The fitness, health and wellness industry is certainly in the spotlight more these days and for good reason . It is a large and fast-growing sector. Did you know that it is a $3.7 trillion industry (including beauty and spa). That’s 3x bigger than the global pharmaceuticals industry! Yes, read that again – 3x bigger than the global pharmaceuticals industry!
As the founder of digital fitness, health and wellness platform Active8me I am often asked to give keynote addresses on this topic, and am involved in numerous meetings with various stakeholders in the industry – corporates, insurers, consultants, governments, health platforms, start-ups, supplements companies, gyms and more.
What surprises me most from these varied interactions is that whilst many people use the word ‘wellness’, most do not actually know what it means. Think now, what is your definition of wellness? Let me explain what I mean by explaining the difference between fitness, health and wellness.
What is FITNESS, in the fitness, health and wellness equation?
Fitness is somewhat obvious as it simply equals whether you’re fit or not and can easily be measured in multiple ways, for example, a beep test. Generally, fitness takes into account aerobic (or cardiovascular) fitness, muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, and body composition. But surprisingly being fit doesn’t necessarily mean you are healthy. For example, there are triathletes and ultra-distance athletes who are very fit, but arguably they drive their bodies to such a degree that it is unhealthy for their body. Equally, you may see many ‘fit’ people at the gym. But are they actually healthy?
What is HEALTH in the fitness, health and wellness equation?
Let’s start by defining health as purely physical in the context of our bodies. Our bodies can be healthy or unhealthy. We either have high blood pressure or we don’t. You are overweight or you’re not! We either have diabetes or we don’t…. You can be fit, but not healthy! And you can even look fit but not be healthy. This is apparent with people who are slim, yet have a disproportionate amount of body fat, we refer to them as ‘Skinny Fat’. They might look fit and you might assume they are healthy, but quite often they have the same risk factors as an obese diabetic!
Now if we extend this definition to include mental health, it is even clearer that there is a difference between fitness and health. You can be fit and physically healthy, but perhaps you suffer from mental illness. You are not healthy in a truer and more comprehensive concept of health.
What is WELLNESS in the fitness, health and wellness equation?
Wellness is more than physical. It is a more holistic measure. Wellness includes having an internal state of thriving regardless of our external physical health. Wellness includes finding meaning and purpose. I have personally met many incredible Paralympians and people with a disability like Nick Vujicic, Kurt Fearnley and Scott Hollenbeck who have incredible meaning and purpose in their life and inspire me to be a better person, to do morewith my abilities, and to be more. They may not be physically functioning in the same capactiy, but they are very well! They have meaning and purpose despite their physical health and obstacles.
So yes, optimal physical health can help you find meaning and purpose that helps you then thrive internally in life. But it is not necessary. In fact, when we take our health for granted, the opposite often occurs – physical health doesn’t regularly lead us to wellness – thriving on the inside, with purpose and meaning. Wellness is more than just physical. And wellness is more than just health, whether you define that in the purely physical sense or more broadly as mental and physical health.
Fitness, health and wellness are different. So what does this mean in practice?
- In my view, a general lack of specific definition has led many corporates, insurers and other stakeholders who engage in health and wellness initiatives to adopt either ineffectual or piecemeal approaches. In turn, this results in inadequate engagement in health programs by employees, members and customers.
- Fitness is more than a step-tracker challenge. It involves a range of elements like exercise, nutrition, sleep, mindset and more.
- A fit workforce doesn’t mean a healthy and productive workforce. Promotion of health in your employees should take into account both physical and mental health. They are intertwined.
- A healthy workforce that is stressed and uninspired, doesn’t make for a happy, engaged and productive workforce. Wellness is more holistic than just physical health parameters. For employees, having a sense of purpose and achievement in their role, despite the level they work at, means their wellness is improved dramatically.
- The ultimate goal is holistic wellness.
- And wellness is smart business. It will result in improved productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, loyalty and engagement. And great employees build great companies.
At Active8me we understand there is an important difference between fitness, health and wellness. That is why we are much, much more than just another fitness app. That is why we aim for our ultimate customers to achieve fitness, health and wellness – be they employees; insurance members; gym members or just your regular consumer . Be they men or women; Asians or Westerners; 20 or 50 years old. The aim is the same. Transformation on the outside. And transformation on the inside – the change no one sees. Fitness, health AND wellness.
Email us today for a comprehensive, customizable solution to employee fitness, health and wellness or if you’d like to discuss how you can leverage Active8me’s all-in-one fitness, health and wellness platform for your members, employees or customers.