Major Components of Physical Fitness and Why are they Important?
Before we begin talking about the various components, let’s first take a minute to talk about physical fitness.
What does it mean to be physically fit? Well, physical fitness is defined as a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.
So what does that mean and how do I get there? In other words, it’s more than being able to run a long distance or lift a lot of weight at the gym. Being fit isn’t defined only by what kind of activity you do, how long you do it or what level of intensity.
You get there by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, having the correct diet and exercise. While these are all important measures of fitness, they only address single areas.
Overall, fitness is made up of the five health related components. In order to assess our fitness level, we need to explore these five components. They are –
This is the ability of your body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply energy or fuel during your exercises or activities. This is our stamina. This is how long we can keep going without collapsing.
It reflects how well your heart and lungs work together to supply oxygen to your body during a workout. The more we can train this part, the more efficient our bodies become at delivering oxygen and clearing out lactic acid.
Lactic acid is a byproduct of oxygen consumption. It can build up in our muscular system and cause the muscles to cease and stop working.
How we do increase our stamina? We keep our heart rate elevated above our resting heart rate, making sure it’s at a safe level and not too high, for sustained length of time.
There are a bunch of different activities you can do besides just simply running that can help with your cardiovascular endurance. Examples of this would be jogging and cycling.
In addition to burning fat and keeping a lean body, cardiovascular fitness helps reduce levels of stress in our bodies as well.
Don’t confuse muscular endurance with muscular strength.
Muscular endurance is the ability for your muscle to be able to continually contract over an extended length of time. In other words, it’s the ability to hold a particular position for a sustained period of time or repeat a movement many times.
So how do we do this? We need to engage in cardio respiratory activities. There are a bunch of muscular endurance activities that you can do. Examples of this would be rowing, sit-ups, push-ups, planks, etc.
You can also mix or combine cardio respiratory activities with muscular strength activities. You can also work on muscular endurance by doing more reps with less weight.
Muscular endurance is important because it allows skeletal muscles to work longer and more efficiently so you can do more work for a longer period.
Safety concerns of muscular endurance are doing too many reps without getting enough rest which may lead to muscle fatigue or injury.
Muscular strength is amount of force that can be produced by a single contraction of a muscle. It is important to be strong to power through sports movements, sustain a physical hit and avoid injuries.
So how to improve your muscle strength? It’s basically your muscle working against some type of resistance.
To increase your muscle strength you would use more weight and fewer repetitions. You can also use your own bodyweight to exercise without any equipment. Examples of this would be bench press, leg press and bicep curls.
The benefit of muscular strength is that it makes everyday activity much easier to do and you are less prone to injury. Some safety concerns are lifting more weight than you are capable of.
Despite what you may hear or what some people may think, your body does have the ability to become more flexible.
Your muscles have elasticity in them which means that they can stretch. But that also means that they can go back to not being as flexible or stretchy.
It’s just a matter of performing the correct stretches and most importantly continuously developing and working on those stretches.
Flexibility is defined as range of motion around a joint. If we are not flexible in our joints, they become stiff and our movement decreases.
You must remember that flexibility is going to be a lifelong maintenance and process.
Flexibility is important for preventing injury throughout all stages of life. The benefits of stretching are that it increases the range of motion, helps improve your circulation and it feels good and relaxing. It also improves posture and reduces lower back pain.
The safety concerns of stretching are over stretching and not being warmed up before you start as it could result in a muscle pull.
Body composition is basically what your body is made of. It is the relative percentage of body fat compared to lean body mass which is made up of bones, water, muscles, tendons and ligaments. As we know from prior knowledge, tendons connect bone to muscle and ligaments connect bone to bone. We also have our organs and our fatty tissue.
Generally, males have more muscle than women. Women have more fat than men. Men have more percentage of bones than women and our organs inside of our body are just about the same.
The pinch test is widely used to measure body composition.
You should make sure that you have more muscle than fat to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is important to maintain a healthy weight to decrease the amount of strain that is put on your joints and muscles as they carry around a heavier frame.
Swimming, biking and dancing help you achieve this target.
The benefits of maintaining a correct body composition are that it leads to good sleep, helps to stay energized throughout the day and you can maintain a positive outlook throughout your life.
Some safety concerns to remember are that if you have a high fat percentage in your body then it could lead to obesity or high blood pressure. And if you have an unhealthy low body fat percentage then it could lead to headaches and fatigue.
There are six skill related components of physical fitness.
This is the ability to move quickly from one point to another in a straight line. Not just your body speed but in some sports, it requires more speed from certain body parts. Like in golf and baseball, the swinging of the hands or in football, the speed of kicking the ball.
It is the ability of the body to change direction quickly. You can use this to dodge a defender or get to a ball quicker than your opponents.
It is the ability to maintain an upright posture while still or moving. It is linked to agility and that in order to move quickly and efficiently your body has to be on balance in different postures. You can use balancing boards to improve your balance and strengthen your core.
The fourth skill related component is coordination. This is the integration with your hands or your foot movements and an input of the senses.
The fifth component is reaction time. This is the amount of time it takes to get moving. It is how quickly your brain can respond to a stimulus and initiate that response.
This is the ability to do strength work at an explosive pace. It is the product of both strength and speed put together.