Life Fitness and Wellness
Life Fitness and Wellness

Life Fitness and Wellness

Lead Author(s): Amy Jamieson

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A comprehensive and integrated approach to fitness and health. Content includes the components of fitness, practical labs and nutritional information.

Chapter 1 - Introduction to Physical Fitness and Wellness

Figure 1.1: Fitness and Wellness


  • Understand the importance fitness and wellness over a lifetime.
  • Identify the dimensions of wellness.
  • Understand the benefits of regular participation in an on-going, and integrated fitness program.
  • Learn the recommendations and guidelines for weekly physical activity.
  • Perform lab activities.


Lifestyle behaviors are the most important factors in short-term and long-term well-being.  Developing healthy lifestyle habits will have a dramatic effect on overall wellness.  Components of a healthy lifestyle include: physical activity, balanced and adequate nutrition, rest, recovery and stress management. 

Daily physical activity is one of the key components in developing and leading a healthy lifestyle.  Physical activity improves overall quality of life.  It helps to boost energy, assists with weight managment and improves self-esteem   Most importantly, regular physical activity will increase longevity by directly decreasing the risk of chronic disease such as: heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.  

Current lifestyles in most developed nations lack the adequate level of physical activity to support health benefits.  In fact, poor lifestyle behaviors are resulting in deteroration of health and rdevelopment of chronic diseases among individuals leading to reduced quality of life and premature death.  Information and education surrounding fitness, wellness and health is easily accessable and widely understood by most Americans.  Unfortunately many people do not understand how to effectively implement tools and strategies to help develop a lifestyle that will support these benefits. 

1.1 LIFESTYLE: Health & Wellness

For generations people have believed that health is simply defined by absence of disease. We have expanded the current definition of health to include multiple aspects of physical, emotional and mental conditions with focus on the presence or absence of illness and injury.  In addition, we have developed a newer concept of wellness: to include multiple dimensions of well-being.

Health can be determined by many components.  Components include those that we can control and those beyond our control, such as family history, genetics, age or gender.  Wellness is associated with more controllable factors such as  individual lifestyle choices and habits.   Current research shows that physical inactivity and harmful lifestyle habits, such as inactivity or tobacco use,  pose a serious threat to health. The human body is designed for the basic function of movement and physical activity that make up main components of good health.  Research points to advances in modern technology, such as cars/transportation, cell phones, remote controls and computers as factors that are working toward completely eliminating the need for movement and physical activity in daily life. Performing physical movement and activity is no longer a necessity as we enjoy the luxuries of convienence and having the world at our fingertips.  This trend of physical inactivity is often refered as the “Sitting Disease” and “Sedentary Death Syndrome,” or SeDS. (Only second to tobacco use which is labeled as the biggest cause of preventable deaths.)

Consequenses of SeDS are high mainly resulting in the development of chronic disease.  These diseases including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cancer are often referred to as hypokinetic diseases.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), It is chronic diseases that account for the largest percentage - 60%, of premature deaths worldwide.  

Components of Health

Identify a controllable component of health.


Family history


Physical activity





The process of achieving wellness is an on-going practice.  This process is dynamic and ever changing throughout life.  The Wellness Continuum defines this fluid and interactive process defining wellness as a constant work in progress. 

Experts have defined 8 dimensions of Wellness:

  • Physical
  • Emotional 
  • Intellectual
  • Social
  • Occupational
  • Financial
  • Spiritual
  • Environmental

Figure 1.2: Eight Dimensions of Wellness


These 8 dimensions of wellness are interrelated and all contribute to the overall wellbeing of an individual.  Various behaviors or individual characteristics can develop one or more of these dimensions.  Each 






*Eating well










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Physical Wellness is one of the main parts of well-being.  Physical activity can have a major influence on the status of this dimension of  wellness.  

