When you think about physical fitness, you may instantly think of running a marathon. While intense fitness training is definitely one piece of physical fitness, it is not the only piece of the fitness puzzle that you need to have in place. If you want to prioritize your health and wellness, you'll need to invest in all of the following components of physical fitness.

Regular cardio exercise
Try to fit in 30-60 minutes of moderate cardio exercise at least five days a week. This can be in the form of speed walking, biking, swimming, skiing, skating, roller blading-anything that raises your heart rate into the cardio exercise range. Aim to breathe hard and sweat while still being capable of carrying on a conversation while exercising.

Bi-weekly strength training
Twice a week you'll need to lift weights, take a toning class or participate in resistance training. This will build muscle mass, improve bone density and rev up your metabolism. Make sure you work your muscle groups evenly, and include plenty of core strength training-working the abdominal, lower back, oblique muscles and gluts-to maintain good balance.

Daily stretching
To maintain flexibility and prevent injury, you'll want to stretch before and after exercising. Stretching will help you with your balance, coordination and ability to prevent a fall or injury. Yoga is a perfect combination of stretching and strengthening exercises; even 15 minutes of yoga a day can significantly improve your flexibility.

Healthy diet
Fitness is not all about exercise. It's important to eat a heart healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids as well. Make sure you get your five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables each day; try to limit your consumption of sugars and fats, especially saturated fats. Look for ways to sneak fiber into your diet, and flush your body with water or herbal tea throughout the day. Limit your consumption of chemical-laden beverages and overly processed foods; try to enjoy as many raw or unprocessed foods as you can.

Stress management
It's important to manage the stress in your life if you want to be physically fit, since emotional distress can create physical challenges in the body. You've probably noticed that you are more likely to get sick or injure yourself when you are depressed or under a lot of strain. This is why you will want to invest time in stress management by getting enough sleep, giving your body rest days, and making use stress management techniques. Try deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga or a stress-reducing video game. You can combine stress management with exercise by going for a walk with a friend or joining a sports team.
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THE FIVE COMPONENTS OF PHYSICAL FITNESS
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