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Obviously, if someone hires a certified personal trainer they are intending to get fitness coaching. But what does fitness mean? The term is sometimes used synonymously with the word wellness, even though they are not the same. The World Health Organization defines health as a "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Wellness is defined as a "a dynamic process of becoming aware of and making conscious choices toward a more balanced and healthy lifestyle."
What's in a Name?
Webster's Dictionary lists the first recorded use of "fitness" as early as 1580. But it wasn't until the 20th century that the word became ingrained in the modern world's psyche. In its broadest definition, physical fitness means a general state of good physical health. The term "wellness" showed up in writing in 1653. It seems that the Elizabethan era was a golden age for coining new terms in English. The 20th century's mark on the language might just be taking such common words, and running with them - literally. The pursuit of wellness is sometimes viewed as a luxury, a measure of cultural affluence since it involves managing the body after basic needs such as food and shelter have been met. One viewpoint is that some practices applied in the pursuit of wellness are aimed at controlling what are sometimes seen as the side effects of this affluence, including obesity and inactivity.
Wellness grew as a popular concept beginning in the 19th century, just as the middle class started to emerge in the industrialized world. This, in turn, resulted in society with the time and the resources to pursue wellness and other forms of self-improvement. Since World War II, the growth of Americans' pursuit of self-improvement has seen an outpouring of books, diets, and exercise programs geared toward this end. So, it shouldn't be surprising that centuries-terms have come to take on new meaning in light of this.
So, what does it mean to be fit? What is your level of wellness? Questions of this sort confront the consumer frequently. The umbrella of wellness includes learning new life skills that speak to both the ups and downs of everyday living. Over the past decade or so, the concept of wellness has expanded to include social, physical, emotional, career, intellectual, environmental and spiritual dimensions. The best way to take care of yourself is to be cognizant of the concepts of how to achieve and maintain wellness. But with so many sources of information today, so many "experts", how does one choose?
Fortunately, medical professionals, personal trainers and other fitness workers are educated in human physiology, and in various forms of wellness. So seeking out advice from such people is often a good way to begin sorting through the thicket of information and disinformation.
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