The Components of Total Health

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According the World Health Organization (WHO), the definition of health in its broader sense is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  We need to examine the full spectrum of health to enjoy a well-balanced life.

 

Physical Fitness

General fitness training works towards broad goals of overall health and well-being, rather than narrow goals of sport competition, larger muscles or concerns over appearance.  The simple ways to accomplish general fitness are biomechanical movements that incorporate strength, flexibility, cardio, balance, and body composition.

For beginners, physical fitness can be demonstrated in the form of  walking, jogging, non-competitive swimming, hiking, biking, weight lifting and goes as far as lawn mowing, handy work around the house, vigorous cleaning, and outdoor activities with pets.  In the early stages of training it is important to start slow and build the intensity as time progresses and your body adapts.    My recommendation for beginners is to start with 30-40 minutes, 3-4 times a week of physical activity.  After 3 months, you can go 4-5 times a week for up to an hour, because any workout over 60 minutes will increase the stress hormone cortisol which will have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to accomplish.  Make sure to incorporate the following components of physical fitness in your training- stretching, cardio, and resistance training.

 

Healthy Nutrition

A healthy diet affects your body immensely, not only is it important in maintaining a proper weight for your body type, but it also affects your blood glucose levels, contains mood elevating nutrients, contain anti-oxidants, and help control health issues such as cholesterol, type II diabetes and blood pressure.  The components of nutrition are proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water.

  • Protein is made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle.  Types of healthy protein are lean meats, fish, eggs, tofu, grains, nuts and some vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Carbohydrates are a component of food that supplies energy  to the body. The two categories of carbohydrates are simple carbohydrates, and complex carbohydrates.  Complex Carbohydrates are healthier for your body and provide long lasting energy. A good example of complex carbs are black beans, sweet potatoes, and brown rice.  Simple carbohydrates and sugars should be avoided and they include deserts, fructose and corn syrup.
  • Types of fat: Saturated fats are typically from animal sources and have been a staple in many world cultures for millennia. Unsaturated fats (e. g., vegetable oil) are considered healthier, while trans fats are to be avoided. Examples of healthy fats include, vegetable spreads, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, and fish.
  • Minerals and Vitamins boost the immune system, support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs.  Good sources of minerals and vitamins include green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, carrots, broccoli, berries, kiwi, papaya, apples and whole grains.
  • Without water, life is not possible. The human body itself is composed of more than 70 percent water, which is why water is crucial for healthy living.  Drinking a lot of water helps with weight loss, improves digestion, eliminates toxins, hydrates skin, relieves fatigue.  The body needs 2-3 liters of water a day plus 1 liter for every hour of physical activity.

 

Hygiene

One of the most important aspects of healthy lifestyle that many people are not aware of, is taking care of and cleaning your body.  Brushing and flossing your teeth can tremendously reduce the risk of heart disease and give you a longer life span of around 5 years.  Proper hygiene also has an influence on your social life, considering that people do not want to be around others who partake in bad hygiene.  This in turn, can lead to depression and loneliness.  In my opinion, it is crucial to have proper hygiene for your health, a longer life expectancy, social involvement and mental stability.

 

Sleep

Sleep is crucial for health and you need to sleep between 7-9 hours a day.  The benefits of sleeping adequate amounts include longer life, weight loss, improved memory, curbed inflammation, improved focus, and lower stress levels.  If you’re having problems falling or staying asleep, there are simple ways to improve it:

  • Regular exercise but make sure it is at least 3 hours before bedtime
  • Healthy nutrition
  • Eating light dinners at least 2 hours before bedtime
  • Remove the tv and computer from your bedroom
  • Sleep in a quiet, dark and relaxing environment in a temperate room
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning
  • Avoid water before bed.

 

Mental Health

Emotional well-being refers to the overall psychological contentment of a person.  Being emotionally healthy is much more than simply being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues- rather, it is defined by the presence of positive characteristics.

  • A sense of happiness
  • Enjoying your life and ability to laugh and have fun
  • An ability to learn new things and adapt to change
  • A Balance between work and rest
  • A sense of purpose and existence in a career and in personal relationships
  • Self confidence and high self-esteem

 

Ways to achieve a balanced emotional state:

 

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy nutrition
  • Enough rest/ Quality sleep
  • Limit stress and worry
  • Do things that positively impact others
  • Be creative
  • Be social
  • Be open to new things
  • Spend family time
  • Do things that you enjoy and make you happy

 

All things above considered, it is important to note that 60-70% of diseases can be managed, controlled, or completely avoided with physical fitness, healthy nutrition, and mental balance. Physical health is tied into mental and emotional health, so it is vastly important to combine them together for a well-balanced lifestyle.

 

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