Can you be fit but unhealthy, or vice versa? The delicate balance of healthy diet and exercise

What is fitness?

Fitness can be defined as the ability to perform exercise. It can be specific to the type of exercise that you choose to do. You have the capacity to improve your fitness level – by exercising every week and completing a variety of different types of exercise, constantly challenging and working out your body.

What is health?

Health refers to your general wellbeing or the absence of illness. It’s less in your control as it can be a result of external factors such as genetics and environmental parameters like pollution. However, you are capable of improving your health by exercising, maintaining a nutritious and healthy diet, sleeping and minimising stress.

Fit but unhealthy

Health isn’t a direct consequence of fitness. Those who play sport to a high level often negatively influence their health due to overtraining, as well as the strain it can have on their mental wellbeing.  Fitness refers to the ability to do physical activity (considering strength, stamina, flexibility and cardiovascular efficiency) and it is possible to be fit yet unhealthy. To find balance, you should try to incorporate both healthy diet and exercise into your everyday life.

Unfit but healthy

If we consider health in terms of wellbeing – being without disease or illness, it is possible to be healthy yet unfit. However, exercise can support good health, helping to protect you against high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. You have less control over health than fitness, as it also considers your overall emotional, mental, physical and social wellbeing. There’s a positive relationship between exercise and health.

Finding the balance

The combination of healthy diet and exercise can help you to become both fit and healthy. Research finds that frequent exercise supports your good health, with the scale not being an accurate judge of either health or fitness. As muscles consume the most sugar in the body, an increase in muscle mass can reduce the chance of sugar accumulation in the blood (decreasing risk of developing diabetes). Frequent exercise also reduces inflammation in the cardiovascular system, supporting good blood flow.

Nutrition plays a large role in both health and fitness. If you are exercising a lot and eating foods with a low nutritional content, you can still be unhealthy. How to keep it all in check? Get familiar with your own balance of healthy diet and exercise. Listening to your body and getting to know its regular needs will give you most answers!


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