The gifts have been given. The guests are gone. The parties are over. The new year is here. Now is a good time to recommit to those physical fitness goals you may have pushed aside during the recent festivities.

Establishing a fitness routine will help you feel better now. To obtain what the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports describes as “a condition that helps us look, feel and do our best,” it is important to understand the components of physical fitness.

Components of Physical Fitness

Fitness programs should include something from each of these components. Workouts should begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down. As a general rule, workouts should be spaced through the week to avoid consecutive days of strenuous exercise.

  • Cardiorespiratory Endurance: the ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove wastes over sustained periods of time
  • Muscular Strength: the ability to exert force for a brief period of time
  • Muscular Endurance: the ability to sustain repeated muscle contractions or to continue applying force against a fixed object
  • Flexibility: the ability to move joints and use muscles through their full range of motion

Amounts of Necessary Activity

  • Warm-Up: five to ten minutes of exercise such as walking, slow jogging, knee lifts, arm circles or trunk rotations
  • Cardiorespiratory Endurance: at least three 20-minute bouts of continuous aerobic (activity requiring oxygen), rhythmic exercise each week such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, rope-jumping, rowing, cross-country skiing, racquetball or handball
  • Muscular Strength: a minimum of two 20-minute sessions per week that include exercises like weight-lifting for all the major muscle groups
  • Muscular Endurance: at least three 30-minute sessions each week that include exercises such as calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and weight training for all the major muscle groups
  • Flexibility: daily stretching exercises for ten to 12 minutes each day
  • Cool Down: a minimum of five to ten minutes of slow walking, low-level exercise combined with stretching

To obtain the maximum benefits of fitness activities, schedule them when they will not be interrupted by family and work commitments.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]

LHSFNA fitness publications can be ordered by going to the LHSFNA’s website at and clicking on Publications.