When you think of a healthy lifestyle, what does that mean to you? Some people might say exercise, some might say good nutrition, some might say both. I would say both and more. To me there are 5 key elements to living a healthy lifestyle, and they include:
Let’s discuss each one and why they are important:
1) I think we can all agree that exercise is an important element in a healthy lifestyle. It increases strength, endurance, mobility, and flexibility. It aides in bone strength and density. It decreases risks for various diseases and minimizes stress and anxieties. The extra calories burned in exercising helps maintain a healthy bodyweight.
2) Good nutrition is another important element in a healthy lifestyle that most people can understand and agree with. Nutrition is key in maintaining a healthy bodyweight. Exercise alone will not keep you fit and healthy. It really is a combination of both of these elements working together. What you put into your body is so important and your body will function according to this. If you eat badly you will ultimately feel that way. If you eat healthy you will ultimately feel that way. The saying “you are what you eat” is very true!
All of your bodily functions are dependent on what you eat. Your bodies energy comes from food. The food you eat determines the energy you will have. Understanding what and how you need to eat is crucial. You can begin by learning the healthiest sources of your macronutrients, commonly called macros (Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats). These macros are part of your food groups including healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Healthy proteins such as lean meats, fish, beans, nuts, and lean dairy. Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and healthy oils including avocado, olive, sesame, peanut, and coconut. Balancing ALL of these various food groups in proper portions, and as close to their natural state as possible with minimal processing, are things to think about when planning a healthy diet.
Exercise and nutrition are common elements people look to adjusting when trying to create a healthier lifestyle. What many people don’t consider as much are these other three elements: hydration, rest/recovery and sleep.
3) Hydration is a key element. Water is the essential ingredient of life. Your body is made up of approximately 45-75% water with an average of 60% for most. You could survive weeks without food but your body cannot survive without water. There are many functions of water in the body including transporting of nutrients and wastes, regulating body temperature and ph balance, aiding in metabolism, lubrication and protection. All bodily fluids contain water and nearly all chemical reactions involve water. This makes staying properly hydrated extremely important.
One of the things that we do not realize is that we are constantly eliminating water from our body in breathing, sweat, urine, and mucus. Water excretion rates are increased in certain circumstances such as high altitude, low humidity, high temperature areas, as well as through exercise, illness and excessive alcohol consumption. This is why it is important to stay extra hydrated in certain temperatures, on airplanes, during/after exercise, when sick or with consumption of alcohol.
There is no answer to exactly how much water is needed for any particular person. Weight, height, body composition, activity level, environment, etc. will all play a role. It is best to be consistently drinking water throughout the day along with eating water-rich foods such as soups, smoothies, milk, yogurt, fruits and vegetables. Consume more water during and after exercise, while sick, in low humidity, or high temperatures and altitudes (such as when flying).
4) Another important element we tend to forget about is rest and recovery time. This can mean from exercise or from daily life routines. Rest and recovery from exercise allows muscles to heal and recover from workouts. Rest and recovery is also important from work and daily responsibilities — a mental break so to speak. It is important to give both the body and mind some time to unwind and destress. Constant stress on the body and mind can weaken the immune system and counteract all the other things above. You might think you are doing everything right to lead a healthy lifestyle, but if you do not give your body a break, it will eventually break down. Factor in some time for rest and recovery, not including sleep. This rest and recovery can be once a week, or it can be once a day. Find a schedule that works for you and be sure it gives your body time to destress and rest.
5) The final element to include in your healthy lifestyle is sleep. The amount of sleep you get could affect how your body reacts to the day. So many good things happen to your body when you sleep that you cannot get when you are awake. Your body is essentially recharging, like a battery. Limited or no sleep can contribute to a lack of memory impairing your ability to think, a lack of energy making you weak and tired, a weakened immune system increasing risk of sickness and disease, and an increase in stress and anxiety creating an overall poor quality of life. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night or more.
As you can see, no one thing can create a healthy lifestyle. It involves several elements working together. The more of these elements you pay attention to, the healthier your lifestyle will become, and the better quality of life you will have.
• ISSA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer
• AFFA Certified Group Fitness Instructor
• NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist
• Specialize in: - Kickboxing - Strength Training - High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)