, Volume 31, Issue 12, pp 863-873
Date: 13 Nov 2012

Musculoskeletal Fitness, Health Outcomes and Quality of Life

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Abstract

The health benefits and quality-of-life outcomes of a fit musculoskeletal system (musculoskeletal fitness) are reviewed in this article. The World Health Organization suggests health is a state of complete physical, mental or social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Physical health includes such characteristics as body size and shape, sensory acuity, susceptibility to disease and disorders, body functioning, recuperative ability and the ability to perform certain tasks.

One aspect of physical health is the musculoskeletal system, which consists of 3 components; muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. Muscular strength (dynamic) is defined as the maximum force a muscle or muscle group can generate at a specific velocity. Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated contractions against a load for an extended period of time. Flexibility has 2 components, dynamic or static, where dynamic flexibility is the opposition or resistance of a joint to motion, that is, the forces opposing movement rather than the range of movement itself. Static flexibility is the range of motion about a joint, typically measured as the degree of arc at the end of joint movement. If strength, endurance and flexibility are not maintained, musculoskeletal fitness is then compromised which can significantly impact physical health and well-being.

Many health benefits are associated with musculoskeletal fitness, such as reduced coronary risk factors, increased bone mineral density (reduced risk of osteoporosis), increased flexibility, improved glucose tolerance, and greater success in completion of activities of daily living (ADL).With aging, the performance of daily tasks can become a challenge. Additionally, falls, bone fractures and the need for institutional care indicate a musculoskeletal weakness as we age. The earlier in life an individual becomes physically active the greater the increase in positive health benefits; however, becoming physically active at any age will benefit overall health.

Improved musculoskeletal fitness (for example, through resistance training combined with stretching) is associated with an enhanced health status. Thus, maintaining musculoskeletal fitness can increase overall quality of life.