Physical fitness is used in two close meanings - general fitness (a state of health and well-being) and specific fitness (a task-oriented definition based on the ability to perform specific aspects of sports or occupations).
Physical fitness is often divided into the following types (in alphabetical order):
- Body composition
- Cardiovascular endurance
- Flexibility and joint range of motion
Many sources also cite mental and emotional health as an important part of overall fitness. This is often presented in textbooks as a triangle made up of three sub-sections which represent physical, emotional, and mental fitness. Hence, one may be physically fit but may still suffer from a mental illness or have emotional problems. The "ideal triangle" is balanced in all areas. Physical fitness can also prevent or treat many chronic health conditions brought on by unhealthy lifestyle or aging.
Specific or task-oriented fitness is a person's ability to perform in a specific activity with a reasonable efficiency, for example, sports or military service. Specific training prepares athletes to perform well in their sports.
- 100m sprint - in a sprint the athlete must be trained to work anaerobically throughout the race.
- Marathon - in this case the athlete must be trained to work aerobically and their endurance must be built-up to a maximum.
Fire fighters and police officers must undergo regular Fitness testing to determine if they are capable of the physically demanding tasks required for the job before they are employed. Students in elementary and high school also undergo regular fitness testing. In the Scouting programs of some countries, students can earn fitness badges, such as the Physical Fitness Badge which is earned in the United States.
- Health Education and Fitness for Girls
- HealthierUS.gov Official website
- Presidents Council on Fitness & Sports
- Information on Exercise Intensity