Being physically fit has been defined as the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue and with ample energy to enjoy leisure time pursuits and to meet unforeseen emergencies. Thus, physical fitness is a set of attributes that people have or achieve. As much as a fine-tuning is needed for an engine, physical fitness is significant for life quality extension.
General physical fitness is essential to being optimally fit for sports, play, games, work and just being ready for life’s demands, opportunities, and challenges. As our bodies grow older, it becomes more important to maintain a minimum fitness level. Having a sound knowledge on different aspects of physical fitness is a must to build up your personalized physical fitness plan. The five aspects of physical fitness are cardiorespiratory/aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility and body composition (ratio of body fat to lean body mass). Each of these components has its own definition, modes of measurement and methods of training and maintaining each.
Cardiorespiratory /Aerobic endurance
This refers to the ability of circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel during sustained physical activity and to eliminate fatigue products after supplying fuel. This is essential to ensure that you are in your training zone when doing exercises. Long runs and swimming are among the methods employed in measuring this component. Cardiorespiratory endurance exercise helps the body become more efficient and better able to cope with physical challenges. It achieves this by improving cardiorespiratory functions, improving cellular metabolism to enhance your ability to produce and use energy efficiently, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis, controlling body fat, improving immune function and improving psychological and emotional well-being.
The ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions or to continue applying force against a fixed object is defined as muscular endurance. Push-ups are often used to test the endurance of arm and shoulder muscles. Resistance training helps to improve muscular endurance in the day to day life. Health benefits of these exercises include anti-aging effects, growth in bone density, better muscle tone and improvement in balance and coordination. Much research supports the notion that greater muscular strength can enhance the ability to perform general sports skills such as jumping, sprinting, and change of direction tasks.
It is the maximum force a muscle or a group of muscles can apply against resistance. Strengthening activities should work all the major muscle groups: legs, hips, back, chest, abdominals, shoulders, and arm. These activities include weight lifting, push-ups, sit-ups and working with resistance bands. Many yoga postures develop strength by using body’s weight as resistance. Numerous studies have shown that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss, and several indicate that it can even build bone. Weight lifting exercises can be used as a test to measure upper body strength.
Flexibility is the ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion. Good flexibility promotes coordination, balance, agility, good posture and prevents injuries and falls. Yoga, stretching exercises and low-intensity activities such as walking or slow jumping jacks improve flexibility. The sit and reach test is a test to measure the flexibility of the lower back and backs of the upper legs.
Body composition (Ratio of body fat to lean body mass)
This relates to the relative amounts of muscle, fat, bone and other vital parts of the body. An optimal ratio of fat to lean mass is an indication of fitness. Exercises of long duration and low to moderate intensity are targeted at burning fat and improving your body composition. Researchers have also proved that there is a strong relationship between body composition and mortality.
Pereira, S., Todd Katzmarzyk, P., Gomes, T., Souza, M., Chaves, R., & dos Santos, F. et al. (2017). A multilevel analysis of health-related physical fitness. The Portuguese sibling study on growth, fitness, lifestyle and health. Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0172013
Flexibility as an Aspect of Physical Fitness. (2017). Taylor & Francis. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10671188.1941.10624692