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The 10 Components of Fitness
Fitness is a term that is widely misunderstood and each individual has their own way of defining it.
Most people don’t know they exist 10 components/elements/facets which make up the state “Fitness”. All of these 10 components need to be improved in an individual to be considered physically fit.
Now it doesn’t matter whether you are young or old, male or female; or whether you belong to a certain category of people (bodybuilder, athlete, corporate executive, couch potato, housewife, etc.). Your fitness program must aim to improve all 10 aspects of fitness.
All human beings are physiologically built the same. Therefore, we all need each of the components of fitness to increase the quality of our physical condition and thereby improve our lives.
So….What exactly are the 10 components of fitness?
10 components of fitness:
1) Cardiovascular Endurance: The ability of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to deliver oxygenated blood to working skeletal muscles for extended periods of time without fatigue.
2) Muscular Endurance: The ability of skeletal muscles to contract continuously for extended periods of time without fatigue.
3) Musculoskeletal Strength: Combined strength of muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons.
4) Flexibility: The body’s ability to maintain a full and complete range of motion around the joints.
5) Ideal body composition: Maintaining the ideal ratio of adipose tissue (body fat) to muscle mass. A man is said to have an ideal body composition when no more than 15% of his body weight is body fat. A woman is said to have an ideal body composition if no more than 20% of her body weight is made up of body fat.
6) Power supply: It is the ability of skeletal muscles to maximize the force they exert in a minimal amount of time.
7) Speed: The ability to minimize the time required to complete a certain movement or task
8) Coordination: Coordination is the combination of body movements created with kinematic and kinetic parameters that lead to intended actions. This involves combining several movements into a single distinct movement.
9) Agility: Ability to change body direction in an effective and efficient manner.
10) Balance: The ability to maintain the body’s center of gravity at the base of support with minimal postural sway.
To be considered physically fit, a person must develop all of these aspects of fitness.
The importance and interdependence of the 10 components of fitness in overall performance:
Each of the above components plays a vital role in our life. Whether it is for someone who is a competitive athlete or just an ordinary human being, each of these components drastically affects overall performance. It should also be noted that each of these components is interdependent, so a compromise in one will definitely short-change the other.
- Cardiovascular Endurance: Reducing this element makes almost any task very difficult. Doing activities like climbing stairs, walking, jogging, running, swimming, all kinds of sports and even weight training becomes quite difficult with poor cardiovascular endurance. Therefore, a lack of this component makes it difficult to use muscular endurance or musculoskeletal strength. For example, even if a runner has great muscular endurance, without cardiovascular endurance he cannot run for long. Similarly, a power lifter cannot maximize his strength once cardiovascular fatigue sets in. In addition, one’s speed, balance, coordination, agility, and strength are drastically reduced when one reaches cardiovascular fatigue. It should also be noted that very poor cardiovascular endurance can even cause cardiac arrest during the aforementioned activities.
- Muscular Endurance: This is very similar to cardiovascular endurance except that it occurs in the musculoskeletal system and not the cardiorespiratory system. A person with poor muscular endurance will have difficulty doing the activities listed under cardiovascular endurance. However, this will be due to the high production of lactic acid in the muscles used for the particular activity. Cardiovascular endurance cannot be used without muscular endurance. For example, even if a kickboxer is not cardiovascularly fatigued, he will not be able to punch or kick if the muscles in his arms and legs are fatigued. As with cardiovascular endurance, speed, balance, coordination, agility and strength are also compromised if a person has poor muscular endurance.
- Musculoskeletal Strength: Lack of this component leads to early degeneration of the body. Lack of musculoskeletal strength also puts the body at high risk of injury when performing any task against resistance. So it should be noted that athletes from any sport or discipline must work on their musculoskeletal strength, otherwise they cannot be successful and risk injury. When this component is compromised, activities that require cardiovascular and muscular endurance are not possible because the body will not be able to handle the stress associated with that activity. For example, a marathon runner’s body cannot handle the load on the joints due to poor musculoskeletal strength, even if they have good endurance.
- Flexibility: This is one area that is seriously ignored by many athletes, especially bodybuilders and strength athletes. Flexibility is essential to prevent injury. A stiff muscle is likely to tear when a full range of motion is required. Since a deficiency in this component results in injury, it constantly affects every other component of fitness.
- Ideal body composition: An increase in lean muscle mass increases the strength of the musculoskeletal system, while an increase in body fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. When ideal body composition is lost, all aspects of performance are affected. Excess fat serves as additional baggage for the body to carry and serves as a limiting factor for all other components. Excess fat in the body also affects flexibility, as it limits the range of motion of the muscles.
- Strength, Speed, Coordination and Agility: These components are particularly important for athletes as they need them for their respective disciplines. A reduction in any of these can drastically limit their performance in sports. Even the generic population needs to maintain some degree of each of these components as they help to perform better in daily activities and also contribute to feeling more alive and healthy. Eg: Performance when lifting heavy objects around the house, Speed when running to catch the bus/train to work, coordination when playing games or basic repairs and agility when doing fun activities like skiing.
Now that you know what the different aspects of fitness are, let’s look at how to develop them.
Developing components of fitness:
- Cardiovascular Endurance: Doing aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, running, cycling, jumping, swimming, etc., at a low intensity for a long time without stopping. The intensity should be low enough that one can perform the activity continuously for at least 20 minutes. Once a person can do the same activity for 60 minutes comfortably, the intensity must be increased either by increasing speed or resistance.
- Muscular Endurance: Contrary to popular belief, this is not achieved by performing resistance training with light weights for high reps. Muscular endurance is developed along with cardiovascular endurance through aerobic exercise. However, unlike cardiovascular endurance, which is general for the whole body, muscular endurance is achieved only in those muscles that are used during aerobic activity. For example: Running improves cardiovascular endurance in general, but muscular endurance only in the lower body. So “cross training” can be done to achieve full body muscular endurance. A description of cross training is beyond the scope of this article and can be found by simply searching the internet.
- Musculoskeletal Strength: High-intensity strength training (mostly compound and power movements) with heavy weights that induce positive muscle failure between 6-8 reps. This 6-8 rep range should only be used by advanced trainers who have at least 2-3 years of weight training experience. If someone is starting weight training, they must first learn proper form for about 2-3 weeks using extremely light weights. They then need to lift in the 10-12 rep range before they are ready to lift in the 6-8 rep range.
- Flexibility: Static stretching, holding for at least 10 seconds in mild discomfort while trying to stretch the muscle is the best way to increase flexibility. Stretching must be done at the end of each training session. Avoid stretching cold muscles as there is a risk of tearing.
- Strength, Speed, Coordination and Agility: These relate to specific activities to be performed and can be improved through practice and repetition.
So there you have it
“10 components of fitness”
Make sure you try to develop each one to maximize the usefulness of the others and become a true……“Physically fit”
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