What is Physical Fitness and what are the Components of Fitness?
Effectively physical fitness can be classified on two levels
- Health and Wellbeing (General Fitness)
- Specific Fitness (Task Orientated such as Sports and Skill Related Fitness)
Many consider fitness to be relative to one's needs in terms of performing the day's required tasks and responsibilities without excessive fatigue however over time the terminology has become much more specific and the term physical fitness has become a vital part of many people's lives.
What is physical fitness?
In classifying physical fitness it is imperative to assess the components of physical fitness in order to achieve an overall impression. These components can either be health or skill related.
What are the key components of fitness?
Health related components of physical fitness.
These factors assess how well your body and it's system work as part of your general health.
Cardiovascular Fitness/ Aerobic endurance
Cardiovascular fitness focuses on the circulatory system which supplies oxygen to the body via the use of the heart and lungs which is key for aerobic exercise. Examples of athletes with high levels of aerobic endurance and cardiovascular fitness are cyclists in the Tour De France and marathon runners.
Your body composition is a measure of how your body is comprised. Are you an endomorph, mesomorph or ectomorph. What is your body fat composition? What is your BMI? And how much of your weight is muscle? These all have a bearing on your fitness.
Generally Sumo Wrestlers have a high level of body fat and this is a requirement to be successful within the sport.
What is the range of movement capable of your joints? The elasticity of your ligaments and tendons Ironically it is the shape of many of your bones which influence your flexibility as they define the movement at each of your joints. While not often considered as an important component of physical fitness, flexibility is extremely important for muscle force generation and should never be neglected by an athlete.
How much force can your muscles generate with each contraction? However your muscular strength can be broken down into subcategories which define strength types.
`.Explosive strength. Muscular strength from one single quick powerful contraction such as in a shot put. (Closely linked to power)
The equation for power is Power = Force X Distance
2.Dynamic Strength is where high forces are repeatedly exerted by the contracting muscle such as track cycling in a sprint event where a huge power output must be maintained
Your muscles' ability to continue movement and resist fatigue is required for a high level of muscular endurance. This can either be one long contraction or a period of multiple powerful contractions. Muscular endurance does have a huge crossover with cardiovascular endurance as oxygen needs to be provided to working muscles. Olympic rowers need a high level of muscular endurance (as well as cardiovascular performance) to power the rowing boat throughout a race.
What fitness do you need to climb a mountain?
Specific Fitness Components
Specific fitness components are more defined based on sports background and therefore have different levels of importance and prominence within differing sports as no two sports and no two athletes are alike. These specific fitness components are task specific.
A modern additional component of physical fitness- Core stability
While not being classified by many as a component of fitness, core stability has grown in it's importance within sports specific components is paramount as it refers to ones ability to maintain a strong posture throughout sporting activity. Weaknesses in posture and core stability can lead to weakness within motor skills that are paramount in many sports. When core stability is poor it forces other muscles to play a stabilizing role increasing chance of injury. An obvious example of athletes for whom core stability is a key component of fitness are gymnasts.
Core stability can often be linked with aspects of balance as a specific component of physical fitness.
Liam Hallam (author) from Nottingham UK on September 23, 2012:
Thanks for the comment resolveyourpain. Personally the juries out on stretching as so many exercisers do it wrongly.
I've found that PNF stretching works well for myself but getting a willing partner and one who has the right level of control is difficult at times.
Anthony Ohm from Honolulu, Hawaii, Oahu on September 22, 2012:
A great hub, very informative and cut to the point. All the points are valid. I am also stretching coach and I also stress the facts that you have highlighted. Most of the body pain and sports injuries are due to stiff muscles, so it important to involve in physical exercise and make your body more tolerable towards wear and tear and hence injuries and pains. Here is one of my many articles on how to avoid injuries, hope you and fellow hub followers like this: http://resolveyourpain.com/sports-performance-spor...