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Glossary of Fitness and Health Terms

A to Z list of useful health and fitness terms.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


A

Acetyl-CoA - The metabolic intermediate that is produced when carbohydrate or fat undergoes beta-oxidation. It is then available to be used for energy production via the Krebs cycle or through the formation of ketone bodies.

Acromegaly - Pathological enlargement of the bones of the hands, feet and face resulting from chronic over activity of the pituitary gland. Only results from disease of the pituitary or exogenous growth hormone usage.

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) - The final step of the Krebs Cycle. This molecule collects the potential energy from nutrients that is released during beta-oxidation and carries it to the cells of the body to be used for energy.

Adipose Tissue - Bodily connective tissue that contains stored cellular fat.

Adrenal Glands - Either of two small endocrine glands, one located above each kidney, consisting of the cortex, which secretes several different hormones, and the medulla, which secretes epinephrine.

Adrenal Medulla - The center of the adrenal gland that secretes the hormone epinephrine.

Adrenaline - Another name for epinephrine.

Aerobic - Living or occurring only in the presence of oxygen.

Aerobics - Conditioning of the cardiopulmonary system by means of vigorous exercise that seeks to increase efficiency of oxygen intake, build the cardiovascular system and increase metabolic activity.

Agility - A skill-related component of physical fitness that relates to the ability to rapidly change the position of the entire body in space with speed and accuracy.

Amino Acids - The essential components of protein. These are the building blocks of the all the cells in the body. There are about 20 different amino acids that occur in the human body.

Ammonia - The byproduct of amino acid usage by the muscles for energy. Very toxic, it is converted to urea by aspartates in the urea cycle, which can then be disposed of in urine.

Anabolic - The process by which simple substances are synthesized into the complex tissue of living tissue.

Anaerobic - Living or occurring without the presence of oxygen.

Androgens - A steroid hormone that develops and maintains masculine characteristics. They also are potent stimulators of linear growth in children whose epiphyses has not closed yet. They also promote muscle growth.

Anemia - A deficiency in the oxygen-carrying material of the blood, measured in volume concentrations of hemoglobin, red blood cell volume and red blood cell number.

Aspartates - Chemical compound that is used by the body to detoxify waste products created by amino acid catabolism.

Autocrine Hormones - Hormones that exert their effect only on the cells that produce them. Balance A skill-related component of physical fitness that relates to the maintenance of equilibrium while stationary or moving.

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B

Basal Metabolic Rate - The body’s energy expenditure while at rest. This represents the energy requirements for maintaining life, consisting mostly of maintenance of temperature, heart rate, breathing nerve transmission, electrochemical gradients across cell membranes and the energy cost of protein turnover required to maintain cells.

Beta-Oxidation - Fatty acid catabolism in which two carbon fragments are removed from the fatty acid chain, producing acetyl-CoA which can then travel through the Krebs cycle or be synthesized into ketones and used as energy.

Bile - An alkaline liquid secreted by the liver and stored in the gall bladder which is sent to the intestines to be used to break down fat.

Body Composition - A health-related component of physical fitness that relates to the relative amounts of muscle, fat, bone and other vital parts of the body.

Body Fat - The amount of adipose tissue carried on the body.

Bone Integrity (Bone Strength) - A non-performance component of fitness related to bone mineral density.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) - The amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine, these are important for synthesis of other amino acids and can be used directly by the muscle for energy.

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C

Calcium - A very important mineral used in the formation and maintenance of teeth and bones as well as other metabolic processes in the body.

Calorie - A measure of energy from food. (3,500 kilocalories of food energy = 1 pound of
bodyweight). Also the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1° C (1000 calories = 1 kilocalorie). An interesting fact: When we see "Calories" on a food label it is actually measuring kilocalories.

Carbohydrate - Any of a group of chemical compounds, including sugars, starches and cellulose, containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

Carbon - A natural element occurring in many inorganic and all organic compounds.

Cardiorespiratory Endurance - The ability of the body's circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel and oxygen during sustained physical activity.

Cardiorespiratory Fitness - Also called aerobic endurance or aerobic fitness.

Cardiovascular Density - The size and number or blood vessels and capillaries capable of transporting oxygen to cells and removing waste from cells.

Cardiovascular Fitness - A health-related component of physical fitness that relates to ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen during sustained physical activity.

Carnitine Shuttle - A metabolic process in which long chain triglycerides are actively transported across the membrane of the mitochondria to be burned for energy.

Catabolic - Metabolic change of complex molecules into simple molecules. Cellulose - A carbohydrate, is the main constituent of all plant tissues and fiber. Cannot by digested by the human body.

