Fitness doesn’t only mean bench pressing your body weight or running fast mile times – it means living life to its fullest and feeling great!
No matter your fitness level, there is always room for improvement in fitness levels. To help get you going on this path, here are five components of fitness which could make a difference in your journey to better fitness.
Cardiorespiratory fitness measures the efficiency with which your heart, blood vessels and lungs deliver oxygen to your muscles during prolonged exercise and how efficiently they use it to produce energy through aerobic metabolism. An efficient cardiorespiratory system enables you to maintain higher-intensity workouts for longer periods than less fit individuals.
The best measure of cardiorespiratory endurance is your maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max), calculated with a graded exercise test on either a treadmill or cycle ergometer. Field tests of cardiorespiratory endurance may also be employed in research studies that link this fitness component with health risk factors among youth.
In order to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, you must expose your body to unfamiliar challenges – this process is known as overload.
Muscular fitness refers to your ability to move muscles and joints through their full range of motion. Exercise programs that enhance musculoskeletal fitness may reduce injury risks while increasing performance during sports and everyday activities, and even help prevent sarcopenia – a condition which weakens muscles and bones over time.
Other components of fitness include agility, balance and coordination, body composition and nutrition. You can strengthen these aspects through exercises like time obstacle courses that improve speed and accuracy while performing certain movements. Body composition refers to your ratio of fat mass vs muscle mass in your body – which is affected by diet, genetics and exercise habits – those with lower percentages tend to experience better health outcomes.
Flexibility refers to your body’s ability to move muscles and joints through their entire range of motion without experiencing discomfort. Flexibility is often overlooked as part of fitness regimen, yet yoga or stretching exercises such as Stretch ‘N Relax can be effective ways of increasing flexibility.
Flexibility has a less-than-obvious correlation with health outcomes compared to other fitness components like muscular endurance and aerobic capacity, and studies that have explored this relationship vary widely in their methodology for measuring flexibility tests as well as in their sample populations.
Aerobic capacity refers to your heart, lungs and circulatory system’s ability to provide oxygen-rich blood to muscle cells during sustained physical activity. Exercise that builds it include activities such as running, swimming and cycling as well as long walks or low intensity workouts such as yoga.
Balance refers to the coordination between body’s center of gravity and how it moves, and eye, inner ear, pressure receptors in joints, muscles (proprioceptive system). Balance training can improve posture as well as help avoid injuries during daily activities or athletic pursuits.
Athleticians use balance exercises to prevent injuries and enhance performance. Agility relies heavily on good balance; therefore many sports require it for peak performance.
Balance training may be recommended by doctors or physical therapists in order to rehabilitate an injury or assist those living with chronic illnesses. Balance exercises do not generally increase heart rates but do target muscles in your legs and core that improve stability as well.
Reacting quickly to stimuli such as race starter’s gun or team sport partner catch game can mean the difference between winning and losing. While your reaction time may depend on factors like genetics, age and fitness level, it can still be improved through practice and training.
Reaction time training involves rapid messages sent between the brain and spinal cord and muscles, bones and joints in response to stimuli. You can test it through ladder drills, agility drills or plyometric exercises – although mindfulness exercises like yoga may also improve it. No matter your goal is incorporating reaction time training into your fitness regime can boost performance while decreasing injury risks.