Elements of Physical Fitness – Can physical fitness be only related to your stamina for jumping, running, swimming and walking? Definitely not. Achieving elements of physical fitness will also mean developing the power to prevent diseases and promoting internal health. Since the term “physical fitness” carries different associations for different people, it has been defined in several ways. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) physical fitness is the ability to perform muscular work satisfactorily, whereas according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM 1990), the term refers to the ability to perform moderate to vigorous levels of physical activity without undue fatigue, and the capability of maintaining such ability throughout life. The definitions may differ, but the fact remains that elements of physical fitness can really affect your heart and overall health in a positive way.
There are typically 5 elements of physical fitness and betterment. Each of these components can substantially lower the risk of diseases.
Elements of Physical Fitness
1. Cardio-Respiratory Endurance
The most important elements of physical fitness is cardio-respiratory endurance. It is the ability of the circulatory and the respiratory systems to adjust to, and recover the effects of whole body exercise or work. It is related to the ability of the body to perform prolonged, large-muscle dynamic exercise at moderate-to-high levels of intensity. This is also known as aerobic exercises. Performance of such exercise depends on the functional state of the respiratory, cardiovascular and skeletal muscle systems. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) is the gold standard criteria measure of cardio-respiratory fitness.
Benefits of Cardio-respiratory fitness
- Lowers the risk of heart diseases.
- Reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Helps lower blood pressure.
- Contributes toward increased bone density in weight bearing bones.
- Increased longevity.
Other physiological benefits of cardio-respiratory fitness include decreased resting heart rate (RHR), increased stroke volume (SV), increased maximum heart rate (MHR), decreased heart rate at sub-maximal workloads, decreased recovery time following exercise, decreased serum cholesterol levels and decreased total body fat.
2. Muscular Strength
The next element of physical fitness is Muscular strength. It refers to the maximal force or torque that can be generated by a specific muscle or muscle group. It can be static isometric strength or dynamic strength. Static strength can be measured using devices like cable tensiometers and dynamometers. The gold standard of dynamic strength testing is 1-repetitive maximum (1-RM), It is the heaviest weight that can be lifted only once using good form.
3. Muscular Endurance
Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to contract repeatedly over a certain period of time or to remain contracted for a prolonged period of time. It is the ability of muscle or muscle group to withstand certain activity or exercises for extended period of time without any fatigue.
Benefits of Muscular Strength and Endurance
- Reduces the occurrence of joint and/or muscle injuries.
- Postpones the decrease in muscle strength experienced by older, sedentary individuals.
- Helps prevent osteoporosis.
- Contributes to good posture.
- Contributes toward elevation in resting energy expenditure due to increased muscle size.
- Allows daily activities to be conducted with more ease.
The next element of physical fitness is flexibility. It is the ability to move joints through its full range of motion. It is very important to have good flexibility to carry out the activities of daily living without any restriction. Flexibility of a joint is measured in range of motion (ROM). Flexibility mainly depends on soft tissue around the joint like joint capsule, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Tightness of any of this structure will obstruct the range of motion thereby affecting flexibility.
Benefits of Flexibility
- Increased joint mobility.
- Efficient body movement.
- Improved posture.
- Prevention of injuries, especially the lower back.
5. Body Composition
Body composition refers to the relative percentage of body weight, that is, fat and fat free mass (muscles, bones and water) There are various laboratory and field methods to calculate body composition. Some of these methods are hydrostatic (underwater) weighing, bioelectric impedance, CT-scan, MRI, ultrasound and anthropometric measures like skin fold measurement and girth measurement. Inclusion of body composition in elements of physical fitness is important because excess body fat (obesity) may lead to various metabolic diseases and cancers.
Benefits of Body Composition
- Many medical disorders (diabetes and heart diseases) related to being overweight or underweight may be avoided by maintaining healthy body composition.
- Optimal levels of body fat enhance the quality of life.
Along with these health related elements of physical fitness, skill related elements of physical fitness consist of parameters like agility, balance, co-ordination, speed, reaction time and power also exist. All these elements of physical fitness play an important role in our healthy well-being. You can now understand that these elements of physical fitness have greater implications on our overall health. In fact, it affects our mind as well. When you are able to carry out the daily activities with ease, engage yourself in sporty pastimes with your friends and family members and remain actively occupied throughout the day, then you will obviously feel good at heart. Work towards these elements of physical fitness and enjoy good health
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