A Research Paper By Eitan Israelski, Wellness Coach, ISRAEL
Getting Fit and Healthy
We are living in the ‘Age of Fitness’, we live in a society that is increasingly fixated on fitness. But with mounting pressure to not only stay fit but sculpt a toned, fit-looking body too, is our fixation with fitness starting to become unhealthy?
The growth of gym culture and fitness franchises has rapidly accelerated largely because consumers are increasingly health-conscious, but also because the sector has become heavily commoditized as a lifestyle pillar.
We used to keep fit simply for the physical health benefits. Today, not only do we engage in fitness as part of our pursuit of wellness and self-optimization, but as an aspirational lifestyle with its luxury workout clothing and boutique fitness classes.
The proliferation of social media has pushed beauty and body ideals into overdrive.
Obviously, exercise, movement, sports, and general physical activity are associated with a wide range of benefits to our physical and mental health as well as to our social lives and community. However, the pressure to keep fit can actually have negative consequences on both our physical and mental health.
The main objective of fitness today is about “having, shaping and keeping a fit body”. But things become problematic when we conflate looking fit with being fit. Appearing fit might even be considered more important than being fit, one only needs to spend a few minutes on Instagram to know much of what defines a fitness influencer is not necessarily their fitness capabilities (how do we really know?) but rather how to fit they appear. And when fitness is framed as an aesthetic goal, it can undermine the functional benefits of exercise.
Getting Fit and Healthy: Looking Fit vs. Being Healthy
Most people believe being healthy and being fit are one and the same. In reality, they can be separate states of physical being. You can be really fit, and not very healthy, and you can be very healthy and not very fit. The best benefits are found in trying to get a balance out of both sides, this requires us to identify the difference between fitness and health.
Health has been defined by the World Health Organisation as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It includes aging well, longevity, quality of life, freedom from pain, etc.
Fitness, on the other hand, is defined as a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relate to the ability to perform physical activity. Fitness is made up of many components, and the following factors need to be considered when discussing fitness levels:
- Endurance (Cardiovascular and Cardio-Respiratory): This is your body’s ability to use and deliver oxygen to the body.
- Stamina (Muscular Endurance): This is your body’s ability to store, process, and use energy.
- Strength: This is the ability of your muscles or a muscular unit to apply force.
- Flexibility: The ability to maximize the range of motion of a joint.
- Power: The ability of your muscles to maximize their force in a minimum amount of time.
- Speed: The ability to minimize the amount of time it takes you to accomplish a task or movement.
- Coordination: The ability to combine several different movement patterns in a single distinct movement.
- Accuracy: The ability to control a movement in a given direction or intensity.
- Agility: The ability to minimize the time going from one movement to another.
- Balance: The ability to control the center of gravity of your body in relation to your support base.
Fitness involves activity of some sort that stimulates various systems of the body and maintains a certain condition within the body. Health, on the other hand, involves every system of the body and is only achieved through a lifestyle that supports health.
Fitness is part of being healthy. For good health, you need to practice a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Eating a balanced diet is the key to maintaining good health. Your daily food must be highly nutritious that provide essential nutrients required for good health. Along with healthy eating habits, make sure you always keep portion sizes moderate and reasonable. A balanced and healthy diet ensures the smooth functioning of your organs.
Getting Adequate Sleep
To maintain good health, quality sleep on a regular schedule is very important. During sleep, our body relaxes, recharges, rebuilds, and rejuvenates itself. Inadequate sleep affects our physical and mental functions and we may fall sick. Infants should sleep 12 to 16 hours, toddlers 11 to 14 hours, preschoolers 10 to 13 hours, then 8 to 10 hours, and adults 7 to 8 hours.
Stress in day-to-day life is inevitable! But to lead a happy and healthier life, stress management is very important. To stay calm, you can practice yoga and meditation, always keep a positive attitude, learn time management, and enjoy your hobbies and interest. Managing stress is very important to stay healthy and keep all health issues a bay.
Practice an Active Lifestyle
Practicing an active lifestyle can help you maintain good health. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym every day; well if you’re going, it’s great. Follow some simple steps to stay active, for example, get off the bus before your actual destination and cover the remaining distance by walking. While at your workplace, get up from your chair every 30 minutes and walk around for a few minutes. Choose the stairs instead of the lift.
