Chapter 2 – Fitness Principles

Individual Differences

While the principles of adaptation to stress can be applied to everyone, not everyone responds to stress in the same way. In the HERITAGE Family study, families of 5 (father, mother, and 3 children) participated in a training program for 20 weeks. They exercised 3 times per week, at 75% of their VO2max, increasing their time to 50 minutes by the end of week 14. By the end of the study, a wide variation in responses to the same exercise regimen was seen by individuals and families. Those who saw the most improvements saw similar percentage improvements across the family and vice versa. Along with other studies, this has led researchers to believe individual differences in exercise response are genetic. Some experts estimate genes to contribute as much as 47% to the outcome of training.

In addition to genes, other factors can affect the degree of adaptation, such as a person’s age, gender, and training status at the start of a program. As one might expect, rapid improvement is experienced by those with a background that includes less training, whereas those who are well trained improve at a slower rate.

Activity Guidelines

Below is a link to the physical activity guidelines provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services. As you review these recommendations, notice how closely they follow the FITT pattern described earlier in the chapter.

NIH Recommendations for Physical Activity

Fitness Guidelines

The recommendations linked above pertain to physical activity only. While they can be applied to fitness, more specific guidelines have been set to develop fitness. As stated previously, physical activity is aimed at improving health; exercise is aimed at improving health and fitness. These guidelines will be referenced often as each health-related component of fitness is discussed.


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Health and Fitness for Life Copyright © 2019 by Dawn Markell and Diane Peterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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