The Five Categories of Physical Wellness
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If there is anything that I’ve learned about proper physical health it’s that there is no “one right way.” In fact, there are multiple “right” ways to go about improving your health, as well as multiple “not-so-healthy” ways. The fact of the matter is you have to find what feels right for YOU.
There are many different ways to tap into our physical health, but for the purposes of my posts, I’ve decided to break it down to 5 different categories.
Exercise is important and necessary for overall wellness. This includes cardiovascular endurance, muscle endurance, muscle strength, flexibility, and body composition. (Great, even more breakdowns!) Good exercise has obvious effects on your heart, muscles, and lungs; taking it a step further your body also benefits in your diaphragm, stomach and intestines, brain, kidneys, skin, and more!
There are many different forms of exercise: running, dancing, lifting weights, or swimming, and there are pros and cons to each one. Let’s delve into a few effects of exercise and discover some ways to improve on these:
Improving endurance is paramount to being able to function in even everyday activities such as yard work or chasing after your children. Activities done to improve your physical endurance should increase your breathing and heart rate. This is important for your circulatory system and overall fitness. Activities like a quick walk, jogging, and dancing are great in this area.
Strengthening those muscles, and for reasons beyond looking good, carries important weight (ha ha, see what I did there?) Ever had to carry a car full of groceries because you didn’t want to take that second or third trip? That’s exactly the reason you want to build up your strength. If not for anything but only needing to carry one load of groceries. What better to build up your strength than to practice using it every day. This would include lifting weights or doing strength exercises with your own body weight.
Tight rope walking… just kidding, but it’s related. We need to practice our balance abilities. What helps immensely with this is doing lower body exercises, and practicing standing on one foot. You could even put out a line of tape on the floor on walk over the line of tape over and over again. Balance isn’t a huge problem for younger adults, but it can especially help prevent falls as you age.
And last we’ll discuss flexibility, my favorite. Flexibility helps as you practice everyday activities to keep you from stretching or tearing muscles and causing injury to yourself. You can stay limber through yoga and ballet stretches. This leads us perfectly into the next section.
Good posture is good health. According to the Kansas Chiropractic Foundation muscles being in the proper alignment help to keep your organs in proper functioning order, and attributes to proper workings of the nervous system. It also helps you look good.
I am probably the worst sloucher on the planet despite my years of ballet training. It’s a curse, but there are many exercises that focus on the importance of stretching out your pectoral muscles to aid in the tightness across your chest that pulls your shoulders forward and causes bad posture. I would encourage a look at Callanetics exercises for that very reason.
There are also other elements that we don’t think about when related to posture that have a direct impact on your hip placement. For example, think of your pelvis as a bowl full of water (this a ballet analogy I learned) and if you tip your pelvis too far forward, or stick out your rear, then all of the water will pour forward out of your pelvis; likewise, if you tip your pelvis backwards and aim your pubic bone to the sky, all of theater will pour out behind you. The aim is to keep all of the water in your bowl of a pelvis.
Last but not least, remember to be careful about the leg crossing in sitting position, and ladies you especially know what I’m talking about. Crossing your legs is not good for your posture, and it also has other effects on your blood-flow. Always remember, SQUEEZE YOUR KNEES. If you find yourself crossing your legs, my chiropractor encourages you to uncross your legs and recross the opposite leg then… squeeze your knees. I love that phrase. If you feel you need to cross something your ankles are a good place to stay, but if you can, refrain!
This should seem obvious enough, but I’ll bring it up anyway! Proper diet can help one avoid illness, disease, and certain types of cancer, overall improving weight as well. In a favorite TV show of mine, Poldark, Dr. Enys is called out to help many of the men working in the mine. Turns out, they all had scurvy, which can result in death from bleeding or infection. Simple fix, oranges filled with vitamin C.
Sometimes we get so hung up on a diet or fad that we forget the simple fixes that keep us healthy. Good doses of protein, fruits, and vegetables, as well as healthy doses of good fats. Think avocados; I love avocados.
Beyond the simple ideas of diet, there are many different forms of eating healthy, but one should always remember that there is no “one right way.” Bodybuilders eat differently than dancers, and olympic swimmers eat differently than both. Beyond differences in activities we also have different body types.
Chinese thoughts very often go to the idea that each body is different and we must listen to our body to know what we need. For example, I recently tried elements of the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating and found that some recipes made me feel great and gave me a lot of energy, whereas other left me feeling bleak and tired. For some, they can follow that diet perfectly, and see amazing improvements; for others, they have to find a way to change it to match their body. This goes for any diet.
Sometimes, and I don’t suggest this as an overarching requirement, our bodies need help getting nutrients, and that is where supplements come in. It is better to avoid supplements and get all of those health benefits through your food intake, but sometimes it isn’t enough for our individual situations. For example, during pregnancy it is helpful for me to take an iron supplement to help with what my body can’t get on its own. (A steak a day is also wonderfully helpful and much more tasty.)
Last is water, water, water. Drink when you are thirsty and always keep water on hand. This eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day doesn’t exactly stem from real science (just watch Adam Ruins Everything to find out) but drinking water is still important. Keep up a healthy intake to improve your overall health, weight, skin, and more!
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute sleep is necessary for the healing of our heart and blood, maintaining a healthy hormone balance, and helping your immune system among other things. Personally, I’m quite fond of sleep; however, recent circumstances have caused a situation where I can never sleep through the night.
Having young children is hard! Whether is it a nightmare, they are hungry, or they just plain woke up and want attention, you are bound to be woken up for one reason or another every night. This can make “getting a good night’s rest” ultimately impossible. For those of you facing this challenge, please find a way to nap.
Rest is so important for proper functioning of our body that not getting the right amount of sleep can affect your your health, weight, and emotional and mental well-being. There is a reason the sun comes up and goes down. Our bodies were made for a waking period and a resting period.
The “early to bed and early to rise” sentiment is true not only for sleeps-sake, but for your productivity’s sake as well. I understand that some careers and lifestyles do not allow for this habit, but it is a wonderful habit to catch hold of. Who wouldn’t want to be healthy, wealthy, and wise?
Nails beds, and odor, and hair, oh my! Yes, this is a physical health aspect. This includes but is not limited to: hair, skin, nails, teeth, mouth, and eyes. Some of these are quick fixes, some of them more difficult. Showers and clean clothes can generally help with skin health, but some individuals require more attention to things like dental health or blurry eyesight.
How you look is a personal preference; for example, haircut and style, painted nails, and clothing choices. Always remember that beyond your physical aesthetic appearance is the more important health of your body.
Individual physical health is all about creating a personal plan to improve our ability to be healthy and happy as we go about our daily lives. Proper organization of our health (just as we organize our daily schedules) can help us see what works and what doesn’t, it will help us notice our personal improvement in health and happiness, and can have an effect on every other aspect of wellness.
This is the place to start!