So what makes someone physically fit and healthy? Of course lifestyle choices, diet and exercise are things that influence our fitness and overall health. But when thinking about what makes someone physically fit, what comes to mind? Being strong, energized, lean and confident are a few that come to my mind. There are 5 components of physical fitness and its important to train each part in order to increase performance or reach goals. Can you name all five?
Well here they are:
#1- Its what keeps us going on a daily basis and its the most important organ/muscle in the body. Thats right- your heart! Cardiovascular health is one component of physical fitness. The heart and lungs work together to pump blood throughout the body and deliver oxygen to tissues. Muscles need oxygen in order of function and sustain activities like running, swimming or cycling. Cardiovascular endurance is not only important for exercise, but for sustaining a long and healthy life. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, so take good care of your ticker!
#2- This is the “power” that your capable of producing. Its your Muscular Strength. Muscular strength is the amount of force a muscle is capable of producing. Think heavy lifting! To increase muscular strength, focus on powerful and explosive movements that work major muscle groups. Muscular strength is assessed by testing the maximal force a muscle can produce by performing a 1 reputation maximum test (1RM).
*quick note: don’t attempt a 1RM test solo. Research the process and make sure you have a spotter.
#3- That moment when doing a set of sit-ups and fatigue is kicking in, you want to give up, but then manage to push out 3 more reps. You can thank your Muscular Endurance. Muscular endurance is the ability of muscles to perform contractions for an extended period of time (up to several minutes). Lifting lighter weights at greater repetitions (15-20) will improve muscular endurance. Isometric holds (like holding a yoga pose) are also great for muscular endurance.
#4- This next one is extremely important, yet not often emphasized enough in the fitness world. It’s flexibility. Flexibility is essential for muscles and joints. Without flexibility, we would have stiff muscles and limited range of motion in the joints. Flexibility training will increase performance, no matter what type of sport or activity your involved in. It’s not just for Yogis
#5- The final component of health related physical fitness is a measurement of what makes up the body. Body Composition is the ratio of water, lean mass (muscle, bone, skin, and organs) and fat mass in the body. Statistics and measurements of the human body are referred to as anthropometric data. A common anthropometric measurement is body fat percentage. Body fat percentage is the ratio of fat mass to lean mass and water. For example, a 150 pound person with a body fat percentage of 25 has 37.5 lbs of fat mass and 112.5 lbs of lean body mass. Most of that lean body mass is water. About 60% of the human body is made up of water.
The healthy ranges for body fat percentage are 10-20% for males and 20-32% for females. In order to qualify as “fit”, men must have a body fat percentage under 17 and women must be lower than 24%.
So there you have it, the 5 main puzzle pieces of fitness. Breaking these down is a great way to structure your fitness goals. Does your fitness regimen train each area? Which component could you focus on more?