Be Healthy, Be Happy # 26

FITNESS & HEALTH – the same thing?!

Many people often seem to confuse these two fairly different concepts. Let’s try to clarify these terms a bit more this week.

According to the World Health Organization, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

AND, regarding fitness, how about this detailed definition and list of components?
– from

Fitness, on the other hand, is defined as a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity. Fitness is made up of many components, and the following factors need to be considered when discussing fitness levels:
1. Endurance (Cardiovascular and Cardio-Respiratory): This is your body’s ability to use and deliver oxygen to your body.
2. Stamina (Muscular Endurance): This is your body’s ability to store, process, and use energy.
3. Strength: This is the ability of your muscles or a muscular unit to apply force.
4. Flexibility: The ability to maximize the range of motion of a joint.
5. Power: The ability of your muscles to maximize their force in a minimum amount of time.
6. Speed: The ability to minimize the amount of time it takes you to accomplish a task or movement.
7. Coordination: The ability to combine several different movement patterns in a single distinct movement.
8. Accuracy: The ability to control a movement in a given direction or intensity.
9. Agility: The ability to minimize the time going from one movement to another.
10. Balance: The ability to control the centre of gravity of your body in relation to your support base.

So, conceivably, an individual can be very fit and even quite strong, but could still be unhealthy in some regards. Additionally, a person can be very healthy, but possibly not very fit. The goal for all of us should likely be seeking out a balance of both fitness and health.

This makes good sense to me, personally. In my earlier years, my mind seemed to focus almost entirely on being fit and strong. I think that some friends and colleagues still view me or think of me as a “physically fit” individual. Yet, looking at the ten attributes here, I definitely have some weaknesses, especially in terms of flexibility. At my somewhat advanced age, I try to think more of “mobility.” I want to be able to MOVE every day – feeling that my various joints are fluid enough to move my body in a variety of ways – whether exercising, playing sports, or doing daily physical chores at home.

In my 50’s and now mid-60’s, my main focus and goals currently reside much more in the overall realm of Health, and overall wellness. I want to feel good not just physically, but mentally-socially-emotionally, and even spiritually. In my quest for more complete health, I now pay much more attention to certain lifestyle factors, such as: better sleep, purposeful nutrition, managing stress, getting sunlight, playing, avoidance of trauma, and conscientiously using my mind.

Sure – I still want to maintain a good physical appearance; I want to maintain a good amount of muscle mass and tone; I desire to improve my sports performance levels, along with enhancing my mobility-flexibility also. Yet, these days I strive for overall quality of life, a long healthspan – free of disease as long as possible; and just feeling capable of daily movement and what might be termed “active aging.” The diagram caption for this post describes this well.

I also very much identify with this description of What Does it Mean to Be Fit? – from my own primal guru, Mark Sisson. His story of being an outstanding and premier triathlete is especially interesting and noteworthy. As he states – he was not actually fit in many ways, and he was definitely not healthy.

So, to each of you – ask yourself about your goals for the coming years – do you want to focus mainly on fitness, or on health – or a feasible combination/balance of these two concepts?!


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