Glossary of Exercise Terms

by Margaret Wahl on April 1, 2009 - 1:28pm

QUEST Vol. 16, No. 2

active exercise: exercise that a person does using his or her own strength (see passive exercise)

aerobic exercise: exercise that involves or improves oxygen utilization by requiring the heart and lungs to work harder. Aerobic exercises involve low to moderately intense activities performed for extended periods of time. Examples are walking, running, swimming and cycling.

anaerobic exercise: exercise that does not involve or improve oxygen utilization; weight lifting is an example

cardiomyopathy: degeneration of the heart muscle, such as occurs in some muscle diseases

conditioning: training to perform better for a long period of time; usually done through aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, etc.

coordination: the ability to integrate muscle movements to perform specific functions, such as walking, running or manipulation of small objects; eye-hand coordination is the ability to integrate what one sees with subsequent muscle action

concentric muscle contraction: a muscle contraction in which the muscle fibers shorten as they contract; flexing the arm at the elbow is an example

contraction: what muscles do when they’re active; refers to protein filaments actin and myosin sliding over each other

contracture: permanent shortening of a muscle or tendon, resulting in a permanent “freezing” of a joint in a certain position; occurs when muscle weakness or spasticity prevents normal range of motion over a long period of time

eccentric muscle contraction: a muscle contraction in which the muscle fibers are pulled apart (lengthened) even though they’re being activated to contract; for example, eccentric contractions occur when straightening the elbow gradually while holding a weight, so that the arm doesn’t extend completely and suddenly

elliptical trainer: stationary exercise device that simulates walking or running without causing the joints to be subjected to much force

exercise: muscle exertion (use) involving expenditure of energy

fitness: the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply nutrients to skeletal muscles during sustained energy expenditure (exercise) and the ability of muscles to respond

forced vital capacity (FVC): the amount of air one is able to exhale after inhaling as completely as possible

interval training: repetitions of exercise interrupted by periods of rest or low activity

isometric muscle contraction: a muscle contraction in which the muscle fibers remain approximately the same length even though force is being exerted; an example is pressing the hands against a wall without extending the arms

maximal: full-out; exercising maximally means exercising as hard and as fast as one possibly can

myoglobinuria: the presence in the urine of myoglobin, which is released by damaged muscle fibers; myoglobin turns the urine brownish or cola-colored and can damage the kidneys; its presence indicates severe, acute muscle damage

oxygen consumption: the amount of oxygen taken in during exercise or at rest; can be determined directly by measuring oxygen intake and carbon dioxide exhalation through a metabolic mask or can be approximated indirectly by measuring heart rate

passive exercise: exercise that a person does without any exertion; for instance, having someone else move one’s limbs in range-of-motion exercises (technically speaking, not really exercise, although it gives some of the benefits of exercise such as improving circulation, movement, comfort and flexibility)

physiatrist: a physician who specializes in maximizing functional abilities and quality of life for people with physical impairments; the specialty is called physical medicine and rehabilitation

physical therapist: health care professional who helps individuals develop, maintain and/or restore maximum movement and functional ability

range-of-motion exercise: exercise that involves putting a joint through its normal range of motion (as far as it can go in any direction); can be done actively or passively

resistance exercise: a form of exercise in which each effort is performed against a specific opposing force generated by resistance (for example, resistance to being lifted, pushed, squeezed, stretched or bent); sometimes used interchangeably with strength training

rhabdomyolysis: the rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue

submaximal: exercise that’s performed at less than maximum effort; sometimes defined as exercise that is not too strenuous to prevent talking, or exercise in which the heart rate does not go above 65-70 percent of maximum (maximum = 220 minus age)

tachycardia: abnormally rapid heart rate

trainer: a fitness professional who develops and implements an individualized approach to physical fitness, generally working one-on-one with a client; trainers generally do not have any medical background

treadmill: piece of indoor sporting equipment used to allow for the motions of running or walking while staying in one place

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