Can you be healthy without being fit?

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” - Joseph Pilates

Fit and healthy are two separate things

Can you be NOT fit and healthy at the same time? When you hear the word fitness you might immediately think, please spare me your advice in regards in participating in sporting activity. I have no time. I hate sport. I always was terrible in sports. I just had my nails/hair done. It’s raining, snowing, or too hot outside. I don’t have the right shoes. I’m too old for that. Great excuses! Used them all myself. Believe me I have!

Here is the good news. You don’t have to be a crazy hopping person to become healthy. You don’t have to feel guilty about not signing up for boot camp or never running a 5-kilometer race.

Being fit includes a lot of things. Things like stamina, strength, speed, balance, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, accuracy, and respiratory endurance. Just naming these factors might make you dizzy. When you are fit e.g. you are able to run 5 Kilometers without your super smart GPS heart rate watch freaking out and advising you to call the ambulance. You can run and maintain happy thoughts with a smile on your face and not having to challenge your deodorant.

When you are healthy you don’t have a problem with gravity pulling on your body. Your middle age dog will still outrun you on walks but you don’t have to sit down on every possible park bench. You don’t except when someone offers you a seat on the bus because you’re enjoying this extra opportunity of working on your balance training.

Studies confirm you don’t have to be super fit to be healthy. The world’s healthiest and longest living people in this world don’t have to have gym memberships or belong to a running clinic. Every stage of their lives they participate in strength-building exercises. They are not couch potatoes. They are active. They move their bodies while watering plants in the garden. They “exercise” while cleaning the house, walking to the grocery store, standing in the kitchen cooking lunch for the family or chopping and stacking wood. The environment they live in forces them to move. An interesting book on this topic is “Healthy at 100” by John Robbins, which you can find in my reference library.

If better health is your goal you have to move and be active.

There are so many possibilities out there. Do you pay someone to mow your lawn, work on your garden, do your home repairs and vacuum your carpets? Come on, in the age of YouTube everyone can learn how to repair a leaky sink. Do you cruise in the parking lot for 10 minutes to wait for the spot right next to the entrance to avoid walking? Do you take the elevator instead of using the stairs? Have you tried kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking, sailing, tobogganing, bowling, stretching, or dancing? Get your kids a Wii Fit for their birthdays and have fun playing along with them. You can always get out and walk your body around the neighborhood for 30 minutes a day. I’m talking walking not strolling! You might even meet some new friends.

Why is activity so important to health and happiness?

  • Activity burns calories. Depending on the activity you do the number of burned calories can be quite small. But doing it frequently they can add up to a nice amount.

  • Activity delivers oxygen and nutrients. As your blood circulates, it delivers oxygen and nutrients to your cells and removes waste products. You can survive for many weeks without food. You can also survive for many days without water. But try holding your breath for 5 minutes. Oxygen is the most important nutrient. The amount of oxygen in your tissue plays a key role in health and healing abilities. Cells thrive on oxygen and nutrients. Activity promotes the discharge of “cell garbage” from your body. When you move, “things” in your cells move as well. Talking happy and healthy cells here.

  • Activity improves your body’s capillary density. Aging and inactivity slows down capillary growth. The supply of oxygen rich blood to your muscles and other tissues declines. Studies have shown that the gray matter behind your eyebrows can grow with a modest thirty minutes of walking per day.

  • Activity helps your blood flow back to the heart. Your blood moves through the arteries and capillaries with the help of the pressure of your pumping heart muscles and gravity. When the blood arrives in your veins there is not much pressure left. Valves prevent the blood from flowing backwards, but what helps shuffling the blood forward is muscular activity.

  • Activity helps to move the lymph liquid. This is also true for the lymph liquid in your lymphatic system – the home of your immune system. Have you wondered why the pretty flight attendant recommends you do the exercises in the handout in the front of your seat? Sitting a long time without moving your legs can cause bodily fluids to settle in your lower extremities. This is not a pretty site nor is it healthy.

  • Activity releases the happy hormone. I won’t complete the list of benefits here since there are so many. But this last one I have to mention. Activity not only rejuvenates the part of the brain that manages stress but it also releases feel-good endorphins. These guys are your happy hormones with the superpower to decrease stress. And we all like having superpower, don’t we?

So find an activity you enjoy and get your body moving. This is a great first step to better health and a happier you. Look at this list of how you can build more activity into your daily routine. Or do you need a 58 year old CrossFit role model?

If you are interested in more articles about this topic you might like the following links:

New York Times: Gretchen Reynolds – Exercise to Age Well, Whatever your Age

Ben Greenfield Fitness: 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

 

Can you be healthy without being fit? by
Tanja Knapp
About the Author
Tanja Knapp

Tanja Knapp is an Explorer, Adventurer and Happiness Hunter currently camping in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Her roots are in Germany where she grew up on a remote farm. A colony of abnormal cells in her cervix taught her the lesson that would change her life forever. Life doesn't get better by chance, it get better by change. She truly believes in creating happiness & health through constant adapting, growing and evolving. Her super power is curiosity. With her blog she likes to inspire others to explore uncharted territory.

If she is not busy writing, running, swimming or cycling, she is expanding her knowledge, exploring the World, and taking on new challenges.

She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and graduated with an Honors diploma in Holistic Nutrition from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2013. She obtained a Hospitality certification in 1998 and a Marketing Communications diploma in 2004. She has worked both in Europe and North America.

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