Cholesterol - A crystalline substance, the most common animal sterol. Is a universal tissue constituent occurring most notably in bile, gallstones, the brain, blood cells, plasma, egg yolk and seeds. There are two types: high density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein. High density lipoprotein is important for many physiological processes. Low density lipoprotein has been show to build up in arteries causing blockages which can lead to heart disease.

Chondrocytes - Layers of cartilage which are the framework for bone formation.

Chylomicrons - A microscopic fat molecule in the blood that is formed during the digestion of fat.

Coordination - A skill-related component of physical fitness that relates to the ability to use the senses, such as sight and hearing, together with body parts in performing motor tasks smoothly and accurately.

Cortisol - One of the glucocorticoids, this hormone, derived from the adrenal cortex, acts to stimulate optimal levels of metabolic enzymes used during growth. Low cortisol prevents growth because enzyme levels are too low, while excess cortisol causes protein catabolism.

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D

Diabetes - A disease caused by a severe deficiency of insulin production by the pancreas. Mild cases can be regulated through diet while others require insulin injection.

Digestion - The primarily enzymatic process of breaking down the food ingested into simple, assimilable substances.

Duodenum - The beginning portion of the small intestine, extending from the lower end of the stomach to the jejunum.

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E

Electrolytes - A substance that dissociates into ions in solution when fused, thereby becoming an electrical conductor. The body uses many different electrolytes for physiological processes.

Endochondrial Ossification - The process in which proliferating cartilage is replaced by bone.

Endocrine Hormones - A classification of hormones, meaning that they are released into the bloodstream and are carried throughout the body. Also know as telecrine hormones.

Endocrine System - Consisting of several organs of the body, including the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal and parathyroid glands, the pancreas, testes or ovaries and kidneys, this systems transports information to different parts of the body through chemical messages. These messages are called hormones.

Energy - The work a physical system is capable of doing in changing from its actual state to a specified reference state.

Energy Balance -The bodily process of using as much energy as it is provided through nutrition. This includes energy expenditure through basal metabolism, physical activity and thermogenesis.

Enzymes - Any of numerous proteins or conjugated proteins produced by living organisms and functioning as biochemical catalysts in living organisms.

Epinephrine - An adrenal hormone from the adrenal medulla that stimulates autonomic nerve action. Has been shown to have a great impact on fat loss. When activated, it is carried throughout the body, preparing muscles for action and mobilizing fat from adipose stores for energy. Also known as adrenaline.

Epiphyseal Plate - The ends of the bones that continue to grow throughout childhood and adolescence. They usually close during puberty, at which point bone growth is stopped.

Erythrocytes - The blood cell that contains hemoglobin and is responsible for the color of blood.

Essential Amino Acids - Eight amino acids which are not capable of being produced by the body and must be obtained through dietary protein.

Essential Fatty Acids - A group of fatty acids which are physiologically important to good health. Estrogen - One of several steroid hormones produced chiefly by the ovary and responsible for the regulation of certain female reproductive functions and the development and maintenance of female secondary sex characteristics.

Exercise - The physical activity that is planned or structured. It involves repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain one or more of the components of physical fitness--cardiorespiratory endurance (aerobic fitness), muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.

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F

Fascial Stretching - A specialized form of stretching developed by John Parrillo in which the fascia tissue which envelopes the muscle is stretched, allowing for more muscle growth.

Fat - Any of various soft solid or semisolid organic compounds comprising fatty acids and associated phosphatides, sterols, alcohols, hydrocarbons, ketones and related compounds. A mixture of such compounds widely occurring in organic tissue, especially in the subcutaneous connective tissue of animals and in the seeds, nuts and fruits of plants.

Fatty Acids - Any of a large group of acids containing hydrogen and carbon and is obtainable from animals and plants. These acids combine to form fat.

Fiber - One of the elongated, thick-walled cells giving strength and support to plant tissue. An important part of the diet for regulation of digestion and elimination of digestive waste.

Flexibility - A health-related component of physical fitness that relates to the range of motion available at a joint.

Food - Material, usually plant or animal, containing or consisting of essential nutrients, as carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, or minerals, taken in and assimilated by an organism to maintain growth and life.

Food Efficiency - The calories consumed of a certain amount of food divided by weight gain. Foods with a high food efficiency tend to add to weight gain while foods with a low food efficiency are more prone to be used as energy rather than stored as body weight.

Fructose - A sweet sugar that is found in many fruits and honey. Is prone to being stored as body fat.

