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Why Do We Measure Physical Fitness?

Physical fitness has many parts. When you are physically fit you have the energy and strength to perform daily activities without getting tired. Also, you have the energy to participate in leisure and recreation activities. When you are fit you have a strong heart, lungs, and muscles. Fitness benefits your daily activities, making it easier to meet daily demands. It also improves your mental health and your ability to cope with stressful events.

The time for fitness is now! Children who are physically active and eat correctly grow into healthier and more active adults.

Measuring Physical Fitness

The five components of physical fitness are: Aerobic Capacity, Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Flexibility, and Body Composition.  Each of these components of physical fitness is measurable.

Aerobic Capacity is the ability of your heart and lungs to supply the muscles of your body with oxygen: an indicator of aerobic fitness. Exercises like cycling, running, swimming, and walking build this type of endurance. How quickly you can run a mile (or shorter distances for younger children) is a test of cardiorespiratory endurance.

Muscular Strength is the amount of force you exert with a muscle. Your body has many muscles and all of them should be exercised to keep them strong. You can use your body weight, or additional weights, such as barbells.  Weight-training machines are popular, too.
Performing strength-training exercises can help you become strong and less likely to get injured when working or playing. Strength is good for your posture and creates strong bones.

Muscular Endurance is the ability of your muscles to move for long periods of time, which is an indicator of a muscle’s ability to do work. Exercises like curl-ups and push-ups are good for building muscular endurance.

You need to build endurance so you have more energy and are able to play or work harder for longer periods of time. Good health conditions will help prevent the development of some diseases.

Flexibility is the ability to move your muscles and joints through their full range of motion. It is beneficial in injury prevention and relaxation. Stretching increases flexibility. When stretching you should reach easily in a direction and hold the stretch, do not bounce.

Body Composition is the amount of lean body mass, including bones, muscles, and tissues. Those items are compared to the amount of fat in your body. People who are physically fit generally will have much more lean body mass than fat body mass.

Being active and exercising will give your body and muscles shape. People who exercise generally have less body fat than people who are inactive and aren’t in shape. Adolescent boys and men tend to have less body fat than adolescent girls and women. If you want to know if your body mass composition is good, ask a physical education or health teacher to measure your percent body fat or to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). Directions are listed on page 31.

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