For people who feel good every day, physically and mentally, the quest for perfect health may be far from their minds. But for many others, being in great shape and enjoying their body and mind on a daily basis is a journey.
The road looks long and hard, and is often paved with conflicting information. It can be difficult to know where to start to build a better relationship with one’s body and achieve greater health overall. But many health care professionals agree that a smart place to begin is with five basic building blocks for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body.
Building Block #1: Exercise
Movement is one of the things our bodies need most to be healthy. We are built to move in an upright fashion, and make the most of bipedal motion. Exercise can help you attain a better quality of life both now and as you age.
It’s no secret that physical activity tones up muscles, burns calories, and puts a happy bounce in your step. Recently, researchers uncovered a new bonus benefit: exercise acts as a powerful vaccine against the aging process itself.
Building Block #2: Keep up your interests
Many health care providers are beginning to understand the connections between mental and physical health. One of the big factors for good physical health and a vibrant body is an active interest in life and current activities.
Staying active both physically and mentally, and specifically within the support structure of a community, is one of the best things you can do to keep your body in good shape.
Building Block #3: Proper sleep cycles
Sleep is when your body takes itself to the shop and runs repairs. If you’re chronically not getting enough sleep, you’re behind the curve on oxidative damage, a natural byproduct of all metabolism.
That damage to cells builds up, and that’s a substantial part of how we age. If you toss and turn at night, get up out of bed, stretch, lie on your back with your feet up the wall, or even meditate. But whatever you do, don’t just lie there and struggle.
Do something to quiet the mental or physical discomfort that is keeping you up. There’s no rule on total number of hours, but a good basis to start with is an eight-hour stretch, even if you get up once or twice during the course of the night.
Building Block #4: Meditation and stress reduction
Most of our daily life is spent “doing”: we are doing this and doing that. Meditation brings back the natural balance between “being” and “doing.” Meditation is all about the “being.”
As the saying goes, “you are a human being, not a human doing.” Constant states of doing in our modern world create stress, and stress has all sorts of damaging effects on the body. It may be a strange concept for many people who are caught up in the struggles of the workaday world, but studies show that health benefits to the body-mind, which include anti-aging properties, can be had in as little as ten minutes of appropriate practice per day.
Building Block #5: Proper diet and nutritional supplements
The first question to ask here is: Is what you’re eating actually food? The major problem with “food” in the US is that much of it is so processed that your body can’t utilize the nutrients in the way it would a normal, natural food source. This robs the body of nutrients it needs to create vibrant health.
Because processed food tends to be packed with excess calories, salt, and chemicals, it also kicks off an inflammatory state in the body, which is not meant to handle super-saturated nutritional concoctions. So eat simply, naturally, and well, and help your body heal itself.
In addition, cook your own food as much as you can. If you eat whole foods — fruits, veggies, whole grains, and hormone-free meats — you avoid all the perils of excesses of anything.
Purchasing quality nutritional supplements to add to your diet in order to ease the body’s pre-existing imbalances, or to make up for a lack of nutrients, is a great way to promote total health and well-being.