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The Difference Between Fitness and Health

by Tony Bowling on November 1, 2011

The dictionary defines the word “fit” as

“in good health, esp. because of regular physical exercise”

This may be the English language definition but it is not altogether true.

You can be physically fit and able to run 100 yards in a dozen seconds but not be totally healthy. You have, unfortunately, heard of the occasional athlete who simply fell over and died — this is rare, however.

Conversely you can be healthy and still not have the physical fitness to dig up the front garden.

How Healthy Can You Get?

So fitness and health are not really the same thing. Health is really a freedom from illness, aches and pains. Health is not really a measurable thing in itself. Health is a lack of those things that make you unhealthy. I know I’m kind of stating the obvious but I mention it because there is this question: How healthy do you expect to get? Is there a “super healthy”, or “really healthy”, or “the most healthy in the world”? No I do not think so. One is either healthy, meaning there is nothing wrong, there’s no attention on the body and one is able to just get on with and enjoy life or one is not healthy. Healthy is not being ill. Physical fitness on the other hand is something that can be measured and improved upon.

Some people do very little physical exercise but are still healthy.

Now, last time I touched on this subject a reader thought I was promoting that you should not exercise. I am not doing that. I certainly work out myself but I want to clarify the exact reasons for it and point out the differences.

Pounding The Streets

All of my life I have pounded the streets running, swam in the sea and pools, cycled up and down the sides of hills, played soccer and generally ensured that I was physically fit. My personal choice was to have a body that did these things well. If I was to compete in a future soccer tournament I would do a program to get even more fit for the event so I would perform well. But I never became healthier from doing this. And this leads to the BIG question does one actually get healthier just from exercise? I have no proof that I have! My wife doesn’t do any of these things and she is totally healthy.

I think that people should be fit: they should be able to run for the bus if need be, they should be able to rearrange their furniture without being sore from the stiffness the next day, etc. A body should be in a condition that you can use it for things you want to do. But that is just my opinion — it is not a statement made because I have proof that lack of running up a hill each day results in illness.

Living to a 100 Years

You’ve allĀ  heard of the person who lived to a ripe old age of 100 and never worked out a day in their life. Now I think that person missed out on a lot of fun but that’s just my idea of fun. It’s just an opinion and every one has one of those sometimes useless things!

So one of life’s choices can include: Do you want to be physically fit so you can run fast and jump high with a body that looks lean? But know that it does not appear to be a guarantee of a full healthy life. It is just a life style choice.


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