Understanding Physical Fitness

Posted: Dec 17 in Getting Active by

Many people want to get physically fit, but not so many people have a good idea of what physical fitness actually means. As a consequence, their workouts do not tend to have what is needed to achieve true physical fitness. Read on to learn more about what physical fitness is, and how to structure your exercises to achieve it.


The Components of Physical Fitness

When most people think of physical fitness, they think of strength, or endurance, or weight loss. There are actually five components of physical fitness, though.

  1. Cardiopulmonary fitness is the measure of how efficiently your heart and lungs carry the oxygen and nutrients your muscles need throughout your body.
  2. Endurance is the measure of your muscles’ ability to perform repeated exertions for extended periods of time.
  3. Strength is the measure of how much force your muscles can exert.
  4. Flexibility is the measure of your ability to move your body through a full, normal range of motion.
  5. Body composition is your percentage of body fat.


The Principles of Good Exercise

Adhering to the basic principles of good exercise is important for developing an exercise program that will improve all five components of physical fitness. These principles are:


To achieve any kind of effect, you need to exercise regularly. You need to do exercises that target the first four of the basic fitness components three times a week or more. Working on the first four components will improve all five. Exercising only infrequently can actually do more harm than good.

Progressive Intensity and Duration

You must steadily increase both the intensity and duration of your workouts. The intensity will help you improve your strength and the duration will help you improve your endurance and cardiopulmonary fitness.


Keep changing your exercise activities. Doing so reduces your boredom and increases your likelihood of maintaining your exercise habit. Make sure that you get a good mix of exercises that target each of the first four components of physical fitness.


Aerobic exercises need to be a regular part of your routine. They develop excellent cardiopulmonary fitness. They also tend to be good for flexibility.

Muscle Overload

Subjecting your muscles to exercises that overload them is the only way to develop your strength. Lifting weights is a common way to do this, but strength training machines will also do the trick. To develop your strength, you need to be training with enough weight or resistance that you cannot do more than 10 reps per set.

Lots of Reps

You also need exercises that have a low enough weight or resistance that you can do lots of reps per set. These exercises will develop endurance, and many will also help your cardiopulmonary fitness.

Recovery Time

After a day of training a component of fitness, you need a day of rest for the muscles that component utilizes. Your muscles need to heal after being stressed if you want to see any gains. You can either do this by exercising every other day or by alternating the muscle groups you exercise each day.


To achieve true physical fitness you need to do more than just exercise hard, you need to exercise smart. Just follow the principles described here and you will soon see the results you are looking for.

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