What Does It Mean To Be Fit

Most of us associate physical activity with fitness. If we were able to do physical activity, we are already considered as fit. These terms are frequently used interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. 

If we’re asking ourselves right now, “Am I Fit?” we find it hard to give an answer because we do not have a clear definition of what it actually means to be fit.

For some, it may imply sticking to a regular exercise routine. Others may interpret it as being toned or muscular, it could simply eating a well-balanced diet. And others may interpret it as the ability to excel in athletics or other physical challenges.

So what does it mean to be fit?

In this blog, David Allen defines what fitness actually is. He believes most people can understand is what he call the health continuum or the health spectrum. It is the understanding that health is a measure of the absence of disease or dysfunction, thus, there is a spectrum, which goes from sickness to wellness, then to fitness.

Sickness, which is either the presence of disease or dysfunction, is at the very bottom of the health spectrum. Sometimes these diseases and dysfunctions are not things that we have a whole lot of control over. 

The absence of disease and dysfunction, which is in the middle of the spectrum, is defined as wellness. It indicates that the person is not currently dealing with a high level of disease and dysfunction. In other words, they may not be considerately dying of cancer, may not be suffering from uncontrolled diabetes, may not be struggling from back pain or other extreme physical limitations that prevent them from enjoying life. But these people do still not consider fit.

Most importantly, fitness is defined as resistance to disease and dysfunction, with wellness as the pinnacle of the health spectrum.

Fitness can be measured using two metrics. The first is through biometrics, which includes taking blood pressure, A1C (a common blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes), and measuring body fat percentage. The second is a measure of various performances or what we call fitness capacities, which include our strength, mobility, flexibility, coordination, and endurance.

And what David Allen finds fascinating is that, for the vast majority of Fitness history, most people’s finished routines have simply revolved around a single type of exercise routine, a single training modality, what we call specialization.

This means that if you are entirely focused on training and one type of capacity, such as running, but you do not enjoy going to the gym and have that flexibility. You are most likely capable of endurance, but if you assess your strength, mobility, flexibility, and muscle mass, you may be in the wellness or even sickness sector of the spectrum. So you couldn’t say you’re fit in that sense. You could simply state that you are a good runner.

So you must strike a balance between pushing things up and pushing things down. So there is a give and take for everything. For every movement or capacity that you train, you must sacrifice the capacities that you are not monitoring.

It’s just understanding that there is a cost to being a specialist. So, if you choose to be a specialist, you must consider one of two factors.

1. To what degree are we going to do it? In other words, if you have the potential to be an extremely high-level competitive athlete at this, then that’s something you should consider.

2. What is your timeframe? In other words, if you decide to become a specialist indefinitely, the negative consequences of specialization will accumulate. That is if all you ever do is run. It will return at some point, and you will not be able to build muscle or strength, and your mobility and flexibility will suffer as a result.

The metric or standard for health performance is not based on an unhealthy nation’s average or slightly above average performance. The standard should be based on potential.

At some point, you need to find a good balance and actually become healthy and fit in all capacities.

“You have to do more. We, as a society, need you to be the best version of yourself, and the people around you need you to be the best version of yourself, and that best version of yourself isn’t the one who only walks. It’s the one who pushes themselves to improve every day and holds themselves to their full potential, rather than the standards of overweight, unhealthy society.” – David Allen

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