Components of Fitness

Physical fitness refers to the capacity to meet the varied physical demands of daily activity and (or) sport without being overly exhausted or breathless.

Your overall level of fitness is primarily a reflection of the efficiency of your heart, lungs and muscles. That efficiency is in turn dependent on how regularly you take part in some form of sustained, vigorous physical exercise.

To better understand fitness, it helps to look at the parts:

Cardiovascular Fitness or Stamina

This is the body’s ability to delivery oxygen and nutrients to tissues, and to remove wastes. A healthy heart provides stamina or endurance. The best exercise for the heart is aerobic – meaning it burns oxygen. To be effective, aerobic exercise has to be energetic enough to make you slightly breathless, and last for a minimum of 20 minutes at least three times a week.

Muscular Strength
This is the muscle’s ability to exert force for a short time. Powerful muscles can improve posture and protect against injuries and back pain, as well as helping with everyday activities such as lifting and carrying. Muscle strengthening exercise is called anaerobic – it does not require extra oxygen. Some form of resistance is needed for the muscles to work against.

Muscular Endurance
This is the ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles, to sustain repeated contractions or a sustained force against a fixed object. Your muscles can keep working hard without tiring. Making a cake, pumping up an airbed, cycling, swimming and walking involve endurance training.

Flexibility is the degree to which and individual muscle will lengthen. It enables you to bend, stretch and twist through a range of movement. A good level of flexibility is dependent on your joints, muscles and tendons being able to move easily. Flexible muscles are strong and healthy and help to preserve mobility and independence in later life. It is important in all sports and physical activities, but especially those that require agility. Stretching improves flexibility.

Body Composition
This component is the ration of lean body mass to fat. Lean body mass represents the weight of water, muscle, bone and internal organs. body fat represents the remaining fat tissue and is expressed as a percentage of total body weight. Muscle weighs more than fat, so it is important to measure your body composition rather than your body weight when you evaluate your fitness level. Body composition can be measured through the Body Mass Index (BMI).

Getting into stretching and resistance exercises will improve and enhance your cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility to various extents.

Different sports or activities require different aspects of these components. These components also combine to help with speed, agility, balance, skill and power – all related to performance.

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