or unclear and the definition of physical fitness can vary, most
government health agencies and exercise scientists agree that there are 5
components of physical fitness related to health. These components
provide a fairly accurate representation of how fit and healthy the body
is as a whole (total or overall fitness). The 5 components are
cardiovascular fitness (also referred to as cardio-respiratory endurance
or cardiovascular endurance), muscular strength, muscular endurance,
flexibility, and body composition.
Let’s take a closer look at these components individually.
1.) Cardiovascular fitness (or cardio-respiratory endurance or cardiovascular endurance)
Of the 5 components, cardiovascular fitness is the cornerstone that creates the pathway to improving your other fitness levels.
fitness is the efficiency with which the body (the heart and lungs)
delivers oxygen and nutrients to the required working muscles and
transports waste products from the cells over a sustained period of
time. Or to put it another way, it’s the ability of your heart and lungs
to work together to provide the necessary oxygen and fuel to your body
without quickly reaching a high level of fatigue and tiredness.
In our daily lives, we need cardiovascular fitness to handle the physical tasks and all of the “running around” we do.
common test of cardiovascular fitness usually involves some type of
sustained running. But typical examples of physical activities that
relate to cardiovascular fitness are jogging, swimming, cycling, brisk
or speed walking and any type of aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercise is
the best way to improve cardiovascular fitness.
2.) Muscular strength
strength is the maximum amount of force (weight or heavy resistance) a
muscle or muscle group can generate in a single effort to the point that
no more repetitions can be done without rest. Muscular strength is
quite the opposite of cardiovascular fitness in regards to the fact that
cardiovascular fitness is measured over a certain period of time. While
on the other hand, muscular strength is measured in one repetition.
our daily lives, we need modest levels of strength to be able to
perform everyday physical tasks like lifting, moving, carrying, etc.
common test to measure upper body strength is some type of
weightlifting exercise, such as the bench press. Anaerobic weightlifting
exercises like the bench press, leg press, shoulder press, or bicep
curls are examples of the best ways to improve muscular strength.
3.) Muscular endurance
endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to perform
repeated movements (or to hold a particular position) with less than
maximum force for an extended period of time or until muscular fatigue.
Or, to put it simplistically, it’s how long your muscles can do
something before getting too exhausted to finish.
Be careful not
to confuse muscular endurance with muscular strength. While they can
work together, they are definitely not the same. For many athletes,
there may be a need to distinguish between muscular strength and
muscular endurance. But for everyday people who want to easily perform
their daily routines, are trying to stay healthy and fit, and just want
to enjoy physical activities like hiking, biking, or just playing in the
park with their children, muscular endurance plays a major role in
Common testing for muscular endurance can be dynamic (the
ability to repeat contractions) or static (the ability to sustain a
contraction). Dynamic tests would be to see how many push-ups or
sit-ups, for example, a person can complete in a designated amount of
time (e.g. 30 seconds, a minute, or maybe longer). Or, without being
timed, the person could do as many repetitions of the exercise as they
could until they couldn’t do anymore. An example of a static test would
be the flexed-arm hang whereby the performer hangs on a bar until the
designated stopping time or until they become too weak to continue
Muscular endurance can be improved by both aerobic and
anaerobic exercises. Some examples would be biking, step machines and
Flexibility is the
ability to move the joints or any group of joints, muscles, ligaments,
and tendons through their full, normal range of motion without
hindrance, discomfort, or pain.
Flexibility is actually more
important to physical fitness than people realize. Not only does
flexibility play a big role in performing many daily tasks, but
maintaining or even increasing your flexibility is critical to
protecting your joints and keeping them healthy. In addition, being
flexible contributes to improving your lower back health, reducing the
appearance and effects of arthritis, and reducing muscle-tendon
Not everyone has the same flexibility or flexibility
requirements. Your flexibility tells you how limber you are. And, when
it comes to testing your flexibility fitness level, the sit-and-reach
test is most often used.
Stretching is the best way to improve
flexibility. And, most fitness experts recommend a daily routine of
static stretches for each joint.
5.) Body composition
composition is the percentage of fat in your body compared to your lean
body mass (muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, etc.).
composition is a better indicator of your overall fitness condition
than body weight. So understand that your total body weight or what you
see on your bathroom scale does not tell you how much fat or lean body
mass (muscle) you have.
Body composition is useful in helping to
determine health risks. Therefore, knowing your body composition and how
it relates to your overall fitness level is essential. An optimal ratio
of fat mass to lean mass is a clear indicator of good fitness.
body composition is a consequence of the extent that you perform the
other components of physical fitness. In other words, when you improve
the other four components, it will have a positive impact on body
composition resulting in less body fat. Alternatively, when you have a
high body fat content ratio, you are considered overweight or possibly
obese. And, it negatively affects the other fitness components as well
as your daily performance, your appearance, and your overall health.
are several methods that can be used to calculate body composition. The
best method is underwater weighing. But due to the expense, this isn’t
practical for the everyday person. Incidentally, if you can go to a
university or some other place that is set up to do it, it would be well
worth your time to check it out. Therefore, the most common method of
determining your body composition is skinfold readings – using skinfold
calipers and taking measurements from certain areas of your body.
regular program involving aerobic exercise and strength training can
help you decrease your body fat and increase your muscle mass; and
thereby, significantly improving your body composition and general
overall health and fitness.
In conclusion, you now know that being
fit is not just about being able to bench press a lot of weight, but
you also need to know how well you can handle running a mile, for
example, and a few other things. The key is that by understanding the 5
components of physical fitness, you’ll be better able to assess your
fitness level and determine what specific health and fitness goals you’d
like to achieve.