In part 1 of this article we looked at the cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, and muscular strength components of fitness. Here in part 2 I will detail the importance of flexibility and body composition.
Flexibility refers to the range of motion around a joint and, like muscular strength and endurance, it is joint-specific. For example, it’s possible to have very flexible shoulders, but tight and inflexible hamstrings or hips.
Flexibility is important at any age. It plays a role in unhindered movement and can affect your balance, coordination, and agility. Maintaining a full range of motion through your major joints can reduce the likelihood of injury and enhance athletic performance.
As we age, flexibility becomes even more important. A lack of flexibility can significantly affect quality of life, and make it more challenging to perform the most basic every day activities such as picking up items from the floor, or simply moving effectively to catch your balance if you start to fall.
Stopping the aging process is not possible, but protecting your joints and maintaining mobility is, and it will pay dividends.
Body composition relates to your body’s ratio between fat and fat free mass. High levels of fat mass are associated with negative health outcomes such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, attaining and maintaining a healthy body composition is a major goal of all regular exercise routines in conjunction with healthy eating.
Measuring Body Composition
To see improvements in body composition, you need to know what your starting point is. Weighing yourself on basic scales won’t provide information relating to body fat and lean tissue because they cannot discern the makeup of internal tissues. However, there are scales which use bioelectrical impedance analysis, and they are useful in providing an estimation of body fat percentage.
For much greater accuracy, and in fact the gold standard for measuring body composition, there is hydrostatic testing. This involves being weighed on dry land followed by sitting on an underwater scale. The greater the fat composition, the lighter the underwater weight will be.
DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans, typically used for measuring bone mineral density and assessing for osteoporosis, can also be used to accurately measure body composition.
Both hydrostatic testing and DEXA scans will involve a private consultation and therefore incur a cost. For most people scales available to buy that use bioelectrical impedance are accurate enough to give you an idea of your overall body composition.
So, I have now covered the 5 key health related components of fitness and, as you can see, each plays a vital role and contributes to the overall big picture of our health and fitness.