Physical fitness is a condition of well-being and overall health and, in particular, the ability to do various parts of daily activities well and consistently. The ability to engage in many different types of physical activity is a key element in maintaining health. However, it is also important to consider factors such as time and money when determining the level of fitness required for optimal health. The ability to follow a specific fitness program is also critical. The three components of physical fitness are strength, endurance, and flexibility.
Strength refers to the ability of the body to move an object with a given amount of force over a defined period of time. Endurance is the ability of the body to continue to move an object at the same rate without decreasing the intensity or duration of movement. Flexibility refers to the ability of the body to stretch and move in different ways. A combination of strength, endurance, and flexibility is the most common classification of physical fitness test results.
Many factors can affect the development of strength, endurance, and flexibility. These factors include the type of muscle that are targeted during an exercise, the length of time that an exercise is performed, and the frequency of exercise. Longer, more elaborate exercises that require more muscle strength will result in increased muscular endurance. Similarly, shorter, more frequent exercises that require less muscle strength will result in increased flexibility. The amount of time an exercise is performed on each muscle group can also affect strength, because repeated bouts of exercise tend to increase the amount of time each muscle group is rested, which leads to an increased amount of fatigue throughout the whole body.
Combination programs of aerobic exercise and strength training can be very beneficial to overall fitness. The increased cardio vascular activity allows the heart and lungs to work harder than they would if the activity were simply conducted on a treadmill or stationary bicycle. When combined with interval training, this type of fitness program can increase fitness very quickly.
Some studies indicate that there is a direct correlation between the amount of exercise and the level of oxygen consumption. When participants of a fitness program conducted on a stationary bicycle were asked to ride at a slower rate than they normally would have while at the same time increasing their exercise intensity, they significantly increased their oxygen consumption. Those participants who increased their intensity but did not increase their rate of breathing had lower oxygen consumption rates.
Finally, a properly designed fitness program can help to reduce the risks of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Cardiovascular fitness has been recognized as one of the key components in an effective exercise routine. The American council on Exercise recommends that those people who are overweight should consider an aerobics-based program to improve their health. Exercise alone cannot accomplish this goal.