Are you fit? What does that mean?

The exact definition is everyone’s guess.  According to the http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2011/04/definition_of_fitness_varies_f.html  site, fitness is “an exceedingly slippery concept”, and the meaning varies greatly from person to person. Besides, there are no firm standards for fitness.

Some of us pin fitness to athletic ability, while others equate it to overall health. To add to  the vagueness, it’s widely linked to appearance as many of us associate fitness with a certain look or physical trait. Fitness magazines are of course, feeding the frenzy by posting fitness models on their covers. Speaking of stereotypes.

Heather Nettle, an exercise physiologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Sports Health Center, says that fitness magazines are adding to the general misrepresentation that exists already. “Fitness doesn’t mean you’re excelling in performance. It means you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”  Which is vague as well but closer to the definition more than anything else.

The article further brings up a few examples of people who are fit but don’t look it and their BMIs are out of whack. Jillian Neimeister, 26, is 5’5″ and 170 lbs, a former rugby player. She doesn’t look stereotypically fit, and her BMI is close to obese. However in action, she is fit and athletic. At a recent CrossFit competition, she dead-lifted 345 pounds and did 27 pull-ups. Last year, she ably completed a half-marathon run with only minimal training.

Then there is one Craig Ihms, 37, who is 5’11” and 200 lbs, a former soccer player and a hard-core cyclist that he is today. In BMI terms, he is overweight but has no problem keeping up in cycling and is almost unbeatable at it. Covering 60 miles in under 3 hours is routine for him.

See how unreliable BMI is? According to the article, most pro football players would fail the weight test instantly. However no one questions their fitness because obviously, they’re athletic and muscular.

The article continues – there is such a thing as a skinny fat person. It’s someone who is trim but never exercises and whose body composition is in fact highly fatty. Looks can be deceiving and this one definitely doesn’t fit the stereotype.

It’s a common belief that fit athletic people don’t develop health problems. In fact, the opposite can be true. The article states that endurance athletes are prone not only to dehydration and stress fractures, but also to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. They are skinny alright by burning calories but if they eat poorly, they’ll still suffer adverse consequences.

Bottom line:  fitness equation is not a one size fits all and shouldn’t be stereotyped. It’s rather complex and includes exercising regularly, eating right and count in being happy and confident. Furthermore, weight is certainly a factor but not the most important, and don’t define yourself by your BMI.

These two are pro athletes but don’t look it, do they now?

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