Understanding the Definition of Health Related Fitness

Being a Health and Fitness Professional, it is my job to understand terms and definitions which are commonplace to this industry, as well to keep abreast of evolving trends. Through my experience, I have found that a number of terms deserve a little more clarification than that which they are granted.

Aside from clarifying the definition of Health Related Fitness, this article intends to shed some light on a few of the associated terms, and to show their respective distinctions.

Is it simply all in a name?

The fitness world seems to use the concept Health Related Fitness like a generic fitness principle – interchangeable with others like “Physical Fitness”, “Health and Fitness” or simply “Fitness.”

While all of these terms can be included under the broad term Health and Physical Fitness, they individually refer to different aspects – both generic and specific. Unfortunately, references to these and other fitness-related terms are often vague, while consistency in their intended use is meager at best; there is a kind of “generally accepted” use for them, but individuals often rely on own interpretation, and this can lead to confusion.

With that said, does Health Related Fitness simply infer fitness by means of good health? Not quite. That is why we need to understand a little more behind these words before digesting the definition.

How did the term Health Related Physical Fitness come about?

That is a good question. One could probably ask what is this concept all about – can we not simply use the terms “Fitness” or “Physical Fitness” instead?” Why Health “Related”?

The main reason stems from the fact that most health and fitness terms are used inconsistently and often refer to different concepts or notions. Subsequent to the 1996 report from the US Surgeon General (Physical Activity and Health; a report of the Surgeon General), there was a move to try and address the alarming rise in obesity levels among the general American public. Studies and initiatives required standardization among clinicians, health practitioners and fitness trainers to grapple with the task at hand. Enter “Health Related Physical Fitness”, a working term to address the general state of health among the public.

The definition of Health Related Fitness

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the main authority in this field, ineffective definitions with unclear and subjective wordings, as well as definitions containing terms which themselves require defining, have contributed to confusing the term “Physical Fitness.”

There exists no reliable guide for Health and Fitness Professionals to measure “Physical Fitness”, because the term has been so loosely and inconsistently defined. It is therefore that one should consider the concept of Health Related Fitness. The definition therefore centers on the 5 Components of Physical Fitness which relate to “good health.” These Components are:

Cardiorespiratory Fitness
Body Composition
Flexibility
Muscular Strength
Muscular Endurance
On the other hand, Skill Related Fitness Components are:
Balance
Reaction Time
Coordination
Agility
Speed
Power
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definition of Physical Fitness emphasizes 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 that respect, the 5 Health Related Fitness Components are more important than those related to Athletic Ability (or Skill Related Components).
Although the concept of Health Related Fitness has an integral association with “good health”, the 5 Components are addressed individually by health professionals to allow for their measurement.

Now that we have a deeper understanding of the term, what purpose does it serve?

Continuing from where the definition left off, the objective of measuring the 5 Components is to advise clients about their own particular Health Related Fitness, and to use data obtained from the tests to design appropriate exercise programs which can then be evaluated.

The 5 Components contribute evenly to make up a holistic Health Related Fitness, which is of direct interest to the health of the ordinary citizen, in that the concept is normative. In other words, it is a standard which allows for consistent application.

It is therefore important for those working in the health and fitness industry not to mistake “overall physical fitness” with “Health Related Physical fitness.”

To conclude, let us consider this distinction between Physical Fitness and Health Related Fitness

One needs to bear in mind that regular 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 these two terms, exists in that Health Related Physical Fitness can be measured according to a set of established comparative norms.

This is where the “rubber hits the road.” The guidelines set out by the ACSM enable health professionals to work with clients to assess and measure their response to exercise and prescribe appropriate exercise programs. A client’s progress can then be monitored and adjusted where necessary in order to obtain the desired fitness goals.

Cleto Tirabassi is a certified Fitness Trainer with the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA).

His work centers on the “sensible approach” to Health Related Fitness, which entails the use of practical, flexible and sustainable methods to achieve optimal levels of health and physical fitness.

His clientele belongs mostly to the group he calls “average everyday people”, who in short want to be in excellent shape, yet still lead a conventional life.

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Some Common Misconceptions About Addicts

Addicts are Lazy People.

Addicts may seem lazy but they aren’t always lazy people. In fact, they are usually very motivated to satisfy their cravings. It actually takes quit an amount of energy to plan and make sure there is enough of the drug through the rest of the day and for tomorrow and the day after that.

Whether it is making sure you have computer access for pornography or that you have enough alcohol rationed out for the next day. Planning to obtain and ration your drug to make sure you have enough of it, while hiding it from those around you, takes a great deal of effort.

