Health and fitness are not synonymous
Posted on 4th December 2011, by Tero.

Health and fitness are not synonymous

For the past few years I have been quite conscious about the fact that health doesn’t always equal with fitness. Or should I say that being fit doesn’t mean you are healthy. I have met and seen countless professional athletes that are extremely fit, but quite unhealthy. If you suffer from chronic flu, constantly aching back or constipation, you might not be that healthy after all. I know this, because I have lived it.

Around 7-years ago I got injured badly in football (a.k.a soccer) and needed a surgery. The next few years I was neither fit nor healthy. Day by day I got back into shape and about 4-years ago I started running again. My plan was to become from a sub three hour marathoner from zero (plus 4h30 marathon) level. First year I suffered from nasty acid imbalances and slime issues in my throat. I removed most dairy products and started eatingmostly plants solving both of these issues. I was on a roll…

Photo credits: Kelley Mari (left) / lucybumb2 (right)

Now I have two of my best training seasons behind me. Things are going extremely well. I have cut over 1h of my marathon time, and I’m quite fit, but my health doesn’t seem to be in the best shape ever. Due to proper diet I haven’t caught any nasty illnesses, but my muscular and joint conditions are not always in top shape. During the training season I have constant aching and soreness despite how much MSM etc I eat. No injuries, but limiting issues. Why is this? Shouldn’t health and wellness expert know better?

In general we can be quite certain that moderate exercise is good for the health. It has been shown to be a key part of longevity. But fitness as we know it today does require more than just moderate exercise. In a competitive world the level of fitness seems to require occasionally going to extremes and athletes do push the envelope in most exercises.

When you train, you actually create physical stress in your body. Each time you train, you suppress your immune system and cause damage in your body (joints, muscles, nerves etc). This is good as long as you remember to nourish your body with proper nutrition and rest. Having nutritional stress on top of the physical stress would be the worst thing to have. But to get fit, we often push so much that the needed recovery often doesn’t happen. We might “overtrain” or just cause another setback

In some sports where you peak very young (swimming, gymnastics etc) athletes might get away with unhealthy lifestyles during their peak career, but I don’t think this will take away the effects of your decisions in the long term. Like said, most top athletes are fit but not healthy. Chronic pains and illnesses are common. After the active career several health problems come to light. Another aspect is becoming or being injured. Like said, striving to become fit increases the chances of injury. And when you want to be fit, the worst thing on the planet is gradually recovering from a past injury. Athletes tend to start pushing too fast too soon.

Injuries often come during our peak fitness.


Doing sports is an addiction. A healthy one, but it still is one. Quite often it takes over you and starts to control your life. A good health regimen becomes your boss. This is a perfect example of when you are no longer managing yourself, but the program is.

Becoming fit has many effects. One of them is bigger self-confidence i.e. bigger ego. Do not let that take over you with the cause of your health. You will regret it when you have an injury or an illness. Take it slower, listen to your body, and eat well. It helps. Or at least that’s my “prescription” for the path forward.


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