Fitness, Health & Well Being – How are they different?


Most of us believe that being fit is healthy. But, is that true?

We have seen that sportsmen or athletes can have cardiac issues, diabetes, or high cholesterol, enen gym freaks with six-pack abs can have higher triglyceride levels. Being fit and healthy is not the same and it is two entirely separate states of physical being. That is the reason why we find people perceived to be fit often getting health issues and those without the perfect shape being quite healthy.  Fitness involves some sort of activity to stimulate various systems of the body to maintain certain conditions whereas health involves every system/aspect of the body which can be attained only through a balanced lifestyle. 

The relation between health, fitness, and wellbeing

As per the World Health Organization, health is not just the absence of disease or infirmity, whereas it is the state of complete mental, physical and social well being which includes longevity, quality of life, freedom from pain, etc. 

Fitness is the set of attributes all of us have to achieve to perform physical activities. Endurance, stamina, coordination, strength, flexibility, agility, power, speed, etc are all the parameters that need to be considered while discussing fitness levels. 

Wellness can be explained only through a broader perspective. From a holistic point of view, it is the combination of health, fitness, and mental wellbeing. Having the perfect shape and looks while being healthy will not guarantee wellness unless the individual is happy and content. Mental well-being is an important factor for overall wellness. Being fit will give us emotional well-being, being healthy is important for our social wellbeing. Wellness is the amalgamation of emotional, social, and mental wellbeing.

health and fitness

A holistic concept to well-being

Being healthy and having a healthy lifestyle starts with your food intake, exercise, and maintaining your weight. Eating right doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the foods you love, it is all about balance. Eating homemade food is not always healthy if you are gorging on all goodies and having excess calories. We should make sure the food intake is per the calories spent by the body for day-to-day activities. A sedentary lifestyle is always the main villain. 

The body spends calories for its metabolic functions (heart functions, lung functions, etc) and physical activities like gymming, swimming, running, etc. But care should be taken to opt for the exercises as per the individual body type and medical conditions. For example, a person with an arthritic knee should not go running or do exercises that put pressure on their knee, and lifting weights are a complete no for a person with piles or fistula. Even the fitness aspect should be perceived from a medical perspective, which is termed medical fitness. 

As per our culture, geography, and preferences, the food we eat may differ and it may not be healthy in every aspect, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid it completely. Having a balance is the only thing that we should strive for. Having rice for a south Indian is unavoidable, but excess carbohydrates are not good for diabetic patients. Completely avoiding carbs and having proteins are also not going to help either.  So, without foregoing our favorite food, we should try and maintain a balance so that we take only the necessary quantity of rice needed for the body, just like the protein, fat, and other vitamins. Anything in excess is an issue. Dieting should not be taken in a negative sense; rather it should be a way of life where we only have the necessary quantity needed for our wellbeing while maintaining a healthy ratio between the calorie intake and calorie spent. 

Mental wellbeing is the most important factor as we are all living in a competitive world and are often stressed about work, finance, etc. Rejuvenating your body and mind from time to time is necessary. For comprehensive wellness, we should try and incorporate other aspects such as spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health.  Wellness is multidimensional and can only be attained through optimal holistic health and wellbeing.

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