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G

Gall Bladder - A small, pear-shaped sac located under the right lobe of the liver, in which bile secreted by the liver is stored.

Gastrointestinal Tract - Of or relating to the stomach and intestines and process by which food travels through these organs.

Glucagon - A hormone secreted by the pancreas which increases blood sugar by activating the metabolism of fat from adipose tissue and amino acids from muscle. This hormone has the opposite reaction of insulin.

Glucocorticoids - A group of hormones responsible for stimulating or regulating optimal levels of enzymes whose activities are then regulated by other hormones.

Gluconeogenesis - Process in which amino acids are changed into glucose in the liver which can then be used as energy.

Glucose - The combination of simple sugars that is formed by the digestion of food and is released into the bloodstream to be used for energy, converted into muscle glycogen or stored as body fat. Glucose is the trigger mechanism for the release of insulin from the pancreas.

Glycogen - The primary storage carbohydrate in animals. Glycogen can be stored in the muscles for immediate energy needs or can be stored in the liver.

Glycogen Supercompensation - A process of depleting glycogen stores in the muscle and liver by carbohydrate restriction, and then replenishing them past the storage limit they had before.

Glycogen Synthase - The enzyme responsible for glycogen storage.

Glycolysis - The anaerobic production of ATP from carbohydrate. This is the primary energy source for intense exercise for short periods of duration.

Golgi Tendon Organ - A group of sensory receptors in the muscle that fire when the tendon is stretched too far and shuts down the muscle.

Golgi Tendon Reflex - The shutting down of the muscle by the golgi tendon organ during exercise.

Growth Hormone - Produced by the pituitary gland, this anabolic hormone is the most responsible for growth during childhood. It has profound effects on development of the skeleton and muscles. Even after physical stature is attained, growth hormone can still have a great effect on muscle growth.

Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH) - A hormone released by the hypothalamus which triggers growth hormone release.

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H

Health - The state of being associated with freedom from disease and illness that also includes a positive component (wellness) that is associated with a quality of life and positive well-being. Health-related physical fitness consists of those components of physical fitness that have a relationship with good health. The components are commonly defined as body composition, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, muscular endurance, and strength.

Hemoglobin - The oxygen-bearing, iron-containing protein in blood cells.

Hormone Receptors - Special molecules on cells that interpret the signal being sent by hormones.

Hormone Sensitive Lipase - An enzyme produced by epinephrine that breaks down fat triglycerides into free fatty acids and glycerol. The free fatty acids can then leave the adipose tissue into the bloodstream and be used for energy by the muscles.

Household physical activity -Activity that includes (but is not limited to) activities such as sweeping floors, scrubbing, washing windows, and raking the lawn.

Hypercaloric - Increasing caloric consumption.

Hyperphagia - Overeating.

Hypocaloric - Restricting caloric consumption,

Hypoglycemia - An abnormally low level of glucose in the blood. Can be caused by carbohydrate restriction or overly high insulin levels.

Hypophysectomy - Removal of the pituitary gland. Hypothalamus - The part of the brain that lies below the thalamus and functions to regulate autonomic activities, like body temperature and weight. It connects the pituitary to the brain and is the link between the endocrine system and the nervous system.

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I

Inactivity - Not engaging in any regular pattern of physical activity beyond daily functioning.

Insulin - Powerful anabolic hormone released by the islands of Langerhans in the pancreas. Functions to regulate carbohydrate metabolism by controlling blood glucose levels. Also has a hand in storage of fat and in the entry of amino acids into muscles.

Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF) - An important peptide for the regulation of growth hormone. Produced by the liver, it has an insulin-like effect on glucose.

Iron - An important metallic element that is used by the cardiovascular system to bind iron to hemoglobin and myoglobin. It also is required by enzymes when oxygen is consumed in the cells.

Ischemic Rigor - When the muscle is depleted of ATP and it locks in a contracted state and cannot relax properly.

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J

Jejunum - The section of the small intestine between the duodenum and the ileum.

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K

Ketogenesis - The process of two acetyl-CoA molecules joining to create a ketone molecule.

Ketones - An organic compound made in the liver when carbohydrate or fat is metabolized and creates an abundant amount of acetyl-CoA. This overwhelms the Krebs cycle and the extra acetyl-CoA is synthesized into ketones. These ketones are then released into the bloodstream and taken up by the muscles and used as fuel.

Kidneys - Either of a pair of structures in the dorsal region of the abdominal cavity, functioning to maintain proper water balance, regulate acid-base concentration, and excrete metabolic wastes as urine.

Kilocalorie -The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water 1° C. Kilocalorie is the ordinary calorie discussed in food or exercise energy-expenditure tables and food labels.

