A basketball player would not have to be physically fit in the same way as a swimmer or an alligator wrestler. In the same sense, an office worker will not likely need to be much more physically fit than the recommended baseline for the general population.
Why do we even bring this up? The quest for physical fitness – some would also go so far as to call it a pursuit of perfection – has laid the groundwork for many misconceptions about what’s healthy or isn’t. This has ironically led to the rise of incidences involving body image issues for both men and women.
Being “fit” is something that heavily depends on context – which we should all know at some level. Knowing this, if you are planning to start on a new exercise program, make sure that it fits into the context of your needs.
For example, most white-collar workers or anyone who needs to work sitting down for long periods, programs that emphasize flexibility and aerobic fitness may make more sense than one that emphasizes weight training. Someone with a job that involves carrying loads may want a program that emphasizes strength and endurance training.
When it comes to fitness, context matters a lot – naturally, none of us assume we’ll need to be fit at the level of a Navy SEAL. Of course, surprisingly, many of us do not understand what physical fitness entails.
Being healthy involves much more than just looking the part. We often assume people who are fat or extremely skinny to be out of the general idea of what makes someone “fit.” The truth is, people who aren’t overweight can suffer from a slew of nutritional problems. Overweight and underweight people can be physically fit and quite healthy, depending on their circumstances.
In a classic example, people who engage in strength training exercises tend to be heavier than average thanks to the fact that muscle tends to be denser than fat.
Some people are also genetically predisposed to have fat in certain areas of the body, which has several implications for fitness. “Apple-shaped” women, or women who accumulate more fat in the lower body than the hips, for example, are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. In contrast, “pear-shaped” counterparts who accumulate fat in the lower body are less likely to have the same problem.
Lastly, not everyone has the same facilities or circumstances available to them. Not everyone will be able to bike to work safely; not everyone will have access to a kayak. Not everyone will have the same ready access to healthy foodstuff, nor will everyone have a support network of friends and family that can help them achieve their goals. These extraneous factors can affect the kind of fitness programs you need or will be able to manage.
Each person is different. Depending on your lifestyle, genetics, line of work, and unique circumstances- you will need a different fitness program that fits well with it. If you can’t make anything work, however, then you might want to see if you can change your circumstances.