Definition of Health Related Fitness -
Is this popular term being used correctly?

How did the term Health Related Fitness come about?

Many in the health and fitness industry nowadays use the term Health Related Fitness - but is it being used in the way it was intended?

What is this concept all about – can’t we simply use the terms "fitness" or "physical fitness" instead? Why Health "Related"?

The main reason stems from the fact that most health and fitness definitions and terms are used inconsistently, often referring to differing aspects or notions (the FAQ Page also takes a look at some of the other commonly used fitness terms and exercise terminology).

The definition of Health Related Fitness

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), ineffective definitions containing unclear and subjective wordings, as well as definitions comprising terms that themselves require defining, have contributed to confounding the term "physical fitness."

There is no reliable guide for Health and Fitness professionals to measure "physical fitness", because the term has been so looslely and inconsistently defined. It is in this light that one should consider the concept of Health Related Fitness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definition of physical fitness emphasises the difference between health-related physical fitness and athletic ability physical fitness. Its point-of-departure is the health of the US nation, which is often referred to as the "public health perspective."

In this regard, the 5 health-related fitness components are more important than those related to athletic ability (or skill related components). The factors which distinguish health related fitness from skill related fitness are shown below:

Health Related Physical Fitness Components:

  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Body Composition
  • Flexibility
  • Muscular Strength
  • Muscular Endurance

Skill Related Fitness Components:

  • Balance
  • Reaction Time
  • Coordination
  • Agility
  • Speed
  • Power

The definition of health related fitness also shows this concept's integral association with "good health." However, the 5 components are addressed individually by health professionals to allow for their measurement.

Now we know what the term means, but what purpose does it serve?

Continuing from the definition above, the objective of measuring the components is to advise clients about their health related fitness, and to use data obtained from the tests to design appropriate exercise programs which can then be evaluated. It is intended that all 5 components contribute evenly to make up a holistic health related physical fitness.

So in sum, health related physical fitness is of interest to the health of the ordinary citizen, in that the concept is normative. It is therefore important for those working in the health and fitness industry not to mistake "overall physical fitness" with "health related physical fitness."

Let's briefly consider that regular or planned physical exercise can improve overall physical fitness as well as health related fitness. However, overall fitness is a generic term and is up to subjective interpretation, while health related fitness can be assessed.

The distinction therefore, between the 2 terms, exists in that health related physical fitness can be measured according to a set of established comparative norms.

(By the way, it’s useful for me to repeat that in the health and fitness industry, Health Related Physical Fitness and Health Related Fitness are often interchangeably used, but refer to the same concept.)

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