Health vs Fitness

Do you know the difference?

The above terms are used quite interchangeably these days. However, there is quite a difference between the two. Fully understanding each term can help in improving your different lifestyle goals.


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 sickness. It includes aging well, longevity, quality of life, freedom from pain etc.

They also define fitness as the ability to perform work satisfactorily. However, what is satisfactory is a personal definition: what is considered fit to a competitive runner is completely different to a bodybuilder. To the Olympic athlete, fitness is ultimately measured in terms of gold medals and world records. To the regular Joe, fitness is measured perhaps in simply getting through the next bend in the road.


Fitness is made up of many components, and the following factors need to be considered when discussing fitness levels:

  1. Endurance (Cardiovascular and Cardio-Respiratory):The body’s ability to use and deliver oxygen to your body.
  2. Stamina (Muscular Endurance):The body’s ability to store, process, and use energy.
  3. Strength:The ability of your muscles or a muscular unit to apply force.
  4. Flexibility:The ability to maximize the range of motion of a joint.
  5. Power:The ability of your muscles to maximize their force in a minimum amount of time.
  6. Speed:The ability to minimize the amount of time it takes you to accomplish a task or movement.
  7. Coordination:The ability to combine several different movement patterns in a single distinct movement.
  8. Accuracy:The ability to control a movement in a given direction or intensity.
  9. Agility:The ability to minimize the time going from one movement to another.
  10. Balance:The ability to control the center of gravity of your body in relation to your supportive base.

Difference between health and fitness

Fitness, therefore, 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. If you fail to eat properly and eat mostly processed foods, there isn’t enough exercise in the world that could possibly correct the damage done from such a lifestyle. Exercise also won’t remove the damage from chemicals, or improve immune system damage or weakness from unhealthy foods.

Only good nutrition can support good health. Fitness can also support health and will help improve health if it is part of a complete lifestyle change. Our health is mainly the result of thousands of daily good nutritional decisions.

If you are only focused on looking good through working out but filling up on chemical-filled sports drinks, then you could possibly get the body you want, but risk your health in the process.

As you continue on your personal journey, or if you are just getting back on track, ask yourself this simple question: “Am I on the road to becoming fit and healthy, or just fit?” If your answer is “just fit,” try incorporating other aspects of wellness into a more comprehensive plan that revolves around the combination of physical, mental and emotional health.
If you are simply trying to get healthy to get the doctor off your back, ask yourself what you can do to achieve more and live life to the fullest. Healthy is good but if you can’t walk up the stairs without puffing and being tired all day, or enjoy a holiday, what is it worth?

Make sure that you are addressing both sides of the equation- set both health and fitness goals.

Then step back and watch as you flourish.

balancing fitness and health

Post Author: DesRay Ashen

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