What does it take to lead a healthy lifestyle? What does wellness mean? There are many aspects to consider with health and wellness training, but it is not as overwhelming as you may expect. The aspects that will be discussed in this article are key. It is also important to always consult your medical doctor with particular questions or concerns as needed. The focus of this article is to “know your numbers,” ask a professional for guidance, exercise guidelines, workplace wellness, meditation, yoga, breathwork, proper nutrition, adequate hydration and getting enough sleep.
One important key to proper health is to “know your numbers.” This means be sure to get routine physical examinations by your medical doctor to check on your blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, weight or body mass index (BMI), and blood tests as needed. If there are issues with any of these key tests, and you are not in the “norm” or your numbers have changed considerably then it’s an important indicator that there may be a current or an impending health concern. Medical advice is warranted to discern a treatment plan for each particular issue. You can often check your numbers on your own as well. Learn how to check your blood pressure with a manual blood pressure cuff or automatic blood pressure monitor. Learn how to check your heart rate at rest and with activity and exercise. You can use a scale to monitor your weight and be able to calculate your BMI. Your BMI is your weight (in kilograms) divided by your height squared (in centimeters).
Acquire a coach or professional to help you if you are experiencing issues with your health or wellness or simply want to know if you are on the right track. For example, if you know you should exercise but do not know where to get started then book an appointment with a personal trainer or physical therapist. If you know your diet and nutrition are lacking or unhealthy, contact a nutritionist or dietician to guide you in the right direction. If you are stressed out then you may benefit from a life-coach or psychologist for advice.
Generally, to stay fit and healthy we need to perform 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week. We also need to maintain muscle mass with weight-lifting and maintain flexibility with stretching at least three times a week for each. Walking is great activity for most people, but be sure that you are walking at a brisk pace to achieve that moderate level of effective activity. Another important way to keep the heart healthy is high intensity interval training. This means that you are working at a high intensity for short intervals of time. An example of this could be “tabata” training. This is where you perform a given exercise for 20 seconds at a high intensity, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this eight rounds total, and the key aspect here is working at a high intensity.
Proper health and wellness is best when implemented throughout the day, and during work as well. Here are some important aspects you can implement into your work day. The first is to take breaks to get moving! Take a break at least every hour to get up and move around, then reposition. I would also recommend taking a brisk extended walk at lunch. We should aim for 30-60 minutes of walking per day, at a decent pace that gets the heart pumping!
Proper ergonomics and posture are an important aspect to overall wellness and injury prevention. It is key to have your desk station and work station set up correctly to fit your individual body and needs. If you work on a computer or laptop then it’s even more important. Be sure that your screen is eye level so you can maintain a good posture during the day. It should be close enough to you so that you are not straining your eyes. Your back should be supported in your chair, and we often need an additional lumbar support. Your keyboard and mouse should be at a proper height in front of you so that you can maintain your elbows at a 90 degree angle when typing.
Stay motivated with your co-workers! Staying motivated is a crucial part of wellness. We often know what we should do, it is just a matter of doing it. Have some fun with it and create a competition with your co-worker about how who can get the highest number of steps in a day or encourage your team at work to sign up for a 5K race or walk. There are tons of friendly competitions that you can find online, even something as easy as the “30 day squat challenge” with 30 days of 30 squats. Do them at work with your coworkers to create a fun and motivating environment.
Other well-rounded aspects of wellness are meditation, yoga, and breathwork. Meditation is a great way to destress and quiet the mind and body. Research shows that there are ample amounts of health benefits of meditation, such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Meditation is extremely beneficial even if you only perform it ten minutes each day. The more consistent you are with your meditation practice, the better. There are many apps you can download on your phone or ipad that talk you through how to meditate. Yoga is also often great for improving your wellness in terms of the movement component, stretching, strengthening and the focus on breathing. This is a great way to affect both mind and body.
Proper deep breathing is more important than we may even know! We often don’t think about our breathing during the day, however our breath is an important part of decreasing stress responses, pain management, and proper wellness. Practice taking a moment to breath in through your nose, hold and out through your mouth. Think about taking long deep even breaths and expanding your rib-cage out towards the sides of the room. This is called “diaphragmatic breathing,” and you should do it consistently and especially if you are in a stressful situation or holding tension in your body. You’ll notice a difference!
Proper and healthy nutrition and adequate hydration are very important to keep the body and mind on track. A well-rounded diet and proper nutrition should consist of protein, vegetables, fruit, grains and healthy fats. Limit the amount of sugar and processed foods you consume. Watch the total number of calories you consume in a day, and for most people this should stay below 2000 calories/day (depending on your body size and other factors.) Eating in moderation is very important, and most people will benefit from several small meals per day rather than only a couple very large meals. Adequate hydration is very important as well. We should drink half of our body-weight in ounces per day. This means if you weigh 150 lbs, you need to drink at least 75 ounces of water per day. The mind and body need to stay hydrated in order to keep us working soundly and stay focused. Get a good system in place- either a large water bottle, or use a tally to ensure the proper amount is consumed.
Lastly, it is extremely important to get enough sleep each night. Often, our society is sleep-deprived and this can affect all of our body systems and concentration. Depending on the person, we need seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Set a consistent bedtime and waking schedule so that your body gets used to this routine. Turn off the electronics at least a half hour before bedtime so that your mind can start to relax and not be stimulated by the television, phone or ipad. If you are not sleeping well, visit your doctor or sleep specialist to determine why this is the case.
It is important to share your health and wellness goals with others in order to stay on track and keep yourself accountable. Set realistic expectations for yourself, and start by making changes to the items that are the most priority to you or the most necessary. Often, when one tries to change too many items at the same time then it can seem overwhelming. Set a schedule for yourself and plan out how you can make these changes in daily life. For example, if you have not gotten a physical recently and do not know your numbers then start there and make an appointment for one today. If you feel that your stress level has gotten out of control, then begin with the ways to decrease your stress such as a daily meditation practice and download a meditation app. If you know you consistently lack adequate hydration, then go buy a large water bottle and keep track of how much water you drink today.
When you begin to focus on a healthy, fit, active and well-rounded lifestyle you will notice that you feel more energized and maybe even happier in your life. You will begin to reach your wellness goals, and it is often a spiral effect to then be able to reach other goals in your life as well. Know that anyone and everyone can follow the steps listed in this article, and get started today!
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