Between fitness and health
Alexa Montecillo (The Freeman) - November 21, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - To most people, having a fit body means being healthy. But, strictly, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), these are two different states of being. One may be fit but not healthy, and vice versa.

The WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It includes longevity, quality of life, freedom from pain, aging well, etc. 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.

Wellness expert Meagan Simpson of www.shape explains that fitness involves activity of some sort that stimulates various systems of the body and maintains a certain condition within the body. Health, she says, involves every system of the body, and is only achieved through a lifestyle that supports health. She cites an example that if a person neglects eating properly, ignore the fat content, and eats mostly processed foods, all the exercise in the world couldn’t possibly correct the damage done from such a lifestyle.

Physical exercise won’t remove the damage from chemicals, or improve immune system damage or weakness from depleted foods, Simpson says, emphasizing that only sound nutrition can support good health. While fitness can also support health and will improve health if it is part of a way of life, health is mainly the result of thousands of daily nutritional decisions a person makes.

Total wellbeing can only be achieved by getting a balance between both sides – of health and fitness – to an ideal state of wellness. Sadly, today’s concept of health and fitness is simply based on looks – having the bulges in the right places – and keeping the body weight low, even as low to a level that is actually not healthy anymore. Some would even exchange their wellbeing for the outward look.

Again, the whole package should include the physical, mental and spiritual health aspects. It is possible to look okay on the outside and yet be having non-physical troubles. Some super bodies are emotional wrecks inside. Conversely, a body of good condition is important to support top mind and spirit.

A person with brilliant ideas will not have much credibility if he cannot get his body up the stairs. Likewise, a strong body that is empty of a good mind and spirit doesn’t amount to much.

An athlete may be able to perform even in the face of injuries or mental health issues – like depression or drug dependencies. He may still be fit, but not healthy. Fitness is not a foolproof guarantee of good health.

There’s the story of best-selling author James Fixx of “The Complete Book of Running”. Mr. Fixx is credited with helping to start the American Fitness Revolution back in the late 70s. He died at the age of 52 of a massive heart attack after having completed his daily run.

Genes can play a significant role in one’s overall health profile. But there are actions and habits that can be taken to influence and improve health. Eating right, drinking plenty of water, getting plenty of rest, and regularly doing physical exercise are things within one’s control to bring about benefits for his health. The best combination is not to be fit or healthy – but it’s to be fit and healthy. (FREEMAN)

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