March 22, 2017



Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2013 ( Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Related Terms

  • Aerobic activity, cardiorespiratory endurance, cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, flexibility.


  • Fitness is a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite five components of physical fitness - muscular strength, flexibility, cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular endurance and body composition.

  • The CDC recommends that people of all ages participate in 30 minutes of physical activity (of mild intensity) daily. In addition, cardiorespiratory endurance activity should be supplemented with strength-developing exercises at least twice per week for adults, in order to improve musculoskeletal health and reduce the risk of falling.

  • According to the CDC, 50% of Americans do not exercise enough to achieve health benefits. Physical fitness and dietary intake are good indicators of a person's overall likelihood of developing serious and chronic health problems.


  • Consistent physical exercise is more important than the type of exercise performed. Examples of exercise include: walking, jogging, running, swimming, aerobics classes, weight lifting, sports (e.g. tennis, soccer, basketball).


  • Widespread evidence suggests that physical fitness is essential to preventing disease. The DHHS has concluded that 90-95% of type 2 diabetes occurs due to the absence of physical fitness. Regular physical activity has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

  • Beyond diabetes, the DHHS has declared that a pattern of poor diet and physical inactivity account for 14% of deaths in the United States. The same study declared that a sedentary lifestyle contributed to the deaths of 23% of people with chronic illnesses. In addition, those who are physically fit have a much longer life expectancy than those who are not.


  • A qualified healthcare provider should be consulted before beginning any new exercise program.

  • Aerobic workouts should begin with a warm-up routine and end with a cool-down segment that includes stretching exercises.

  • Exercise can cause dehydration. Drink plenty of water before and after physical activity.

Author Information

  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Components of Physical Fitness. 8 May 2006.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The Importance of Physical Activity. 11 May 2006.

  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; 1996.

  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Fundamental To Preventing Disease. 11 May 2006.

Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


March 22, 2017