Do you remember in grade school PE class when we had to do those tests to test your level of fitness, like how many sit-ups you can do in a certain time, the reach test, or how long it takes you to run a mile? At the time I didn’t really understand the importance of these tests, but now I know that each test serves a purpose. They each complete one of the five areas of physical fitness.
The five areas of physical fitness are:
- Cardiovascular Endurance
- Muscular Strength
- Muscular Endurance
- Body Composition
Even though we are now out of PE class, it is still wise for us to prioritize each of the components of physical fitness. Regular exercise is good for preventing major heart problems, like heart disease, helping to improve flexibility, and even helping your mental health as well. Let’s dive deeper into the five components of physical fitness.
The 5 Areas of Physical Fitness
Cardiovascular endurance is one of those things that you either love or hate. Another term is cardiorespiratory endurance or aerobic fitness. According to verywellfit, cardiovascular endurance refers to your body’s ability to efficiently and effectively intake oxygen and deliver it to your body’s tissues by way of the heart, lungs, arteries, vessels, and veins.
When you think of cardio workouts what is the first thing you think of? A popular one is running. If you aren’t a fan of running I have good news for you, there are other options.
The key to loving, or at least somewhat enjoying, cardio is to find something you like. I love dancing. Once I found dance fitness I began to really take an interest in and enjoy my cardio days. Other options you have are High Intensity Interval Training, Cycling, Swimming, etc. to help with cardiovascular fitness. You might prefer something else like the treadmill or an elliptical. You can do more research on cardio machines at fitnessabout.com.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, it just matters that you find a way to get your heart rate up that you enjoy!
As much as I love cardio, muscular strength is my favorite in terms of comparing my progress. There is nothing more satisfying to me than realizing that I can go up in weights because I’m getting stronger. Verywellfit defines muscle strength as the amount of force a particular muscle group can produce in one, all-out effort.
There are many different levels and equipment you can use for strength training and resistance training.You can start by doing bodyweight exercises like pushups, crunches, and squats.
Weight training is a good way to build strong muscles. You can use light weights as a starting point and move on to heavier weights.
Then once you are ready to challenge yourself further try adding dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells, etc. If you enjoy going to the gym, the machines would be a great challenge for you.
You can move the heavy objects in your apartment that you’ve been meaning to reorganize (just do it safely!). You don’t have to have sets of heavy weights to strengthen your muscles.
Do you ever wonder how people are able to do activities like marathons and triathlons? I know I definitely do. It turns out they have their muscular endurance to thank for that.
When you are doing an activity over and over you are strengthening and training your muscles to develop a resistance to it. This means you can go longer without feeling fatigued.
An important thing to note is that muscle endurance training is specific to each muscle group. For example, when you are training for a race, your muscle endurance in your arm will have very little, if any, change. The endurance goes all into your legs.
Verywellfit explains that flexibility is the range of motion you have around a given joint. I think this is one of the areas of physical fitness that I need to work on the most. As I was researching for this article, I found out just how important flexibility is.
It’s imperative that we spend time improving our flexibility so that we have a better quality of life for longer when we are older. Some movements that you can do to improve your flexibility are yoga poses, toe touches, and neck stretches. To see more stretches, check out this post.
Good flexibility helps you have a full range of motion and can protect your overall health as you age.
Now we are getting into the numbers side of fitness. Body composition looks at the amount of muscle, fat, and bone in your body. It then compares it to your body weight to turn the numbers into percentages.
You may be wondering, “if this isn’t a type of movement then why is body composition on this list?” I was confused about that as well at first. If you think about it further it all starts to click.
The goal of having a good body composition, the exact number is different for everyone, is to have more lean muscle than fat. To gain muscle and lose fat you have to exercise regularly, which is where the other four areas come into play. This post has some great information and tips on how to achieve a good body composition.
Now that you know more about the five areas of fitness, you need to think about what your goals are and come up with a workout plan. Are you interested in improving your overall fitness just because you want to feel good and maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Or maybe you have want to lose body fat and build muscle mass. Your exercise program will vary based on your goals. Women’s Health Magazine has a suggested plan for each of the three goals mentioned. If you’re still not quite sure where to start, you can work with a personal trainer (no matter your current fitness level!) and they will work through the physical fitness components you most want to tackle.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you can bench press, how far you can stretch, or how fast you can run. What matters is having a healthy body and good health so you can live how you want to.
What are your fitness goals? Are you making sure to include each area of physical fitness in your plan? Let us know your favorite components of fitness!