Health and Wellness
Health and wellness covers a plethora of topics. Research and observation demonstrate that most Americans are in a state of poor physical health. Look around the next time you're at the airport or on a crowded mall and you'll see what we're talking about. In some cases, lack of physical education is the culprit. In others, good old fashioned laziness can be blamed. Laziness is difficult to fix but educating yourself about your overall wellness can go a long way toward improving your physical health. Here we are focused on whole wellness - a more complete, thought-provoking, thought-out program to keep a person equally as active at age 80 as they were at 40. This is a big picture approach which will guide you through each component of creating a balanced body.
The main issue that keeps people from attaining optimal health is threefold: first, inertia; second, lack of direction; and lastly, consistency. Inertia, simply, is the principle that an object at rest tends to stay at rest. It's human nature to keep up with the status quo of a hectic and bloated life. Filled with an abundance of common distractions and obligations, it takes constant effort and vigil to maintain optimal health. This adage is a potent reminder to always challenge yourself, If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.
Once you decide to begin, the choice: which path to start on to reach the pinnacle of individual optimal health? As the ancient road sign states, All roads lead to Rome. While some paths may be more efficient than others, it is the effort to walk the path of healthy living in a consistent manner daily that yields the greatest reward. Most people tend to pursue a more aesthetic or superficial goal, for example, "I want to weigh what I did in college or when I got married", but if you wants to be vital into your golden years, heed this advice: that while the aesthetic may get you started, the habit will keep you going, and going, and going.
A whole program begins with a current assessment of your health, including a personal, as well as family, medical history; ideally in conjunction with a consultation with a physician. As an example, in many families, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and arthritis are of concern. Tailoring a personal program to address these in turn and in whole through practices that encompass as many knowledgeable eyes and ears as you can resource (medical doctors, ophthalmologist, chiropractors, yoga instructors, massage therapists, nutritionist, etc.). Once a health check is performed, then you can begin to set goals and make a plan. Productive goals include lowering your body fat and/or weight, improving your good cholesterol, run a 5k, hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail, drive a tee shot 15 more yards, etc. In a perfect world, this wellness and fitness plan should cover nutrition as well as activity, but within activity, place a value and a percentage on efforts toward several topics:
- Cardiorespiratory Exercise
- Low level activity i.e. walking or leisure cycling,
- Medium level activity i.e. jogging/running or group bicycle riding
- High Intensity activity i.e. sprinting or bicycle racing
- Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, and Power exercises
- Free weights, machines, bands, grip strength
- Body Weight, calisthenics, boot camp, Pilates
- Jump rope, box jumps, CrossFit, Boxing
- Flexibility and Recovery
- Stretching or Yoga
- Massage or Active Recovery (including Therapeutic modalities: Ice, Heat Electrical Stimulation, etc.)
- Balance, Coordination, and Proprioceptive/Kinesthetic awareness
- Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Martial Arts
- New Mind-body Skills i.e. ballroom dance or golf
The question that most frequently arises is "how much time and effort does one need to put forth in each of these categories?" As an example, most men lift weights (resistance Training), and don't do as much quality Cardio, while most women do lots of Cardio and not so much resistance training, whilst both populations tend to not participate in much Recovery, nor any Balance.
I believe that the Four Categories (listed above) ranked in this order of priority, beneficially considers factors of mortality and quality of life, such as heart disease and osteoarthritis. Next,in a whole program it is important to design your program where by each category receives an allotment of your efforts, depending on your goals.
As an example, in your 20's and 30's, you might spend 40% of your time with Cardio and Resistance Training and 10% each of your time in Recovery and Balance. In your 40's and 50's, you might change your effort to 30% in the first two categories, while spending more time (20% each) in the remaining categories. While in your 60's through your 80's, you might spend your time equally, 25% in each category, thus, adapting to the changes taking place within your body.
These are the basics of a general whole program design that encompasses the notion that we can prevent common disease with simple strategies to keep us moving and vital. Cardiorespiratory exercise to keep the heart and lungs pumping healthy fluids efficiently through our system. Resistance training to keep the system strong and more than fit enough to handle whatever activity we choose to engage. Flexible enough to move through full ranges of motion without antagonizing your joints and connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) to deterioration (osteoarthritis) or strains and sprains. Balance to allow graceful, full, fluid movements, and prevent falling (even to fall gracefully).
All it takes is consistent effort, every day.
You can do it and you will be your own reward! Hire a personal trainer if you need someone to get you started with a basic routine. Soon, you'll be off and running!
Rob Murray is the owner of A Balanced Body Studio and the Orlando School of Thai Massage in Winter Park, FL. With degrees in Exercise Science, he and his wife, Dana, began their wellness studio nearly 20 years ago, specializing in private and small group instruction of yoga, Pilates, massage therapy, and personal fitness.