Achieving “fitness” is different than just being active. Activity means moving about, burning so many calories when doing a certain task. That is good, but fitness yields even more benefits. Fitness, specifically the aerobic type, is the type of fitness that increases endurance, heart health, muscle strength, and coordination.

Rapid walking or other more strenuous activities build what is known as cardio-respiratory fitness. It is this type of exercise that is especially connected with improvement in certain types of mental abilities.

Fit people show a specific advantage in what is known as fluid intelligence, or the ability to learn and retain new information. Aerobic fitness also protects other cognitive functions that tend to slip with aging, such as the ability to plan, filter out distractions, and speed information processing.

If you have a heart condition, diabetes, high blood pressure, or other health condition of concern, be sure and work with your health care provider to plan a fitness program that will gradually and safely increase strength and endurance.

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