Much ado about this term called ‘fitness’ as we discuss and deal with it day in and day out on various occasions. At this age of fast paced life, where all of us are starved for time, we need to prioritise among so many aspects of life. That is when ‘fitness’ too grabs eyeballs and demands attention. So, let us first understand what is ‘fitness’?
When we say ‘Fitness’, we usually refer to physical fitness. Physical fitness is nothing but the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies. However, ‘Fitness’ is also about mental health and in many instances, physical and mental health are closely linked, so that a change (good or bad) in one directly affects the other. This is an age of multitasking and hence it becomes all the more imperative to ensure that we are able to perform all kind of tasks starting from getting out of bed to driving through traffic to catch a movie to perform household chores seamlessly. Therefore, one must consistently address their fitness levels. Staying fit isn’t a goal to be achieved and forgotten. Rather fitness is a way of life, which needs to be practised on a regular basis and to practise something regularly, one has to stick to a certain discipline.
Now, what is discipline? “Discipline is doing what you hate to do, but nonetheless doing it like you love it.” – Mike Tyson. Pretty much nailed it there. Constantly doing what needs to be done even when you don’t want to, is precisely what discipline is. The moment we successfully conjoin ‘fitness’ and ‘discipline’, we are bound to see a lifestyle change – a change, which is bound to transform one’s habit, mannerisms, way of thinking and thus, the entire life. Being healthy or fit isn’t a fad or a trend. Instead, it’s a lifestyle. Lifestyle changes are a process that take time and require support. Once you’re ready to make a plan that will prepare you for success. Careful planning means setting small goals and taking things one step at a time.
Creating a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean drastic changes. Making small changes in how you live may seem like a slow process, and it is. You may adapt to change better when it doesn’t require you to overhaul your entire life. Just pick one thing and work on that one thing every day, letting the rest of your life and habits stay the same. You may be surprised that those small changes really can make a difference. “Healthy living” to most people means both physical and mental health are in balance or functioning well together in a person. Here are a few pointers about how one can improve or augment actions in their life to have a healthy lifestyle :
- Eat at regular intervals. Three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) are vital. It is important to remember that dinner does not have to be the largest meal.
- The bulk of food consumption should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts (with emphasis on beans and nuts) and do away with red meats and processed meats like sausages, bacon, canned meats etc.
- Choose foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
- Control portion sizes; eat the smallest portion that can satisfy hunger and then stop eating.
GET YOURSELF MOVING
Being stationed at one place for long hours, is often ridiculed as being a ‘couch potato’. Physical activity and exercise is a major contributor to a healthy lifestyle. Unhealthy living often leads to obesity, weakness, lack of endurance, and overall poor health that may foster disease development. Regular exercise can prevent and reverse various age related issues like heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain etc. It also helps improve one’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Thirty minutes of modest exercise (walking is OK) at least three to five days a week is recommended, but the greatest health benefits come from exercising most days of the week.
- Exercise can be broken up into smaller 10-minute sessions.
- Start slowly and progress gradually to avoid injury or excessive soreness or fatigue. Over time, build up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
- People are never too old to start exercising.
- Almost any type of exercise (resistance, water aerobics, walking, swimming, weights, yoga, and many others) is helpful for everybody.
A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance and brain function. It can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children. Whereas, good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better and be healthier.
- Get enough sleep.
- A minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep is extremely important for anybody above 18 years of age.
- Reduce blue light exposure from electronic devices like televisions, smartphones and computers, while going for sleep. Instead try reading a book of your interest.
- Don’t consume caffeine late in the day.
- Reduce irregular or long daytime naps as that will intervene wirh your sleep in the night.
- Try to sleep and wake up at consistent times everyday.
- Don’t eat late in the evening. Late dinners are an absolute no no.
There is no healthy amount of smoking. “Healthy” here meant never having smoked. By now we have heard and read some zillion of reasons why smoking is injurious to health. Smoking has to be quit with immediate basis.
HAUL THE ALCHOHOL
Heavy drinking is one of the worst risk factors for many diseases. Excessive alcohol intake on a regular basis is extremely hazardous. A glass of red wine is a good thing, but with too many glasses, you’re greatly increasing your risk of disease.
Stress is a risk factor for heart disease and high blood pressure, which in itself is a risk factor for stroke. Meditate, stay happy and simplify your workday so that you’re not overly stressed.
Healthy living isn’t impossible, or even especially difficult. It’s just slower to come by than most people care for. Change your habits, stay healthy, stay happy and stay fit.
Author : Shrawanti Saha
Wanderer with a penchant for healthy mind and body
Member of AND