Dr Ochi Igboko

Physical fitness is your ability to carry out tasks without undue fatigue. You will earn about the components of physical fitness: cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility and body composition and why they are important.

Physical Fitness

 We certainly live in the technology age, and the advances we see in technology have simplified many physically demanding tasks. In fact, it can make you wonder if all of this technology has eased our physical burdens so much that one day we might be so physically unfit that we can no longer perform tasks without the help of technology. Our ability to carry out daily tasks and routine physical activities without undue fatigue is called physical fitness. While too much reliance on technology could make us less fit, we see that we can improve physical fitness through the performance of different exercises. In this lesson, we will take a look at the five components that make up physical fitness, how we can improve them and the benefits they bring to our lives.

Cardiorespiratory Endurance

In the most general terms, a fit person is able to perform tasks with more sustainable energy and for longer periods than an unfit person. But, fitness is more than just the ability to work longer; in fact, it includes a number of components, one of which is cardiorespiratory endurance. This is a measure of the circulatory and respiratory systems’ ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to and eliminate waste products from cells. Your cells need oxygen and nutrients in order to fuel your muscles during periods of physical activity. When your cells work they produce wastes that need to be transported away. How efficiently your body does these tasks is a measure of your cardiorespiratory endurance.

You can build your cardiorespiratory endurance through aerobic exercise, which is a type of exercise that uses oxygen to meet energy demands. The word aerobic means using oxygen, so aerobic exercise is literally exercise that uses oxygen. This is the type of exercise that we might consider with activities performed over time at low to moderate intensity, such as taking a comfortable jog around the neighborhood, riding your bicycle or rowing a boat. Aerobic exercise is important because it strengthens your heart and lungs by making them work harder. Did you ever hear that really fit athletes have very low resting heart rates? That’s because a high level of fitness leads to a strong heart, which is able to pump a lot of blood with fewer heartbeats.

Muscle Strength and Endurance

Another component of physical fitness is muscle strength, which is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to exert force against resistance. Having greater muscle strength enhances physical fitness because it allows you to more easily perform tasks such as pushing, pulling and lifting. You have experienced the importance of muscle strength when you performed household tasks such as moving furniture or carrying a full trash bag out to the curb.

Muscle endurance is yet another component of physical fitness. It is defined as the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to exert force for extended periods. Whereas muscle strength is the ability to give it all you’ve got in one maximum motion, endurance is the ability to keep going and perform repetitive motions of less intensity over time.

How Much Exercise Should I Do?

Start with just a few minutes of exercise at a time. Any exercise is better than none, and that helps your body slowly get used to being active.

Your goal is to work up to at least a half an hour most days of the week to get the full benefits from exercise.

If it’s more convenient, you can do short spurts — 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there. Each action by itself may not seem like much, but they add up.

Once you are in better shape, you can gradually exercise for longer periods of time and do more strenuous activities.

When you are up for it, you can ramp up the intensity and get the same benefits in half the time. For example, jogging for 30 minutes provides health benefits similar to walking for 60 minutes.

What Kind of Exercise Should I Do?

You can do anything that makes your heart and lungs work harder, such as walking, biking, jogging, swimming, fitness classes, or cross-country skiing. Mowing your lawn, going out dancing, playing with your kids — it all counts, if it revs your heart.

If you don’t exercise and you are a man over 45, a woman over 55, or have a medical condition, ask your doctor if you should avoid any types of activities.

Start with something like walking or swimming that is easy on your body. Work at a slow, comfortable pace so you start to get fit without straining your body.

At least two or three times a week, do strength training. You can use resistance bands, weights, or your own body weight.

Stretch all your muscles at least twice a week after you exercise. That helps keep you flexible and prevent injury.

About author

Dr Ochi Igboko

Consultant Anesthesiologist & Critical Care Physician. Email:

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Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo

Dr. Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo

Publisher, human rights activist and businessman, turned 77 on the 19th of August. A native of Umueve Village, Ajalli, he was educated at the Eastern ...