What does “mandate fitness” mean?
Given the political temperament of the World’s people and the close relationship which appears to have formed between health and politics today, it’s worth being clear about my position as it relates to the proposition “mandate fitness”.
To begin, on its face, to “mandate fitness” is a silly proposition. I underscore “on its face” because in the manner most people will perceive “mandate fitness”, whether positively or negatively, the conventional idea in application would be pure hilarity, if not madness.
Imagine a world in which people were mandated to exercise, forced to eat healthy foods, and threatened with loss of rights or reduction of opportunities for not adhering to the mandate.
Who would determine what constitutes “exercise”? Who would become the authority on “healthy foods”? What would the enforcement of this mandate look like? Could fitness-deniers be threatened with loss of certain rights, freedoms, and/or access to opportunities?
See how silly this becomes after asking just a few simple questions?
So, with regard to any “mandate”, I submit a grain of humor to be expressed by the proposition in a clear jest at U.S. federal suggestions to “mandate vaccinations” in the name of “health”.
Because--and this point leads into my idea of “fitness”--if we’re “mandating” anything in the name of “health” then who’s defining what “health” is; or more precisely, who’s defining what “good health” is?
And so, to deliver on my perspective of “fitness” and to round out my perspective of what “mandate fitness” means, I’d like to start by attempting to define “health”.
“Health”, to “be healthy”, and terms such as “good health” carry enormous weight in our daily use of them, but few people hold agreement on what any of those things are, exactly.
Even physicians disagree on what “health” is or what constitutes “good health”.
Sure, there are baseline measures for a “healthy heart”, a “healthy liver”, a “healthy immune system”, a “healthy endocrine system”, and so on; but then we have to ask, “healthy for what”.
Are you healthy enough to get out of bed? If so, does that mean you’re healthy enough for a full day’s worth of physical activity?
What about more physically-charged activities, like running a 5k race or an obstacle course? At what point does healthy enough for one thing become not healthy enough for another?
Is “healthy” the results of your blood lab report, or is “healthy” the processes and behavior patterns that produced those results?
Can one live a “healthy life” doing “healthy things” but still end up “unhealthy”?
These are, in fact, complex questions to which no clear and definite answers exist for everyone all the time.
Now, over generations of evolutionary outcomes we’ve identified certain inputs into and demands onto the human system which produce often predictable patterns relating to health and fitness.
But the vast amount of truths that tell our whole story have yet to be constructed; and even still, the hard facts upon which those truths will be built have yet to be discovered.
And so, we must go with what we do know; and from my perspective and based on what I know, we can describe “health” like this:
A state of organic functionality at a level enough to carry out a given set of objectives requiring a range of metabolic output.
Okay, that may sound a bit over-arching, but bear with me, and we’ll arrive at a clear and concise definition from this description.
Let’s start with “organic functionality”, which refers to one’s state of internal systems and their correlated actions…
Brain does neuro, heart does cardio, stomach does gastro, lungs do respiratory, blood vessels do circulation, endocrine glands do hormones, CNS + liver integrate to do immunity, physique does musculoskeletal movement, and to one degree or another of which we’re aware, neurophysiology does psychological experience.
In the description above, the physical system, like the brain, represents something you can hold in your hands and place into a wheelbarrow and move around...
However; the processes that those physical systems carry out, such as your brain and nervous system’s production of your conscious experience of what it’s like to be you, are far more ambiguous, complex, and possibly incomprehensible when compared to the brain and nervous systems themselves, which are producing the processes.
When combined, these internal, fundamentally-organic systems synergize to produce a level of “organic functionality” that can be expressed through the physical attributes characterizing the human system; like thinking, speaking, and moving.
In this description of “health”, the degree or level to which one’s internal, fundamentally-organic systems synergize does, in fact, produce one’s “level of health”.
The greater the level of synergy between systems, the greater the level of one’s“health”; as I define health here as:
the state of synergy between those previously-mentioned and defined internally-functioning, fundamentally-organic systems.
And each day when any one of us wakes up, we awake with a “set level of health” for that day, or an amount of potential that our system is able to metabolically output.
For instance, your musculoskeletal system is not going to breach a new state of potential within a single day’s cycle. You could work to improve the “health” of your muscle for a future day through utilizing its full potential on this day; but that new state of potential won’t be realized until some time & space in the future.
Okay, so now that we’ve defined health as “the state of synergy between the internally-functioning, fundamentally-organic systems” operating within and throughout us, let’s talk about “fitness” and provide further explanation for why I would proposition “mandate fitness”.
LET’S TALK “FITNESS”
Since I’ve defined “health” as the state of synergy between our internal systems, I will define “fitness” here:
Fitness is the expressed output of one’s health in relation to their potential.
Let’s do an example in which Person A’s health potential is enough only so that they’re fully maxed out by a walk around the block one time. Yet, Person B has enough potential for a walk around the block two times.
A conventional and objective mind would suggest that Person B clearly has greater “health” than Person A by a factor of two, and in this case they would be correct.
Now, let’s say that Person A walks to the full potential of their “health” and marks one block by day’s end, and so does Person B, they also walk one block.
My question is, which person demonstrated greater fitness, Person A or Person B? After all, they both walked one block.
From my perspective, it was Person A who demonstrated greater fitness. As they took what they were able to do and matched it, one hundred percent, through what they were willing to do.
And in no long dissertation, we realize here that “fitness”, from my perspective, is one’s willingness to express the full value of their health.
Or, even easier said; health is one’s ability as fitness is one’s willingness.
And from that definition of “fitness”, I do promote the idea to “mandate fitness”.
I will address the simplistic approach I’ve put on offer here given the many other variable systems we could measure in defining one’s “health”, thus providing a more precise marker for one’s ability potential.
For instance, using the purely metabolic reference from “fitness” above; it’s insensitive and short-sighted to assume that Person A and Person B have the same access to the same starting point to get around the block. Whether they are able to go around once, twice, or a hundred times; if one is not able to get to the start point where they can begin walking around the block then does it matter how many times they can do it?
At some point it’s worth accounting for “access” to improved health as a marker that improves one’s actual “health”. Considering that we view “health” as one’s ability, to provide better access to improve one’s ability actually improves their ability.
To be clear, I don’t take that point for granted when I promote the idea to “mandate fitness”. Each of us wake up to our own, individually-unique set of problems that dampen our ability to one degree or another. And I’m aware that to each of us that degree is different.
What I am recommending is that, if you’re able to pull yourself together enough to do something that has the possibility of improving the future for yourself and others then have the willingness in relation to that ability to do so.
And that is what I mean by “mandate fitness”: where there’s ability to improve the state, demonstrate the willingness to do so.
It’s not a call to get a gym membership or to start meal prepping. It’s not encouragement to sign up for a race or start a transformation. And it’s not a plea to get “healthy” or take care of yourself. It’s none of those things…
As I said, to do so would be insensitive and short-sighted of me. But, what I could ask is that given what’s within your power to do something, are you willing to do it?
And, if so, then you, too, “mandate fitness”.