When an addict becomes sober, they are quite surprised to find a lot of free time and do not know how to use it because it has always been consumed by addictive behaviors. This is why it is important to fill a sober addict’s time with other wholesome behaviors.

Addicts Are Stupid.

An addict’s brain undergoes changes that lead to irrational behavior. Addicts do stupid things, but they are not stupid. The irrational (pre-rational to be more accurate) part of the brain hijacks the rational side of the brain (pre-frontal cortex). This is why they make emotional decisions that seem irrational, and some addicts make poor decisions from fear of withdrawal.

Addicts Live a Carefree Life.

Many non-addicts I knew seem to get a bit envious of those who use drugs or alcohol throughout the day to escape responsibilities or live in their own carefree world. In reality, an addict that has to self-medicate to feel normal – whether it be from drugs, alcohol or pornography- often do not have a good time because they are just trying to feel normal. Remember a new “set point” of feeling normal has been made within the brain of an addict.

Pornography addicts can feel very irritable or experience fuzzy thinking without porn. Alcoholics and drug addicts feel depression, hopelessness or physically sick without their drug. This is a life that has increasing physical, mental and emotional hardship in which engaging in the addiction no longer makes the addict feel euphoric, but normal.

Addicts are slaves. They have to continue to use even though many of them know that it is wrong. They often have to lie to those they love and maintain a dishonest life in order to feel normal.

Addicts are often paranoid and deal with greater fear than non-addicts. They know that their games cannot keep up. They usually know that sooner or later they will get caught and they know that their addiction will either cause serious problems in their relationships and in some cases may kill them.

Addicts Lack Willpower.

It is true that addicts usually lack the willpower to beat addiction, but remember that is because of the change in the brain caused by addiction. Due to the worsening nature of addiction on the individual’s brain, they are increasingly becoming more compulsive despite sever negative consequences.

In the brain this results in an imbalance or “homeostatic deregulation” within the reward pathways, which further explain how addiction develops and relapse is all too common.[1]

When an addict tries to stop by willpower, only then does he feel the full strength of the addiction. They often don’t know the full strength of their addiction because they are always giving in. Once they make the decision to try to quit they are often defeated and may seem lazy because they lay in bed without a fix. But that is because they have a depleted dopamine level caused by long-term overstimulation.

During abstinence the user experiences reduced reward neurotransmitters that cause feelings of anxiety, irritability or stress. Extremely high doses of opioids from opium based drugs show a profound alteration of the opioid receptors within the brain.[2]

A failure to quit a destructive habit is not because one lacks willpower, but because of the changes in the function of the brain.

Motivation and fear of withdrawal will outweigh any or all rational reasons to stop engaging in the behavior. Since the brain has a new set point of normal so they continue to use without experiencing the terrible lows of being without the drug.[3]

An Addict Won’t Recover If He Is Forced.

Addicts do not have to seek help in order for it to work for them. Remember, the majority of addicts are already in denial. They think they don’t need help, they think it won’t work, and they think that someday they will be able to figure out a way they can still use without having negative consequences.

Addicts often do not go to support groups or treatment centers because they want to. In fact, most of the time addicts are forced to seek treatment. Whether addicts overdose and sent to a hospital or impatient treatment, court ordered or pressured from family the result seems to be the same. Addicts may go to rehab for the wrong reasons, but after a while of sobriety, they may start believing in the right reasons to continue treatment.

In rehab, the addict has their drug forcefully taken away from them, and this is where the addict may realize how addicted they really are. Since addicts are always giving in, sometimes they need to feel the full power of their addictions before they realize they have a problem. Sometimes a glimpse of a “real life” situation will enable an addict to have a moment of clarity.

Some addicts are able to quit for days or weeks at a time. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have a problem. In fact, if addicts didn’t have an addiction they wouldn’t be “quitting” in the first place. Addicts always think that they can quit, until they try their very hardest to stay sober forever. Sure an addict may go a few days or a week. This is how the addict rationalizes their addiction. They are constantly in denial because they feel they have control of their addiction if they do it less.

References:

1. Sinha R (2001) How does stress increase risk of drug abuse and relapse? Psychopharmacology (Berl) 158:343 -359

2. O’Brien, C. P., A. R. Childress, R. Ehrman, and S. J. Robbins. 1998. “Conditioning Factors in Drug Abuse: Can They Explain Compulsion?” Journal of Psychopharmacology 12:15-22. Neurobiology of craving, condition

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