Fitness has 5 components
1. Cardiorespiratory endurance- How fit or how unfit is your heart, your breathing capacity or your stamina.
2. Muscular strength: How much weight can a muscle or groups of muscle lift up
3. Muscular endurance: How many times can that weight be lifted.
4. Flexibility: Each joint should have full range of motion (ROM)
5. Body composition: The percentage of fat vs. muscle
How do we measure it?
1. Cardiorespiratory endurance: It can be measured with a simple treadmill test or testing how fast the heart rate escalates and also how soon does it come back to normal. An unfit person may not be able to walk/run for long and will be panting for breath. His heart rate will take a long time to come back to normal. A fit athlete will cover a long distance and will still not be panting. After he stops, his heart rate comes back to normal soon. On an average, normally, resting heart rate is 72 beats per minute (BPM). Fitter you are, lower it is and for unfit, it is high.
2. Muscular strength: It is not just about how much weight you lift. It is more of functional fitness. Are you able to do your day-to-day activities independently or do you need help? To lift a suitcase and put it on upper birth of the train, or keep a 5-10 kg kitchen jar on the top shelf, do you need help or do your muscles have strength? This is functional, muscular strength and fitness.
3. Muscular endurance: Do your muscles only have strength or also endurance. Fine you could pick and lift 1 suitcase and 1 jar. But what if there are 3 suitcases and 10 jars? Do your muscles have endurance for those too?
4. Flexibility: Flexibility makes you look agile, lean and supple. Tight muscles lead to injuries. A dancer, who practices splits every day, will slip on the road, land in a split and will get up again and walk. While the other person who is very inflexible and does not stretch, will injure and land in the hospital. To stretch and to be flexible is important component of flexibility. There are various tests to check optimum flexibility of each muscle group- hamstrings, quadriceps, etc. There are also ways to make them stretch and make them supple.
5. Body composition: Like weighing machines, there are body compositions analyzing machines too. The check your fat% and muscle mass in the body. If you are fit, your fat% is in its ideal zone. Excess fat is stored in the body and leads to health issues. Aerobics activities help to burn fat.
By Kiran Sawhney, Personal Fitness Trainer, Owner at Fitnesolution, New Delhi