Is HEALTH Different from FITNESS?
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
Health and Fitness are extensively used interchangeably. While health is a state of well-being, fitness is comparative or goal-oriented and is the ability to perform a task. Most people will agree that being healthy and fit at the same time is possible but, is it possible for a healthy person to be unfit? Or a fit person to be unhealthy at the same time? Does being healthy mean being fit, and is health different from fitness? Let’s probe scientific answers to these questions.
Let’s first try understanding what Health and Fitness are.
What is HEALTH?
As per the World Health Organisation, health is a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Mental Health can be corrected by spending quality time with family or pets, having a good work-life balance, expressing love, pursuing hobbies, listening to music, relaxing, taking a massage, watching a movie etc.
Social Health can be corrected by building social relationships, getting enough time for oneself, reducing time spent on social media etc.
Mental Health, Physical Health and Social Health are interrelated. For example, getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol & tobacco, taking a massage, cutting down on sugar etc. have both, Mental and Physical Health advantages. We are healthy if all the aspects of health are okay.
One is either HEALTHY or UNHEALTHY and cannot be HEALTHIER than someone.
What is FITNESS?
On the other hand, Fitness is very different from Health and can be defined as the ability to perform a given task. There are major five components of fitness as described by General Physical Preparedness:
Muscular Endurance: The ability of a skeletal muscle or a group of skeletal muscles to continuously contract at sub-maximal levels for an extended period.
Cardiovascular Endurance: The ability of the cardiovascular system and respiratory system to transport oxygenated blood to the working skeletal muscles for an extended length of time without fatiguing.
Musculoskeletal Strength: The combined strength of muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments makes up this component. It includes muscular power, which is the ability of a skeletal muscle or a group of skeletal muscles to perform against a load or resistance in each time frame.
Ideal Body Composition: It can be defined as the ability of an individual to maintain the ideal ratio of the adipose tissue (unwanted fat) to the lean body mass. A male has an ideal body composition if no more than 15% of his overall body weight comprises adipose tissue. A female has an ideal body composition if no more than 20% of her total body weight comprises adipose tissue.
Body Flexibility: It can be defined as the ability of the body to sustain a complete range of motion around joints. It can be achieved by preserving skeletal muscle elasticity.
HEALTH Vs FITNESS:
Fitness is always comparative and is a goal that becomes challenging by the day. Health is neither comparative nor competitive, and one may either be healthy or unhealthy. One could also be healthy but unfit or fit but unhealthy. Fitness goals may change depending on our current level of fitness. However, our perpetual health goal is to be healthy. Health goals do not change. If one is unhealthy, the goal is to become healthy.
For example, one may be a diabetic or have heart problems but run 50 km in one go. In this case, the person is unhealthy but fit to run 50 km. Similarly, one may be healthy but unfit to run 50 km in one go.
There are several examples of fit athletes dying at a very young age because they are unhealthy and healthy people dying because they are unfit.
Health and Fitness are interrelated but not the same.
One can be Unhealthy but Fit at the same time.
One can be Unfit but Healthy at the same time.
Thus, we conclude that it is possible for a healthy person to be unfit or a fit person to be unhealthy at the same time. Since health and fitness are different, being healthy does not guarantee fitness and being fit does not guarantee good health.