Fitness, what does it mean?
That’s a tough question, thanks in large part to the society we live in today. Our society is heavily influenced by the media, governing institutions, celebrities and other key influencers. These influencers cause many to pursue ideal fitness standards popularized by social media, the internet, television and other media channels. What does this lead to? Confusion.
Confusion about what it means to be fit, how you should go about getting fit and the reasons for pursuing fitness. The fitness industry is not the only industry impacted by media and other popular influencers. But it is one of the leading industries where mass confusion due to influences occurs.
Is steady-state cardio the best option? What about high intensity interval training (HIIT)? Is it ok to lift weights throughout life or best to only lift weights and perform resistance training at a particular age? Have you heard about tabata? Is that the solution to becoming the most fit?
Who is the most fit? Is it the person who can run the fastest mile or lift the heaviest weights? Am I not fit as long as there is somebody who can do things better than me?
These are all questions many ask. They are questions that cause stress, worry and anxiety about fitness. Sometimes so much that people are turned-off from exercising and see their health decline due to inactivity.
So what’s the solution? What’s the glorious answer to defining fitness once and for all?
It’s rather simple, actually. There is no optimal level of fitness nor any specific definition. Rather, fitness is a highly individual experience. Great definition are found through a simple Google Search. The following definitions of what it means to be fit are proposed by the dictionary results:
- “of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose”
- “having the requisite qualities or skills to undertake something competently”
- “in good health, especially because of regular physical exercise”
All are outstanding definitions and point to a particular concept, one related to assessing what it means to be fit through an individual lens.
Not one of our lives is one the same. We pursue different daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and lifetime goals. What we each encounter throughout life is highly variable. We’ll have different desires and those desires are tied directly to how we define our own ideal level of fitness.
That’s why you don’t have to run a 6-minute mile to be considered fit. You also don’t have to lift the heaviest weights. To be fit all you need to be able to do is be in good enough health to accomplish what you would like to in life.
If that means going for a weekend hike or two a month that is great. Make sure you can press through the elevation and reach the top. If that means being able to chase your children around the neighborhood and watch them grow, that’s fine too.
Whatever your goals in life your ideal fitness level will be that which allows you to live the life you so desire.
Media’s Influence on Fitness
Much of the reason why many struggle with stress, anxiety and worry about how “fit” they are is because of how fitness is defined by the media and popular influencers. Sports have always forwarded the idea of an “ideal” level of fitness. Premiere athletes cement themselves as figureheads in regards to fitness. They are the role models and those many aspire to be. This is not a bad thing.
What is damaging is how the everyday population is compared to athletes. It is not a fair comparison to make. These athletes are at the top-tier of their respective sports. To get there requires much sacrifice, pain, hard work and dedication. Their ideal level of fitness has to be elite because their profession and lifestyle requires such.
Unfortunately the normal population often fails to see this. Instead they desire. They desire to have the bodies of these athletes and be able to perform as they do. The media and popular culture is much to blame for this.
Key influencers, the media and popular culture is obsessed with these athletes and idolizing those in “perfect” shape. This translates to a fitness level being worshipped that simply isn’t realistic for most out there. Even athletes, when they retire, reduce their fitness levels.
There are particular ways to assess how healthy an individual is. These include cardio performance, body-fat percentage, blood pressure, blood sugar and an array of other biomarkers. If you can do what you would like to in life and maintain good health accordingly, then you should consider yourself fit.
Being confident in who you are and the life you life is critical to fitness. There is no need to obsess over being the best. Unless that is what you want to be. Otherwise be the best at being who you want to be. That is what fitness means.