Prince Fielder Exposed: Why Weight Isn’t the Only Indicator of Fitness

Prince Fielder

The “Body Issue” is one of the most hotly anticipated issues of ESPN Magazine each year, as sports stars disrobe and show off their toned, fit bodies. This year, however, MLB player Prince Fielder stirred up considerable buzz as he showed off his skin. With a physique best described as “husky,” Fielder doesn’t fit the lean image of most professional athletes. However, his powerful thighs and strong arms have inspired many to reconsider weight as the sole indicator of physical fitness.

Flaws of Using Body Mass Index as a Measure of Fitness

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In research studies, scientists often use body mass index (BMI) as a way to assess body size. One of the benefits of BMI is that it’s a quick measure to obtain: it’s simply a formula based on weight and height. However, BMI is not always the best indicator of health. Pro athletes like Prince Fielder tip the scales in the obese range, despite their peak level of athletic performance. Even among non-athletes, a high muscle mass can skew a person’s BMI into the overweight range. On the other end of the spectrum, some people considered normal weight are in poor physical condition, evidenced by low cardiovascular fitness or poor muscle tone.

Other Indices of Physical Fitness

Weight is not the only — or the best — way to assess physical health. Other important indices of physical fitness are needed to create a full picture of physical health.


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Strength refers to the amount of force that your muscles can exert. To achieve optimal physical fitness, it’s important to work all of your muscle groups to maximize their strength. The best way to do this is strength training, targeting individual muscles as well as groups of muscles that perform similar actions (such as the squat, which works quads, hamstrings, and glutes).


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During exercise, your heart and lungs must work continuously to get plenty of oxygen to your muscles. Your ability to efficiently deliver oxygen without tiring is considered cardiovascular endurance. Aerobic exercise is the best way to improve endurance. Physicians recommend at least 20 minutes per day, five days per week. This might include jogging, swimming, vigorous walking, or dancing.


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Speed refers to your body’s ability to move quickly from one place to another. Speed is generally maintained for short periods of time, so it relies more on muscle efficiency than the heart and lungs. Individuals training to improve speed often do sprints or shuttle runs. Additionally, plyometric exercises target muscle groups that support speed.


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