What is F̲i̲t̲n̲e̲s̲s̲?

I mean, you can certainly define “fitness.” According to the Google Dictionary, it can mean:

  • noun
    the condition of being physically fit and healthy.

    OR, perhaps a bit more appropriate:
  • the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.
How do you carry your kids?

Let’s take a step back and think about how we may arrive at fitness, shall we?

  • Moving regularly (walking, running, cycling, gardening)
  • Eating well (appropriately for your blueprint and activity levels: micronutrients, with macronutrient balance)
  • Practicing flexibility/stretching (yoga, mobility, foundation training)
  • Spending time in Nature (stress reduction, environmental exposure)
  • Sleeping well (sleep hygiene, quality and duration)
  • To name a few… (for sure, there are plenty of other considerations, but these are arguably the biggest)

Do we all agree that these might be the steps we take if we decide we want to be healthier?

And why would we want to achieve fitness?

This is where we believe the message and clarity begin to breakdown a bit. I’m sure you have a reason. We all do! For some of us, it’s a bit of vanity: “I want to look better!” or “I want to fit in my college clothes!” A few of you might have thought to yourself, “well, I don’t feel as good as I remember.” And yet for others, our physician or practitioner may have made a note that our weight or some biometric markers were skewed from baseline.

Let’s think bigger picture:

Sickness – Wellness – Fitness Continuum

Ask yourself what you believe “Wellness” to look like? Or ask your doctor, a loved one, or even Google (no harm in cheating!). And most of you can make a list based on what you’ve learned in health class, or been told by a doctor:

  • HR: ~60-70 bpm
  • BP: 120/80
  • BMI: 18.5-24.9
  • Total Cholesterol: 125-200 mg/dL
  • Others may include: Baseline Metabolic Panels (a1C, fasting Glucose, Bilirubin, etc), Hormone Levels, Age-related health markers (PSA, etc)
    … and so forth. Sound about right?

If we accept the convention that ‘baseline’ is wellness and anything below is ‘sickness,’ then why do so many of us think that we should aim toward “Wellness?” (HINT: you’ll never see us pushing for wellness!)

SCENARIO: You’re walking along a road, getting some exercise and a responsible dose of Vitamin D (yay, sunshine!). Suddenly you hear a MEEP MEEP and a whir in front of you and the next thing you know, you’ve been hit by something resembling a steamroller with the word “ACME” emblazoned on the back. (Was that a coyote driving…or… no…I must be delerious from whatever hit me)!

Crazy as this sounds, this scenario could be anything: a car accident that results in a sprained neck and shoulder, a silly incident where you slice your hand in the kitchen, a sudden case of the flu, a diagnosis of gallstones, or possibly (*hopefully not) even worse.

And if you’ve lived your life, to date, with ideal biomarkers, what happens now?

Well, regardless of your recovery protocols, after an acute injury or medical intervention, you’re probably aware that your protocol will involve, by and large REST. Which means that all of the work you put into getting yourself to “wellness” can become really difficult to maintain.

And if it’s one of the more severe cases requiring medical intervention, you may have no choice but to be on bedrest or be relatively immobile for awhile…

And then you see the biomarkers slip. Your energy dips, your resting heart rate heads northward, your blood pressure slides out of the ‘ideal’ range, and the wheels start to come off.

Now we both know you’re going to beat this thing (whatever this theoretical scenario is). And we both know you have the wherewithal to eat better and get back out on a run as soon as you’re better.

What if you’re FIT?

What if? Before you had an incident that prevents you from maintaining your health, you were already ahead of the curve?

In this scenario, your Resting Heart Rate is 45-50 BPM

Your Blood Pressure reads 110/70

Your body fat percentage is low enough to see abdominal definition (who doesn’t want that anyway?!)

And the last time you saw your doctor he or she said something along the lines of “I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep that $*#! up!” At least that’s the way I heard it!

This, my friends is FITNESS!

And in any unfortunate scenario where you find yourself unable to continue your fitness journey, you find yourself WELL. Because that’s the nature of the continuum. If you slide down from fitness, you find yourself in wellness; and that’s a lot easier to come back from than sickness, for sure!

Not to mention, being fit in the first place, you’ll be less likely to be significantly injured or sick, and you can withstand more aggressive treatment (if necessary) , improving your overall outlook on whatever it is you’re facing!

Next time, we’ll explore what “functional fitness” means! If you have any thoughts, leave your comments below!

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