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Healthy Unfit? Or Unhealthy Fit?

With fitness hashtags trending since the Covid-19 lockdown, many have started to focus on re-building their physique and health. But the pitfall is the unclear knowledge on fitness and health. A client of mine had an unfortunate experience on these lines. Scarlett started working out vigorously during her days of lockdown. She was also following strict diet plans with long intermittent fasting. Eventually, her fitness craze began to take its toll on her health. She started falling ill often, became very weak affecting her holistic health, and ironically, fitness too.

Health and fitness are often mistaken for the other, but they are not the same.

WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, whereas fitness is defined as ‘ability to perform work satisfactorily’.

What is Fitness?

Most of us have a misconception that fitness means fat-burning, achieving the perfect shape, the coveted six-packs, and bulging biceps. They are just the additional freebies you get through constant workout routines. Then, what is fitness in the real sense?

Fitness is the measure of your ability to perform the best for a particular environment you are in. It is bound to certain systems of your body and isn’t holistic. It is more concerned with the strength of your muscular and skeletal systems. You can notch up your fitness levels if you notch up your workouts, practices, and other physical exertions, along with proper nutrition and rest. Fitness shall lead to improved endurance, toning up, increased flexibility, speed, and power, better-coordinated movements, and better appearances.

Isn’t health the same as fitness?

No. Both might seem similar but never the same. While fitness is restricted to the well-functioning of certain systems of the body, health encompasses every functional system in your body, including mental and psychological wellness. The absence of disease or any infirmity is a criterion to be qualified as a healthy person.

For instance, a friend of mine who neglected to eat properly ignored the fat content and ate mostly processed foods: no exercise in the world could correct the damage done from such a lifestyle.

With all the internal systems in a proper working state, good health ensures you quality life, longevity, disease-free, and pain-free life. A balanced diet, proper sleep and rest, exercises, and a lifestyle of low stress are the inputs necessary for a life of health.

Our health is a result of numerous choices we make every day at every instant, not just fitness alone.

How do I know if am healthy or fit?

You might be asking this yourself by now. And this was the exact question I asked myself a year ago. Is one more important than the other or are they equally important?

Ask yourself this:

1. If you feel you are healthy, ask the following about your fitness:

  • Can I walk for 20 minutes/climb two floors without pausing to catch my breath?

  • Is my body weight right for my body height?

  • Am I very productive at work (especially where physical exertion is involved)?

  • Do I feel exhausted by the end of the day?

  • Do I sleep 7–8 hours daily?

2. If you are a fit person, ask the following to know if you are healthy:

  • How often are my sick leaves?

  • Do I binge on shows or go for a stroll during my leisure time?

  • How easily do I recover from illness?

  • Do I get the ‘pin and needle’ feeling in my arms or legs often? (If yes, you have very good blood circulation!)

  • Do I spend enough time with family and friends?

  • Do I feel frustrated or easily distracted at work? (especially during mental activity)

The answers to the above make us clear on how one is as important as the other. What help is it if you feel fatigued and nauseated as soon as you climb stairs despite being healthy? Despite being a gym fanatic, if weekly medical appointments tire you or your family doesn’t get enough time with you, how helpful is your fitness in the real sense? For an athlete, the agility and strength of his muscles determine his fitness, but if he is under stress and lacks good sleep, his overall health isn’t good.

Choosing between health and fitness would be doing wrong to yourself. One without the other never goes well. The right blend of fitness practices and health practices ensures a balanced healthy and fit life. This is why striking a balance between the both is necessary. Focusing on either of these alone can also cause risks. Hard workouts by someone whose health is already in a bad state will only deteriorate it even more leaving no chance for improvement. Similarly, disregarding fitness levels over a long period would make movements difficult.

The above being said; it’s subjective to each individual to work on their health or fitness depending on their current state. Check yourself and find out the imbalance in your fitness life and healthy life. Take heart and tune your lifestyle to fit in the best nutrition, workout, and recovery practices that nurture your fitness as well as health through a comprehensive plan.

What good is it if you are healthy but cannot lift your bags when you travel? What good is it if you are fit but aren’t having a peaceful way of life?

Move out of the ‘healthy but unfit’ and ‘fit but unhealthy’ life and towards a “fit and healthy” life!

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