1.2 PHYSICAL WELLNESS: Physical Activity & Exercise

There is overwhelming evidence of the importance in maintaining or working toward good health and overall wellness.  The  World Health Organization (WHO) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) have established clear and widely accepted recommendations and guidelines for achieving optimal health and wellness. Individuals seem to be well aware of consequences of a sedentary lifestyle yet most Americans, of all populations, still fall short in meeting the set guidelines The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) released important data in 2012 that indicates a low level of participation in physical activity among American individuals.  Statistics state that only 19.8 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 and older meet the federal physical activity guidelines for both aerobic and muscular fitness (strength and endurance) activities, and 28.6 percent meet the guidelines for aerobic fitness. Another troubling statistics show that  46 percent of Americans do not engage in any physical activity during their leisure time.  According to research, worldwide, 1 in 4 adults, and 3 in 4 adolescents (aged 11–17 years), do not currently meet the global recommendations for physical activity set by WHO. 

Physical activity is a general term for movement and daily activity.  All physical activity requires the intake and use of energy and if performed regularly will produce progressive health benefits.  Physical activity can vary by activity and intensity, both dictate the amount and type of energy usage.  Physical activity is divided into exercise and NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis)  Exercise is planned and structured movement that is intended to improve or maintain physical fitness.  NEAT involves all activities of daily living, not related to exercise. In terms of energy expenditure, NEAT represents 70% of energy usage from physical activity while exercise represents 30% of energy expenditure.  Energy expenditure from NEAT has an overall larger impact on general health.  

The importance of physical activity in building or maintaining good health is recognized and substantiated through the development of guidelines.  In October 2008, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the first edition of the Federal Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, with an updated second edition to be released in 2018.  These guidelines fall in line with the Global Action Plan On Physical Activity (2018-2030),recently updated and issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), and further substantiate previous recommendations issued by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) first established in 2007 and later updated and released in 2011. 

The Physical Activity Guidelines are developed as an important resource for educators, health professonals and policymakers to use in efforts to promote individual health and well-being.  Guidelines are set to provide recommendations for a range of including American youth, American adults and Older American adults.  Guidelines are also set for all individuals who are at increased risk of chronic disease.  The guidelines are created to assist all groups in meeting the basic physical activity requirements to establish good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. The guidelines provide information based on science and research.  The data and research findings serve as the evidence use to create recommendations from the federal government on physical activity, fitness, and health. Recent updates to these guidelines provide an more integrated approach to physical well-being and include  recommendations for cardiorespiratory exercise, muscular strength and endurance exercise, flexibiilty training and neuromotor exercise (functional fitness) designed to improve balance, motor skills, agility and coordination. According to the ACSM, implementing neuromotor exercise for older population is especially important in order to improve balance,  muscular strength, and reduce the risk of falls or injury . Functional resistance movements are designed around movements of daily living and should provide a challenge to balance and involve multi-joint movement and require work of multiple muscle groups. 

Adults  (Ages 18 to 64)

  • Recommendation for Adults are seperated into activities of varying intensities.  Moderate-intenshity cardiorespiratoy exercise should be performed for 150 minutes a week while the recommendation for vigorous-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise is set at 75 minutes a week.  Individuals can engage in a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activites twice a week for 30 minutes and high-intensity activity for 20 minutes two other days per week.  Studies show that all levels of cardiorespiratory  activity should be performed for a minimum of 10 minute incraments throughout the week.  These recommendations are designed to maintain a base of good health and fitness.
  • Individuals that desire to improve fitness level or gain additional health benefits are encouraged to increase physical activity to at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week of moderate intensity cardiorespiratory exercise or engage in vigorous-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise for 2.5 hours per week.  
  • Adults should also engage in full body muscular-strengthening activities at least 2 days per week.  Exercises should be performed for all major muscle groups. 

Older Adults (Ages 65 and Above)

  • The guidleline for older adults moslty follow the established guidelines for adults. Importance is placed on exercises that improve or maintain balance to reduce risk of falls.  In general, older aldults should be as physically active as possible with special attention to any limitations caused by chronic illness, injury or other physical concerns. 

Children and Adolescents (Ages 6-17)

  • It is generally recommended that all children and adolescents engae in at least 1 hour (60 minutes) of physical activity every day.
  • Daily exercise should be a combination of moderate-intensity and  vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and should include muscular strength activities at least 3 of those days.  

Activity Level

Describe your activity level as low, moderate or high. How many days per week do you engage in planned exercise?

