A study published by sports scientists Phil Maffetone and Paul Laursen in Sports Medicine looks at how athletes can be both fit and unhealthy.
Most of us tend to use the words “fit” and “healthy” interchangeably but this isn’t always the case. When you think about it, fitness is about your capacity to complete a particular task. For example, swimming a given distance within a specific time, running a marathon or lifting a heavy weight. But health refers to well-being, or not being sick.
The paper, Athletes: Fit but Unhealthy by Philip B. Maffetone and Paul B. Laursen, has three key points:
- Fitness and health can be defined separately: fitness describes the ability to perform a given exercise task, and health explains a person’s state of well-being, where physiological systems work in harmony.
- Too many athletes are fit but unhealthy.
- Excess high training intensity or training volume and/or excess consumption of processed/refined dietary carbohydrates can contribute to reduced health in athletes and even impair performance.
In other words, the quest for fitness improvement means making compromises that can lead to adverse health outcomes. This can be caused by eating diet that favours muscle building or endurance over a healthy balance.
There’s also consideration to the impact of over-training on physical and mental health.
The article is well worth reading.