Most people think of food and their waste size when they hear the word healthy. But the truth is that healthy living is a lot more than your waist size. In fact just being slightly over weight does not mean you are not healthy, and being normal or under weight also does not mean you are healthy. I have many patients who are over weight and yet they have perfectly normal blood pressure, heart rate, blood chemistry and they tell me uncle Joe who was a smoker and over weight lived to be a 100 years old. And then I have the ultra distance runner who has elevated blood pressure. So, although very important, but being healthy is a lot more than just what your waist size.
Healthy living includes your whole life experience. It can have different meaning for different people, but in general the main pillars of a healthy life are:
1) what you eat
2) how much you move, exercise and core body strength
3) preventive medicine
4) your psyche (now a days referred to as Mindfulness) and your personal and professional wellbeing
You can learn everything you need to know about healthy living at HealthierlifeMD.com either on your own time or through one of our in depth and practical learning modules. But here is a brief description of what each category means:
1) What you eat:
This is probably the best known gateway to healthy living. Most of us associate our wellness to our weight. But in reality what we eat is far more important than our weight. Starving people are quite thin, but they are not healthy. Rather it is the QUALITY and QUANTITY of the food you eat that plays a significant role in how your cells, organs and body as a whole function. Just like a car that needs high quality gas and oil to function well, our body needs high quality food to function efficiently. High quality food is what you make at HOME and from unprocessed ingredients. This should include healthy carbohydrates, protein and fats. You need all three major food categories, don't skimp on them, just try and eat the unprocessed healthy forms. And unless prescribed by your doctor for a specific reason, throw away all those expensive over the counter vitamins and supplements, instead eat a healthy diet with 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day and you will get all the vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy metabolism.
2) How much you move and exercise:
Research has shown that those who exercise AND stay active throughout the day get the most benefit to their health. So, what does this mean? It means you should exercise at least 5 days a week and try to remain active the rest of day. Exercising can be as short as 15 minutes and as long as you want it to be, the important thing is to raise your heart heart and stimulate your muscles. A brisk walk or jog followed by some push ups and core exercises is all you need. But be sure to maintain your activity the rest of the day. Take simple measures such as taking the stairs, parking your car in the farthest slot and getting up and going to your coworkers desk to talk instead of texting or messaging. It all adds up.
In addition to exercising you also need to work on your core body. Core refers to the muscles of your back, flank and abdomen, together responsible for keeping your posture. Of course having a good upright posture with strong core muscles makes you look like a Hollywood star, but much more importantly it also allows your lungs to expand more efficiently. Core strength also reduces the risk of chronic neck, back and other joint pains. Unfortunately due to our lifestyle of staring down at computers and personal devices we are seeing more and more people in their 30s and 40s who come to our clinics for all sorts of body aches and pains, mostly due to a bad posture. So, be sure to include some core exercises in your routine, be mindful of your daily posture and habits for a better up right look.
To find out more visit HealthierlifeMD/Exercise section for more information on how to start being an overall active person.
3) Preventive health:
Just like a car that needs regular check ups to make sure all parts are working properly our body needs regular check ups, specially the older we get. Preventive health is meant to either prevent a specific disease or to catch it in its early stages, where it can be successfully treated. Here are some examples of preventive health depending on your age and gender:
Colon cancer screening (prevents or detects colon cancer early).
Mammogram (detects breast cancer early)
Prostate screen (detects prostate cancer early)
Cervical exam (prevents or detects cervical cancer early)
Various shots like pneumonia, shingles and flu (lowers your risk of getting a major illness).
In addition, during your annual preventive exams your doctor will check your vital signs and do a through exam, making sure there are no abnormalities such as elevated blood pressure or elevated glucose. Many of of my patients are very surprised to find out they have elevated blood pressure, always telling me they feel fine. Unfortunately some diseases and abnormalities do not have symptoms until it's too late. A. yearly check up is a great way to prevent this from happening.
To learn more about the most up to date guidelines on preventive health and to get more information on what are the appropriate preventive measures for you visit HealthierlifeMD/preventive health.
So, you eat well, exercise, stay active, go to your doctor every year and you still feel stressed and tired. Why? Because your mind may be tired and overwhelmed. Mindfulness is the practice of taking some time during the day and resting your brain and mind. This can be as short at 10 minutes or as long as you want it. Yoga, meditation, a short nap, just sitting somewhere and staring away are all examples. The important thing is to free yourself of all electronics, other people that may interact with you and just letting your mind drift away. As for me, a short 10-15 minute nap after lunch is all I need to refresh my mind. I turn my phone into airplane mode, set an alarm and off I go into unconsciousness.
In summary, living a healthy life is a wholesome experience that is a lot more than one measuring factor. Go to HealthierlifeMD.com and sign up for our modules or read a plethora of information to learn in more detail how you can tackle each pillar of healthy living. You can always contact us for more information and to find out about personal consulting as well.
1) Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence
2) Long-term health benefits of physical activity – a systematic review of longitudinal studies
Miriam Reiner, Christina Niermann, Darko Jekauc & Alexander Woll