Krebs Cycle - A series of enzymatic reactions in aerobic organisms involving oxidative metabolism of acetyl units, especially during the process of respiration, to provide the main source of cellular energy in the form of ATP.

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L

Lactic Acid - Produced by anaerobic metabolism of carbohydrates in the muscle. It is what gives the muscles a burning sensation during and after strenuous work. Most lactic acid makes its way out of the muscle and into the bloodstream where it can be transported to the liver to be converted back into glucose for fuel again.

Lactose - A simple sugar found in greatest quantities in milk products. Lipid - One of numerous fats and fat-like materials that are generally insoluble in water but soluble in common organic solvents. They are related to the fatty acid esters and together with carbohydrates and proteins constitute the principal structural material of living cells.

Lipolysis - The breakdown of fat for energy.

Lipoprotein Lipase - A fat-storing enzyme triggered by low caloric intake.

Liver - A large compound, tubular gland that secretes bile and acts in formation of blood and in metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, proteins minerals and vitamins.

Lymphatic System - A network of vessels throughout the body for transporting large particles. This is the pathway used by fat to get from the intestines to the bloodstream and finally to adipose tissue.

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M

Malonyl-CoA - A substance produced during carbohydrate metabolism that inhibits the action of the carnitine shuttle in moving fat into the mitochondria.

Maltodextrin - Starch produced from grain containing the sugars maltose and dextrin.

Mass - The physical volume or bulk of a solid body. Different from weight.

Metabolic Fitness - The state of metabolic systems and variables predictive of the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease which can be favorably altered by increased physical activity or regular endurance exercise without the requirement of a training-related increase in VO2max.

Metabolic Rate - The measurement of the body’s ability to utilize food for energy.

Metabolism - The complex of chemical and physical processes involved in the maintenance of life.

Minerals - A naturally occurring, homogeneous inorganic substance with a specific chemical composition. These play specific roles in the body.

Mitochondria - A microscopic body occurring in the cells of nearly all living organisms and containing enzymes responsible for the conversion of food for usable energy.

Morphological Fitness - A non-performance component of fitness related to body composition factors such as body circumferences, body fat content, and regional body fat distribution.

Motor Skills - Non-fitness abilities that improve with practice (learning) and relate to one's ability to perform specific sports and other motor tasks.

Muscle - A tissue made up of fibers that can contract and relax to effect body movement. It is the most metabolically active tissue in the body.

Muscular Endurance - A health-related component of physical fitness that relates to the muscle's ability to continue to perform without fatigue.

Myofibrils - Muscle fibers.

Myoglobin - The form of hemoglobin found in muscle cells.

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N

Negatives - The eccentric or lowering part of an exercise.

Nervous System - A coordinating system that regulate internal body functions and responses to external stimuli; in vertebrates it consists of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, ganglia and parts of receptors and effector organs. This system transmits messages throughout the body through electrical signals.

Nitrogen Balance - The difference between the amount of nitrogen taken into and lost by the body. Used to determine if protein intake is adequate.

Nutrients - The basic substances that are necessary for life derived from food.

Nutrition - The process of nourishing or being nourished. Especially by which a living organism assimilates food and uses it for growth, energy and tissue replacement.

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O

Obesity - A condition of having an overabundance of adipose tissue on the body. Usually is determined by having 30% body fat or more.

Oxidation - Combination of a substance with oxygen, usually generating another substance and heat.

Oxidative Phosphorylation - A vital process of intracellular respiration occurring within the mitochondria of the cell, responsible for most ATP production.

Oxygen - A colorless gas comprising 21% of the atmosphere by volume and essential to most combustion and combustive processes.

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P

Pancreas - A long, soft, irregularly shaped gland lying behind the stomach that secretes digestive enzymes and produces insulin and glucagon.

Paracrine Hormones - Hormones that are released into the interstitial space between tissues and exert their effect only on nearby cells.

Parathyroid Glands - Any of four small kidney-shaped glands that lie in pairs near the lateral lobes of the thyroid gland and secrete a hormone necessary for calcium and potassium metabolism.

Passive Diffusion - The act of a substance moving into a cell without resistance from that cell. Peptides - A natural or synthetic compound containing two or more amino acids linked by the carboxyl group of one amino acid and the amino acid group of another.

Physical Activity - Any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that result in an expenditure of energy.

Physical Fitness - A set of attributes a person has in regards to a person's ability to perform physical activities that require aerobic fitness, endurance, strength, or flexibility and is determined by a combination of regular activity and genetically inherited ability.

