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Five Components of Fitness: Flexibility

written by: Summer Banks • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/7/2010

When focusing on overall body fitness, it is important to maintain the length and flexibility of the muscle. Increasing flexibility can decrease the number of injuries suffered during physical activity.

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    Physical fitness is made up of five distinct areas. These areas are defined as cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. Physical fitness plans with well rounded, total body support need to focus on all five components of fitness.

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    What is Muscular Flexibility?

    Flexibility refers to the muscles ability to stretch or lengthen under force. The more flexible the muscle, the less likely injury is to occur during physical activity or even everyday life. It also refers to the range of motion present in differing parts of the body. The range of motion is directly affected by the flexibility of surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

    Flexibility directly affects more than just the muscle. Joint range of motion, circulation, posture and coordination are all improved as flexibility improves. Increasing flexibility can also provide stress relief by helping to relieve the tightness of the muscle associated with stress, tension and anxiety.

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    Increasing Flexibility

    Unlike other forms of physical fitness, flexibility requires no external equipment of any kind. The body is equipped with everything it needs to increase flexibility.

    The easiest way to increase flexibility is with stretching. Often, people who exercise neglect to stretch before and after their workouts. The before stretch does more than increase muscle flexibility, it warms the muscle by increasing blood flow. A warm muscle is more limber and less likely to injure.

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    How Do I Stretch?

    When stretching, it is important not to push the muscle beyond the point of comfortability into pain. Stretching should feel tight, not hurt. Once you reach the point where the muscle is extended as far as it will reach, exhale and hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.

    It is important not to bounce during flexibility exercises or stretching. Bouncing can cause muscle tears and injury.

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    Remember All Areas of the Body

    When exercisers remember to stretch, they often focus only on the parts of the body they worked during activity. For instance, the runner will stretch the legs and nothing else. Increasing flexibility requires lengthening all muscles of the body. The most common area forgotten when stretching is the core. The core includes the all muscles around the mid section and pelvis. These muscles are responsible for posture and back support.

Five Components of Fitness

The five components of fitness are cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle endurance, muscle strength, flexibility and body composition.
  1. Five Components of Fitness: Cardiorespiratory Endurance
  2. Five Components of Fitness: Muscular Strength
  3. Five Components of Fitness: Muscular Endurance
  4. Five Components of Fitness: Flexibility
  5. Five Components of Fitness: Body Composition