What is Fitness? How Do You Know How Fit You Are

People throw the term fitness around, without a good definition of what it is to be ‘fit’. Or worse still, how about the term ‘health and fitness’ should these two terms even be used in the same sentence?

It seems there are many different interpretations of ‘health’ and especially ‘fitness’.

The best definition I can offer is that fitness is the difference between your lowest and your highest performance ability. The greater the gap between your resting ability and your peak or maximum ability will determine your fitness capacity.

Put another way, if your lowest and highest performance ability is the same you would be laid up in bed or unable to move or do anything. You would be practically bed ridden. This is the ultimate lowest fitness level – nothing between your worse and your best.

If your maximum fitness ability was 5 times your resting ability you would only be able to achieve an exertion that was 5 times greater than lying in bed.

We have a measurement in Exercise Science for this – it is called your Maximum MET’s. Where 1 MET is resting energy expenditure and 10 MET’s is 10 times resting energy expenditure or effort – you get the idea.

We measure your maximum Metabolic Power (MET’s) to determine your ‘fitness’ level. This tells us what you are capable of doing, how much energy you can expend and how much intensity you are capable of . You can also use this to ascertain if you are ‘fit’ enough for a certain sport or activity or predict how far or fast you could run without stopping and so on.

Now we also know what is a ‘healthy’ maximum MET level. Science has determined how ‘fit’ you should be to be considered ‘healthy’. Furthermore, we have proven that people who are in poor shape physically with a low MET power capability are more prone to diseases such as Metabolic Syndrome.

Longevity is another factor that can be somewhat predicted by your maximum MET level (MET Power Index). But the good news is that you do not need to be capable of very high levels to be ‘fit’ and ‘healthy. Beyond that provides diminishing returns for the effort needed to attain it.

So we have an optimal ‘fitness’ (MET Power) level and it is attainable by YOU! It is not some lofty goal that you could not achieve, unless you need this level for athletic performance.

The first thing to do is to determine your present MET Power. This can easily be determined by a simple effort test. We have walking, cycling, jogging tests to suit all abilities.

Once we determine your maximum MET Power we can find where you are in the gap between your resting and your ideal MET Power for optimum health in a physical sense.

This along with other simple tests such as your coronary risk factors (including metabolic syndrome), your bodyfat, your agility and density indexes; we have a measurable goal to get your physical health in optimum shape.

Optimum being the difference between where you are now and a level whereby you will be able to perform physically as and when the need arises. Plus you will be at a level whereby science has determined to be protective of disease, disability and early death.

This is how I define ‘health’ and ‘fitness.