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Components of Fitness and Motor Skills

Fitness programs should include multiple components and skills. The basic components of fitness include:

  • Muscular strength: The ability of a muscle or muscle groups to exert maximal force. An example would be performing a maximal bench press or squat for one repetition. 
  • Muscular endurance: The ability of a muscle or muscle groups to sustain submaximal force for multiple repetitions or for a period of time without fatiguing. An example would be performing a push-up or sit-up test.
  • Cardiovascular endurance: The ability of the respiratory and circulatory system to supply oxygen to the body during physical activity. An example would be walking, running, basketball, soccer, football gardening, and daily activities. 
  • Flexibility: The ability of a joint or joints to move through a full range of motion. Examples of activities that may increase flexibility are static stretching, yoga, Pilates, and dynamic warm-ups.
  • Body composition: The measurement of an individual's fat mass and lean mass (muscle, bone, connective tissues, water) relative to one another. Skinfolds, hydrostatic weighing, DEXA, bioelectrical impedance, and bod pod are few ways to measure body composition.

Individuals should also focus on training motor skills, which can be vital to maintaining fitness and enhancing activities of daily living. Motor skill components include:

  • Agility: An individual's ability to change direction or velocity of the body due to a stimulus. Agility can be challenged by standard tests including cones and ladders or on the field or court.
  • Balance: The ability to maintain the body's position over a fixed based of support (static) or while the body is in movement or challenged by a base of support that is changing (dynamic). Three components that affect balance are visual, vestibular system (inner ear) and proprioception (awareness of the position of one's body).
  • Power: The rate at which work is performed or the amount of work performed in a given time. Vertical jump and broad jump are a couple of ways that power can be assessed. 
  • Reaction time: The ability to react to a stimulus involving the senses, usually auditory or visual in regards to sports. Playing defense in basketball or catching a line drive in baseball or reacting to a stoplight are a few examples that challenge reaction time.
  • Speed: The ability to cover a distance or perform a movement in a short amount of time. A 40-yard sprint is a common test to measure the speed of an individual.
  • Coordination: The ability to move through a complex set of movements while maintaining balance.