The terms “fitness” and “health” are typically used interchangeably these days, but, there are vital differences between them. Some people believe just because you have the fitness to run a 10K you must also be healthy.

But here is the thing folks, fitness, and health is not the same things. These two terms mean very different things, and are, in reality, separate states of physical being.

Plus, these two terms are most often used erroneously and get lost in the industry jargon.

The fact is, you can be very healthy but not fit; and you can be really fit, but not healthy.

With that said, worry no more. I got you covered, buddy. Today I’ll teach you how to tell the difference between the two. As runner, I’m also deeply interested in anything that’s fitness or health related.

So are you excited? Then here we go.

What People Believe

Most believe, if you are physically fit, you’re healthy.

But it’s not always the case. Being fit influences a person’s overall health, but that does not inherently mean that the person will be healthy.

In fact, even if you run, lift weights, swing a bat, jump, etc. and you did it consistently, it does not mean that you’re healthy. Fit people get cancer, too.

On the flip side, bing healthy does not intrinsically mean that you’re fit. And we all know of people who never ran a mile or lifted weights in their lives, but seem disease-free and healthy.

Yes, as we will see, there are a few similarities between the two, but the differences are far greater.

Fitness Vs. Health

Why? It’s quite simple.

People are different and come from different backgrounds.

Although we share the same genetic makeup as Homo sapiens, the little variations in genetic structure, muscle tissue, lifestyle, environment, and overall health and well-being can influence your personal fitness and health profile.

So, what is fitness? What is health?

Fitness Demystified

Fitness refers to one’s ability to perform a particular physical movement, be it running, weight lifting, jumping, etc.

Measuring Fitness

Fitness is defined by the level of agility, speed, strength, explosive power, mobility and cardiovascular conditioning and endurance, etc.

What’s more, being fit for one sport doesn’t mean you will be fit for another (of course, I still believe in the benefits of cross training).

So, for instance, being extremely fit for endurance running may not translate over well to Olympic weightlifting, or boxing.

That’s why runners are fit for running, MMA athletes are fit for MMA-type fighting, mountain bikers are fit for mountain biking, etc. 

Fitness Factors

The main way of increasing fitness is through physical activity. It involves some type of activity that stimulates different systems of the body and keeps a certain condition within the body.

Lifestyle choices, such as diet, are also vital. But it boils down to the amount and quality of physical activity that determines your fitness level.

For most people, fitness can be within the control of the individual. If you are not fit, then often-than-not. You’re responsible.

Fitness as it Relates To Health

Research shows that increasing one’s fitness can lead to a health boost in so many ways—lowered risks of cardiovascular ailments, reduced risks of cancer, stronger immunity, etc.

So, your fitness level does have an impact on your health status. But, all in all, it does not define it. Fitness can be considered a measure of the amount of physical aptitude than a measure of health and well-being.

What do I mean? Keep on reading.

Health Demystified

Health, on the other hand, is the general term used to describe the overall well-being status of a person.

As a general rule, being healthy entails being free from diseases or illness and not suffering from any pain or injury.

But that’s not the whole story.

According to the World Health Organization, health is not merely the absence of illness or disease. The WHO defines it as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. I couldn’t agree more.

Measuring Health

Health is measured by a certain number of different elements that conventional science has produced. These include insulin levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, oxygen intake, hormonal metrics, cardiovascular fitness, basic mobility, skin health, etc.

In other words, true health involves having a balanced approach to things.

Health Factors

Your health status can be affected by many factors, including genes, environments, food, disease, social structure, etc.

So, it might not always be under one’s control (but that’s no excuse to let your health deteriorate).

Some of the best ways to increase your health include physical activity (or fitness), balanced nutrition, stress management, reduction of environmental pollution, proper sleep, etc.


So, you can improve your fitness by getting healthier, and can get healthy by improving your fitness. The two are interlinked. But, as we have just seen, they differ from each other greatly.

And now you know the difference.