What exactly does health look like?

A lot of people imagine athletes or bodybuilders when they think of the perfect image of health. But is that really accurate?

You hear the horror stories of competitive athletes who go to extremes and ultimately do more damage to their bodies than good. And then I look around at some of the people I have come in contact with in my journey as a runner and health junkie, and quite frankly sometimes it’s scary.

There’s a dude on Facebook who used to be a body builder. He was absolutely massive, and I imagine he must have won a few competitions in his time. He is much older now and his body has shriveled up into something half alien and completely weird. But he presents himself as a professional and stalks hot girls online. He actually takes pictures of girls and Photoshops himself INTO them. Some of the pictures look like the girls don’t even realize they’re being photographed. Then he tries to pass off the whole photo as a social experience. Clearly NOT healthy.

Of course, this isn’t the only psycho on Facebook. But when I saw him, I wondered: Was he EVER healthy? This is a man who made a career out of building up his body. And now look at him. Is that what we’re trying to achieve through exercise and training? At the peak of his career when he was at his prime – was he mentally sound? I’m guessing not.

So I don’t think it’s enough. The training, the hours on the treadmill, the weight lifting sessions. They don’t do much to develop a healthy mind. Or a stable personality.

Truly good health is TOTAL health. Not just the physical, but the psychological and mental aspects as well. And to complicate the issue, it is much harder to bring health into these other areas of your life than it is to achieve purely physical health. Your body responds quickly and anybody can manipulate it. But your personality takes a lifetime to perfect. Virtues like patience and compassion. Some people just never get there.

People who are physically fit have a reputation for being stupid. But there’s no reason why it should be this way. Physical exercise actually increases brain function. So let’s be functional. Listen to an audio book while you’re working out. Solve some problems in your head. Imagine a creative story. Do some deep breathing or meditation. Don’t just workout mindlessly.

It’s a challenge of course. But that’s the great thing about exercise – it makes us feel like we can overcome any challenge.