sickness wellness fitness continuum

If you could plot your health on a graph, where would you sit?

CrossFit founder Greg Glassman formulated a measurable scale to determine ones health; The Sickness – Wellness – Fitness Continuum. Based on Dr John Travis‘ 1972 Illness-Wellness continuum.

The theory being that the way we live our lives determines where we sit on the graph. We can adjust our lives to move us further into the “fitness” zones and away from the “sickness” zones.

We should all strive to live our lives in between “wellness” and “fitness”. The further into the “fitness” zone we are, the less likely we are to develop life altering, life limiting illnesses. Of course, there are some unexpected, unavoidable and completely unforeseen events which can set us back; some cancers, type 1 diabetes, a car accident etc. but if we can do all we can to avoid the avoidable, shouldn’t we do just that?

Chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertrophy (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, kidney failure, heart failure, dementia and depression can all be avoided, managed or reversed by taking care of our health through exercise and nutrition.

If we drink alcohol in excess, we tick the dial closer towards the sickness, raising our risk of kidney failure. Carrying excess weight? We move the dial closer to sickness and therefore raise our risk of heart disease, hypertrophy and type 2 diabetes. Smoke, eat a poor diet and have poor cardiovascular health? We are increasing our risk of developing dementia and other age related illnesses.

Not only are we increasing our chances of developing health problems in the long run if we sit further into the sickness end of the spectrum, it also effects our ability to recover from short term set backs. A common cold, a strained muscle, a broken bone are all easier for our body to recover from if we are striving to sit on the fitness end.

sickness wellness fitness continuum

So what can we do to move us closer to fitness and keep us from sickness?

  • Take regular exercise; walk, run, lift. Push, pull, squat. Swim, stretch, throw. It doesn’t matter what. Just move. Do anything you enjoy that raises your heart rate for a period of time.
  • Work on flexibility and mobility. Keep joints moving in the range of motion they are designed for and keep muscles balanced and supple.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet full of protein, healthy fats, complex carbs and fiber. Fill your plate with a variety of colours (natural, from fruit and veg.. not skittles!)
  • Avoid processed food, excess sugar and alcohol.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get outside, breathe fresh air and soak up as much vitamin D as available to you.
  • Supplement omega 3 and vitamin D if you can’t get enough from your diet and lifestyle.
  • Above all, give your mental health the time it deserves. Meditate, take time to yourself to de-stress, recognise when life is getting too much and find a way to take a step back and breathe.

We can take gradual steps in the right direction and turn them into lifelong habits. As a result, we give ourselves the best chance to live long and healthy lives.

If you are worried you are slipping too far into sickness but are unsure how to pull it back drop me a message now. Together we can work on putting steps into place to move you in the right direction. A complete overhaul of your current lifestyle will most likely be unsustainable and overwhelming. However, taking each week at a time we will slowly build habits that will last you a lifetime.


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