components of well-rounded fitness routine

Components of a Well-Rounded Fitness Routine

Is your fitness routine well-rounded? If not, it might be time to mix things up. To be in the best shape, you need to incorporate all the components of fitness. We’ll break down how much you need each week along with examples and benefits of each component.

Cardiovascular Exercise

cardiovascular exercise is a component of a well-rounded fitness routine
Biking is a fun way to get cardiovascular exercise.

To make sure you’re getting cardiovascular exercise, you need to know your target heart rate. This is 55-85% of your maximum heart rate. First, calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Next, multiply your maximum heart rate by .55 and then .85. The range you come up with is your target heart rate range. Not in the mood to do math? Here’s a handy target heart rate calculator.

How Much:

Per week: Minimum 150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity (55-70% maximum heart rate) or 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous intensity (70-85% maximum heart rate).

Frequency: Minimum 3 days/week.

Duration: Each dose of cardiovascular exercise can be as short as 10 minutes, but ideally 20-30 minutes.

How to Get It:

You’re getting cardiovascular exercise any time your pulse is in the target heart rate zone. Some common examples include swimming, biking and running. But, even things like raking, shoveling and vacuuming can count.

Why You Need It:

Heart and lungs: improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the heart muscle pump, improves lung function and improves skin circulation.

Quality of life: weight management, decreases stress, improves sleep, better mood and easier to perform daily activities.

Overall health: decreases risk for Alzheimer’s disease, lowers blood sugar and helps manage arthritis,

Strength Training

strength training is a component of a well-rounded fitness routine
Use weights for resistance.

Did you know that after the age of 30, muscle mass declines 3-5% per decade? To combat this, move your arms, legs and torso against resistance to develop strength, stability and power. 

How Much:

Per week: Two or more days per week. Strengthen all major muscle groups of the arms, legs and torso.

Duration: Exercise each muscle group to fatigue, no need to count reps.

How to Get It:

Muscles have to get fatigued in order to get stronger. Resistance created by bands, weights, and machines are some of the most common ways to strength-train. You don’t need a gym membership though, you can use your body weight for resistance or make your own weights at home (fill water bottles, lift around the garden or even lift your children).

Why You Need It:

Quality of life: strength and ease while you participate fully in life, more power during sports and recreation, increased stability and easier to maintain posture.

Overall health: maintain or improve bone density, mitigate muscle mass decline associated with aging, improved metabolism and decreased risk for injury.

Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility is a component of a well-rounded fitness routine
Stretching can be done anywhere.

Some people are born predisposed to being more flexible and others more stiff. As we age, soft tissues become less pliable and joints stiffen. In general, if you can reach overhead and squat to the floor, you have a functional amount of flexibility.

How Much:

Per week: Several times a week, depending on how stiff and how active you are.

Duration: Hold each stretch 20-30 seconds to lengthen muscles.

How to Get It:

Move your joints and spine throughout their full available range of motion in all directions. To lengthen stiffer muscles, vary your stretches and choose static holds. If you participate in sports, use dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles for the demands you place on them.

Why You Need It:

Overall health: allows soft tissues and joints to respond to movement without pain and to helps you avoid injury.

Balance and Agility Exercises

Balance and agility exercises are components of fitness
Working on balance and agility improves your balance reactions so you can participate safely in more challenging activities.

In youth, activities tend to be more explosive, technical and risky.  As we age, we should still challenge our bodies the same way. Though we should do them in a safe, less intense environment.  

How Much:

Per week: 3-5 days a week

Duration: 5-10 minutes at a time

How to Get It:

Balance can be challenged anytime, anywhere. Simply stand on one leg while closing your eyes or turning your head. You can also find unstable surfaces like a BOSU ball, balance discs or even grass or sand. To work on agility, practice coordination and agility drills.

Why You Need It:

Quality of life: maintain your ability to participate in the sports, recreation and daily activities that you enjoy.

Overall health: helps you decrease your fall risk (and therefore risk of fractures). Frequent falls are a predictor of morbidity and mortality.


recovery is an important component of a well-rounded fitness routine
Take time to recover after a work out.

Another important and often overlooked topic is recovery from your workouts. There’s a balance between stressing your body with exercise and allowing time to recover. Appropriate rest allows your body to become more resilient to exercise stresses.

How Much:

Duration: Take a day to rest after working a certain muscle group or after an intense or lengthy cardio session.


For a well-rounded fitness routine, these components can be broken up and interspersed throughout your week. You don’t have to do them all every day, but consistency is important.

Cheers to working on your physical fitness!


Here in Boise, Idaho, older adults have access to the Fit and Fall Proof ClassTM. This is a free community class that works on balance, light strengthening and gentle flexibility.

Guidelines on physical activity from the U.S Dept. of Health and Human Services

Fitness Training: Elements of a Well-Rounded Routine

CDC’s National Physical Activity Initiative

From Head to Toe: The Benefits of a Cardio Workout

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition

Preserve Your Muscle Mass

The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery