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So what is fitness ?

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

As we exit Lockdown 2.0 and enter different tiers the UK’s obesity issue once again in the headlines and polarising opinion. There are many opinions :‘just eat less and move more’ to the ‘its much more complex than that!’ approach.

This is a series of health and fitness blogs that are aimed at helping us to make small changes to our lifestyle. Discussing ideas on how to strike the balance between cost and time, and the motivation needed to tackle the issue.

There have been several significant challenges to the Governments latest ideas to combat the obesity crisis in the UK. The critics stating it is too simplistic and, in some cases, dangerous for those people struggling with eating disorders. The reality is that as a nation 65% of adults are either overweight or obese. Studies have suggested that this increases the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and osteoarthritis. It has shown to worsen the symptoms and outcomes for those that have contracted Covid19. This is what has prompted the government to ask us to become ‘fitter’ as a nation.

But – What is Health & Fitness?

Health – “Health is a state of being associated with freedom from disease and illness that also includes a positive component (wellness) that is associated with the quality of life and positive well-being” (Corbin et all, 2000)

Physical Fitness – When most of us think about ‘fitness’ we imagine it refers to physical fitness. Physical fitness is defined as the ability to maintain an active lifestyle. The US Department of Health and Human services describes it as “A set of attributes that people have or achieve relating to their ability to perform normal physical activity”. A Fitness Instructor will most often consider four main areas for improvement, Cardiovascular, Muscular, Flexibility and Motor Function.

There are six other aspects to ‘Total Fitness’ however, these are the other factors which if out of balance can lead to issues which create the environment for weight management and a healthy lifestyle becoming a challenge.

Emotional Fitness – The ability to deal with life’s challenges in a positive way. It is an awareness of emotions and an ability to express and manage them.

Mental Fitness – The ability to be aware of and to manage thinking patterns to be able to make positive and logical decisions and choices. Mental health is thankfully being discussed more openly these days and there are a lot more resources to help. (Mind & CALM are good starting points).

Social Fitness – The ability to interact develop and maintain healthy relationships with people.

Spiritual Fitness – This is an awareness of one’s self beliefs and the beliefs of others. It includes the ability to understand different social, religious, and cultural perspectives and integrate these into a harmonious and tolerant outlook.

Medical Fitness – When an individual has no illness or disease and continues to make lifestyles choices that help to maintain this.

What is pleasing about this is the recognition that we need to consider the ‘whole’ person or indeed our ‘whole selves’. Short term interventions, diets and quick fixes do not address the bigger issue. Therefore, any fitness & weight loss programme must be manageable, as enjoyable as possible (especially to start with) and planned for the longer term. Any small change in positive habits and lifestyle will lead to greater benefits if they are maintained over the medium to longer term. The support of those close to us where possible will help dramatically on this journey, don’t be afraid to ask them.

Physical and Nutritional Fitness are areas which will ultimately determine the health of our bodies, understanding how to manage these to ensure we can maintain a healthy body weight is vital. We cannot ignore the others though and tackling all of them at the same time might not be possible . Lau Tzu said ‘The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step’. Good Luck.

Fitness Definitions taken from Discovery Learning- 2013 Product DLMU01 page 131

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