It’s well known that being physically active is important for good health. We’re told to get our daily steps in, lift some weights, and avoid sitting too much. Yet, it’s hard to know how this relates to health and what being fit really means.This is where the five health-related components of physical fitness can come in handy. Dividing fitness into five categories can help you better design a training program that promotes good health.

This article tells you all you need to know about the five health-related components of fitness, why they’re important, and how to include them in your workout routine.

While you may know the many benefits of being physically active — like a reduced risk of chronic disease, improved mental health, and better quality of life — you may wonder what being physically fit really means.

The five health-related components of physical fitness

The five health-related components of physical fitness can be a useful guide to help you achieve physical fitness and promote good health. They describe five areas to focus on in your fitness journey to ensure a well-rounded, active lifestyle.

  • Cardiovascular endurance: the ability to perform exercises at moderate-to-vigorous intensities for a prolonged period of time.
  • Muscular strength: how much force your muscles can exert or how heavy weights they can lift.
  • Muscular endurance: the ability of your muscles to sustain exercise for a period of time.
  • Flexibility: the ability to move muscles and joints through a full range of motion.
  • Body composition: your body’s ratio of fat mass to fat-free mass like muscle and bone.

A well-rounded exercise program has been shown to improve your health in many areas. For instance, it can reduce the risk of chronic disease, improve your mental wellbeing, and support healthy aging.

Cardiovascular, or cardio, fitness refers to your body’s ability to sustain exercise for longer. It’s also known as cardiorespiratory endurance or aerobic fitness.

Good cardio fitness allows you to perform different activities for longer because your heart and lungs are able to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your working muscles.

Examples of activities that benefit from good cardio endurance include walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and other sports that require continuous movement.

It’s recommended that you get 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise, or a combination of both each week.

Moderate-intensity exercise can be sustained for longer than vigorous-intensity exercise, though exactly how long varies between individuals and their fitness levels.

If you become fatigued or out of breath quickly, decrease the intensity or duration of your exercise and build up from there. Any increase in cardio exercise is beneficial, so make realistic goals that work best for you.

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