The adage, “never judge a book by its cover,” can be tough to put into practice, especially when construed with fitness and health. For example, is it possible to look healthy and be unhealthy? If you pay attention to TV, look at magazine covers or follow social media, it’s possible. The media would have you believe someone thin or muscular, in a general sense, is healthy and fit, while someone not as toned or perhaps considered overweight is often looked at as unhealthy.
Can looks be deceiving? Is there more than meets the eye to health than a number on a scale or a size on a store rack? Absolutely.
Fitness vs. Health
People often swap these terms for one another, when they, in fact, have far different meanings. Fitness relates directly to your adaptation of exercise or physical activity. Your body adapts to the exertion you put in, making the required changes so that the next time you exert similar energy, it’s not as difficult. However, building muscle or stamina – whether it’s by weightlifting or cardio – doesn’t unilaterally make you a superhuman in every form of exercise. Fitness is very specific, and just because you can bench press a substantial amount of weight, it doesn’t mean that same strength will help you during a marathon.
Now, Let’s Define Health
Unlike fitness, where we are talking about actual exercise, describing someone’s health means their general well-being or the absence of disease. Health is not about how much you can bench or how far or fast you can run. Health is impacted by genetics, a bad diet, environmental factors and an inactive lifestyle, among others. These health factors may be lessened by exercising, eating right, and reducing stress.
Fitness Increases Your Chances of Better Health
There is no air-tight guarantee of perfect health. Fitness simply increases our chances of living as long as possible, as well as we can. Getting, and staying, active may combat certain conditions and increase the likelihood that you will look healthy and be healthier, but how we’re born and other factors – like how our individual bodies store fat – also plays a role. Picture two people side by side. One could be classified as nearly obese and another person could look healthy. Technically, both individuals could have the same amount of fat, but be storing it differently. In this example, the first person could be storing fat in their belly, while the other is storing fat deeper inside their body, around muscles and organs.
If your goal is to live a long life, you can’t rely on luck or how you look in the mirror. But, you also can’t judge someone’s overall health based on whether or not they look healthy. We encourage everyone to use fitness as a way to get and stay active, and to know your genetics and overall health to combat any unseen dangers.