The guidelines state that some adults should be able to achieve calorie balance with 150 minutes of moderate physical activity in a week, while others will find they need more than 300 minutes per week. Studies show that people who maintain a healthy body weight typically perform 1 hour of physical activity each day.  For individuals who aim to sustain weight loss, it is imortant to perform 60-90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day.   In addition, it is shown that performing 60-90 minutes of activity per day provides additional health benefits.

The 2011 ACSM standards establish methods of meeting the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes per week of exercise.  Individuals with busy lifestyles and schedules can achieve health benefits by breaking workouts into shorter segments (several 10-minute bouts throughout the day).  

Recommendations for Cardiovascular Exercise

How many minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise is recommended for maintaining a healthy body weight?

For those with busy schedules, the new guidelines suggest exercising longer on days when more time is available, or breaking workouts into several 10-minute increments throughout the day - ACSM


"Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health." - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The benefits of physical activity, as listed by the CDC, include:

Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Maintaining a healthy body weight is more important than simply being able to fit into your jeans.  Weight control is an essential component in reducing your risk of chronic disease.  It is important to understand that eating a healthy, adequate and balanced diet along with regular participation in physical activity are both critical lifestyle behaviors that will assist controlling your weight. Energy Balance is an important component of maintaing a healthy body weight.  An individual will gain weight during a positive energy balance and will be more successful in losing weight during a negative energy balance. For general health and wellness it is suggested to maintain an energy balance to avoid unnecessary weight gain or weight loss. When it comes to weight management, the number of calories needed may depend on a variety of factors such as: age, gender, body size, muscle mass and general health.  These factors can also affect the amount of physical activity an individual may require. 

Image 1.3: Energy Balance

Weight Maintenance: The general recommendation for maintaning current body weight is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week.  Exercise can vary between intensity during a week as well.   

Successful Weight Loss: Achieve a negative energy balance through a combination of a slight reduction in daily caloric intake (no more than 250 calories per day) along will an increase in the amount or intensity of daily physical activity (aim for an additional 250 calories burned per day).  Achieving a negative energy balance of 500 calories per day will result in burning an excess of 3500 calories per week and weight loss of 1 pound per week.  Achieving a healthy body weight requires both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan. 

Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease (Heart disease & Stroke)

A healthy body weight combined with regular physical activity and a healthy diet will help to significantly reduce your risk Cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is a chronic health condition, affecting the blood vessels, which leads to the 2 leading causes of premature death in the US: Heart disease and Stroke. To lower the risk of these diseases it is essential to follow the guidelines of at 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. To lower your risk even further  you can opt to engage in even more physical activity or increase intensity levels of current activities.  

Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes  Metabolic Syndrome

Regular participation in adequate levels of physical activity is shown to help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes  .  Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that has an increase risk for individuals who suffer from metabolic syndrome  Metabolic syndrome is classified by a combination of health related risk factors such as: excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, or high blood sugar. Research shows to minimize risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, individuals should perform 120-150 minutes ( about 2-2.5 hours) moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Additional benefits and an even lower risk can be achieved by increasing the duration and intensity of physical activity. 

For those who have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes: Engaging in regular physical activity under the listed guidelines will assist in controlling blood glucose levels. 

Reduced Risk of Some Cancers

Research shows that being physically active has a direct affect on minimizing the risk of developing some cancersa: colon and breast. Research shows that:

Individuals who are physically active have a lower risk of colon cancer than do people who are not active.
Women who are physically active have a lower risk of breast cancer than do people who are not active.

Some research findings also suggest that regular participation in physical activity will also reduce the risk of endometrial cancer and lung cancer compared to people who are not active.

Cancer Patients or Survivors can gain many benefits from regular participation in physical activity. Research shows that engaging in regular physical activity will result in an overall better quality of life 

Strengthen Muscular and Skeletal Systems

Muscles and bones provide support and proper movement for the body.  Participation in regular exercise will maintain the health of muscles, bones and joints to ensure the ability to be functionally active and perform daily activities.   Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise, muscular-strength exercise and weight bearing exercise of a moderate-intensity will help to increase the strength and integrity of the Muscular and Skeletal systems and reduce the risk of Osteoporosis and lack of mobility that is associated with sedentary lifestyle and aging. 

