When you hear the word fitness, what images pop into your head? Do you see an attractive, slender, well-toned body with six-pack abs? Do you see a hulking muscle-bound weight lifter with a tan? Or maybe you see a group of people in a workout facility running on treadmills or doing aerobics. Does your image of fitness focus entirely below the neck? What Is The Definition Of Fitness? When I looked up the definition in an online dictionary, I got the following:
1) A state or a quality of being fit don’t you just love those kinds of definitions? I could write my own dictionary with those kinds of definitions like, baldness is the state or quality of being bald or wellness is the state or quality of being well! Thankfully, there was another definition for fitness listed that offered a little more substance as follows:
2) The ability of an organism to survive and pass on its genotype through reproduction as compared to other competing organisms: also: the addition of an allele (alternative genes) or genotype to the gene pool of later generations versus that of other alleles or genotypes Now that certainly isn’t the sexy image of attractive hard bodies I’d prefer to have when I hear the term fitness, but it did get me to thinking.
The mind and body can work independently. I’m a big believer that our minds and our bodies are able to function to some degree, independently from one another. Certainly, many changes take place in our bodies throughout our lives whether or not we devote any conscious thought to it or not. I am much taller today than when I was born and did not give one conscious thought to making that happen. My body just took care of it independently from my mind. By the same token, my mind has the ability to think of all kinds of things that have nothing to do with my body. Although the mind and body can operate independently they also have the power to exert great influence over one another. Experience an ongoing pain somewhere in your body, and your mind will probably be focused on doing something to alleviate that pain.
Mind and body together is total fitness so, what’s my point? Well first of all, since the mind and body can often function independently from one another, there must be a mental as well as a physical fitness. Now I know that’s not news to anyone, but I believe that total fitness is achieved only when the mind and the body come together and work towards the common goal.
The second definition for fitness mentioned above is basically covering the law of natural selection whereby the more physically fit organisms will survive longer to pass on their genes to be included in the gene pool. I believe there also exists a similar pool that deals with mental fitness. This mental side, or as I like to call it, the “mindset” pool is made up of the thoughts and emotions we put out each day. As of now, to my knowledge, there does not exist any microscopes that can study the makeup of the mindset pool like they can with the gene pool. The mindset pool remains unseen by human eyes but exerts a tremendous influence over the actions that we take in our lives. I cannot see the atoms that make up a steel girder, but they provide that girder with the strength to hold up and support incredible structures all over the world. Just because I can’t see them does not mean they are not there exerting tremendous influence.
There are many reasons why obesity has become a worldwide epidemic and why so many people find themselves unable to maintain and achieve positive results from their fitness program. I believe that a big part of the reason is not recognizing the role mental fitness plays in overall fitness. I think a conscious effort to pass on positive thoughts and encouragement to others will be a big step in overcoming these challenges.