Health Related Components of Fitness

Yes, you have a phobia of exercising, and maybe the thought of working out sends shivers down your spine, but hopefully, after reading this, you may just consider changing your mindset about keeping fit. There are five health related components of fitness that define total physical health. They are
  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Muscular strength
  • Flexibility
  • Muscular endurance
  • Body composition

There is clear evidence that physical activity helps to reduce the risk of developing many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. In addition to disease prevention, other benefits of physical activity include stress management, which is good for your heart health and regulating your hormones. You are also more likely to sleep better when your physically active and have increased energy levels as well as positive mood. In a nutshell, physical fitness plays an important role in your overall well-being, but did you know that you can be an avid gym goer but not necessarily be healthy? Let’s explore this concept further.
The term cardiovascular endurance to most of us means the ability to exercise or carry out physically demanding activities over an extended period of time without becoming excessively tired, which is true. It is, after all, mainly your heart’s ability to efficiently supply oxygen-rich blood to your muscles that keeps you going during prolonged periods of physical activity. Getting your heart rate up with at least 30 minutes of moderate-intense physical activities 3 or more times a week will ensure that your major muscle and lungs work at their optimum and ultimately improve your cardiovascular endurance.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, no thanks to bad dietary habits and living a sedentary life. The health of your heart is the most important component of fitness that simply can’t be overlooked. Your level of physical fitness has a direct impact on your cardiovascular health, the range of motion as well as muscular strength and endurance levels. Lack of physical activity means that you are significantly decreasing your heart’s ability to provide oxygenated blood to tissues adequately because it has to work twice as hard to do its job. This explains why you feel lethargic or out of breath after doing something as simple as taking the stairs or walking the dog. Time to get off the couch and give your heart a helping hand.
Muscular strength is another key component of fitness that doesn’t simply mean having big muscles. Several things have to work together to determine your muscular strength. The ability of your muscles to endure repeated contractions against resistance or carry out fitness activities such as running, swimming, or cycling for an extended period of time without caving into fatigue is what determines your muscular strength. Living a sedentary life can have a negative impact on your muscles thankfully, there are many ways you can improve your muscular strength and endurance. Exercises such as walking lunges, pushups, sit-ups, or body weight squats do not require any special equipment, you can do them anywhere, even at work (walking lunges or body weight squats) and what’s important is that these workouts can improve both your muscular strength and endurance and overall health.
You can also start by adopting simple habits that you can do every day to challenge yourself such as skipping the elevator and taking the stairs or walking to work or grocery store. If you spend hours behind a desk at work or home, you can invest in a standing desk or stand up and move around more often because not only are you burning calories as you do so, standing up also encourages more physical activity which is good for your muscles and posture too.
Flexibility by definition is the ability of each joint to move freely through range of motion including the mobility of your muscles. Range of motion is the distance and direction your joints can move without restriction. As one of the components of fitness, flexibility is necessary for normal activities that require bending, twisting, reaching, etc, and maintaining good range of motion makes performing normal everyday activities possible and pain-free. It also allows ease of movement and reduces your risk of low back pain including reducing the risk of injury. Good flexibility also promotes good posture, which is why incorporating conditioning exercises such stretching into your fitness routine will improve the range of motion of your joints and muscles. Additionally, exercises such as pilates, yoga or tai chi are all designed to improve your core strength and performing specific moves during such programs will also improve your flexibility and keep you limber.
If you suffer from constant headaches, stress, excessive stress on your joints and you don’t feel like your mind and body are centered, consider taking a yoga class, which can have positive effects on the mind and body. Not only does yoga bring a balance to and centers your mind body and soul, but it also prevents muscle soreness and fatigue caused by a buildup of lactic acid that accumulates in the muscle cells. Performing everyday activities successfully is reliant on many things, flexibility being one of them and maintaining a healthy degree of movement to your ligaments, joints, muscles, and tendons, especially as you age, will make your day-to-day activities such as bending, walking, lifting, etc. that much enjoyable.
As the name suggests, body composition is what our body is composed of, which is mainly stored fat and lean mass. It is what differentiates you from the next person and understanding what your body is actually made of can help you make important changes in your overall lifestyle. It’s not uncommon for people to confuse the terms body composition, BMI measurement, and body fat percentage, which are completely different. Measuring your BMI takes into account your height and weight, body fat percentage is the amount of your weight that’s mostly comprised of fat, whereas, body composition measures the relative proportions of fat and lean mass in the body.
Only two things apply when it comes to determining your body composition, which is fat mass and fat-free mass. The former, also known as stored fat refers to all the fat in your body while the latter, abbreviated as FFM or known as lean mass refers to the weight of your bones, tissues, organs, water, and muscle collectively, which, in essence, is, everything else that isn’t fat. While fats such as essential fats are important and play a vital role in protecting internal organs, storing fuel for energy, regulating important body hormones, and excessive storage of fat such as visceral fat that can be found around organs as well as subcutaneous fat under the skin can be harmful to your health.
A body composition measurement using methods such as underwater weighing, skinfold readings or the pinch test, and bioelectrical impedance is an important component of fitness because it can determine your susceptibility to various health risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, etc. In this case, having a lower percentage of body fat to a higher percentage of fat-free mass is what is considered a ‘normal’ body composition. Maintaining this ratio may be challenging, but it’s possible.