Health

Health can be defined as 'complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not only the absence of illness or infirmity'. This is an interesting definition as people tend to feel they are healthy simply when they do not feel ill. This definition clearly describes that health is much more and involves feelings of happiness, social interaction and energy.

The components of health are:

How physical, mental and social wellbeing contribute to overall health.How physical, mental/emotional and social wellbeing contribute to overall health

Fitness

Fitness can be defined as 'the ability to meet the demands of the environment' and relates to how physically demanding life is. Therefore, a person doing an office job requires lower levels of physical fitness than an Olympic athlete. There is an increasing number of people who work in jobs which don't require much physical activity. These jobs are described as non-physical or sedentary and mean the level of fitness required to do them is low. This can lead to more people having low levels of fitness and decreasing health levels in society. This would lead to more people having a low level of fitness in society and health levels would decrease.

Exercise

Exercise can be defined as 'a form of physical exercise done to improve health or fitness or both'. It is recommended that adults and children follow different activity routines in order to maintain good health and fitness:

Adults - five sessions of thirty minutes activity per week. The activity should be physical enough to cause the adult to breathe more deeply and to begin to sweat.

Children and young people - seven sessions of sixty minutes per week. At least two of these sessions should be of high intensity exercise such as running, jumping or cardiovascular based sports. The seven hours may be spread out over the course of a week.

Commuter cycling on a London street
Girls and boys on school climbing apparatus

In this context it becomes essential that physical exercise is built into the structure of the typical day. Good examples of this could be walking or cycling together to work or to school, taking part in games together in the back garden and participating in active experiences at the weekend such as walking in the countryside or going for a bike ride. Children learn a great deal from their parents and therefore it is important that parents present active role models and opportunities for their children.

The cyclical relationship between health, fitness and exercise

A positive and negative circle charting the negative and positive effects of excersize

The consequences of a sedentary lifestyle

If a person does not take part in regular physical activity, exercise or sport then they are at risk of a number of illnesses and negative effects such as:

  • weight gain or obesity
  • heart disease
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • increased risk of osteoporosis
  • loss of muscle tone

Lifestyle choices

Other lifestyle choices can affect a person's health in either a positive or negative way.

  • Eating a balanced diet means a person is less likely to become ill or put on excess body fat.
  • Getting enough sleep is important for the body to rest and brain to function optimally.
  • Not smoking as this causes illnesses such as bronchitis and lung cancer.
  • Not taking recreational drugs such as alcohol as in the short term it can lead to disorientation and poor decision-making and in the long term can lead to disease.