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Exercise, physical activity, and physical fitness are often used interchangeably, although they describe different, albeit related, concepts.

Any bodily movement that results in energy expenditure is physical activity. This might include occupational, household, sports, conditioning, or other activities.

Physical activities that are planned, structured, repetitive and have, as an objective, the improvement or maintenance of physical fitness is known as exercise.

Physical fitness can be health- or skill-related and can generally be measured with specific tests.

Unless a child is competing in a particular sport, children often don't have the same exercise requirements as adults because they tend to meet these requirements through physical activities involved in play. At least, that was the case before electronics got in the way.

At a time when most adults earned their living through labor, this was also the case for adults, at least to a large extent. Of course, more and more adults are employed in tasks that don't require physical activity today.

To that extent, exercise is intended to make up for a lack of physical activities in our daily lives. Unlike physical activities that don't have a defined goal, exercise is performed for a specific purpose, usually to get in better shape. Other reasons why someone might exercise are to lose weight, improve body composition, relieve stress, improve blood sugar levels, control blood pressure, or enhance cardiovascular fitness.

Fitness refers to the ability of body systems to work together to accomplish specific tasks, although it might also be considered a state of health and elite physical functioning.

Specific physical training can serve to improve cardiovascular fitness by elevating the heart rate and forcing the individual to breathe faster and more deeply. By exercising to boost heart and breathing rates for a specific period, the heart can be trained to adapt to the added stress placed on it.

There are other forms of fitness, too. By lifting weights regularly, muscles will become stronger and capable of generating more force. Over time, the individual will be able to lift heavier weights and do more repetitions because of skeletal muscle and neurological adaptations.

Exercises may be used to boost muscular strength, increase muscular endurance, achieve cardiovascular fitness, and improve flexibility and agility.

As fitness components decline with age, this anticipated loss can be slowed by training to maximize each component. When an individual only lifts weights, they might have good strength and muscle endurance but declining flexibility, which will eventually affect their ability to strength train. When the sole focus is on cardiovascular exercise, the muscles in the upper body will become smaller and weaker over time due to aging. Thus, whatever the ultimate focus, it is important to train to maximize each component of physical fitness.

Ideally, it's best to stay physically active by sitting less, doing structured exercises, and building fitness levels in all five areas that determine physical fitness. At the least, be sure to do exercises that enhance heart function and strength training to preserve muscle mass and strength.



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