When you talk about overall health, physical fitness plays an important role. If you are planning a well-rounded exercise program or if you want to learn more about the functioning of the body, it is essential to understand the five components which together makes you fit and healthy.
These five health components include: cardio respiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, few types of cancers and helps in improving bone health, mental health and enhances the quality of life with age.
In this blog, you will read about all key components of health-related physical fitness in-depth. Do you stack up within all 5? Its not very uncommon to focus and develop one area while neglecting others. Let’s read more about them.
Also commonly known as cardiorespiratory endurance or aerobic fitness, this key component refers to the body’s ability to inhale oxygen efficiently and effectively and deliver the oxygen through the body tissues to all the parts such as heart, lungs, arteries, veins and vessels.
Through regular cardiovascular exercise, you can easily:
- Maintain and enhance the body’s ability of oxygen intake
- Enhance cellular metabolism
- Makes everyday challenges easier to battle
According to a survey, nearly 6 lakh people die in the United States each year due to heart problems. All such problems can be easily avoided through regular workouts such as running, walking, cycling, swimming, dancing or boxing.
The most important thing to follow is consistency. Each week working out for 150 minutes sounds a lot, but when you break it down, it comes to just 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity per day, five to seven days a week, depending on how hard you can push yourself.
Focusing on muscular strength is as important as any other part of the body. Muscular endurance contributes to that. When a specific muscle group continuously contract against a given resistance, it builds the body’s muscular endurance.
Just like cyclists develop fatigue-resistant muscles in their glutes and legs because of pedaling over a long distance on an inclined plane, or, developing core strength by holding a plank which contracts your abdominals, hips and shoulders, muscular endurance comes with consistency and regularity.
Since muscular endurance is muscle group-specific, it is important to know when to stop. Once you start developing high levels of endurance, you tend to not exercise your other muscle groups, slowing their development.
For General Health Goals
You can develop endurance by adding simple routines in your life such as climbing up the stairs instead of using a lift or carrying groceries from the car to the house. With low-intensity workouts, you can build up the endurance for leading a healthy life.
For Fitness Goals
If you are a fitness freak such as an athlete or competitive in any other sport which requires continuous muscle training, you may want to focus on a strict training regime which focuses on high-repetition strength and sport-specific training.
Even though you might think muscular endurance is same as muscular strength, they follow two different paths of training. Muscular strength refers to the amount of force one applies on a muscle group with all their efforts. In strength-training language, it’s your one-rep max.
Just like endurance, muscle strength is also muscle group-specific. One might have strong glutes but weak deltoids, which is why a well-balanced muscle group-specific training is important to maintain muscular strength as well as endurance.
|Muscular Strength||Muscular Endurance|
|To improve and maintain this, use heavy weights with fewer reps which causes muscles to fatigue with each set.||To improve and maintain this, use light weights with higher reps which increases endurance overtime.|
It is very much possible to balance and improve muscle endurance and strength at the same time. Cardiovascular training which includes circuit-training routines, helps in combining strength exercises and cardio into one training routine making your program much more efficient and effective. Click here to Check out some amazing weight training excersices to help you out!
Flexibility is joint-specific range of motion. It is important and should be sustained at every age. It not only affects your balance, coordination and agility but also helps in maintaining a full range motion around the joints to reduce the risk of injury, enhancing athletic performance.
With age, importance of flexibility becomes much clearer. Old-age people might have a hard time reaching their arms over their heads or walking without shuffle. Lack of Flexibility not only affects the quality of life but also makes day to day activities harder for a person to perform. Be it picking up items off the floor or catching balance while walking, flexibility helps in protecting the joints and maintaining mobility for later years.
Techniques to Increase Flexibility
Follow these simple stretching techniques to work on your flexibility-
- Static Stretching, holding a stretch for at least 10 to 30 seconds in one go.
- Dynamic Stretching, such as Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi
- Active Stretching, holding you leg up high which helps in contracting the opposing muscle which relaxes the stretched muscle.
- Passive Stretching, also called relaxed stretching. Holding on to a stretch position with the help of another body part, partner or apparatus.
- Isometric Stretching, which is a type of static stretching. Requires using resistance to balance between relaxing and contracting of a muscle.
Humans tend to be fatter than ever. According to a survey, 60% of Americans are overweight or obese, which causes chronic and lethal health problems associated with being overweight. Having the Body Mass Index (BMI) over 24 is considered to be obese.
However, the criteria of BMI do not account for density of lean mass. Many athletes and trainers might have a BMI indicating them to be overweight, which is just bone density or lean mass.
It is very essential to maintain a healthy body composition to avoid problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other negative health outcomes.
How to Measure Body Composition
|Hydrostatic Testing||This requires being weighed on dry land and then sitting on an underwater scale. More the fat composition, lighter will be the underwater weight.|
|Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)||This is used for measuring bone mineral density and assessment of osteoporosis. These scans are performed at radiology centers usually.|
|Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)||It is scale which measures body fat percentage.|
How to Improve Body Composition
The easiest way to improve body composition is by working on other four components of fitness. Once you start regular exercising regime such as gyming, cardio, strength and flexibility training, there is a high chance of developing fat-free mass while reducing the fat mass.