Fitness describes a person's good physical condition. To be fit, or in shape, means being able to handle physical activities in your job or hobbies with ease. There is no generally accepted definition of the term, but usually people use 'fitness' when they talk about cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, mental well-being and proper functioning of the respiratory system. Fitness is important for a long, healthy life and is a high priority not only for athletes and military personnel and anyone else with a physical job. An ever increasing number of people, living sedentary lifestyles in the western world, realize how important a a fit body is. Unfortunately, many only start thinking about exercise once they've run into problems due to a lack of activity.

Physical fitness is a result of various different types of exercises and proper nutrition. To improve your cardiovascular endurance you have to increase the amount of aerobic exercises you do. These are exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling, playing football etc. For your muscles to get stronger however, you will have to include strength training in your exercise plan. Depending on the required intensity, you can do bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups, or go to a gym and work out with barbells, dumbbells and machines. To improve your fitness in these areas, you have to overload your body beyond your usual activity level. Then gradually increase the intensity over time.

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As stated above, proper nutrition plays an important part in developing fitness. Eating in moderation is often recommended, but make sure you eat enough so you have the energy to exercise. Complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread, beans, oats) and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, oily fish) are best for this. To help the body recover, an appropriate amount of protein should also be part of one's diet. Recovery and regeneration take place while your body is resting, so make sure to get enough sleep (at least 7 hours a night).

The benefits of physical fitness are proven and can be directly observed by anyone who does some kind of sport. Doing cardiovascular exercises will make the heart stronger and larger, since it is a muscle too. You will be able to run, swim and cycle faster and longer, and will see similar results in your sex life. Your blood pressure will go down, and the amount of blood fats will be lowered. This means that the risk of heart disease and heart attack will be greatly reduced. Strength exercise will make your muscles and bones stronger, which will ultimately help with preventing injuries. It will also increase your metabolic rate and your flexibility. All these positive physical effects will also improve your mental fitness. You will sleep better, which means you will be more alert and in a better mood during the day. Many people suffering from depression benefit from fitness training, and it improves anyone's overall feeling of well-being.

Eventually you will see the results of all the hard work in the mirror. Whether your goal is to lose fat or gain muscle, with the right fitness plan and good nutrition, both are possible. A lot of people work on their fitness because they want to look good, and there is nothing wrong with that motivation. It leads to a better self image, more confidence and a more enjoyable life.