Basic Components of Fitness

When most people hear the word fitness, they tend to conjure up images of athletes on the beach or in the mountains. Although a fitness routine might involve any number of things, the primary elements are aerobic and anaerobic exercises, strength training and flexibility training. Physical fitness, more properly defined, is the ability to do many parts of physical activities and, in general, a healthy state of mind. Physical fitness is usually achieved through regular physical activity, proper nutrition and adequate rest. For most people, a good fitness routine will consist of cardiovascular exercise three to five times a week, weight lifting about two or three times a week, and stretching or mobility work once or twice a week. A typical fitness schedule in America involves about an hour of aerobic exercise for adults and another hour or two for those younger than twenty, one to two hours of strength training, and at least an hour or two of stretching or movement every other day.

Another term that is often used interchangeably with physical fitness is functional fitness. Functional fitness refers to the ability of the body to move and maintain a regular range of motion. Moving your arms and legs without pain or restriction is considered to be functional fitness. This involves strength training and stretching and can be compared, in some ways, to aerobic fitness. Functional fitness should be developed through a combination of regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.

Reaction time is often thought of as being synonymous with speed. Reaction time, however, encompasses a wide array of skills that require moving your body quickly to reach and complete an action. Reaction time is measured with a reaction time timer; the faster your reaction time, the better you can react under pressure. Reaction time is important to your job performance, your sporting performance, your interaction with other people, and your health. It can even affect your love life, with the speed of your sexual response being directly linked to your reaction time.

Aerobic fitness refers to your ability to exercise in a series of targeted, gradually increasing exercise routines. Aerobic fitness can be compared, in some ways, to the physical activity of jogging, or running for 30 minutes without taking breaks. Aerobics, such as running, swimming, walking, and bicycling, are considered to be one of the best fitness habits for anyone to develop because they can benefit your health in many ways. They improve your cardiovascular fitness and build up your strength, leading to improved muscle tone. While aerobic fitness may not be as intense as strength training, it does help to improve your overall physical condition throughout life.

Endurance is one of the three major factors included in the definition of fitness. Exertion or persistence of the body against time is what defines endurance. Physical fitness goals are different things, though they are strongly linked in most cases. An average person will engage in moderate levels of physical activity and strength training three to four days a week. An athlete, on the other hand, will engage in more intense activities three to four times a week, requiring much more rigorous exercise routines.

To get the best results from your fitness routine, it is important to combine all three components of fitness: fitness goals, aerobic exercise, and strength training. If you are not currently involved in any exercise programs, you should begin slowly and steadily to include one to two types of activity, such as aerobic exercise and strength training, each day. If you are already involved in some type of fitness program, begin slowly with lower levels of intensity and work your way up to more challenging exercises as your fitness level increases. This combination of fitness elements will maximize your fitness gains.