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Do You Know the Difference between Fitness and Health?

Fitness & Training professional shares her thoughts on fitness, health, and how the two are essential for quality of life


I have been working in the fitness industry the past few years…. and an active lifestyle has been my way of living for a long time.

During this time what I’ve noticed is that most people believe being healthy and being fit are one and the same.

In reality, they can be separate states of physical being. You can be really fit, but not very healthy and you can be very healthy, but not very fit.

If you look deep into the bodybuilding world, you will find people who are very fit physically, but not healthy mentally or spiritually. I am not against this sport, not at all. Some of these athletes put their health behind and just focus on their goal. As we know behind every success story there is always extreme effort and dedication.

As a personal trainer, I try to deliver my clients the importance of being healthy and fit and understand it individually.

balanced river rocks bearing the inscriptions of mind, body, and soul
Physical, mental, and social wellbeing is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle

So let’s talk about it and define the difference:

The best benefits are found when you try to get a balance out of both sides, this requires us to identify the difference between fitness and health.

Health has been defined as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It includes aging well, longevity, quality of life, freedom from pain etc.

Fitness, on the other hand, is defined as a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity. 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): This is your body’s ability to use and deliver oxygen to your body.

  2. Stamina (Muscular Endurance): This is your body’s ability to store, process, and use energy.

  3. Strength: This is 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 centre of gravity of your body in relation to your support base.

Fitness 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.

Image of all major food groups in a balanced diet
A proper, balanced diet is critical to good health

For instance, if a client of mine tells me that they have neglected their diet, ignored the fat content and ate mostly processed foods; all the exercise in the world couldn’t possibly correct the damage done from such a lifestyle.

Exercise won’t remove the damage from chemicals, or improve immune system damage or weakness from depleted foods.

Womand and two boys out on a trail hike
Regular trail walks and hikes can be an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Only sound nutrition can support good health. Of course, fitness can ALSO support health and WILL improve health if it is part of a WAY OF LIFE. Our health is mainly the result of thousands of daily nutritional decisions.

As you continue on your personal health 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, emotional and spiritual health.

If it is simply to get healthy to get the doctor off your back, ask yourself what I 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 its worth?


Tunga Dorjnamjil is a personal trainer certified through NASM - National Academy of Sports Medicine (United States). She works with clients, both individual and groups throughout North America and Western Europe. She is also a certified Nutrition Coach through NASM, in addition to her certifications in Pilates and Group Fitness training. She is an avid climber (via ferrata style) and likes to spend time between North America and Southern Spain. Prior to her career in fitness, health and training, she completed a bachelors degee in Law at the National University of Mongolia.

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