There was a question on Quora that asked:
Why is fitness important?
The simple answer is that fitness ties into health and physical ability now and into the future. Fitness can be thought of as existing in four domains:
All four are of importance to health and fitness in general, for the average person to the athlete.
If these areas are addressed properly and consistently over time, a person will be able bodied in the past, present and future.
What is strength?
Strength is a basic ability to apply force. One-rep max is, arguably, the greatest representation of true strength. For example, the ability to squat 500 pounds for one rep is the maximum squat strength level for the person who performed the lift.
The argument part lies in other expressions of strength, such as the ability to hold a handstand, complete a muscle-up, or even the ability to complete a pull-up. None of these movements have external load, and in the general perception of one reps maxes, cannot be measured as such.
Both of these groups, each of these movement types, is an expression of strength. In that same line of thought, so are being able to complete a log press, clean and jerk, machine base movement, etc.
Any variations of strength—such as speed-strength, strength-speed, and power—can be bulked under strength.
What is Conditioning?
Conditioning is the ability of the body to do work. The more work that the body can do, the more conditioned it is. For example, being able to complete multiple reps of an exercise is an improvement of conditioning, not strength.
In that same line of thought, being able to run a mile is a form of conditioning, whereas improving from running one mile to two is an improvement in conditioning. Any time the body increases the ability to do work, the more conditioned it becomes.
Another example that is more modern in the CrossFit era, is being able to complete workouts such as metcons, circuit training, and anything that falls in line. Being able to complete a 21, 15, 9 crossfit workout is a form of conditioning, the same as being able to circuit machines at the gym for rounds is a form of conditioning.
What is Skill?
Skill is the ability to perform technical movement. Learning to throw a ball, to squat, to run, to swim, etc is an expression of skill. Becoming better technically at these things is an improvement of skill.
This is not to be confused with increasing weight or reps. Those are improvements in strength and conditioning. Skill is solely focused on the technical aspects, though it goes hand in hand with improvements in the other areas.
Skill is an essential part of improving strength and conditioning, as well as fitness overall. Skill is and should always be the first step. For example, to squat 500 pounds, you have to learn how to squat first. You do not just load weight on a bar, get under it, and inherently know how to squat.
What is Mobility?
Mobility is the ability of the joint to move through range of motion. Having mobility is essential to every function you perform through your day, no matter how mundane. For example, if your hip cannot move through range of motion, then you will not be able to walk.
Joints moving through range of motion are primarily a matter of extension and flexion. How each joint engages in flexion and extension varies. The basic idea is that extension leads to an increase in joint angle while flexion leads to an decrease in joint angle. For example, a bend in the elbow is a flexed elbow, while a straight elbow is an extended elbow.
Mobility matters to the other categories in that a lack of it will lead to limited ability to move. Limited ability to move may present as an inability to achieve full stride in a run, short range of motion squats, short range of motion pull-ups, etc.
Tying these ideas together
Strength is necessary from the moment a human is born. The first physical milestone for a child is to lift his or her head. This is a feat of strength, as is standing for the first time and a number of other early developmental tasks of physical nature.
Strength is always needed in life. As you lose strength, you lose the ability to do physical things and you lose your freedom. Loss of physical ability is one contributor to the older population ending up in care home. Keep your strength and you can help keep your freedom, health, and mental well being now and into later life.
Conditioning becomes necessary when anything is repetitive. The ability to be able to walk for 20 minutes is a form of conditioning, as is the ability to run 100 miles, play with you children for an extended period, perform 5 reps of a lift, the ability to complete Crossfit Workout Diane, the ability to have sex continuously, and many other feats.
Skill is part of what allows a child to develop walking skills, an adult to improve running, an athlete of any age to get better at a sport, and for a tradesman to learn a craft. Skill is present in everyday life and has been and will continue to be in all of life.
Mobility. Can you touch your toes? While sitting in the front seat of a car, can you rotate backwards to hand your child something? Can you squat ass to grass? These are all feats that require mobility. Lose mobility and you lose basic function.
These four categories combine in everyday life to provide us—me, you, everyone—with the ability to complete tasks. Take any one of these elements away, and the quality of life diminishes, at any age.
Why is fitness important?
Fitness allows us to live a life of physical and mental activity that has a higher level of quality for us and the people around us. That is why fitness is important.
And that is it. Have questions? Let me know on social media. You can click the links here, or just look up Nathan DeMetz Personal Training on Facebook and Instagram.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!