Nutrition, Exercise, and Wellness Glossary

Use the glossary to help you understand the nutrition- and fitness-related terms that you may come across on your journey. Take charge of your family’s health from A to Z!



Adipose cell/Adipocyte- fat cell; specialized cell in the body used to store triglycerides in the body

Aerobic Endurance- a person’s ability to use oxygen to exercise for a prolonged period of time

Apnea- an interruption of normal breathing

Aponeurosis- a tissue that connects some muscles to bones or muscles to muscles; similar to a tendon

Arthritis- a condition that causes painful inflammation at one’s joints

Asthma- a condition associated with blocked airways, making it hard to breathe

Atrophy- a decrease in the size of muscle cells as a result of inactivity


Basal Metabolic Rate- the amount of energy needed for normal function at rest

Biceps Brachii (commonly known as “the Biceps”)- the muscles of the upper arm that flex the elbow and flex the shoulder

Body Mass Index (BMI)- a weight to height ratio used to determine disease risk measured in units of kg/m2

Blood Pressure- the amount of pressure exerted on the arteries


Calorie- a unit to describe how much energy is stored in food or exerted during exercise

Carbohydrate- a class of nutrient containing sugars (glucose) and starches necessary for daily functions; contains 4 Calories per gram

Cardiovascular Exercise (commonly known as “Cardio”)- exercise that includes repetitive movement of big muscle groups and temporarily increases heart rate (AKA: Aerobic Exercise)

Cholesterol- a steroid in the body that is composed of fat and proteins; can be classified as a low -density or a high-density lipoprotein


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)- dull widespread pain perceived 24-48 hours after an exercise bout; result of micro tears in the muscle fibers after unusual exertion of the particular muscle

Deltoids- muscles covering the shoulder joint that raise the arms; separated into anterior, middle and posterior sections

Duration- the amount of time spent doing a particular activity


Endurance- the ability to continue stressful activities or exercises for prolonged periods of times

Energy- capacity to do physical work; found in food

Exercise- structured and repetitive physical activity that improves fitness levels and decreases risk for disease


Fat- a class of nutrient that contains triglycerides and is readily stored for future energy use in the body; contains 9 Calories per gram when consumed in food; another term for adipose tissue when stored in the body

Fiber- part of plants that cannot be digested or absorbed in the human body, decreases absorption of fat and helps maintain normal bowel movements

Fitness- the condition of being physically fit and healthy (see physical fitness)

Flexibility- the ability to move limbs though a range of motion without pain or injury

Frequency- the number of times an exercise is repeated in one week


Glucagon- a hormone secreted by the pancreas that raises blood sugar levels; released when blood sugar levels fall too low to maintain normal function of the brain

Gluteus maximus (commonly known as “buttocks”)- large muscle located just above the thighs responsible for increasing the angle at the hip and moving the leg out to the side

Glycemic index- a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate food source increases blood sugar levels


Hamstrings- three muscles located on the back of the thigh that are responsible for hip extension and knee flexion

Heart Disease- any condition that decreases function of the heart

Heart Rate- the number of times the heart beats in one minute

Homeostasis- a state of balance or equilibrium inside of the body; homeostasis is required for optimal functioning of all organ systems

Hydration- an indication of how much water is stored in the body

Hypertrophy- process of increasing the size of cells (e.g. muscle cells)

Hypertension- abnormally high blood pressure; >140/90

Hyperventilation- rapid or deep breathing that can occur with anxiety or panic; AKA: over-breathing


Inflammation- a reaction to cellular injury that can cause redness, heat, pain, and swelling

Insulin-a hormone released from the pancreas that decreases blood sugar levels and stimulates protein synthesis; released when blood sugar levels are high

Intensity- the difficulty of an exercise




Lean Mass-the weight of the muscles, bones, ligaments, and blood in the body; does NOT include fat mass

Lipids (AKA: “fats” or “triglycerides” or “triacylglycerides”) – a class of nutrient that is readily stored for future energy use in the body; contains 9 Calories per gram when consumed in food


Macronutrient- a type of food (e.g., fat, protein, carbohydrate) that must be consumed in large amounts as part of the human diet

Metabolism- the chemical processes that occur within a person in order to maintain life

Mineral- inorganic substances such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc that are consumed in the human diet to help maintain normal function

Mode- the type of activity being performed

Moderate Intensity- exercise that expends about 3.5-7 calories/min, significantly increases heart rate above resting levels

Morbid obesity- medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems

Muscle Soreness- dull widespread pain in the muscle as a result of muscle injury (acute muscle soreness) or unusual activity and micro tears in the muscle (see Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

Muscle Strain- an injury that damages the internal structure of the muscle, usually referred to as a pulled muscle

Muscular Endurance- the ability to push, carry or pull a lighter object multiple times

Muscular Strength- the ability to push, carry, or pull heavy objects


Nutrition- the process of providing and obtaining foods necessary for health and growth


Obese- condition characterized by excess body fat and increased risk for chronic disease; children with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex are considered obese; adults with a BMI equal to or greater than 30kg/m2 are considered obese

Osteoporosis- a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to fracture due to loss of calcium and minerals in the bone matrix; significant loss of bone density


Pectoralis Major (commonly known as “the Pecs”)- a large muscle of the upper chest that acts on the joint of the shoulder; responsible for horizontal adduction of the shoulder flexion and medial rotation of the arm

Physical activity- any body movement that works your muscles and requires more energy than resting

Physical fitness- a state of physiologic well-being that is achieved through a combination of good diet, regular physical exercise, and other practices that promote good health.

Protein- a class of nutrient found in meat, fish, beans, and legumes; contains ~4 Calories per gram; builds, maintains, replaces essential tissues in the body


Quadriceps- four muscles located on the front of the thigh responsible for knee extension and hip flexion


Rectus abdominis (commonly known as “the abs” or “six-pack”)- a long flat muscle that is located in the trunk area below the ribs and above the pelvic bone; responsible for flexion of the spine

Repetition- a full exercise movement from starting position, through the range of motion, and back to the starting position

Resistance training- physical exercise with the purpose of building strength, muscular endurance and/or muscle hypertrophy; movement of a portion of one’s body weight or an external weight through a functional range of motion


Sedentary- condition characterized by little to no movement; inactive

Set- group of repetitions followed by a break

Sodium- an element/mineral consumed in food and/or found in the body that is essential to proper body function

Static Stretching- lengthening stretch that requires one to reach towards a body part and hold for a given period of time while the body is at rest; increasing flexibility

Strength- having the power to resist stress; measurement of one’s ability to hold heavy weights


Total Water- all of the water consumed by an individual from liquids and foods

Trace Minerals- minerals that should be consumed in low quantities for normal function: iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium

Trapezius Muscle (commonly known as “the traps”)-  muscle of the upper and middle back named for its trapezoidal shape; responsible for elevation, depression, upward rotation and retraction of the shoulder blade; allows a person to turn his or her neck and provides postural stability of the shoulders

Triceps brachialis (commonly known as “ the triceps”)- muscle located on the back of the upper arms known for its horseshoe shape; responsible for extending the elbow and extending the arms at the shoulder joint

Type I Diabetes- formerly known as juvenile diabetes, characterized by nonfunctioning beta cells in the pancreas and little to no insulin release in response to blood glucose levels; treated with lifelong injection of insulin through a pump or syringe

Type II Diabetes- the most common form of diabetes, characterized by insulin resistance (body no longer responds to insulin)



Vigorous/Hard Intensity- exercise that causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate

Vitamin- organic compounds that are required in small amounts in the diet for growth and nutrition; e.g. vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K


Wellness- the state or condition of being in good physical and mental health