What does it mean to be physically fit?

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When you ask someone what it means to be physically fit, you will receive a variety of answers. A runner may tell you it’s a certain time on a mile or marathon, while a weight lifter may say it’s accomplishing a certain amount of reps or weight. To some it may simply mean not being overweight.

The truth is physical fitness encompasses many different things, including aerobic and muscular endurance, strength, speed, power, coordination, and flexibility. A physically fit person has also learned to manage stress and maintains a healthy body composition by eating appropriately for their activity level.

Why do we need to be fit, you ask? When our bodies are maintained we decrease the risk of disease, increase our mood and self-concept, and become more able to enjoy day-to-day life. A “fit” person reflects their good health through their skin, presence, and overall well-being. Their demeanor and body language communicate vitality and they naturally omit positive energy. Being fit goes deeper than looking “toned” or being skinny, encompassing how you actually feel.

In our modern age of convenience, being “fit” does not come as naturally as it used to. We spend our days sitting more and moving less, and conditions related to inactivity, such as high blood pressure or obesity, are prevalent. Being fit requires dedication outside of our normal tasks — joining gyms, adopting active hobbies, and participating in fitness classes.

Recreational fitness is yet another area where Joseph Pilates was ahead of his time. He developed contrology to assist in all areas of fitness and combat the modern sedentary lifestyle that resulted from the industrial revolution. He aimed to make any mind and body function better through dedication to the exercises and principles outlined in the program.

Pilates cultivates the sort of well-rounded fitness that will be reflected in the way you walk, work, and play. With regular practice you will find more grace and ease as you move through daily life, and the posture principles will be reflected in how you move and rest. Although Pilates might not get you to that bench press goal or six-minute mile directly, it will help you balance everything out on your road to optimal health. Not only will your muscles and joints have the chance to move therapeutically, but you will foster a mind-body relationship that promotes self-care. When we tune in we are better able to decipher what it is we need, and Pilates gives us the tools to honor those needs.



About the Author:

Rachel recently finished the teacher training program at Streamline. She is excited to continue to develop her passion for Pilates through teaching and personal study. She is mentored by Eva Kauffman, Lise Fischer, and all of the other talented instructors at Streamline. You will see her around the studio teaching classes and posting articles on the Streamline blog.

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  1. Doug Krahenbuhl PT  September 1, 2016

    Agreed! Fitness is function. If you can perform your desired task or activity without causing overuse to your tissues, and you feel good during and after such activity, then you are fit. Fitness levels vary for every individual, because we don’t all do the same things or desire to perform at the same level. Finally, I’ve always taught my patients that our fitness levels should exceed our desired activity levels by some, to help prevent common overuse injuries that plague so many active people, and prevent us from staying active. Nothing is worse to an active person than having to rest because of injury to our soft tissues, because we lose to quickly the conditioning we took so long to develop.


  2. Lara  September 2, 2016

    To not only walk, but rest as a natural, unimpeded being…the thought is meditative.

  3. Marci Crane  March 22, 2017

    I love that you included in the definition of fitness a person’s presence and a naturally-occurring positive attitude.


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