Harvard Women's Health Watch

Fit for health

Everyone agrees it's good to be physically fit, but exactly what should you strive for?

2006 is the 50th anniversary of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, an effort launched by President Dwight D. Eisenhower after he learned that more than half of America's young people were unable to pass even rudimentary fitness tests. Half a century later, the message is the same for people of all ages: Fit is good. But what exactly is "fitness," and how do you know if you're fit?

It depends partly on what the fitness is for. For example, each sport has specific training regimens designed to enable players to safely meet that sport's demands. But most of us are concerned about health-related physical fitness — the qualities that can help us stay independent and increase our resistance to disease, injury, and pain.

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