The five components of physical fitness

To maintain or improve health related fitness, you need to work on all five!  The first component of Fitness is called Cardio Respiratory Fitness!  Cardio Respiratory Fitness is the ability of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system to deliver fuel and oxygen to cells.  It may very well be the most important component of fitness, signaling that the heart is healthy and efficient.  And remember, always consult your physician prior to starting an exercise program!


So, how do you improve your Cardio Respiratory Endurance?  I’m glad you asked!



Improving your fitness involves understanding the Principles of Training.  



Of which there are three.  They are called; 

Specificity:  In other words, choose activities that specifically target the component of fitness you wan to improve.  For Cardio Respiratory Endurance, you choose endurance exercises that rhythmically use large muscle groups.  That’s mostly lower body, (legs).  Or many muscle groups for long duration.  In other words things like jogging, walking, cycling, or aerobics.

Progressive Overload:  This is when the amount of exercise (the load) is gradually increased.  This allows your body to body to adapt and your fitness level improves.


‘Look, it’s not my place to tell you how to live your life, but we picked up your scent from 30 miles away.’

Reversibility:  This is the principle you want to avoid!  Basically, the benefits of exercise are reversible.  When we stop exercising, our health and fitness begins to deteriorate.  If you can think of a time when you were more fit than you are now, then you’re the poster child for Reversibility; yikes!

Seriously, one good way to avoid needing CPR someday is to utilize the Five Components of Fitness!





People running on a treadmill in health club.

Ok, so how often might a person “Progressively Overload” their training?  Good Question.  Beginners might think about starting with around 3 days per week of Cardio Respiratory Endurance training.  But eventually work up to about 5 days per week.

Ok, so how long should the Cardio Respiratory Endurance training last in one session?  Consider doing 45 – 60 minutes of low- to moderate intensity exercise.  Or, 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise.  Ummmm, Ok, so how do you determine your training intensity?

Intensity is a measurement of how hard you should exercise.  As a starting point, estimate your maximal heart rate with this simple formula; 220 –  your age = _____ MHR.  Then compute your Training Intensity; multiply .6 times your MHR = ____ bpm. (this is probably your low to moderate intensity).  Then multiply .9 times your MHR = ____ bpm. (this is probably more of your high-intensity).  Bottom line; your heart rate should be between 60% to 90% of MHR.  A 20 years old, might be around 120 bpm – 180 bpm.  but remember… always consult your physician prior to starting an exercise program!


Question? Which of these two is better for your heart?  The answer is…they are both good for your heart.  One builds endurance into your heart health and the other builds strength into your heart health!

Which of these two burns more fat?  To find out click on this link: or try our Facebook page for more interesting blogs:


The next four Components of Fitness and Health will be coming along soon so check back often on the CPR Northwest Washington Blog or on our Facebook page: for more interesting information!