What is the difference between fitness and health? What a great and very difficult question to answer; a question that people probably don't ask as much as they should.
In my upcoming blog posts I will be delving more deeply into the different aspects of fitness and health.
What does 'fitness' mean?
As someone who works in the fitness industry and owns two businesses that are completely based around getting people fitter, stronger and healthier, it's something that plays on my mind a lot. I want to attempt to come up with some form of definition or explanation for the lay person to explain what I believe fitness is. Because without it, we don't really have a clear direction or idea as to what we should be doing when we step inside the gym; whether it be at your local leisure centre, a Crossfit gym or a local bootcamp.
A quick search in the dictionary offers the following definitions of fitness as:
- The condition of being physically fit and healthy
- The quality of being suitable to fulfil a particular role or task
These make sense and are good starting points. I think that for me, fitness totally depends on the perspective of the person we are speaking to, and that the first definition above is actually too vague. Being physically fit and healthy will mean different things to different people depending on their goals and lifestyle.
We should not confuse fitness with health.
What is 'health'?
Health is described in the dictionary as:
‘the state of being free from illness (mental or physical) or injury’.
This is something that, in my opinion, all humans should be striving for and almost all of us want on some level. And attaining good health will almost always involve some form of exercise for an individual.
Body Image and the Role of Social Media
In today's society, people have, in many cases, slipped so far from this definition of 'health'. Many fall into the trap of extreme exercise and diet regimes to achieve better health and/or body composition. By doing this, they often end up losing sight of long term health in the pursuit of better body composition.
This for me is the common theme that I see day in, day out. And it is only exacerbated by social media, which is awash with quick-fix bodies and success stories, pictures of unbelievably jacked guys and girls with ‘perfect’ bodies.
The reality is that these images are extremely hard to attain and sustain for most people. But in spite of that, the subconscious is bombarded with the notion that to be more attractive and reach our potential, we have to look like them. This leads to a nasty spiral where actual health and/or fitness is left by the wayside as people become frustrated with a lack of success and are more and more harsh on themselves.
[As a side note I really believe that we should all be exploring our own self-worth and how strongly it is connected to our physical bodies and how we look.]
Exercise in a smart way
For us to be free of illness and injury (health) we must be smart with our exercise, and if you have spent the last 40 years of your life becoming ‘sick’, then do not expect to and look healthy again in 6 months. If that does happen, then I am afraid it is probably doing a fair bit of damage to you, and is probably going to be unsustainable.
Fitness on the other hand is something more than just health - in fact, sometimes it is the opposite of health. To me, it is an objective attained by exercising in a particular way, often prescribed by someone else (if you are smart), to achieve those objectives. Fitness, like health, will not be built by fast tracking yourself or skipping the basics.
In future blogs I will be delving further into the rabbit hole of fitness and health, how to build it and where the pitfalls lie.