5 Components Of
Physical Fitness

Fit Male With Towel

The '5 Components Of Physical Fitness'. See how regular fitness walking connects you to all five of these components in a very good way.

Pursue all five effectively and you're well on your way to being physically fit! So without further ado here are the

5 Components of Physical Fitmess

1. Cardiorespiratory endurance

...is how efficiently your body delivers the oxygen and nutrients you need for muscular activity to the cells and transports waste products from the cells. Actions like walking, running, swimming, cycling will all help with your cardiorespiratory health.

2. Muscular strength

...is the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort. Any weight-bearing exercise you do helps build you muscle strength. A real simple example? Climbing stairs! It gives great results. You're the weight you're bearing!

3. Muscular endurance

...is the ability of your muscle or muscle groups to perform repeated movements with a sub-maximal force for extended periods of times. (how's that for 'techie talk'?) In simpler terms you can walk distances for example, without having to use all of your strength to do so.

4. Flexibility

...is the ability to move your joints or group of joints through an entire, normal* range of motion. Yoga, warm-up and stretching exercises before your walk will all help to keep you limber and reduce your chance of injury.

*as defined by your health pro! Their views and yours don't always match. They will probably want MORE flexibility than you think you can do!)

5. Body Composition

...is how much of your body is muscle and how much is fat. One simple way of expressing this degree of fatness or thinness is with the Body Mass Index (BMI)* measurement tool. You can control and maintain your body composition with a good daily exercise and diet program. Keep active, eat well, drink 8 glasses of water a day. Pay attention to getting a good night's sleep!

Read a lot more on our Body Mass Index (BMI) page.

*This gives you a general idea of whether you are overweight, normal or underweight. It is best for your health if you can get it in the 'normal' range. You are welcome to download (right click) your own free personal Body Mass Index (BMI) Chart here.

Improve your first three components of physical fitness and you improve your body composition and you lose fat.

You probably already know that excessive body fat detracts from the other fitness components, reduces your performance, detracts from your appearance and negatively affects your health.

Let's move on from the 5 components of physical fitness and tie this all together with the ...

Principles of Exercise

Fit Woman Walikng On Path

When you follow an exercise program built of sound basic principles of the 5 components of physical fitness, good things can happen.

Whether you can walk 10 miles a day or can just barely make it around the block, you'll be amazed at how effective it is no matter what your current fitness level!

(All of these same principles are built in to all of our Fitness Walking Programs).

OK. Here's the basic principles of exercise that should be in your exercise program.

  • Regularity. This is a biggie! Exercising on a regular basis is the key to all these principles. Regularity leads to good habits. You look forward to your walk. You're motivated to continue.
  • Progression. Regular progress in your program is really important too. You know where you are today and where you want to be 'tomorrow' when you follow your program. This helps you stay focused. Each little bit of progress adds ups.

  • Balance. Your exercise program needs to address all 5 components of physical fitness in a balanced manner. Walking is great for your cardiorespiratory endurance. Our Walking Programs also include exercises for the other components - muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. Just remember to do those too!
  • Variety. Variety in your program now and then is always a good thing Try a nice backcountry hike, a different route, some easy cross country skiing, another activity you're passionate about. Have a look at our Walking Styles page for a few ideas.
  • Specificity. Your exercise program goals needs to be geared to your specific activity. For example, although swimming is great exercise. it doesn't necessarily improve your ability to walk two miles a day as much as a specific walking exercise program will.
  • Recovery. Remember to allow your body to recover too. Follow a hard training day that focuses on one component with an easier day. You may even consider a rest day for that component. Another more advanced recovery technique is to alternate the muscle groups you use each day, especially when you are exercising for muscle strength and endurance.


So there you have it. First you learned the 5 components of physical fitness:

  1. Cardiorespiratory endurance
  2. Muscular strength
  3. Muscular endurance
  4. Flexibility
  5. Body composition

and the basic principles of exercise.

  1. Regularity
  2. Progress
  3. Balance
  4. Variety
  5. Specificity
  6. Recovery

Remember these and see if you can spot them as you progress with your Fitness Walking Programs. They are all in there.

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