Physiological Fitness - Includes non-performance components of physical fitness that relate to biological systems that are influenced by one's level of habitual physical activity.

Pituitary Gland - A small, oval, endocrine gland attached to the base of the vertebrate brain (hypothalamus) and whose secretions control the other endocrine glands and influence growth, metabolism and maturation.

Portal Vein - A vein that conducts blood from the digestive organs, spleen, pancreas and gall bladder to the liver.

Potassium - A metallic element found in or converted to a wide variety of salts. Used by the body in several different ways, but primarily for water balance.

Potential Energy - The energy of a particle or system of particles derived from position rather than motion. It is the amount of energy a substance has available for work but has not used yet.

Power - A skill-related component of physical fitness that relates to the ability to the rate at which one can perform work.

Protein - Any of a group of complex nitrogenous organic compounds that have amino acids as their basic structural units and that are found in all living matter and are required for the growth and repair of tissue.

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Q

Quality of Life - A term that connotes an overall sense of well being.

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R

Reaction Time - A skill-related component of physical fitness that relates to the time elapsed between stimulation and the beginning of the reaction to it.

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) - A group of standards put forth by the National Research Council indicating the minimum amount of nutrients that should be eaten daily.

Respiratory Quotient - The ratio of carbon dioxide produced to oxygen consumed. Used to determine the type of nutrient being used for energy.

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S

Serum - The clear, yellowish fluid that comprises the liquid part of whole blood.

Skeletal Muscle - A collection of striated muscle fibers connected at either or both extremities with the bony framework of the body.

Sodium - A soft, metallic element. Used by the body for many purposes, mainly as a regulator of water.

Somatomedin Hypothesis - A theory that growth hormone on its own does not promote growth but that some other intermediate substance, known as somatomedin C, stimulated by growth hormone is the substance that stimulate growth.

Somatomedin-C (IGF-1) - Known also as insulin-like growth factor (IGF), this substance produced primarily by the liver has been shown to promote growth in the absence of growth hormone. It also has insulin-like effects on glucose.

Somatotropes - The cells in the pituitary gland which produces growth hormone.

Speed - A skill-related component of physical fitness that relates to the ability to perform a movement within a short period of time.

Strength - A health-related component of physical fitness that relates to the ability of the muscle to exert force.

Sugar - Any of a class of water-soluble, crystalline carbohydrates. Sugars can be either simple (only one) or starches (two or more sugars combined).

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T

Testes - The male reproductive gland, the source of spermatozoa and of the androgens, particularly testosterone. The testes is usually paired in an external scrotum in most animals.

Testosterone - A male sex hormone produced in the testes and controlling secondary sex characteristics.

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) - Also known as the thermogenic effect, it is the measurement a food’s energy plus its tendency to be burned.

Thermogenesis - The process of food being burned and releasing energy as heat.

Thoracic Duct - The main duct of the lymphatic system, ascending along the spinal cord and discharging into the venous system.

Thyroid Gland - A two-lobed endocrine gland found in all vertebrates, located in front of and on either side of the trachea, and producing the hormone thyroxin.

Thyroid Hormone - Present in two forms, T3 and T4 and produced in the thyroid. Most of the circulating hormone is T4 which is then converted to T3 inside the target cell. This hormone has little growth factor by itself, but helps to regulate, synthesize and promote the action of growth hormone.

Thyroidectomy - The surgical removal of the thyroid gland.

Triglyceride - An ester of three fatty acids and a glycerol. Triglycerides can be classed as long chain (meaning they contain fatty acids that have 16-22 carbon atoms) which are predominant in conventional dietary fat, and medium chain (fatty acids with 6-14 carbon atoms) which are found in some foods but are not predominant. LCTs and MCTs are metabolized differently by the body.

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U

Urea - A compound found in urine and other bodily fluids, synthesized from ammonia and carbon dioxide.

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V

Vitamins - Any of various relatively complex organic substances found in plant and animal tissue and required in small quantities for controlling metabolic processes.

VO2max - 75% of the maximal aerobic capacity. This measure is used to determine the intensity of exercise.

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W

Weight - The measure of the heaviness of an object as gravitational force is exerted on that object. Different from mass.

Wellness - A state of being describing a state of positive health in the individual and comprising biological and psychological well-being as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.

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Source: www.cdc.gov, www.fitness.gov, www.parrillo.com


Frank Moran, Personal Trainer
Personal training and fitness programs for clients in Orange County, California including
Huntington Beach, Irvine, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, and as far south as Coto de Caza

Copyright © 2008 Frank Moran. All rights reserved.