Being Fit is not Healthy?
So you are doing loads of CrossFit, Spinning, Les Mills or other longer duration, high-intensity exercise classes each week. Perhaps you are a long-distance runner or triathlete. You push hard to achieve your goals, to stay in shape. You are fit, but are you healthy?
Fitness vs health is a topic which is being debated by many, not only health experts but medical as well. There have been numerous, prominent articles and discussions about the real meaning of being healthy, about how so many well-intentioned people are getting it very wrong, and making themselves very sick in the process. Some are even dying. Check out Dr James O'Keefes' Ted Talks and Google articles like 'One Foot in the Grave' and 'Running on Empty'.
Experts like Dr Phil Maffetone and Dr Tommy Wood would argue that being healthy is about more than being able to achieve a particular exercise goal. In fact, chasing high intensity and endurance exercise goals may undermine one's health in the long term by overstressing your immune, nervous and hormonal systems, leaving you depleted and prone to illness. In effect, you end up 'liquidating your assets'.
Many experts would agree that real health means being able to:
- Sleep well at night
- Manage stress
- Eat a proper, varied diet of real food
- Maintain a stable, ideal weight
- Enjoy good relationships
- Move frequently at a slow pace, for example, by walking, doing Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi for 2-5 hours per week.
- Sprint once in a while, either by running, on an elliptical or cycling on a bike.
- Lift heavy things such as weights in a gym, your body weight or doing resistance band exercises, for example.
I would certainly agree with a broader view and definition of health. I use these principles to help guide my patients back from injuries and pain caused by doing too much, pushing their bodies too hard and not looking at the bigger picture.
Rethinking what it means to be healthy can have significant and profound effects and ensure that great intentions and effort be directed in the right way. If you need some help and guidance, please get in touch.
In good health,
Sisson M. The new primal blueprint: reprogramme your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health and boundless energy. Random House; 2016.
Run for your life! At a comfortable pace, and not too far: James O'Keefe at TEDxUMKC
Rath T. Are you fully charged?: The 3 keys to energizing your work and life. Missionday, LLC; 2015 May 5.