You probably already know that fitness is vital to physical and mental health. But how do you define fitness? Are you fit if you regularly exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? What if you “eat the rainbow” of fresh produce, as advocated by the American Heart Association? While these are undoubtedly important steps toward becoming fit, they don’t entirely define what it means to be healthy or how to know when you get there. According to the Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine, fitness is determined by how well a person moves through their daily activities.

Below, our resident Medical Director Dr. Naueen Safdar offers insight into what it means to be “fit” and how to improve your fitness for better overall wellbeing.

Ease of task completion

When you’re fit, getting through the day feels relatively easy. You can move from one task to another without much trouble and perform optimally. You might still need rest breaks, but they’re short, and you are soon ready to get going again. You don’t struggle physically or mentally with completing your daily activities.

Little to no impact from pre-existing conditions

It’s possible to get fit even if you have a pre-existing condition. When you achieve fitness, these conditions are well-managed and under control. They don’t significantly impact your day-to-day life, and you are confident that you aren’t worsening them as you go about your day.

Less stress and fatigue

Getting fit can do wonders for your mental health. People who are fit report feeling less stress throughout the day. They tend to be more motivated, less tired, and experience a greater sense of positivity than those who are less fit.

Increased energy and productivity

Newton’s first law of motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest, while a body in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. While this law refers to the principles of physics, it is also remarkably applicable to human behavior. The urge to sit on the couch or in your favorite recliner can be strong when you’re not fit. But the process of getting fit requires you to get your body moving. Once you reach peak fitness, you will be used to moving around and getting things done. You’ll naturally want to do more and accomplish more, causing your productivity to skyrocket.

Individual considerations

Of course, fitness is highly personal. Everything from your genetics to your age to your overall state of health can affect your individual peak fitness level and the best path to get there. Don’t try to compete with fitness influencers or anyone else. Talk to your doctor about what fitness looks like for you and how you can safely and effectively achieve it. Getting fit takes time and effort, but most people find the rewards are well worth it.