How fit am I?

fitness health Sep 17, 2020

As we ‘run’ towards the 23rd September 2020, we approach an important landmark in the UK calendar. It is National Fitness Day. So if you are now wondering, “how fit am I?” it begs a pivotal question which is, what in fact does it mean to be fit?

Believe it or not there is no standard definition of physical fitness. If we use the dictionary definition of fitness we get:


  1. The condition of being physically fit and health
  2. Being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task

The above definitions are not really useful, as they fail to take into account fitness from both a physical and mental health perspective. However, for the purpose of today's conversation, we are only concentrating on physical fitness and let’s bring this back to a practical level.  

If you can run a marathon but can’t touch your toes, are you fit? If you can stand on one leg with your eyes closed for two minutes but have a resting heart rate of 95 beats per minute, are you fit? You may be starting to see the problem.  

Just like health, fitness is a combination of various physical attributes that can be split into ten main categories:

  1. Cardiovascular/Respiratory
  2. Flexibility
  3. Strength
  4. Stamina
  5. Power
  6. Speed
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

Now if we ask the same question, for those of you that thought you were fit before, upon seeing this list, have you now changed your mind? This list can be exceptionally intimidating as you consider whether, for the past year, you may have only been training one or two aspects of your physical fitness. So let’s analyse a few aspects of the list in a little more detail.  

The item that most people associate with fitness is heart health. Most of you exercise with at least some focus on your heart. As you exercise, your heart muscle becomes stronger and more efficient. As a result, it can beat with more force and this happens, it starts to slow down.  This is why athletes have slower heart beats. The important thing is that the heart tissue itself needs nutrients and a consistent blood supply. However, the heart only gets this supply when it’s not contracting. Therefore, a slower heart rate has more rest periods for the heart to be fed with oxygen and nutrients keeping it healthier.   

The next significant issue is strength. Strength is a key player in long-term physical health. If you think of an elderly person, you probably think of someone with low muscle mass. In fact, as we get older, we lose muscle mass at an accelerating rate. So when you are training, as you go through life, you may have to focus more on strength training just to keep your muscle mass the same. But strength training also comes with a few drawbacks and that is tightness and loss of agility. If you picture a bodybuilder, they often appear very stiff and sometimes are unable to straighten out their arms.

High muscle tone has two issues. It decreases joint flexibility and puts the joints under more strain. So there’s nothing wrong with increasing your muscle mass but, at the same time, you must pay attention to the other elements of physical fitness that also need attention.  

Have a read of the latest list and rate, out of ten, where you currently are in this category. As you work through your fitness goals contemplate whether they address your weaknesses. If they do, then great. If they don’t then you could be building an unbalanced fitness routine and the main issue with this, is that in order to build a solid structure we need all the foundations to be working and not just your favourite ones.  

Why not download the “Identify your strengths” star chart and rank each part of your physical fitness out-of-ten. If it's a circle then great. However, if it's not, try and join the classes in the WorkLifeWell academy which focus on those sections which scored the lowest.

In summary, in order to achieve true physical fitness you must balance out your activities and ensure that you train each aspect to some degree. If you have an unbalanced training schedule it can become easier to get injured and, over-time, it can lead to a great deal of frustration. With this in mind, your journey towards improved physical fitness can be more enjoyable and with some luck, injury free. 

Author: Dr. Adam Greenfield, Co-founder of WorkLifeWell | Doctor of Chiropractic | Wellness Specialist

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