You “could” measure fitness in how many miles you can run or how many pounds you can bench press or your body fat percentage. These are all metrics that can be helpful to track as indicators of your fitness, but they don’t tell the whole story.
If your daily run leaves you with chronic knee pain or you “kill it” in the gym on a regular basis but can’t lift your arms overhead, are you more fit than the person who walks pain free or who doesn’t sweat buckets but has a full range of motion in the shoulders?
It’s great to train hard, push past perceived roadblocks and mild discomfort, and improve your strength, endurance, or body composition. But moving well should come before moving more. Taking care of your body post-exercise should be as large of a priority as working out itself. Why you exercise and how you feel during and afterward are just as important as what you do or how much you sweat.
Fitness extends beyond your workout regime. It includes how you care for your body, what you eat, and how you recover. You can think of it as four slices of the fitness “pie” (yes, you can talk about pie while talking about fitness):
When all four of these components are in place, creating the full circle of fitness, you’ll discover your body feels better. And when you feel good, life becomes easier and you can do the things you love, whether that’s gardening, running a 5K, skiing, or simply playing with your grandkids. Measures of fitness may vary from one person to the next, but ultimately for everyone the meaning is the same: fitness is the ability to pursue your passions without limitations.