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[Extreme Existence] Health vs. Fitness: Not Necessarily the Same Thing — an article on the Smart Living Network
March 9, 2012 at 3:54 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Health vs. Fitness: Not Necessarily the Same Thing

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From the Extreme Existence Blog Series

It happens so often. A man looks in the mirror one day and realizes that he is not as thin or young looking as he used to be. In order to lose weight, he decides to run a marathon. He begins training months in advance so that when the time comes he will be healthy enough to run the entire 42.195 kilometers. After many hours of vigorous training, he runs the marathon. Good for him. He exercised. But is he really healthier? Not necessarily.

Contrary to popular belief, fitness does not imply health. We often consider to the two to be synonymous; if we become fit, we become healthier. Actually, while fitness certainly contributes to a person’s overall health, it does not guarantee that that person will be healthy.

Here are some basic facts about health and fitness as well as how to get and retain a healthy lifestyle.

Health

Health refers to the physical condition of all systems in the human body, from the nervous system to digestion to the heart. Each of these, including fitness, contributes to a person’s overall health. Health is complex, and it takes a complete lifestyle—not just an active one—to become and stay healthy.

Nutrition

Nutrition plays just as large a role in healthiness as fitness. You can work out as much as you want, but if you are not eating right, you will remain unhealthy. The key to healthy living is to always work WITH your body, not to over exert it or counteract it. Pursue fitness along with other healthy activities such as eating healthy foods and exercising your mind.

Fitness

Fitness refers to a person’s ability to perform physical activity. This can be any physical activity from walking to marathon running to lifting weights to playing tag. Contrary to popular belief, fitness does not imply health. One can exercise regularly and be incredibly fit, yet he can still have problems with his heart, lungs, or other parts of his body that keep him from being healthy.

Dangers of Fitness

There is such a thing as being too fit. Last May, scientists evaluated the blood of runners 24 hours after they had participated in a marathon. Results showed that the marathoners’ blood had high levels of clotting and inflammatory factors, making their blood not unlike that of people who have suffered heart attacks. This does not mean that marathon running is a bad activity, but if you are looking to become healthy, there are better options to consider.

Exercise

You should exercise in order to become healthy. Exercise is simply structured physical activity, focusing on specific parts of the body with a varied frequency, intensity, and duration. The key to good exercise is to find a high level of intensity that can be done without exhausting yourself. If you can do this, you will not overwork your body. You will become fit without endangering your health.

Walking

Some people say walking is the best exercise. It works well because it is difficult to overwork yourself when you walk. Walking also allows you to work out regularly and often. Plus, almost anyone can do it. There are many benefits to walking. According to studies, it increases life expectancy, and helps to prevent heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and osteoporosis. In addition, it can help to lower your chances of getting colon cancer, stroke, and lower back injury. So if you want to become fit, you don’t have to do something big and athletic. All you have to do is walk every day.

You don’t have to run a marathon to become fit. Fitness is not about how fast you can be or how big your muscles are. If you really want to pursue a healthy lifestyle, pursue it in all aspects of life—not just fitness.

What sorts of things do you do to stay fit? What do you do to stay healthy?

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