Achieving fitness is a way of life, not a fad or a brief change in one's way of doing things. And, an early start is imperative. A flaw in our present system of health care is the emphasis on evaluation of anatomic or organic soundness and the presence or absence of disease–with less regard for the quality of physiologic function. In other words, dynamic performance is frequently ignored after the organic condition has been determined. An infant or child may well be regarded as healthy with the proper immunizations and absence of disease. But, is he/she able to meet daily tasks, recreational activities, and unforeseen emergencies with vigor and enthusiasm and without undue fatigue? Is he/she making adequate use of the musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary systems?
Lack of encouragement to exercise in early life is reflected in the National Adult Physical Fitness Survey conducted by the President's Council on Physical Fitness in 1972. This study showed that 45% of all adult Americans do not engage in physical activity for the purpose of exercise. However, 63% of these nonexercisers said they believed they had enough exercise; only 57% of those who exercised regularly thought they did enough of it.
Normal growth and development in infancy should assure physical fitness for ordinary and even strenuous physical tasks because of innate, powerful drives toward functional development at this period of life. The infant who naturally strives for motor fitness can be on the way to a lifetime of improving physical fitness. The preschool child who characteristically uses his large muscles during many hours of the day is continuing a self-imposed program of physical fitness.
- Copyright © 1976 by the American Academy of Pediatrics