Fitness Articles

Glossary of Fitness Terms

Basic Definitions for Exercise Words and Phrases

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Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)- Physical tasks of everyday living, such as bathing, and walking up the stairs. ADLs are usually factored in to a person's basal metabolic rate, so tracking calories burned for these types of movement isn't recommended when trying to lose weight.

Aerobic exercise- Any rhythmic activity that increases the body's need for oxygen by using large muscle groups continuously for at least 10 minutes. The term aerobic means “with oxygen.”

Agonist muscle- A muscle that is very effective in causing a certain joint movement. Also called the prime mover.On a biceps curl, the biceps is the agonist muscle that flexes the elbow joint.

Amenorrhea- The absence of menstruation, commonly found in women with a very low body fat percentage and/or exercise excessively.

Anaerobic exercise- Short lasting, high intensity activity, where the demand for oxygen from the exercise exceeds the oxygen supply.

Angina pectoris- Chest pain due to lack of blood flow (oxygen) to the heart.

Antagonist muscle- A muscle that causes movement at a joint in a direction opposite to that of the joint’s agonist (prime mover). 

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Beta-blockers- Type of medication that reduces heart rate. Exercisers who take beta-blockers will have a lower heart rate at rest and during exercise, so the target heart rate formula cannot be used in this case.

Bioelectrical impedance- This method of measuring body composition is based on the fact that the lean tissue of the body is much more conductive due to its higher water content than fat tissue. The more lean tissue present in the body, the greater the conductive potential, measured in ohms.

Body composition- Amount of fat vs. lean muscle tissue in the human body.

Body Mass Index (BMI)- Measure of the relationship between height and weight; calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in centimeters squared. 

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Caffeine- A stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and some soft drinks that increases heart contractions, oxygen consumption, metabolism, and urinary output.

Calisthenics- Exercising using one’s own body weight which helps develop muscular tone.

Cardiorespiratory fitness- Measure of the heart’s ability to pump oxygen-rich blood to the muscles. Also called cardiovascular or aerobic fitness.

Cardiovascular system- A complex system consisting of the heart and blood vessels; transports nutrients, oxygen, and enzymes throughout the body and regulates temperature, water levels of cells, and acidity levels of body components.

Circuit training- Takes the participant through a series of exercise stations (which could also include strength training), with relatively brief rest intervals between each station. The purpose is to keep the heart rate elevated near the aerobic level without dropping off. The number of stations may range from 4 to 10.

Concentric muscle action- Force produced while the muscle is shortening in length.

Continuous training- This is the most common type of sustained aerobic exercise for fitness improvement, slowly adding more time to the workout to increase endurance.

Cool down- Lowering of body temperature following vigorous exercise. The practice of cooling down after exercise involves slowing down your level of activity gradually.

Core- A muscle group comprised of the abdominals, lower back, obliques, and hips.

Cortisol- A hormone secreted by the adrenal gland that makes stored nutrients more readily available to meet energy demands. These hormone levels increase under stress, which can stimulate your appetite, leading to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.

Cross-training- An individualized combination of all aerobic-training methods, characterized by a variety of intensities and modes.
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