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Health vs Fitness

I think a horrible thing is happening in social media. We are getting extreme levels of fitness confused with health.

I wanted to write this post to clear up this confusion. Health vs fitness, how they are the same thing, how they are different, and the grey area in between. This post is aimed at helping you better understand the difference between these two, so that you can set better goals for you and your lifestyle.

Let’s start with health. Here is what the dictionary says about health:

Definition of Health

1 a : the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit She is the picture of health.; especially : freedom from physical disease or pain nursed them back to health
b : the general condition of the body How is your mother’s health? in poor health enjoys good health
2 a : a condition in which someone or something is thriving or doing well : well-being: defending the health of the beloved oceans —Peter Wilkinson
b : general condition or state poor economic health
3 : a toast to someone’s health or prosperity

This says nothing about having a six pack, running fast, or lifting a lot of weight. Health, is more or less, simply the absence of bad. You have your health, by not having a disease. You are healthy because you do not have high blood pressure. Anything beyond the absence of disease does not make you “more healthy”. However, you can probably always live a healthier lifestyle to contribute to your ongoing health. Health is relatively easy to maintain for some. While others who might be chronically ill, health is harder to achieve and keep.

Now let’s talk about fitness

Definition of fitness

1the quality or state of being fit
2the capacity of an organism to survive and transmit its genotype to reproductive offspring as compared to competing organisms; also the contribution of an allele or genotype to the gene pool of subsequent generations as compared to that of other alleles or genotypes.
Fitness is different than health, it is about survival and reproduction. The strongest will survive the harsh conditions, the most attractive will have the greatest demand for reproduction. This is all about looking, and performing the best. In our modern and diverse world, these ideals can vary greatly. As well as performance needs can vary from sport to sport, even among different recreational lifestyles.

So who is the most fit athlete among the following?

  • Strength athlete: strongman, powerlifting, highland games, throwing
  • Endurance athlete: marathons, triathlons, bikers
  • Calisthenics: gymnastics, acrobatics, yoga, dance
  • Field sport athlete: football, baseball, rugby, soccer, basketball
  • Aesthetic athlete: bodybuilder, fitness model, bikini diva

The answer is, all of them. Each of these athletes has a unique set of talents that they train to perfect. You can’t even begin to compare the marathon runner to the strongman, they work in completely different energy systems, fiber types, and require a much different training schedule/ diet. At the professional level, they are both very fit. (Capable of doing the task required of the sport) This also applies to the other element of fitness, how attractive one appears. Some people find the lean body of a dancer to be very beautiful and desirable, while others are more attracted to the full muscle bellies of a strength athlete.

We need to learn to stop comparing ones athletic ability to athletes of a different discipline. The argument of “Who is a better athlete” should never be used when comparing athletes of completely different disciplines. Individuals are entitled to their opinions, of course. Some will argue to their graves that the athletes of one sport are the greatest of all athletes. Well, people like to argue in general.

This also happens when people argue about the attractiveness of an individual. Everyone is beautiful to someone, no one body type is the ideal of beauty for everyone. This is important to remember in subjective sports like bodybuilding. Some judges will prefer a leaner look, others will prefer a more muscular look. This is the single biggest disadvantage for bodybuilders compared to other sports. The whole sport can change from judge to judge. Scoring points or lifting weight is much more fair when you consider the smaller margin for disagreement, but even then, some referees will make calls that the audience dislikes.

We need to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. People of all shapes and sizes should feel beautiful and attractive in their own skin, but they might not be attractive to everyone.

Part of deciding on your goal, is determining what you are willing to put in. Someone might want to be very fit, but they only want to live a lifestyle that promotes health. Becoming an athlete takes a great deal of discipline and hard work. It’s not for everyone! Being an athletes might not improve your quality of life, whereas working on improving your health will.

Are they exclusive of each other?

Health and fitness are different things. You can be fit and healthy, but you could also be fit OR healthy. Many athletes on the elite level make sacrifices in their health, in order to push themselves to the next tier of fitness. A great example of this would be an elite strongman athlete. You don’t get to that size and strength without making some sacrifices to your health. Eddie Hall, 2017 World’s Strongest Man winner, was open about his health issues and the fact that he had to sleep with a sleep apnea machine. These health sacrifices were what ultimately led him to retire from the sport. Would he have won that title if he stayed within normal healthy ranges of dietary recommendations? Probably not!

Can you be fit and still stay healthy? Yes, but you might not excel in fitness as much as someone who is willing to ignore some of their health needs (Like the example of Eddie Hall). It is up to each individual to decide what their priority is. At Body Temple Aesthetics, we prioritize quality of life, health, and general well being over high levels of physical fitness. We encourage our clients to take care of their bodies, and sometimes that means skipping a workout so they can have some downtime. Sometimes that means eating something “unhealthy” so they can enjoy the mental benefits they get from social events revolving around food (Like a tasting party, etc).

If you want to become elite in your sport, you need to know in advance what sacrifices you are willing to make, and what you are not willing to make. Incredible athletic feats comes from a very tough training schedule, which can lead to pain in your later years. Is this worth it? Only the individual can decide that. Our coaches are here to help you create some healthy goals for yourself and determine your best route for success in your goals. We can help you

  1. Identify your true goals
  2. Direct you in the path to achieve those goals
  3. Coach you as you travel that path
  4. Keep you motivated along the way

Reach out to us today if you are interesting in getting more guidance in your training. We can help you split your goals up into macro goals and micro goals. Knowing your long term outcome goal, and doing the daily habits to get you there!

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