Physical Activity: Health, Fitness and Performance

Physical Activity: Health, Fitness and Performance
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  • 0:07 Physical Activity
  • 1:07 Health
  • 2:20 Overload Principle
  • 3:08 Specificity Principle
  • 4:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Physical activity is any movement of your muscles that uses energy. Physical activity helps you achieve better health, fitness and performance. Learn how the overload principle and specificity principle improve your fitness and performance.

Physical Activity

Okay, so you decided you want to increase the amount of activity in your life. How should you go about it? Should you just start taking your dog for a walk in the afternoon? Should you buy a membership to the local gym? Or, would it be best to take up a sport? Well, the type and amount of physical activity you choose will have a lot to do with the goal you're trying to achieve. Physical activity is a fairly broad term that is defined as any movement of your muscles that requires energy.

If your goal is to get more active so you can improve your overall health and protect yourself from disease, then you will benefit from all forms of physical activity. But, if you're looking to improve your fitness, which is your ability to carry out routine physical tasks without undue fatigue, or your performance, which is how well you can complete a physical task, then you will need a more specific focus for your activities. In this lesson, we will distinguish between physical activity for health, fitness and performance.


You really can't go wrong by adding more physical activity into your life - regular movement of your body leads to long-term health benefits. Health is defined as the overall state of your body and mind, and even light-intensity physical activity that comes with taking a stroll, gardening, washing dishes and dancing around your kitchen while preparing dinner will add to your overall state of health. Yet, these light movements should not be the only activities you engage in.

Exercise is a form of physical activity that is performed to become stronger, healthier and more skilled. Exercise requires more intense and intentional movements. It's a step above light-intensity physical activity, which requires movement, but does not increase your heart rate, and involves moderate-intensity physical activity, which noticeably raises your heart rate, or vigorous-intensity physical activity that causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in your heart rate. While any level of activity can enhance your health, there are more directed approaches for increasing your fitness and for improving your performance.

Overload Principle

The overload principle is the concept that your body adapts to stresses placed on it. When you start an exercise program, your body needs to work hard because it's not used to the demands you're putting it through. If you continue to do the same exercises at the same level of intensity, your body will adapt and become more efficient because it has risen up to a new level of fitness.

Now, to continually improve your physical fitness, you want to continually increase the demands placed on your muscles. This might include lifting progressively heavier weights or extending your run by a few more minutes. These adaptations boost your fitness level, making you more capable of doing tasks without fatigue.

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