Flexibility is the ability to move the joints through their full ranges of motion. It depends on joint structure, the length and elasticity of connective tissue, and nervous system activity. Flexible, pain-free joints are important for good health and well-being. Inactivity causes the joints to become stiffer with age. Stiffness, in turn, often causes people to assume unnatural body postures that can stress joints and muscles. Stretching exercises can help ensure a healthy range of motion for all major joints.
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Body composition refers to the proportion of fat and fat-free mass (muscle, bone, and water) in the body. Healthy body composition involves a high proportion of fat-free mass and an acceptably low level of body fat, adjusted for age and gender. A person with excessive body fat especially excess fat in the abdomen is more likely to experience health problems, including heart disease, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, stroke, joint problems, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, blood vessel inflammation, some types of cancer, back pain, and premature death.
The best way to lose fat is through a lifestyle that includes a sensible diet and exercise. The best way to add muscle mass is through strength training. Large changes in body composition are not necessary to improve health; even a small increase in physical activity and a small decrease in body fat can lead to substantial health improvements.
Somatotype, or body build, affects a person’s choice of exercise. Endomorphs are round and pear-shaped. They often excel at weight lifting and weight-supported aerobic exercises such as swimming or cycling. Conversely, they might find distance running difficult and painful. Mesomorphs are lean and muscular and usually excel at almost any kind of physical activity or sport. Ectomorphs are thin and linear. Their light frame helps them succeed in activities such as distance running and gymnastics. No matter what body type you have, you can benefit from some form of physical activity.
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