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Your fitness level is a “Vital Sign”

Because the Heart Association and others have stated "physical activity is the magic elixir of health" we can now move-on to look at fitness as "a vital sign."

The short of it is, your level of fitness is a critical and basic measure of your health, just like your blood pressure or temperature. As a note, vital signs are useful in detecting or monitoring medical problems.

In my previous post Dr. Eduardo Sanchez - the Chief Medical Officer for Prevention for the American Heart Association - described physical activity or exercise as "the magic elixir of health" and positioned fitness as "a vital sign" during a recent presentation.


Dr. Sanchez explained that his "magic elixir of health" phrase stems from a statement he "just loves."The statement he "just loves" is, ". . . there is no single medication that can positively influence as many organ systems (cardiorespiratory, vascular, musculoskeletal, mental, metabolic) as can physical activity."

The basic summary was, the more fit you are, the fewer chronic conditions you'll have.

He then went on to describe "fitness as a vital sign" since your level of fitness is a measure of health, just like your blood pressure or temperature. As a note, vital signs are useful in detecting or monitoring medical problems.

And, on a side note, the more fit you are at mid-life, the better your life will be.

So, what is a vital sign? From Hopkins we see that vital signs are measurements of the body's most basic functions. The four main vital signs routinely monitored by medical professionals and health care providers include the following:

  • Body temperature
  • Pulse rate
  • Respiration rate (rate of breathing)
  • Blood pressure (Blood pressure is not considered a vital sign, but is often measured along with the vital signs.)


And Dr. Sanchez is not alone in his "vital sign" statement. Similar statements and details can be found at Kaiser Permanente and the Mayo Clinic to name only two.

In summary, Dr. Eduardo Sanchez - the Chief Medical Officer for Prevention for the American Heart Association - described physical activity or exercise as "the magic elixir of health" and positioned fitness as "a vital sign."