It should go without saying that by choosing to live a healthy lifestyle and incorporating every component of fitness into our physical activities, we give ourselves the best chance of being fit and healthy.
The differences between health and fitness
There is a difference between health and fitness, although the two certainly go hand in hand. Health is measured by the relative symmetry to an individual’s homeostasis – thus, freedom from disease or injury. Fitness on the other hand is measured by the functional improvements one has over their homeostasis. Thus, more muscle to lift heavier weights or better endurance to run further.
It is therefore possible to be reasonably healthy but not very fit (for example, an individual who eats well, doesn’t smoke or drink, gets plenty of sleep, isn’t stressed, is reasonably active and has good genes). It is also possible to be very fit and temporarily unhealthy (for example, an athlete who is ill or injured). However as a general rule, health and fitness work together.
Being fit certainly plays a major part in strengthening the immune system and can therefore keep many diseases at bay. Similarly, being fit means the body is often less prone to injuries (and sometimes offers the flexibility and coordination to avoid certain injuries altogether). Recovery from both injury and illness is also often expedited for the fit individual.
In the same way, being healthy has a major effect on someone’s fitness. Gains are made quicker, motivation is stronger, energy is higher, recovery is better after strenuous workouts and fitness can be maintained further into life.
Components of health
There are two major categories that contribute to our health. The first are components that we can affect. The second are those components that we cannot affect (or have very limited control over).
Components that we can affect include air quality, water quality, food quality (or nutrition), metabolism, how active our lifestyles are, the quality of our rest and sleep, our exposure to mental stimulation and the list goes on. Components that we cannot affect include genetics, contraction of diseases, irreversible cellular damage (or trauma that may result from an accident) and age.
All of these components will affect how our bodies will respond to exercise and form a foundation from which the components of fitness rely upon.
Components of fitness
There are a number of ways to define, classify and categorise different elements of fitness. Emanate Fitness endeavours to take a holistic approach to fitness and incorporate all relevant fitness components into programs. Consequently, it has defined 5 overarching components of fitness – Health, Endurance, Strength, Flexibility and Agility. So how does Emanate Fitness incorporate all of these components into each session?
Emanate Health aims to take a holistic approach to fitness and health based on a recognition that the achievement of fitness goals and overall wellbeing ultimately depend upon other factors that complement exercise and fitness. Emanate Health focuses on a number of other components that either directly or indirectly relate to fitness including body composition, nutrition, posture and general health.
Body composition is the “amount of water, muscle, fat, tissue and bone in the body”. Whilst fat is necessary and fulfils certain functions such as protection of organs, excess fat in the body is associated with certain chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Obesity is a chronic problem in Australia (as at 2011, approximately 50% of the Australian adult population was classified as either overweight or obese) and health problems associated with being overweight and obese have extensive direct and indirect costs to the Australian population.
Nutrition is highly important not only to properly fuel the body to exercise effectively and maintain energy for day to day activities but also to maintain good body composition. Calories are gained by eating and are burned as energy during exercise and daily activities as well as when you are just sitting doing nothing or sleeping (the speed at which this occurs is based upon your metabolic rate). Therefore, to lose body weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume in order to create a calorie deficit. In order to gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you burn. Consequently, weight gain and loss (and good body composition) is dependent upon nutrition as well as exercise.
Emanate Endurance focuses on increasing cardiorespiratory endurance or the ability of the heart, blood vessels, lungs and airways to function effectively and absorb, deliver and use oxygen. The cardiorespiratory system is made up of the cardiovascular (or circulatory) and respiratory systems. Cardiovascular fitness can be measured by the greatest amount of oxygen the body can consume in one minute (VO2 max).
Emanate Endurance involves a range of activities including running, skipping, boxing, circuits, plyometric and agility training and resistance training that will utilise both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.
We increase our overall strength by achieving improvements in muscular strength, muscular endurance, power and hypertrophy. Strength training (also known as resistance training) provides a number of benefits including improvement in overall health and wellbeing, increased bone density (assists in the prevention of osteoporosis), increased muscle, tendon and ligament strength, improved functionality of joints, improved posture, stamina and balance, reduced risk of injury and increase in metabolism (assists in weight loss).
Muscular strength is the maximal amount of power a muscle generates when contracting against a resistance whereas muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle to repeatedly contract. Power involves a mixture of strength and speed and is the ability of muscles to explosively contract resulting in a rapid burst of movement. Plyometric training is a method of fitness training that is used to improve power. Jump squats are an example of a plyometric exercise.
Hypertrophy training focuses on increasing muscle size. Whilst this is often the priority of many body builders who desire to make themselves look “ripped”, muscular hypertrophy is highly important for a number of reasons including to build neuromuscular strength, prevent injury, prevent muscular atrophy (wasting or decreasing in size of muscle) which results in decreased strength and functionality, improve posture, physical performance and body composition and also to increase metabolism.
The aim of flexibility is to achieve or maintain a good range of motion of the joints in the body and to facilitate the lengthening of muscle tissue through static and dynamic stretching and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. Flexibility training will facilitate increased mobility and functionality to perform day to day activities, increased muscle tone, improved posture, decreased risk of injury and improved performance, coordination and overall wellbeing and quality of life. Flexibility training assists in muscle relaxation and releasing of muscle tension and soreness. It also increases circulation by improving blood flow to the muscles and aids muscle recovery after exercise by reducing stress and tension developed in the muscles during the workout (this reduces stiffness due to muscles seizing up after exercise).
The body is aligned and connected in such a way that a problem with flexibility in one part of the body may impact upon and cause postural or other problems to other areas of the body which are forced to compensate. For example, tight (inflexible) hamstrings may result in lower back pain as the hamstrings pull the pelvic bone into a posterior pelvic tilt which in turn places tension on the lower back.
Agility aims to enhance the ability to move and change directions rapidly and as efficiently as possible whilst maintaining good control and balance. Agility requires a combination of attributes including speed, power, balance, coordination, quick reaction time, muscular strength and endurance. Agility is highly valued in many sports including basketball, touch football, oztag, tennis and squash.
Being fit and healthy
It should go without saying that by choosing to live a healthy lifestyle and incorporating every component of fitness into our physical activities, we give ourselves the best chance of being fit and healthy. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to neglect or overlook some components of health and fitness. For example, when we exercise hard every day only to go home and regularly eat takeaway for dinner or spend out weekends staying up late drinking excessively. On the other side of the scale are those who eat healthy foods the majority of time however do not undertake regular exercise. A common example is undertaking endurance fitness component every day but neglecting the strength component which is still very important to losing weight and maintaining good health.
 Marchese, R. and Hill, A. “The Essential Guide to Fitness 2e” (2011), p. 135.
 Ibid, 214.