Are you in good health? Before you answer, you need to understand what the question is really asking. There are a number of vague definitions of the term health, most dating back many years. It is actually harder that it initially seems to define this term, as everyone has an idea of what it means to be healthy, but not everyone strives for it. Basically, good health does not simply refer to avoiding illness; it means actively caring for our body and mind.
If you think of the human body as a machine, then a healthy body works like a well-oiled machine. It has warning signs (injury or illness) and sometimes it malfunctions. There are ways to alter or fix the machine to function better. The same goes for the body. Sometimes making small adjustments can make big improvements. Just like each ‘machine’ is different, so is every human body. It has needs that are unique and performs better in certain conditions.
When people get ill, they seek medical advice to solve their issues. You can improve your health at any age, and doing so will minimize the number of trips to the doctor and increase your years of healthy living!
Becoming healthy can include a good diet, plenty of exercise, rest, and taking care of your mental health and well-being. Good health is more than just the physical aspects of a human– it also includes the emotional, mental and social wellbeing of the human body.
Occasionally there are uncontrollable illnesses and injuries, but generally we can work on becoming healthier. This can sometimes prevent illness, or at least help our body and mind recover quicker when we do become unwell. Back to the machine analogy, in the same way that you check on a car to make sure the fuel tank is full and the tires work before a long journey, you can keep a check on your body and make sure it is functioning well before any injury or accidents might come along.
Improve Your Health
Here are a few pointers for improving your overall health at any age.
• Check your statistics – Monitor your weight, BMI and cholesterol levels and improve upon the results by becoming more active (exercising regularly) and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Your doctor, nurse or trainer can offer advice and issue various tests to determine your health stats and see which areas could be improved.
• Exercise daily – Did you know that only 20 minutes of aerobic exercise a day will have a dramatically positive effect on your health? There are a wide range of ways to exercise, either at a fitness center, outdoors or in the comfort of your own home. Exercise can be done by any age group and can be modified to suit any fitness level. Whether you walk the dogs briskly for half an hour or hit the weight training at the gym, movement helps the body and mind.
• Cut down on smoking, drinking alcohol and drugs – These are all bad habits that should be ditched if possible. Smoking has been proven to cause a number of health complications and is addictive. Alcohol not only contains a lot of calories and dehydrates the body but having too much can cause serious health risks and ailments. Recreational drug use has a number of side effects which are negative for the bodily functions. Freeing your body from these vices will vastly improve your long term health.
• Cut down on sugars, salts and saturated fats – These troublemakers taste so nice and are so readily available, but they are empty calories with no nutritional goodness. Excessive sugar, salt and fat intake in our diets causes a variety of chronic illness. Eating regular, healthy sized portions of a varied diet (which includes protein, carbohydrates, fat and fibre) will improve overall health. If possible, eat small portions more often during the day to boost your metabolism. Always read the nutritional information on food packaging carefully. Sometimes ‘bad’ sugars are hidden away under the heading ‘carbohydrates’ but offer little or no nutritional value. Aiming for ‘5 a day’ with fruit and vegetables has also been proven to improve your health and energy levels (as well as good skin, teeth, nails and hair). It is OK to have some chocolate or chips occasionally without feeling overly guilty, but the idea is to eat these in moderation.
• Stress less and sleep more – Perhaps this is easier said than done, but a healthy mind and body are created by worrying less and getting good quality rest. The two tend to go hand in hand. People who worry, often have disturbed sleep. Stress fights against your body in a negative way and causes your hormone levels to fluctuate, often making you feel hungry and turn to food and empty calories (comfort eating). At least 7 hours of undisturbed, quality sleep of a night will help your body function and improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and your body and mind will be ready to take on the world!
• Improve your hygiene standards– Good, clean hygiene practices help eradicate some diseases and boost our immune systems and health standards. Such hygiene examples include bathing/washing and flossing your teeth (oral health).
• Sexual health – As well as sex being a good form of exercise, it is a stress relief and part of a positive, healthy lifestyle.
Mental & Physical Health
When people think of health, they assume the topic refers to physical health. This can be broken down into the structure of the body (the bones, joints, muscles) as well as BMI and heart rate and the chemical make-up of the body (toxins, nutrients, vitamins and minerals).
But there’s more to it than just the physical side. As previously mentioned, mental health and the rise of mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety are also important factors of a person’s health. Well-being and lifestyle are linked with good and bad health standards. Do you volunteer or do charity work? If so, your mood is said to be elevated and this has a positive effect of health levels. Surround yourself with good people, pets, and interests. If a person’s emotional wellbeing is cared for, they are much more likely to have the motivation to exercise, eat better foods, and improve physical health standards. So how do you know if you are healthy enough? There are a number of ways to monitor a person’s health. To determine someone’s health status can include looking at their background, genetics, living conditions, working conditions, nutrition, fitness and daily routines.
A person’s mood as well as their physique or aesthetics can give an indication of health standards as well. But to develop a clearer picture, a healthcare professional can perform a number of tests (cholesterol, weighing, blood pressure and urine sampling) and offer tips to get them on track towards a healthier lifestyle. This often means cutting down on things which are bad for you and increasing the amount of movement and healthy food in your diet. It will all pay off in the end!
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