There’s a lot you can do to improve your health, longevity, and happiness, without working out. In fact, you can live a long, healthy, and happy life, well in to your 90’s or beyond without ever doing a pushup or training for a 5km run. But can you get ‘fit’ without training your body?
The short answer is no.
Most people in the English-speaking world are not in the best health, or shape, that they could be, and we know it. It doesn’t help that while we have less and less free time, greater financial demands, and far less time being spent outside, our will to exercise lessens, and our waistlines are being stretched. And it doesn’t do much for our sense of self-worth to be inundated with images of Greek gods and Goddesses, projecting the idea of an unattainable standard of beauty. But this is not news to anyone reading this.
While Obesity and cardio metabolic diseases are reaching their peak, so too are fitness franchises expanding. If you’re in a larger city, you will find one or more fitness clubs and boutiques on your block. Oddly enough our society is spending more and more on fitness, while continuing to have more and more health problems. This is because fitness and health are not the same thing and the two require different approaches, with some obvious overlap.
It’s easy to describe health as ‘the absence of disease’ but that’s a little dry and academic. What we really mean when we think of ourselves as being healthy is having a sense of wellness, a feeling of balance and peace within our body. Fitness is something else altogether. To be ‘fit’ is to be physically/mentally equipped to be successful in your environment. But we all really mean ‘to have a lean and strong physique that is pleasing to the eye’. Again, fitness and health are two different things.
When you are healthy, you are keeping a low bodyweight, have a sense of energy, have good posture, are fighting early onset aging and disease, and have a sense of happiness and peace. All of these can be accomplished without exercising or counting calories. A daily routine of positive health habits that include preparing healthy meals, keeping stress low, engaging in fun and stimulating activities, fostering bonds of love and friendship, using dynamic movement (while avoiding sitting down for most of the day), will do this for you. No sweating involved.
We are often given the image of the athlete as the perfect picture of health. With her six pack abs and his massive chest and thighs, they must be as healthy as a human can be right? Not so fast – if you’ve spent much time in competitive athletics you know one thing. Athletes are NOT in amazing health. They spend much of their time in injury and recovery, pushing their bodies and sacrificing their health for the sake of performance. This is a sacrifice that athletes knowingly make. But the public often doesn’t. You really do not need to train like an athlete to have a healthy bodyweight and to prevent disease.
THAT being said, you will also NOT have a muscular, toned, or impressive physique without a structured exercise program unless you are one of the few supremely genetically gifted people out there who looks more like they were smithed out of steel than born of a womb. And they are out there.
Developing a lean and strong body is something that takes hard work and dedication. We are sold ‘get fit quick schemes’ promising rapid weight loss and gains in muscle in only a few weeks. Supplement advertisements promising similar gains only add fuel to this false fire.
The men and women you see walking around in your local gym with dense muscle and clean definition spent years going to the gym on a near daily basis to make themselves that way and the models and athletes you see in advertisements are paid to make fitness their entire lives.
These are not the people to compare your fitness to unless you to are prepared to have the same level of dedication. It would be funny and strange to compare your skill in running to world class marathoners, and the same is true with fitness models and local gym heroes. Just because you have two legs and can run doesn’t mean you should compare yourself to runners and just because you have a body that people look at doesn’t mean you should compare yourself to the fittest people in your area. Neither of these things make sense, nor will they do anything for your sense of self-worth.
The gym isn’t all about aesthetics either. Structured exercise program does more for you then help you build muscle and lose weight. A proper exercise program can do wonders for back, joint, and muscle pain and can help to reverse the aging process in your body, having you look, feel, and move, like you are 10 to 20 years younger (depending on your age!).
The truth is, we are all running our own race in life, and the only person we should compare ourselves to is the person we were yesterday. Your health, happiness, and longevity are all your responsibility and are a result of your values and what you enjoy. Do you value having a strong and toned body? Do you like spending hours in the gym every week? If the answer to either one of these questions is no, then it’s time to let go of ever comparing yourself to someone who does. But this Doesn’t mean you should forgo the gym either! It can help you live a longer and fuller life and bring you a sense of joy and energy. Just remember though, you will get out of it what you put into it.
If you want to reach and keep a lower body weight and to look and feel healthier, then you need to start taking account of what your current lifestyle is. Your current health status is a direct reflection of your previous behaviours (excluding genetic diseases of course). Do you get adequate rest? Do you do work that you feel proud of? Do you take part in activities you actually enjoy, or do you do things to numb the pain? Do you act out of love for yourself and those around you, or are you motivated by avoiding pain and the things you fear? The first step to health is awareness of the causes and consequences of your behaviours. Only then will you be able to make real and long-lasting change.