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Physical Fitness: More than Your BMI

Did you know that physical fitness is so important to your health that the American College of Cardiology recommends that it gets measured annually at a preventive visit as a “vital sign?” Physical fitness has been shown to be linked not only to the risk of getting sick, but to the risk of dying once you get sick. Physical fitness is a different parameter than BMI. Some people erroneously assume that a person’s physical fitness level inversely correlates with their BMI, or the lower the BMI, the higher the fitness level. However, that is not a correct assumption. The recognized relationship is that a person’s physical fitness level correlates with their lean body mass, or, the higher the lean body mass, the more physically fit. It is also sometimes assumed that if a person is active, they are physically fit, but that is also not always true. Physical fitness means how well your heart and vascular system can pump blood and your body can extract oxygen from that blood. While part of it is genetic, it is also modifiable and trainable. So, if it is so important, how do you know what yours is and how do you improve it?

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