The Road to Revival: Pursuing a Life Well Lived

“Achieving the goal of being recognized as part of the healthcare continuum and reaching the inactive population may be bolstered by shifting our perspectives on health, fitness, wellness, and well-being,” writes interim President and CEO Brent Darden.

The CEO’s Column appears every month in the Club Business International magazine.

As an industry, we have frequently referenced and bemoaned the epidemics of obesity and physical inactivity. Justifiably so, as these preventable issues have greatly exacerbated the mortality rates of COVID-19, in addition to breeding a future overwhelmed with underlying health conditions.

Add to these two recognizable concerns, what I have been referring to as “unfulfilled well-being”. Equally as detrimental to a life well lived and eroding exponentially according to trending statistics on mental health, happiness, and general wellness. Consider the following: Gallup has found that only 4% of U.S. adults are thriving in physical well-being alone. This doesn’t bode well for overall well-being aspirations.

As Dr. Kenneth Cooper, “The Father of Aerobics” would say, good health merely implies the absence of disease.

Wellness in comparison describes a healthy lifestyle beyond acute illness.

It refers to a state of physical health in which people have the ability and energy to do what they want to do in life, without chronic suffering. It's primarily associated with and supported through habits of eating, physical activity, and quality sleep that lead to positive health outcomes.

Fitness, on the other hand, is typically defined as being physically strong and in good functional condition.

Capable of easily meeting the physical demands of daily life and participating in moderate to intense activities without undue fatigue. Achieved primarily by making regular demands on the body to perform physical tasks through exercise, appropriate rest, and balanced nutrition.

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Well-being encompasses the broader holistic dimensions of a well-lived life.

Although there are many definitions, there are several common elements of well-being that most would agree are part of a thriving life:

  • Spiritual well-being: You have faith in a higher power and guiding values.

  • Family well-being: You spend quality time together and nurture positive relationships.

  • Social well-being: You feel part of a community and have meaningful friendships in your life.

  • Physical well-being: You prioritize your health and are able to move and participate in desired activities.

  • Mental well-being: You find ways to manage stress and maintain a sense of peace and positivity.

  • Professional well-being: You like what you do and find it rewarding and meaningful.

  • Financial well-being: You live within your means and manage your money well.

  • Adventure well-being: You have fun and take time to relax, refresh, and recharge.

There is a recent movement among some public health promoters to shy away from using the word “fitness,” because for too many—especially those that are unfit and sedentary—it evokes a level of physical condition they view as unattainable.

As the industry continues to pursue a broader role in helping society become healthier and more active, perhaps we need to reframe our messaging? Consider someone who eats healthy and exercises regularly but has few friends and dreads going to work each day. Not only is this person struggling, but these chronic issues ultimately affect their physical health as well.

Achieving the goal of being recognized as part of the healthcare continuum and reaching the inactive population may be bolstered by shifting our perspectives on health, fitness, wellness, and well-being.

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