5 Components of Physical Fitness

physical fitness



I once had a guy come up to me in a gym, and knowing that I was a trainer, he came up to me to ask me if I thought he had physical fitness. Before I had a chance to answer his question, he pulled up his shirt to reveal a well-defined set of abdominal muscles. I had to explain to him that having a high level of physical fitness is comprised of more things than just a set of well defined abdominal muscles. I shared with him the  components of physical fitness. I thought I would share them with you today.

First a definition of what physical fitness really is;  Physical fitness is the ability to function effectively throughout your workday, perform your usual other activities and still have enough energy left over to handle any extra stresses or emergencies which may arise.


The components of physical fitness are:


Cardiorespiratory (CR) endurance – the efficiency with which the body delivers oxygen and nutrients needed for muscular activity and transports waste products from the cells.  The most important muscle we have is our heart. A great set of well defined abdominals do you nothing if you are six feet under.


Muscular strength – the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort.


Muscular endurance – the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated movements with a sub-maximal force for extended periods of times.


Flexibility – the ability to move the joints or any group of joints through an entire, normal range of motion.  What good does it do a person to have a six pack, yet unable to scratch his or her own back, or unable to tie their shoes.


Body composition – the percentage of body fat a person has in comparison to his or her total body mass.  This was the only one that this gentleman equated to being physically fit.


Improving the first three components of fitness listed above will have a positive impact on body composition and will result in less fat. Excessive body fat detracts from the other fitness components, reduces performance, detracts from appearance, and negatively affects your health.


Factors such as speed, agility, muscle power, eye-hand coordination, and eye-foot coordination are classified as components of “motor” fitness. These factors most affect your athletic ability. Appropriate training can improve these factors within the limits of your potential. A sensible weight loss and fitness program seeks to improve or maintain all the components of physical and motor fitness through sound, progressive, mission specific physical training.



Principles of Exercise


Adherence to certain basic exercise principles is important for developing an effective program. The same principles of exercise apply to everyone at all levels of physical training, from the Olympic-caliber athlete to the weekend jogger.


These basic principles of exercise must be followed.



To achieve a training effect, you must exercise often. You should exercise each of the first four fitness components at least three times a week. Infrequent exercise can do more harm than good. Regularity is also important in resting, sleeping, and following a sensible diet.  Remember it is the long and steady player which wins the race. It is defnitely not a sprint but moreso a marathon. We need time for the body to change. Much like your Christian walk. In the beginning you took baby steps, it is the overall travel that makes the difference.



The intensity (how hard) and/or duration (how long) of exercise must gradually increase to improve the level of fitness.  If we go too hard, too fast, and too soon, we are destined to get injured and thus, placing us on the shelf for an extended period of time. To be an effective witness for Christ, you must use slow progression when you witness to others. Sometimes, we are so excited to share the good news of Jesus Christ that we give too much too fast to the person and they feel overwhelmed.



To be effective, a program should include activities that address all the fitness components, since overemphasizing any one of them may hurt the others.  Just as the body needs musculature balance to avoid injury, you need balance in your life. The pursuit of a body that honors God is wonderful, but you need to develop fully as a Christian and not just your body. Read the Bible, pick up some books by CS Lewis, Charles Colson, and others that are further along the path than you may be and through your reading and prayer, God will develop your sprititual muscle to go along with your physical muslce.



Providing a variety of activities reduces boredom and increases motivation and progress.



Training must be geared toward specific goals. For example, people become better runners if their training emphasizes running. Although swimming is great exercise, it does not improve a 2-mile-run time as much as a running program does.  The SAID Principle says that your body Adapts very specifically to the demands you impose upon it. Basically, you play like you practice.  That being said; you spiritually develop the way you live. Dont just remember God on Sunday morning and holidays. Keep in communication with him. Develop a good rapport with him. Take your problems, joys, concerns, and worries to him. Thank him for being with you throughout the day. If you train your spiritual muscle along with the physcial, you will achieve a state of holistic fitness.



A hard day of training for a given component of fitness should be followed by an easier training day or rest day for that component and/or muscle group(s) to help permit recovery. Another way to allow recovery is to alternate the muscle groups exercised every other day, especially when training for strength and/or muscle endurance.



The work load of each exercise session must exceed the normal demands placed on the body in order to bring about a training effect.


Remember, physical fitness is more than just a set of abs.  As I listed above, physical fitness encompasses alot more. The most important thing is to develop your spiritual muscle as well. Find a good Bible based church, that teaches the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember we honor God by honoring the body he has entrusted us with.

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