Increase Muscular Strength and Size. Performing muscle-strengthening activities 2-3 days per week will help to increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength. Exercise programs should be progressive with emphasis on gradually increasisng the amount of weight and number of repetitions in order to continue to gain benefits. Building muscle and strength can be achieved at any age.

Improve Mental Health and Mood

Regular physical activity will enhance brain activity, emotional well-being and mood.  Brain functions such as thinking, learning, and judgment skills will improve with regular exercise. Participation in physical activity can also reduce the risk of depression and improve sleep.  Research shows that a combination of cardiorespiratory and muscle-strengthening activities 3-5 days per week will offer  these mental health benefits. 

Increase Your Lifespan

Research shows that participation in regular physical activity can increase longevity due to a decrease risk of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer and stroke. 

Lifestyle choices have a major impact on overall health.  Physical activity is one of the main factors in maintaining good health and living longer.  Statistics show that people who are physically active for at least 7 hours per week have a 40 percent lower risk of premature death than people who are sedentary or do less than 30 minutes of activity per week.

Everyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity – age, ethnicity, shape or size do not matter.
"regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health"  - CDC

A  research study by Booth, F. Roberts,C. and Laye, M. analyzes the effects of lack of exercise on developing chronic disease.  The study explains the impact of physiologic adaptations to exercise on 35 different chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  The findings of the study shows conclusive evidence  that physical inactivity is one important cause of most chronic diseases. In addition, physical activity primarily prevents, or delays, chronic diseases, implying that chronic disease need not be an inevitable outcome during life.

"...conclusive evidence that physical inactivity is one important cause of most chronic diseases. In addition, physical activity primarily prevents, or delays, chronic diseases, implying that chronic disease need not be an inevitable outcome during life."
Exercise Benefits

List the health benefits of exercise:


Improved mood


Weight management


Stronger muscular and skeletal system


Reduced risk of heart disease

1.4 LABS

Resting Heart Rate Assignment:

Find your resting HR (average 3 attempts) first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. 

Find your pulse on radial or carotid artery.  Count beats for 30 seconds and multiply by 2.

Perform the test 3 separate times and calculate the average. 

Image 1.4: Radial Pulse


Day 1:  RHR 58     Day 2:  RHR 60       Day 3: RHR  59

58 + 60 + 59 = 177

177/3 = 59

Average RHR = 59

Image References

Figure 1.1: Image courtesy of Stevepb via Pixabay under CCO 1.0

Figure 1.2: Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via Google Images under CCO 1.0

Figure 1.3: Image courtesy of CCO public domain via Google Images under CCO 1.0

Figure 1.4: Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via Google Images under CCO 1.0

Video References

Video 1.1: Video courtesy of Whats Up Dude via you tube under CCO 1.0

Research Study References

Study 1: Booth, F. Roberts, C. and Laye, M. Exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases.  Compr Physiol. 2012: (1143-1211).

The overall condition of body and mind and the presence or absence of illness or injury.
Optimal health and vitality, encompassing all the dimensions of well-being.
Low or Little movement. Hypo - "low" KInetic - "movement"
Any activity that is planned, structured, repetitive movement intended to improve or maintain physical fitness.
This age group includes ages 6-17
Adult age
This covers all adults ages 18 and over, including those at risk for chronic disease
Older adults
Ages 65 and over
Cardiorespiratory fitness
See chapter 3
Muscular strength and endurance
See chapter 4
Flexibility Training
See chapter 5
Neuromotor exercise
See chapter 6
Positive Energy Balance
Caloric intake exceeds the number of calories expended.
Negative Energy Balance
Calories expended exceeds the number of calories consumed
Energy Balance
The number of calories consumed = number of calories expended
3500 Calories
3500 calories = 1 pound
Heart Disease
Heart disease is caused by damage to the blood vessels that support the heart. Damage or blockage of these blood vessels can lead to a heart attack which can result in permanent heart damage or death.
A stroke is caused by damage to the blood vessels that support the brain. Damage or blockage of these blood vessels can lead to a stroke which can result in permanent brain damage or death.
Type 2 Diabetes
A chronic condition, characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance where the body fails to properly secrete and use insulin.
Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Osteoporosis, or bone loss, can result in painful fractures. Risk factors for osteoporosis include aging, being female, low body weight, low sex hormones or menopause, smoking, and some medications