Many people who decide to try and make their lifestyle healthier become quickly frustrated with the seeming lack of results and subsequently relapse into previous bad habits or behaviours. To prevent this happening we must understand a number of things. Firstly and most importantly is that living healthily requires balance and a holistic approach in order to be of long term benefit and also aid our ability to adhere to it. The foundations or pillars of a healthy lifestyle can be broken down into the following areas:-
Exercise and Activity – Our bodies are designed to move, yet modern day living in the developed world has reduced how much we actually do. Regular exercise and activity keep the body strong, efficient and resistant to illness.
Nutrition – It is a cliché to say “we are what we eat “, and it may be more to the point to say ‘we are what we absorb and digest’ but the fact remains that these sayings are clichés because they are true. Our whole body functions or malfunctions based on the quality and quantity of the nutrients we put into it. It is well documented that over eating causes obesity, yet many of us over look the negative effects of poor quality nutrition in general and how important it is in supporting activity and exercise.
Sleep and Rest – Like every complex machine there are times when we need to have a rest and a reboot. Busy lives force us to push ourselves ever harder and as a result the quality and quantity of our rest or sleep can be seriously compromised. Our bodies rejuvenate, reset and adapt to exercise when we are at rest. Without adequate sleep and rest our body starts to literally breakdown and injury and illness are sure to follow. We become fitter and stronger in direct proportion to the amount of good quality rest we take.
Hydration – The body is made up of approximately sixty percent of water. Our very existence relies upon on us getting enough fluids to keep us alive and all of our bodily systems and functions working efficiently. When we are dehydrated our body will utilise water to support its most important organs and functions first and this will compromise the efficiency of the body as a whole. As our activity levels go up so too should our intake of hydrating fluids especially during hotter weather.
Mental and Emotional Health – When people talk of the mind and body connection they usually ignore the fact that our brains and minds are indeed part of the body. Our bodies and minds work in complete synergy just like all the other systems and organs that make us function as humans. To ignore our mental and emotional health may not only manifest itself in the way we are thinking and feeling but could also result in reduced immune function and subsequently illness.
Environment – This external factor can have a huge impact on our ability to lead a healthy and fulfilled life. We thrive on good quality air free from pollutants and lots of natural light to keep our sleep cycles and hormone production in check. Time spent in the great outdoors reduces our stress levels and gives us a sense of wellbeing. Our industrialised lives cause us to spend less and less time outdoors and more time in environments that are artificially created in terms of light, climate and sensory satisfaction.