Regular exercise and physical activity promote strong muscles and bones, improve respiratory and cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
There are five components to health & fitness: muscular endurance, flexibility, body composition, and cardiorespiratory endurance. Each plays an important role in your health, so prioritizing each through physical exercise and training is essential.
1. Cardiovascular Endurance
Whether you’re planning your first Peloton ride or working up to running your first 5K, building cardiovascular endurance is a must. The ability to perform large-muscle, whole-body exercise at moderate intensity for longer periods is one of the best indicators of your heart and lung health.
The goal of endurance training is to increase your body’s capacity for physical activity, and it can also help you perform everyday tasks like carrying laundry baskets or climbing stairs with ease. The easiest way to measure this is with a fitness test such as the three-minute step test or shuttle run.
To improve your cardiovascular endurance, aim to exercise regularly and gradually build up the amount of time you spend exercising each day. Then, challenge your body to perform a longer and/or more intense exercise each time.
2. Muscular Endurance
Whether you’re running a marathon, packing up your stuff to move, or rocking a baby to sleep, you’re using your muscles for repetitive movements over long periods. Muscular endurance is the ability to perform these repeated contractions for extended periods.
Unlike building muscle strength, improving muscular endurance doesn’t make your muscles visibly bigger. It does, however, strengthen the muscles and make them thicker over time.
Training to improve muscular endurance involves a high number of repetitions with moderate to light resistance. Exercises like bodyweight exercises, resistance band exercises, plyometrics, and elliptical training are all great options for building endurance. Incorporating these routines into your weekly workouts can help you achieve your goals. The key is to train regularly, ideally three times per week.
Flexibility is the ability of your muscles and joints to move through their full range of motion. It helps prevent injuries and improve posture and balance. It varies between individuals and can be improved with stretching exercises.
To test your flexibility, try the sit and reach test – sitting on the floor and reaching for your toes. The closer you get to your toes, the better your flexibility is.
It is important to remember that flexibility only affects certain joints and muscle groups, so it is possible to have excellent flexibility in some areas of the body while being tight and inflexible in other parts. It is also important to strive for symmetry, so that both sides of your body are equally flexible. You should always perform dynamic stretches before exercise, and static stretches after.
4. Body Composition
The scale only tells you how much you weigh, but body composition shows you where that weight is coming from (fat, muscle, or bone). Having enough lean mass can help protect your internal organs, promote good posture, and enhance mobility.
Too much fat, however, can lead to a higher risk of certain health conditions. Measuring your body fat percentage is a more accurate measure of overall health and fitness than using BMI.
In terms of the 5 types of health fitness, knowing your body composition will give you the information needed to develop a healthy lifestyle that will promote a balanced diet and optimal health. The best way to measure your body composition is by underwater weighing or skinfold readings, both of which are included in the FMS test.
5. Mental Health
Achieving health fitness requires commitment, persistence, and self-discipline. It can be difficult, but it is a goal that many people set for themselves to achieve a better quality of life.
Mental health is the ability to manage stress and function well in daily life. It includes the ability to think clearly and make healthy choices. Mental illness is a medical condition that affects your emotions and mood and can lead to problems with work, school, or relationships. It can be treated with therapy and medications. Most people who have a mental illness recover and can live productive lives.
Researchers are still learning what causes some people to develop mental illnesses. They do know that genes and aspects of social learning, like how you grew up and your culture and environment, can play a role.