UPDATED, January 10, 2022
To measure your overall physical fitness, it’s often helpful to have a benchmark—and the good news is that there are five of them. The five components of physical fitness describe different types of body health. For example, an avid weightlifter may have mind-blowing muscular strength, but lacks the aerobic capacity of an endurance athlete (1). That’s because different exercises train different systems in your body, which, in turn, may prepare you for one type of energy expenditure but not another.
The good news is that these components, like many elements of health, can work together when managed properly. To choose workouts with balanced benefits, it’s important to understand the five components of physical fitness and how each one relates to your exercise routine. Here’s what you need to know.
The word “aerobic” means living, active, or occurring only in the presence of oxygen (2). Also known as cardiovascular endurance, oxygen is the foundation of aerobic fitness. It’s all about maximizing the amount of oxygen in your blood (3). You do this by moving large muscle groups in your body, such as the ones in your arms and legs. The workout stimulates your small blood vessels to move blood more efficiently, delivering the good stuff (like oxygen) and taking out the bad (like carbon dioxide and lactic acid).
Here are a few types of aerobic exercise that can improve this fitness component (4):
- Demanding household tasks like gardening.
The benefits of improving your cardiovascular fitness can be numerous and varied (4). They can include:
- Blood sugar control.
- Increased cardiovascular health.
- Better sleep.
- Immune support.
- Improved cognitive function.
- Body fat composition control.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (ie. 30 minutes per day for 5 days) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week (5).
To accomodate more cardio into your routine, you might consider adding the NordicTrack FS10i Freestride Trainer to your home gym. Combining the features of a treadmill, stepper, and elliptical all in one, this machine gives you access to the benefits elliptical training can provide—including better balance, improved cardiorespiratory endurance, and a combined upper- and lower-body workout (6). Keep in mind that achieving these potential benefits depends on a number of factors, including sex, basal metabolism, ambient temperature, and height, as well as having a workout game plan, eating healthily, working out consistently, practicing proper workout form, and staying hydrated.
In many ways, anaerobic fitness is the opposite of aerobic fitness. “Anaerobic” means living, active, occurring, or existing in the absence of free oxygen, which means anaerobic exercises are those you can only do in short bursts of activity (7), including:
- Strength training (8).
These workouts are fueled by “energy reserves” stored as glucose, which pick up the slack when anaerobic activity demands more oxygen than your blood can supply (8). The process is called glycolysis, and the more often your body experiences it, the more you’ll increase your endurance and overall physical fitness. That’s because glycolysis creates lactic acid, which as the name suggests, is responsible for the burn you feel when your muscles are maxed out—and regular anaerobic exercise trains your body to handle this acid more effectively (8).
When you’re mastering the second of the five physical fitness components, you may start to see these benefits, depending of course on the factors discussed above that are critical to trying to achieve fitness benefits (9):
- Improved bone strength.
- Metabolism boosts.
- Joint support.
- Increased energy.
- Higher levels of anaerobic endurance.
To work anaerobic exercise into your routine, you may need a smart tool—like the NordicTrack Vault. This workout mirror allows you to reflect on your stance and form while following along with world-class iFIT® trainers that can carefully guide you through each movement. It has plenty of amazing features to help you make your workouts one-of-a-kind.
Joint Flexibility And Strength
To achieve overall physical fitness, it’s important to make sure you pay attention to your full range of motion (ROM). ROM can be impacted by temperature, relative stiffness, body fat composition, and more, according to research published in Sports Medicine (10).
Improving joint flexibility and strength can mean stretching. Luckily, stretching can often be integrated into your cooldown or warm-up routine, depending on the type of stretching you do:
Dynamic stretching is movement that carries joints through their full range of motion (11). Dynamic stretching as a warm-up prepares the body for activity by stimulating blood flow.
Static stretching is all about holding a position for a set period of time (11). These stretches are a great addition to your cool-down, which may prevent the development of delayed-onset muscle soreness (12).
If you’re looking for more ways to try and tackle joint flexibility and strength, check out the NordicTrack Fusion CST Series. This machine allows you to work your body in different ways depending on the joints you’re targeting or the exercises you’re warming up for or cooling down from.
Muscular Endurance And Strength
Bodybuilders and weightlifters rejoice: Muscular endurance and strength make up our fourth component of physical fitness. Since muscles are responsible for a little bit of everything—including eating, breathing, seeing, and even regulating temperature—it makes sense to treat them well (13).
To help build muscle endurance and muscle strength (and improve total fitness along the way), you can work on adding lean muscle mass—and to do all that, you may need to make your body deposit more protein than it removes (14). Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as ordering a burger from your favorite restaurant. Think quality!
