Fitness Glossary

Aerobic Exercise
any continuous activity of large muscle groups that forces your heart and lungs to work harder. Aerobic means that your muscles are using oxygen. Examples include walking, swimming, stair climbing, and jumping rope.
Anaerobic Exercise
an activity such as weight training or sprinting that requires your body to perform at a great effort for a relatively short duration. In this type of exercise, your body relies heavily on stored energy that does not need oxygen to be released. Because these types of energy stores are limited, the duration of this type of exercise is also limited.
this usually refers to beta carotene and vitamins C and E, which protect the cells in your body from an unstable form of oxygen called a free radical. The antioxidant combines with the free radical to prevent it from attaching to and damaging the cells in your body.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
a ratio between weight and height. It is a mathematical formula that is associated with body fat. BMI is a better predictor of disease risk than body weight alone, and it is a good measure to use in most adults. Certain people should not rely on the BMI to assess health risk. This group includes competitive athletes and body builders. These individuals have high BMIs due to muscle and not due to fat.
the amount of energy needed to raise one liter of water by one degree Celsius. In practical terms, a calorie is the unit we use to measure the amount of energy supplied by food and the amount burned by activity.
Calorie Balance
is the difference between how many calories you eat (calorie intake) and how many you burn (calorie expenditure). When the calories you eat equal the calories you burn, you maintain your weight. Eating more calories than you burn results in weight gain. Burning more calories than you eat results in weight loss.
Calorie Expenditure
the amount of energy your body uses to do anything. For example, you burn calories when you walk, swim, sleep, read and breathe.
Calorie Balance
the difference between how many calories you eat (calorie intake) and how many you burn (calorie expenditure). When the calories you eat equal the calories you burn, you maintain your weight. Eating more calories than you burn results in weight gain. Burning more calories than you eat results in weight loss.
the condition that occurs from a loss in body water. The main cause of dehydration during activity is an increase in sweat production without adequate fluid intake. The greatest risk for dehydration occurs when you exercise in the heat. To learn more about fluid replacement, visit the Nutrition Center.
a general term with many meanings. In general, physical fitness is the ability to do daily activities without feeling overly tired. Physical fitness has four parts. Cardiovascular and respiratory fitness reflects the condition of your heart and lungs, and the ability of your body to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Muscular fitness means the strength and endurance of your muscles. Flexibility is the ability to move your joints freely and without pain. Body Mass Index is associated with the amount of fat in your body.
the amount of fluid in your body. Since your body is about 40% - 60% water, it is very important that you drink 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water each day. Also, you should replace any fluid your body loses during physical activity. For more information on water guidelines, visit the Nutrition Center.
a procedure that introduces extra fluid in the body before activity to prevent dehydration. Hyperhydration can be especially helpful when you work out in the heat.
how hard your body works during an activity. In general, the higher your heart rate (that is, the faster your heart beats) the more intense the activity.
Maximal Oxygen Uptake or VO2max
the maximum amount of oxygen that you can take in during an activity of high intensity. Trained individuals have a higher VO2max than untrained individuals. They can therefore exercise at greater speeds and higher intensities. You can increase your VO2max through aerobic activity.
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)
the fastest that your heart can beat when doing activity. Rather than actually measuring the peak rate that your heart can beat, it is easier to predict what that rate is. We can do this by using a simple formula: 220 - age = maximum heart rate.
Post Exercise Energy Consumption
the continued elevated (above resting) amounts of calories being burned due to recovery from exercise. During recovery, calories are burned during muscle and tissue repair and oxygen replacement in muscles.
Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
the level of effort you feel you are putting into an activity. The Borg scale is a rating scale that helps you describe how hard you feel you are working in terms of a number from 6 to 20. Lower numbers on the scale are used to describe a lower level of effort, and higher numbers mean you are working harder.
Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
the amount of times your heart beats per minute while you are at rest. For most accurate results, the RHR should be taken in the morning before getting out of bed.
Spot Reduction
the removal of stored fat from specific areas in the body. No activity or exercise can remove fat from a specific area.
Strength Training
activities specifically designed to build muscle and increase strength. Strength training also helps to maintain the amount of bone in your body and can help maintain weight. Also known as weight training or resistance training.
Target Heart Rate (THR)
an estimate of how fast your heart should beat during exercise to improve the workings of your heart and lungs.
Weight Lifting
another term for strength training.

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