While many often refer to the terms wellness and fitness synonymously, they actually have two, very different meanings. Fitness refers to being physically fit, specifically focusing on one’s physical health attributes such as having cardiovascular endurance, physical strength, or flexibility. It also refers to a person’s eating habits that impact physical health.
However, wellness is defined by what we call the Seven Components of Wellness which include social, spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual, environmental, and occupational. Notice, that physical wellness is only one of seven components of true health and wellness.
It seems most people focus solely on physical health and ignore some or maybe all of the other components of wellness, especially people who are physically active. For example, if you were to talk to an athlete about taking a yoga class or a Tai Chi class, they may laugh at you as if it were ridiculous to even consider such a idea. This may be because they are so focused on their physical fitness, they are not taking the time to consider all that they may be lacking in regards to overall health.
Quite frankly, no one has mastered the art of total wellness (at least no one I have ever come in contact with). It should be the constant goal of the individual to strive to improve oneself, one component at a time.
Here is a list of some basic definitions of what each component of wellness means:
Social: ” The social component of wellness means having the ability to interact
successfully with people and one’s personal environment.”
“The physical component of wellness involves the ability to carry out daily tasks,
develop cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, maintain adequate nutrition and
a healthy body fat level, and avoid abusing alcohol and other drugs or using
Spiritual: ” The spiritual component of wellness provides meaning and direction in life and enables you to grow, learn, and meet in new challenges.” In other words, feeling a sense of purpose in your life.
Environmental: “The environmental component of wellness includes the ability to promote health measures that improve the standard of living and quality of life in the community, including laws and agencies the safeguard the physical
Emotional: “Emotional Wellness is the ability to control stress and to express emotions appropriately and comfortably.”
Occupational: “The occupational dimension of wellness comprises aspects of wellness that help achieve a balance between work and leisure in a way that promotes health and a sense of personal satisfaction.”
Intellectual: “Intellectual Wellness involves the ability to learn and use information effectively for personal, family, and career development.”
As you look at this list, try to think about which components you feel you are successful at and which components can use some improving. Try to set some small goals for yourself to improve your overall wellness.
Definitions taken from “The Seven Components of Wellness”, http://www.chesapeake.edu/wrobbins/Default.asp