5 Components of Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is the ability to function effectively throughout your..

5 Components of Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is the ability to function effectively throughout your workday.

Perform your usual other activities and still have enough energy left over to handle any extra stresses or emergencies which may arise.

The components of physical fitness are:

* Cardiorespiratory (CR) endurance – the efficiency with which the body delivers oxygen and nutrients needed for muscular activity and transports waste products from the cells.

* Muscular strength – the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort.

* Muscular endurance – the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated movements with a sub-maximal force for extended periods of times.

* Flexibility – the ability to move the joints or any group of joints through an entire, normal range of motion.

* Body composition – the percentage of body fat a person has in comparison to his or her total body mass.

Improving the first three components of fitness listed above will have a positive impact on body composition and will result in less fat.

Excessive body fat detracts from the other fitness components, reduces performance, detracts from appearance, and negatively affects your health.

Factors such as speed, agility, muscle power, eye-hand coordination, and eye-foot coordination are classified as components of “motor” fitness.

These factors most affect your athletic ability. Appropriate training can improve these factors within the limits of your potential.

A sensible weight loss and fitness program seeks to improve or maintain all the components of physical and motor fitness through sound, progressive, mission specific physical training.

Principles of Exercise

Adherence to certain basic exercise principles is important for developing an effective program.

The same principles of exercise apply to everyone at all levels of physical training, from the Olympic-caliber athlete to the weekend jogger.

These basic principles of exercise must be followed.


To achieve a training effect, you must exercise often. You should exercise each of the first four fitness components at least three times a week.

Infrequent exercise can do more harm than good. Regularity is also important in resting, sleeping, and following a sensible diet.


The intensity (how hard) and/or duration (how long) of exercise must gradually increase to improve the level of fitness.

To reach the roof of your ability, you have to climb the first flight of stairs before you can exit the 20th floor and stare out over the landscape.

You can view this from both a technical skills standpoint as well as from an effort/distance standpoint.

In order to swim the 500 freestyle, you need to be able to maintain your body position and breathing pattern well enough to complete the distance.

In order to swim the 500 freestyle, you also need to build your muscular endurance well enough to repeat the necessary motions enough times to finish.


An effective exercise program is one that includes activities that address both the cardiovascular system and the musculoskeletal system.

Cardio exercise and spontaneous physical activity reduce body fat and enhance the efficiency and functional capacity of your heart, lungs.

And blood vessels in order to ensure that your body is able to deliver the necessary oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to your body’s organs.

On the flip side, resistance training regulates metabolism and improves muscle tone, strength. And endurance while flexibility exercises improve joint stability and integrity.


Providing a variety of activities reduces boredom and increases motivation and progress.


Training must be geared toward specific goals. For example, people become better runners if their training emphasizes running.

Although swimming is great exercise, it does not improve a 2-mile-run time as much as a running program does.


A hard day of training for a given component of fitness should be followed by an easier training day or rest day for that component and/or muscle group(s) to help permit recovery.

Another way to allow recovery is to alternate the muscle groups exercised every other day. Especially when training for strength and/or muscle endurance.


To increase strength and endurance, you need to add new resistance or time/intensity to your efforts.

This principle works in concert with progression.

To run a 10-kilometer race, athletes need to build up distance over repeated sessions in a reasonable manner in order to improve muscle adaptation as well as improve soft tissue strength/resiliency.

Any demanding exercise attempted too soon risks injury.

The same principle holds true for strength and power exercises.

Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

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