When talking about components of physical fitness, most people simply go as far as lifting weights or a spin class. However, you can go at it with those weights and pedals all you like but you can never truly be optimally fit unless you concentrate on all 5 components of physical fitness rather than just one or two.
While everyone has different needs and the different aspects can be focused on in varying proportions to better meet those needs, a basic requirement for each must be met, or else it would even keep the full impact of your other exercises from showing.
5 Components of Physical Fitness for Optimal Health
So these are the five main components of physical exercise — Cardio, Muscle Strength, Muscle Endurance, Flexibility and Body Composition.
This can also be called Cardiopulmonary exercises or simply Cardio. To understand the functioning of Cardio, it’s important to understand the terms “Cardio” which relates to the heart, “pulmonary” which relates to the lungs, and “vascular” which relates to the blood vessels. So Cardio exercise helps in blood circulation and carriage of oxygen to the vital organs and muscles of your body, thus ensuring that you can keep up with activities that require the use of muscles for over 90 seconds.
This is important as it ensures a healthy functioning of the heart and lungs and sufficient Oxygen flow. It even enhances your immune system helping you avoid illnesses, and as such many argue that it’s actually an essential component of Physical Fitness.
This relates to the amount of force you are capable of exerting during short bursts of time when faced with resistance, which can be external in the form of weights or furniture lifting or could even be your own bodyweight during some exercises.
Basically, growing muscle strength helps you perform activities that you couldn’t perform otherwise, and you don’t even need to develop big bulging muscles for that. These are specifically important because they help you carry out activities necessary for daily living, such as lifting a heavy carton up a flight of stairs or being able to lift a piece of furniture with one hand as you vacuum underneath it with the other.
While Muscle Strength deals with the performance of anaerobic activities and muscle contractions, Muscle endurance is important for sustaining such activities over longer periods. This acts as a kind of link between your Cardio training and Muscle Strength training.
Your cardio workout isn’t complete unless you also focus on building up the endurance of those muscles. These mostly deal with slow-twitch type I Muscle Fibers, as opposed to the fast-twitch type II of Muscle Strength.
Flexibility and Mobility
This relates to the range of motions possible for your joints to perform. This is important because it also helps strengthen your muscles, and increased flexibility helps reduce the risk of chronic injuries. If your flexibility is weak then it will also adversely impact your Cardio endurance and muscle strength.
Flexibility can include both extra muscular and intramuscular factors — the former being the range of motion for your joints, and the latter being the hypertonicity within your muscles itself.
This basically determines the percentage of body fat you have in your body tissues. This can be observed by studying body fat against body mass — muscle, bone, and water. This is important but in large part dependent on the other components of Physical Fitness.
Focusing on them will naturally impact Body Composition. Having higher body mass increases the chances of depression and chronic diseases. This may eventually lead to Obesity which is also followed by Osteoporosis due to decreased bone mass.
Exercises for the various Components
There is no one exercise for each aspect of Physical Fitness, most of them often combine several in different proportions.
- Interval Training: This helps hit several of those factors all at a go, and thus is great for those who can’t focus on them separately due to time restraint. This involves rapid cycling, other high-intensity workouts such as heavy lifting and some low-intensity aerobic training like stair climbing.
- Stretching: These exercises help improve flexibility and muscle mobility, preventing injury.
- Weight Training: Useful for Muscle Strength and Endurance, these can simply be performed with the help of dumbbells.
- Calisthenics: These are a set of exercises that get through all your major muscles and joints giving you a full body workout thus impacting both Cardio and Muscle endurance.
- Sports: Tennis, Soccer, and other games which mix up short bursts of muscular strength with longer durations of running and jogging help stimulate various facets of Physical exercise such as Cardio and Muscle Endurance and also Muscle Strength.
- Yoga: This is mostly helpful for flexibility, but some postures and techniques can also affect Muscle strength and endurance.
- Pilates: This is a super exercise which can vigorously tick off all the Physical Exercise aspects.
- Walking and Jogging: This is the ideal Cardio exercise.
Determining the above-mentioned components of physical fitness will help you understand where you stand in terms of physical fitness.