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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Member Comments

  • I got my husband and I Trikkes (3 wheeled cambering machines - we have T8airs) for our 9th anniversaryand we Trikke 8 - 11 miles a day (in an hour to an hour and a half) along a river greenway. We love it and it is such a good workout and such fun! The calorie count is about the same as running but no impact. - 8/15/2008 5:31:08 PM
  • For me working out is usually fun no matter what. I love taking long walks and seeing new scenes. It is even more fun if it is with someone so you can talk while you are walking. But my all time best hike ever was at an African game park. My sister, mom, and me spent 3 days at an African game park where you could take any trail you wanted to and see tons of animals. We went hiking 2 different times for about an hour each time. It was awesome to see all those animals up close and personal. - 7/31/2008 11:19:26 PM
  • I walked on the Great Wall and a lot of other places in China and i guess that and Trekking in Nepal were both the most fun I ever had. - 7/31/2008 9:01:48 PM
    strength training with my sister who also happens to be my besti. shout out to krystle702!! - 7/31/2008 5:34:24 PM
  • Well, I fell in love with my boxing personal trainer, so that was always fun. We still have a lot of fun exercising together. My favorite is when we do sprints. He takes off and leaves me laughing. - 7/31/2008 2:24:39 PM
    Having my kids work-out with me! - 7/31/2008 1:53:23 PM
  • my 2-yo son jumping on me while I was doing callanetics on the floor, helping me with my not-sit-ups (they're not crunches, it's all stomach and no back, so hard to describe) -- it got harder for me to do them all of a sudden! Plus, bonus bonus, snuggle time with my cutie :) - 7/30/2008 6:34:23 PM
  • I really love to do DDR (dance dance revolution) I get on that for about 30-45 minutes and when I get done I am pooped... - 7/30/2008 1:51:34 PM
  • WII Fit i from Nintendo is the a great way to get the excercise when you can't go to the gym or the weather is bad.. Hula Hoops from the "old days", a little dancing, a short run in place through the park. I look forward to my excercise time and am now up to 52 minutes. I actually do the Wii Fit everyday now as my main excercise with an outdoor walk....... - 7/30/2008 10:05:16 AM
    Belly dance class! The moves aren't as hard as I thought they would be. Better yet, the ladies who attend are adventurous with a great sense of adventure! - 7/29/2008 6:36:21 PM
  • soccer practice got canceled because of the rain but we were all in our shorts already so we went out and played tackle soccer in the mud anyway :) - 7/29/2008 3:45:42 PM
  • I like to be prepared to exercise. I put on the exercise clothes in the morning and I am ready for anything FUN. My exercise clothes help me stay active. - 7/29/2008 11:01:44 AM
  • The best time or times I ever have is going outside and playing badmitton or some other game with the kids. - 7/29/2008 8:53:13 AM
  • hiking at Enchanted Rock w/hubby -- fun, beautiful, and great workout! - 7/28/2008 5:04:26 PM
    Playing tennis with a fellow sparker! We're far from being considered good, but we get lots of running around in and have a great time chasing tennis balls. - 7/28/2008 11:19:02 AM

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