activity has shown to increase the levels of natural killer (NK) cells, NK T cells, macrophages, neutrophils and eosinophils, complements, cytokines, antibodies and T cytotoxic cells.[38][39] However, the mechanism linking physical activity to immune system is not fully understood.
A comprehensive fitness program tailored to an individual typically focuses on one or more specific skills,[7] and on age-[8] or health-related needs such as bone health.[9] Many sources[10] 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.[11] Working out can also help some people sleep better and possibly alleviate some mood disorders in certain individuals.[12]
Achieving resilience through physical fitness promotes a vast and complex range of health-related benefits. Individuals who keep up physical fitness levels generally regulate their distribution of body fat and stay away from obesity. Abdominal fat, specifically visceral fat, is most directly affected by engaging in aerobic exercise. Strength training has been known to increase the amount of muscle in the body, however, it can also reduce body fat.[40] Sex steroid hormones, insulin, and an appropriate immune response are factors that mediate metabolism in relation to the abdominal fat. Therefore, physical fitness provides weight control through regulation of these bodily functions.[41]
A comprehensive fitness program tailored to an individual typically focuses on one or more specific skills,[7] and on age-[8] or health-related needs such as bone health.[9] Many sources[10] 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.[11] Working out can also help some people sleep better and possibly alleviate some mood disorders in certain individuals.[12]
Strength training is one of the five types of physical fitness training that revolve around building muscle mass and bone density, as well as improving the strength and endurance of muscles by inducing muscle contraction through the use of resistance. It also enhances the functions of the joints and develops the sturdiness of tendons and ligament, thus reducing the risk of injuries from physical activities.
Centers for disease control and prevention provide lifestyle guidelines of maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in physical activity to reduce the risk of disease. The WCRF/ American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) published a list of recommendations that reflect the evidence they have found through consistency in fitness and dietary factors that directly relate to cancer prevention.
After your workout, perform static stretches, holding each stretch for 30 seconds or more. Static stretches help the muscle fibers relax after being stressed. Post-workout stretching can help you recover more quickly, and it may also slightly reduce the soreness that can occur for a few days after a strenuous workout. Examples of static stretches include:
Physical fitness includes having a strong heart, powerful muscles, balance and agility, muscular endurance and speed and quickness. To improve your fitness in these areas, you'll need to create different workouts by varying the intensities at which you perform your exercises, such as using more resistance to build strength, and working at higher speeds for short durations to build speed. For many people, basic fitness includes your ability to perform physical activity with a sound cardio, strength and endurance base.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.
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