Fitness is about much more than merely working out. Rather, to achieve total wellness, it’s also important to address the connection between exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness. Here’s a closer look at the concepts of health and fitness, along with tips for embracing holistic health in order to lead your best life.
What is Health?
In order to embrace the full potential of health, you first much understand what “health” means. According to Medical News Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) first defined health in 1948 as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Nearly 40 years later, WHO revised its definition of health in declaring health to be “a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”
In other words, health should not be viewed as a finite or fixed state, but rather as a tool for better living.
What is Fitness?
So what is fitness, then?
While fitness can be viewed through the lens of sheer athleticism comprising qualities like strength, power, agility, and cardiorespiratory endurance, it can also — like health — be a more encompassing term. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says: “’Fitness’ is a broad term that means something different to each person, but it refers to your own optimal health and overall well-being. Being fit not only means physical health but emotional and mental health, too. It defines every aspect of your health. Smart eating and active living are fundamental to fitness.”
(Another invaluable fitness tool? Working with a personal trainer. Sign up for a personal trainer session today to get started.)
Why Mindfulness Matters
The takeaway? While exercise and nutrition should indeed come to mind when you think of holistic health (and fitness), they’re not the only thing that matters when it comes to achieving total wellness. Enter mindfulness.
It makes sense when you think about it. After all, it’s entirely possible to make smart eating choices and log ample hours on the treadmill without actually being healthy, especially if you’re just going through the motions by rote. Says NIH News in Health of mindfulness: “This ancient practice is about being completely aware of what’s happening in the present—of all that’s going on inside and all that’s happening around you. It means not living your life on ‘autopilot.’ Instead, you experience life as it unfolds moment to moment, good and bad, and without judgment or preconceived notions.”
It matters, probably more than you think it does. According to a growing body of evidence, mindfulness practices are associated with a number of benefits, including everything from stress management to coping with illness to reducing anxiety and depression. It’s also linked with relaxation, the ability to enjoy life, and even improved self-esteem. “Many of us go through our lives without really being present in the moment. What is valuable about mindfulness is that it is accessible and can be helpful to so many people,” UCSF researcher Margaret Chesney told NIH News in Health.
In addition to basic mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing, taking a walk, and yoga, mindfulness can also be directly applied to diet and exercise. You can be more mindful while eating by slowing down and maintaining awareness of every bite, as well as listening to your body’s cues about hunger and satiety. You can be more mindful while exercising by having a purpose for each workout, reminding yourself why you’re working out, slowing down, remembering to breathe, and ending on a relaxing note to make sure you feel the full effects of your efforts.
In today’s fast-paced society, you may feel like you simply can’t afford to slow down and experience each moment. However, when holistic health and wellness are the aim, the truth is that you can’t afford not to.