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What Is Physical Literacy? What Is Health Literacy?

This is an excerpt from Fitness for Life 7th Edition Cloth With Web Resource by Charles B. Corbin,Darla M. Castelli,Benjamin A. Sibley & Guy C. Le Masurier.

Literacy refers to being educated or cultured. Early definitions of literacy referred only to the ability to read and write, but the concept has been expanded to include other types of literacy, such as quantitative literacy (i.e., math literacy), computer and technical literacy, health literacy, and physical literacy.

Physical Literacy

Achieving physical literacy is an important goal of physical education. People with physical literacy have the knowledge, skills, and fitness necessary to be active throughout life. The characteristics of physical literacy, identified by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America), are shown in figure 1.4.

Figure 1.4 The characteristics of physical literacy.
Figure 1.4 The characteristics of physical literacy.
Adapted from SHAPE America.

As shown in figure 1.4, a physically literate person has the skills, knowledge, confidence, and motivation to be active and fit; values activity; and exhibits responsible personal and social behavior in physical activity and everyday life. Through your study of Fitness for Life, you will develop the characteristics necessary to achieve physical literacy.

Health Literacy

Just as physical literacy is important to lifelong fitness, health, and wellness, so is health literacy. Health literacy refers to the capacity to make sound health decisions that lead to adopting healthy lifestyles now and later in life. The characteristics of health literacy are shown in figure 1.5.

Figure 1.5 The characteristics of health literacy.
Figure 1.5 The characteristics of health literacy.
Adapted from CDC.

Health literacy works hand in hand with physical literacy to help you adopt healthy lifestyles. A person with health literacy knows how to obtain, process, and understand health information from reliable sources in order to make good decisions and plan healthy lifestyles, such as eating well and managing stress. In addition, a person with health literacy adopts sound personal health habits (e.g., oral care, adequate sleep), avoids destructive habits (e.g., tobacco use, drug abuse), uses good safety practices (e.g., bike and auto), and seeks and uses health services. This textbook and the class that you are taking are both designed to help you develop physical and health literacy.