What Does It Mean to Be Physically Healthy and Fit?

Being physically healthy and fit involves not only how you look, but also how you feel and your overall health. Some of the measures of physical health and fitness are hidden, showing up in blood tests that measure your cholesterol and blood pressure. However, when you implement measures to improve these health indicators, your physical shape will probably improve as well.

Diet and exercise can improve your physical health and fitness. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Weight and BMI

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to being physically healthy and fit. Your body mass index, or BMI, can tell you whether you are overweight, underweight or within an appropriate weight range for your height. You can figure out your BMI by using an online calculator, such as the one at nhlbisupport.com/bmi. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 indicates a normal, healthy weight, and anything outside this range might be unhealthy.

Body Fat Distribution

The places where your body stores fat might be just as important as whether you are overweight, underweight or within a normal weight range. People who store weight in the waist and belly, often called an apple body shape, are at higher risk for heart disease and diabetes than those who store weight in the hips and thighs, often called a pear body shape. A waist size of less than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men indicates a higher level of physical health and fitness.

Health Indicators

Cholesterol levels are another indicator of health and fitness because they indicate how healthy your body is on the inside. Healthy cholesterol levels include a total cholesterol level between 100 and 199 mg/dL for people over age 21, an LDL cholesterol level below 130 mg/dL and an HDL above 45 mg/dL. A healthy level of triglycerides, which are usually measured during a cholesterol test, includes anything below 150 mg/dL. Blood pressure can also indicate whether you are healthy and fit. Aim for a blood pressure reading below 120/80 mmHg.

Considerations

If you don't fit the definition of physical health and fitness, there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to bring your body closer to its physical ideal. Engaging in physical exercise for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week and eating a diet high in lean protein, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, whole grains, vegetables and fruit, while avoiding refined grains, added sugars and saturated fat can help you achieve BMI, cholesterol and blood pressure readings within the ideal ranges.

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