The five components of fitness act as a standard for testing every aspect of physical fitness. The first three components, cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, and muscular endurance, are concerned with the proper exercise and maintenance of the body's vital systems and musculature. Flexibility aids proper muscle operation, while body composition is a result of adequate training within the first three components. Each component represents a specific area of fitness necessary to maintain good health and for the body to operate at an optimal level.
Fitness means more than just eating right and exercising. In order to remain as healthy as possible, the human body must constantly be tested against the five components of fitness. Periodic testing of each of the components through a series of exercises and measurements is a good way to determine whether or not the body is as fit as it should be.
Cardiorespiratory endurance is the first of the five components of fitness and one of the most important. It focuses on strengthening the heart and lungs, which are key organs in providing the body's cells with much needed oxygen. Cardiorespiratory endurance aims to not only preserve the strength of the heart and lungs when at rest but also to ensure that both organs are capable of functioning during long periods of time where stress and additional work are added. Failure to adhere to some form of cardiorespiratory endurance training can result in an increased risk for heart disease and failure. Running or jogging is a good way to measure one's cardiorespiratory endurance.
The second of the five components of fitness is muscular strength. This is the ability of the body's muscles to exert a substantial amount of force for a small amount of time. Muscular strength is easily measured by lifting weights.
Muscular endurance is the third component and refers to the body's ability to repeatedly perform tasks that do not require the maximum amount of force available. It also refers to the ability to continually apply force to an object or objects over a period of time. Muscular endurance can be tested by exercises that require a high number of repetitions, such as push ups, sit ups, or pull ups.
Flexibility is the component of fitness that aims to maximize the range of motion available to the body's joints and from its muscles. Stretching can increase flexibility and should always be done prior to and following any vigorous exercise. A fully flexible body has a lower risk for muscle related injuries.
The last of the five components of fitness is body composition, which indicates the amount of body fat present as a ratio of lean mass to fat. Body fat is any excess fatty mass that is not required to maintain proper functioning. Body weight measurements are not a good indicator of health and should not be used to determine fitness levels. Instead, body composition must be established. In order to achieve a healthier body composition, it is important to follow a balanced exercise regimen that focuses of these fitness components.