You may also need to train by choosing the right weight or amount of resistance, number of repetitions, and types of exercises. To try and achieve muscle endurance and strength and of course any of the benefits of exercising, remember the other contributing factors discussed above.
The NordicTrack Premium Dumbbell Set & Dumbbell Rack can help get you started. Plus, a 30-Day iFIT Family Membership is included with your purchase. That way, you can get started with energetic iFIT studio sessions, including weight training workouts filmed in beautiful locations around the world all for your viewing and strength-training pleasure.
So, if you’re looking to take your strength training to the next level and outfit your home gym with quality weights for your workout, we’ve got everything you need to know.
Body Composition And Fitness
Body composition may be the most popular benchmark for physical fitness, but it’s not necessarily the most accurate one—not on its own, at least. That’s because measurements of health and fitness are about more than the overall amount of fat you may carry.
According to research by Georgia Highlands College, body fat composition and distribution patterns can vary between people (15). While some patterns indicate possible health issues, others aren’t necessarily indicators of poor physical fitness.
It’s also important to note that there are different ways to measure physical health. For example, body mass index, or BMI, can be calculated with this tool from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. However, the only metrics that are taken into account are gender, age, weight, and height—which doesn’t provide a complete look at your physical fitness. It’s possible to have a healthy BMI while carrying too much fat, or an unhealthy BMI because muscle mass adds to your overall weight.
Body composition provides a more accurate image because it takes everything into account—bones and muscle included. It refers to your body fat percentage, which may help you know what to target when improving body composition (16).
If lower, healthier body fat composition is the name of your game, you may find that you need some help along the way. With iFIT, you’ll have access to personal trainers, personalizable workouts, customized nutrition guidance, and more to help you improve your health and lifestyle. Even if you’re away from your home NordicTrack machine, you can take iFIT anywhere you go with the iFIT app. Keep yourself on track with your fitness goals while you’re away and outside of your normal daily routine. Remember, potential lower, healthier body fat composition, as well as any other potential benefit discussed above, depends on a number of factors, including sex, basal metabolism, ambient temperature, and height, as well as having a workout game plan, eating healthily, working out consistently, practicing proper workout form, and staying hydrated.
As you learn more about the five physical fitness components and how they work together, remember that no single component can give you a complete picture of your overall health. What’s most important is finding a healthy balance of physical activity that may help improve endurance, strength, and body composition as needed.
NordicTrack exercise equipment can help you on your journey to build a healthier lifestyle. The power is in your hands—so grab a water bottle and let’s get started!
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. NordicTrack assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment. Shipping times are dependent on in-stock inventory and delivery timeframes may vary. Make sure to check the website for any specific delays in delivery and shipping.
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Nuckols, G. (2015, March 25). Avoiding cardio could be holding you back. Stronger by Science. https://www.strongerbyscience.com/avoiding-cardio-could-be-holding-you-back/
(n.d.). Definition of aerobic. Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aerobic
(2020, February 2). Aerobic exercise: Top 10 reasons to get physical. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541
Marcin, A. (2020, February 25). What are the benefits of aerobic exercise? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/benefits-of-aerobic-exercise#benefits
Lindberg, S. (2019, June 21). 10 benefits of an elliptical machine workout. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/elliptical-benefits#benefits
(n.d.). Definition of anaerobic. Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anaerobic
Kelly, E. (2019, March 6). What you need to know about anaerobic exercise. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/anaerobic-exercise#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1
Opplert, J. & Babault, N. (2017, October 23). Acute effects of dynamic stretching on muscle flexibility and performance: An analysis of the current literature. Springer. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40279-017-0797-9
Melone, L. (n.d.). Get in the habit of stretching. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/physical-activity/getting-started/get-in-the-habit-of-stretching
Van Hooren, B., & Peake, J. M. (2018). Do we need a cool-down after exercise? A narrative review of the psychophysiological effects and the effects on performance, injuries and the long-term adaptive response. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 48(7), 1575–1595. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5999142/
Burgess, L. (2018, April 25). What are the main functions of the muscular system? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321617#how-the-muscular-system-works
Read, T. (2021, April 12). How to gain muscle, no matter who you are. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/how-to-gain-muscle#the-basics
(2021, March 25). Body fat distribution. Georgia Highlands College. https://med.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Health_and_Fitness/Book%3A_Concepts_of_Fitness_and_Wellness_(Flynn_et_al.)/06%3A_Body_Composition/6.04%3A_Body_Fat_Distribution
(n.d.). Calculate your body mass index. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
Tinsley, G. (2017, October 1). How to improve body composition, based on science. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/improve-body-composition#section3