People generally assume that being fit is synonymous with being healthy. However, these terminologies encompass two separate states of physical being from a medical standpoint.
You can have a fit individual with underlying chronic health conditions or vice versa.
So, what’s the difference between fitness and health?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Being healthy includes parameters such as longevity and good quality of life.
On the other hand, fitness is defined as a set of attributes people have or achieve involving their ability to perform physical activity.
What are the components of fitness?
Fitness comprises many different components:
- Endurance: There are two forms of endurance.
- Cardiovascular and cardio-respiratory endurance: The body’s ability to use and transport oxygen.
- Muscular endurance or Stamina: The body’s capacity to store, process, and consume energy.
- Power: Muscular capacity to optimize force in the shortest amount of time.
- Strength: The muscle’s or a muscular unit’s ability to exert force.
- Balance: Capacity to control the body’s centre of gravity with respect to its support foundation.
- Speed: Ability to execute a movement in the fastest possible time.
- Flexibility: The ability to optimize a joint’s range of motion.
- Coordination: Ability to unify different movement patterns into one distinct version.
- Accuracy: The ability to control a movement with a specific direction, intensity, or momentum.
- Agility: Capacity to reduce time transitioning from one movement to the next.
Being fit does not equate with being healthy.
Any physical activity that stimulates the body’s musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and cardio-respiratory systems and optimizes their function is considered fitness. Exercise, which drives fitness, is an integral component of a healthy lifestyle. However, it is not the sole component driving an optimal healthy state. Health is also determined by a balanced diet and nutrition, adequate hydration, maintaining a physiological sleep cycle, and stress management.
Being ONLY fit or only focusing on exercise regimens will not guarantee that you will be healthy. Exercise alone cannot halt the progression of or reverse bodily damage triggered by nutritional deficiencies or the onset of chronic disease pathologies due to genetics or family history.
Similarly, even a physically fit person may suffer from health problems stemming from lack of sleep, stress, or substance abuse.
How can an individual become fit and healthy at the same time?
There are certain activities we can regularly undertake to ensure that we are on the right track to being healthy and fit at the same time.
- Physical activity: Any physical activity that increases the heart and respiratory rate and boosts your metabolism promotes health and fitness. Such activities include walking in the park or walking a pet, taking the stairs instead of an elevator, cleaning rooms.
- Aerobic exercise: Aerobic exercises involve aerobic muscles and oxygen utilization for a sustained period, enhancing cardiovascular and cardio-respiratory function. Running, cycling, brisk walking, and swimming are examples of aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises also help burn fat as the primary fuel.
- Anaerobic exercise: The term “anaerobic” means “no oxygen.” Anaerobic exercises produce short bursts of energy, and they include powerlifting, tennis, and sprinting.
- Nutrition: Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is vital to staying healthy and fit simultaneously. Nutritional deficiencies can trigger the onset of various pathological processes that can impact an individual’s fitness. Hence, a balanced diet with carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is key to sustaining a healthy and fit mind and body, preventing ailments and disability, and improving the overall quality of life.
Can preventive health screening help one stay healthy?
Preventive health screening is of pivotal importance in gauging current health status and assessing the risk and onset of any chronic medical conditions. Regular preventive health screening can help halt disease progression early on and formulate personalized, targeted management interventions, monitor response to treatment, and lower medical expenditure.
Points that can act as a pillar to a proactive approach to maintaining a long-term healthy lifestyle are:
- Eating a balanced, nutritious diet
- Engaging in physical activities, including activities to enhance fitness (aerobic and anaerobic exercises)
- Maintaining regular sleep cycles
- Avoiding tobacco and alcohol
- Going for regular preventive health screening assessments
- Being compliant with physician advice regarding consultations, follow-up tests, and medication schedules
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