The older I get the more I realize how important it is to be fit and healthy. Building a foundation of fitness and health is vital for anyone planning to live a long and active life. But is there a difference between being fit and healthy? The answer is yes! Being fit doesn’t mean you are healthy and conversely being healthy has little to do with being fit.
We use various terms to describe health. A person has vibrant health or radiant health. One can be healthy as a horse or the opposite: poor health and failing health. But what is health and how can I tell if I am healthy? Below are some ways to gauge your health.
- Free from debilitating diseases.
- Vital signs like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, heart rate are normal.
- Your weight is within the acceptable range for your height.
- At your last physical exam the doctor gave you a clean bill of health.
Now let us look at fitness. Of course there are different levels of fitness. There is the Lance Armstrong level and then there is the fitness level of a jogger you runs 5k races. But basically fitness is the measure of being able to perform a task efficiently. Fitness is achieved through physical activity. For example if I want to win a 5k race I have to run on a regular basis, gradually increasing my pace and lowering my time.
A person can be fit and unhealthy. How many times have we heard or seen in the news of a seemingly healthy athlete collapse and die because of an undetected aliment. Even Lance Armstrong when he was at his peak of physical fitness developed Testicular cancer. Fortunately for Lance he beat the big ‘C’ in no small measure because of his level of fitness. By the same token a healthy person’s fitness level maybe at the low end of the scale because he or she doesn’t exercise.
In my own case I maintain a level of fitness that most sixty-five year old would envy. I’m no Armstrong, but I am able to perform physical most tasks at levels that would leave a “normal” thirty year old breathless. Despite being fit, I do have some health issues. I have to take statins for my high cholesterol and my blood pressure is slightly elevated. Both problems run in my family so I guess I will blame genetics.
As important as being fit is and as much as I like the feeling that comes with being fit and healthy if I was to chose one or the other I would chose health over fitness. Thanks to modern medicine many health problems can be effectively treated, but of course you can’t pick your parents, so genetically you have to live with the cards you are dealt.
However if you are out of shape there’s definitely something you can do. Being fit can keep help you stay healthy by building a foundation that will fight off many common aliments such as colds, flu etc. Most people who are fit live a lifestyle that even if they suffer a major health issue such as cancer have a better chance of survive.
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- Guide to becoming a fitness instructor (forty-plus-fitness.com)
- Your Lovely Bones: Exercises to Prevent Osteoporosis (boomersnextstep.com)
- Use Walking to Stay in Shape (boomersnextstep.com)