Defining Health and Fitness

Today more than ever before , more and more people are getting interested in improving their health and becoming more fit for various reasons.But have you ever wondered what’s health? or fitness ?

If we want  to boost health, or fitness isn’t it fair to know what these are and how , if possible, to measure them. Sounds fair, isn’t it? So let dive in! So sit back and enjoy the ride….

Whats Is Health ?

Common definitions and Word Origins.

The term ‘health’ is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘the state of being free from illness and injury. Reverting back to the roots, the term “health” stems from the Old English ‘haelth’ which is closely related to the term ‘whole’, ‘a thing complete in itself’ from the Old English ‘hal’ of Germanic origin. As the English language began to evolve, the term ‘hal’ subsequently became ‘hail’ with an underlying meaning of health in both greetings and toasts.

In Latin, the tem ‘salus’ means health, rescue, redemption and wealth. It is a derivative of the word ‘salvus’, from the Old Indian ‘sarvas’ which initially solely meant ‘whole’. We can therefore notice that, ‘health’ is etymologically connected to wholeness and salvation and so it is still up to this date , this term has conserved its religious connotation in both the Roman and the German languages.

Stemming from this , it becomes very understandable that the World Health Organization constitution adopted in 1948, defines ‘health’ as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. This definition though not yet been revised, has been challenged by many scientists who have branded it of strict and ‘unrealistic’ with no direct operational value, stating that health should be redefined in such a way that it is a measurable quantity. So you wonder,’what’s health?’ after all? Let dive a little bit deeper….

 Health : A new definition.

Huber et al. Challenged the World Health Organization definition of health in 2011 by defining health as ‘the ability to adapt and self manage in the face of social, physical and emotional challenges’ rather than ‘ a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. This new conceptualization tackled some limitations of the WHO definition through its dynamism and emphasis on the resilience and ability of individuals to cope with chronic disease. With this new concept of health, unlike the WHO’s, one can be ‘healthy’ whistle living with one or more chronic diseases thus addressing the opportunities readily available to the individual rather than focusing on their disabilities.

Health : An individual asset , a healthy lifestyle

The new definition of health has made it being perceived as an individual asset. Many believe it emphasizes on people’s own responsibility for health encouraging an individual and active approach on health as well as a healthy lifestyle. For this to happen more effectively, people would definitely need support from healthcare industry as well as  outside it to help adapt to a healthy lifestyle. People need health education to help in becoming more health literate , this education should start early in life
preferably if not anytime individuals become aware of this.

What is Fitness?

Physical fitness : A multidimensional state of being.

Physical fitness is the body’s capacity to operate efficiently and effectively. It is immensely associated with a person’s ability to successfully lead their life : from working to effectively to enjoying leisure moments, resisting hypokinetic diseases and meeting emergency situations. It consists of health-related and skill-related physical fitness components all contributing to enhancing the quality of life. Physical fitness consists of various components which can be summed up as health-related and skill-related components. Although physical fitness is multidimensional(meaning its development is the result of many things), optima fitness cannot be attained without regular physical activity.

Physical fitness:health-related components

These components are directly associated with health and are as follow : body composition, cardiovascular fitness,flexibility, muscular endurance, and strength . Each of them having a direct relationship to good health and reduced risk of hypokinetic disease. Hypo-means “under” or “too little,” and -kinetic means “movement” or “activity”. Hypokinetic thus means “too little activity.” A hypokinetic disease or condition is one associated with lack of physical activity or too little regular exercise. Examples of such conditions include heart disease, low back pain, adult-onset diabetes, and obesity

  • Body composition—The relative percentage of muscle, fat, bone, and other tissues that comprise the body. A fit person has a relatively low, but not too low, percentage of body fat (body fatness).
  • Cardiovascular fitness—The ability of the heart, blood vessels, blood, and respiratory system to supply fuel and oxygen to the muscles and the ability of the muscles to utilize fuel to allow sustained exercise. A fit person can persist in physical activity for relatively long periods without undue stress.
  • Muscular Endurance—The ability of the muscles to repeatedly exert themselves. A fit person can repeat movements for a long period without undue fatigue.
  • Flexibility—The range of motion available in a joint. It is affected by  muscle length, joint structure, and other factors. A fit person can move the body joints through a full range of motion in work and in play.
  • Strength—The ability of the muscles to exert an external force or to lift a heavy weight. A fit person can do work or play that involves exerting force, such as lifting or controlling one’s own body weight.

Physical Fitness :skill-related components

Skill-related components of physical health are :agility, balance, coordination, power, reaction time, and speed. These components are more associated with performance than good health. They are termed ‘skill-related’ because they mainly used in competitive contexts : in sports and in specific types of jobs.

  • Agility—The ability to rapidly and accurately change the direction of the movement of the entire body in space. Skiing and wrestling are examples of activities that require exceptional agility.
  • Balance—The maintenance of equilibrium while stationary or while moving. Water skiing,performing on the balance beam, or working as a riveter on a high-rise building are activities that require exceptional balance.
  • Coordination— The ability to use the senses with the body parts to perform motor tasks smoothly and accurately. Juggling, hitting a golf ball,batting a baseball,or kicking a ball are examples of activities requiring good coordination.
  • Power—The ability to transfer energy into force at a fast rate. Throwing the discus and putting the shot are activities that require considerable power.
  • Reaction time—The time elapsed between stimulation and the beginning of reaction to that stimulation. Driving a racing car and starting a sprint race require good reaction time.
  • Speed—The ability to perform a movement in a short period of time. A runner on a track team or a wide receiver on a football team needs good foot and leg speed.

Physical Fitness : other components

Besides the health and skill related physical fitness components covered this far, there are other two components which traditional definitions do not include as parts of physical fitness but that some experts think should be. These are : metabolic fitness and bone integrity.

Metabolic fitness – Metabolic fitness is a positive state of the physiological systems commonly associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Metabolic fitness is evidenced by healthy blood fat (lipid) profiles, healthy blood pressure, healthy blood sugar and insulin levels, and other non performance measures. This type of fitness shows positive responses to moderate physical activity.

Bone Integrity – This pertains to the soundness of the bones associated with high density and absence of symptoms of deterioration.

And this is the end of this article, we hope that at this point you have grasped the concepts of health and fitness. Thanks for reading this far, Let us know what you think in the section below. It will be a pleasure reading from you. Peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *