Components of Physical Fitness

by Joe Rivera

In order to have success when embarking on an exercise program you must address the four main components of physical fitness:

In this world of instant gratification and quick fixes it is easy to understand why so many people fall prey to all these fad diets, exercise machines and exercise video series that promise everything from washboard abs to the tightest buns on the planet.

But what do any of these things have to do with real fitness and what it means to be truly fit?
In fact, what does it even mean to be fit?

Here are the four main components of physical fitness:

1. Components of physical fitness: Cardiovascular Strength and Endurance

This best describes the synergy between the health and function of the heart, lungs and circulatory system. It describes the lungs’ ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the blood and the ability of the heart to actively transport the blood and nutrients to active tissues for sustained periods of time.

2. Components of physical fitness: Muscular Strength and Endurance

Muscular strength is defined as one’s ability perform a single repetition with maximum resistance. Muscular endurance is one’s ability to perform many repetitions with a sub-maximum resistance. You must pay attention to both to create real-world strength and prevent an imbalance. An example of an imbalance would be watching the super-developed body builder who can easily bench press 400 lbs., yet cannot carry his 4-year-old son at the beach for more than 20 yards at a time without getting fatigued.

3. Components of physical fitness: Flexibility

Flexibility is best described as the ability of the joint to move freely in every direction or more specifically through a full and normal range of motion. Factors that inhibit this are elasticity of the connective tissue within the muscle and the strength of an opposing muscle group. So yes, it is important to stretch. I recommend a light warmup before attempting stretches.

4. Components of physical fitness: Body Composition

This is your lean tissue to body fat ratio. It’s one of the components of physical fitness which most people concern themselves with and judge how fit they are. While it is nice to have a six pack, this does not guarantee that you are fit. The fat-lean ratio varies considerably for men and women and by age, but the minimum percent of body fat considered safe for good health is 5 percent for males and 12 percent for females. The average healthy adult body fat is closer to 10 to 18 percent for men and 17 to 25 percent for women. Be sensible and use common sense here–better to be in the mid-range neighborhood of the average.

-Joe Rivera