We hear people talk about being well and living well, but what does that really mean? With our focus on health and wellness this week, here are some tips on leading a healthy life.
Having good health means different things to different people. When I evaluate the state of a person’s current health, I typically look at one’s overall health: body composition, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, resting heart rate, body circumference, VO2 max, strength and range of motion.
There are also other factors that contribute to our level of overall health that aren’t necessarily measured on a scale but still need to be considered: spiritual well being, stress levels, social interaction, mood and sleep patterns. All of these factors affect one another and one’s overall health.
Staying active is one way to combat many, if not all of these factors. People who are more active tend to have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower body fat percentages, more regular social interaction, happier moods, less stress and typically sleep more soundly.
So, let’s define “being more active.” To gain the health benefits of being more active, we must consider activity to be at an intensity that is great enough to induce physical and chemical change to the body. Just going for a walk, although better than sitting on the couch at home, generally is not enough intensity to induce change. It is merely taking your current physical fitness level and putting it to use.
The activity must be challenging enough to force the body to work harder and more efficiently. As you continue to challenge your body over time, you will eventually hit a plateau. Your body has now adapted to the challenge and can perform the same task with less expenditure of energy. You must continue to increase the intensity level of your fitness routines to challenge your body to not only do more work but also to continually improve physical change. Your body will utilize its energy stores to provide fuel to complete the activity. If you don’t continue to increase this intensity, your body will adapt and start to conserve energy.
The ultimate goal is to maintain or improve a particular level of health, which will require you to challenge your current physical fitness level. I recommend continuing to change your program on a regular basis to avoid adaptation. Try a meditation class to clear your mind and reduce stress. Choose to be grateful instead of complain and write down three things that you are grateful for every morning. Make yourself something healthy and green, something you wouldn’t typically prepare for yourself.
Try this Fitness Calculator and start your path to living well today.
-Erik Knowles, Sports Performance Director