Maintain Personal Hygiene
Practice good personal hygiene habits to avoid communicable diseases such as colds, infections, allergies, etc. Maintain personal hygiene by washing your hands, bathing every day, changing your sheets regularly, wearing clean clothes, and brushing twice a day.
Get Yourself Checked Periodically
“Prevention is better than cure.” Preventive health checkup packages help in the early diagnosis of diseases. It helps you know your risk factors well in advance and can start an early treatment before it reaches the advanced stage.
The above effective ways can help you stay healthy and fit and you can achieve good health holistically.
Visual fitness is always more impressive and something people can judge instantly (which is why Fitness models get work) so more people strive for a muscled physique and a six-pack – it is more impressive at least up until the moment when you have to run or fight or perform any other manual task in life. Endurance, strength, flexibility, how much recovery time you need after a session – these things can’t be achieved through just working on how you look and starving your body to make your muscles stand out.
When it comes to performance, your highest priority is the results you get when performing not the ones you see in the mirror. You can be very fit but not look like it, you can have extra body fat reserves because that’s what you need to give that extra push when you need it. If your body is starved, you are tired all the time because you have given up carbs and are low on energy, and your quality of life also drops. You just can’t do everything you want to (though you will probably look like you can).
Bodybuilders know this very well, they cut carbs for months and shape their bodies for the day they go out there and show what they have achieved. And it gives us awe not just because it represents the beauty of the human body but the resolve of that person inside it. We understand that he or she gave up a lot to look like that and they have worked on that body the same way a sculptor would. In many respects, it’s a work of art, but unlike stone creations, these results are temporary because no one can continue to push their body indefinitely. We are all slobs oﬀ season.
That’s another very, very important aspect of fitness. We see all these breathtaking images of muscled, beautiful men and women all around us, on TV and in magazines and all over the web and we feel like we have failed, why don’t we look like that and what can we do to look like that? The answer is: go on a quest. If you work hard and you stay consistent, and that’s all it really takes, you will look exactly like it for a time. You will look exactly like it for a time because it is a quest and it is an ultimate prize, the achievement unlocked moment, but it’s not something you get to keep unless that’s all you do for the rest of your life – and very few people can even when it is their full-time job.
Bloggers and fitness models starve themselves to oblivion just so they can take a few pictures and immortalize the moment for posterity. Never even for a second let yourself believe that that gorgeous, perfect picture you came across of someone looking sharp is how this person looks all the time. And you should never expect or demand from yourself to be like that all the time either. Always see it for what it is, it’s a goal and a quest and it is certainly something you can try and reach but it isn’t a permanent state of aﬀairs, not for you and not for anyone.
Low body fat and that chiseled starved look don’t last, it can be achieved again and again through tremendous discipline and sacrifice, but it’s not going to stay and it’ll eventually become harder and harder to achieve not just physically but mentally too. The same goes for performance fitness, if you don’t use it – you lose it, but unlike visual fitness, it is a lot more permanent, it extends and improves your quality of life and it can be maintained indefinitely provided you call upon it regularly.
All you have to do is train, consistently. That’s all it takes to be fit, capable, and strong. You don’t have to starve or count calories, you don’t have to give up on the food you love – you just have to work for it. Performance fitness is all about what you can do, how long you can do it, and how fast you can recover before you can do it again. That’s what it means to have complete control over your body and have confidence in your every move. You may not look like you have just come oﬀ the cover of a magazine, but you’ll look fit and you’ll actually be fit. And then, if you at some point want to look chiseled you can do it too just to know what it feels like. After all, that’s all visual fitness is – it’s a dare, a way of showing yourself and the world that you have the discipline and the courage to go through seven hells and do what it takes.
The two sides of fitness, the visual and the practical sides of it, are not necessarily exclusive to each other but in the modern world, they are more often. You can go from performance to visual fitness and then back, but you can’t go from visual to performance as easily – it’s going to be a whole diﬀerent journey. Visual fitness is essentially a trick, a promise of performance and strength when there isn’t much of either, it’s an illusion but since anyone looking good is not automatically expected to perform we are led to believe that it’s the same thing.
To get started either way identify your goals first, whether you want to look good now or for the rest of your life, whether you want just to look good or whether you also want to be able to do anything with your body and have complete control over it. You have to understand what it is you want from fitness to train right and get the results you want. The main diﬀerence between getting the look and being the real deal is the permanence of the results and the quality of your muscles. You can be fit for life or you can be fit just for the summer. There are no right or wrong answers, it’s simply a choice.