Health has been defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It includes ageing well, longevity and quality of life, freedom from pain and so much more.’
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:
- Endurance (Cardiovascular and Cardio-Respiratory): This is your body’s ability to use and deliver oxygen to your body.
- Stamina (Muscular Endurance): This is your body’s ability to store, process, and use energy.
- Strength: This is the ability of your muscles or a muscular unit to apply force.
- Flexibility: The ability to maximize the range of motion of a joint.
- Power: The ability of your muscles to maximize their force in a minimum amount of time.
- Speed: The ability to minimize the amount of time it takes you to accomplish a task or movement.
- Coordination: The ability to combine several different movement patterns in a single distinct movement.
- Accuracy: The ability to control a movement in a given direction or intensity.
- Agility: The ability to minimize the time going from one movement to another.
- Balance: The ability to control the centre of gravity of your body in relation to your support base.
Fitness involves activity of some sort that stimulates various systems of the body and maintains a certain condition within the body.
Health, on the other hand, involves every system of the body and is only achieved through a lifestyle that supports health.
For instance, if a client tells me that they have neglected to eat properly, ignored the fat content, calorie count and carbs intake and eaten mostly processed foods, all the exercise in the world cannot correct the damage done from such a lifestyle. Exercise won’t prevent the damage caused by chemicals or boost the immune system or address weakness caused by unhealthy eating habits. Only sound nutrition can support good health. Of course, fitness ALSO supports and improves health if it is a WAY OF LIFE.
In short, fitness is not the only determinant of your health but an important contributor towards a healthy life.
Being ‘healthy’ means a sum total of all those habits and decisions that enable you to lead a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle, both mentally and physically.
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