Many clients at Henwood Court will have been asked to consider as some stage ‘What is important’ and ‘what your priorities are’. High on the list of our client’s answers is health and rightly so.
Good health is often taken for granted until unfortunately we don’t have it and then we realise how valuable it is. While family, money, friends, things and experiences are important, without our health we cannot enjoy many or these, or at least our participation and enjoyment levels are reduced.
So, writing something about health is long overdue, but we are wealth and not health experts so where do we start?
So, my Daughter Olivia has come to the rescue. Olivia is studying health, fitness and nutrition as part of her degree at Sheffield Hallam University. Last year she submitted a project report that I found personally beneficial and interesting and I have asked her to provide you with a very short summary of the main points covered.
As I will personally testify, adhering to a healthy lifestyle, despite knowing it is good for us is a very difficult discipline. I know I should not eat the lovely cakes the team bake and I know raiding the ‘goodie cupboard’ for a midnight feast is not going to help my fight against ‘middle age spread’. I also know having a Personal Trainer will help me to get fitter, but it will also ‘hurt’ so I keep putting this off using ‘time’ as an excuse. Finally, I know that checking my e-mails just before bed will pre-occupy my mind and delay me getting to sleep for a few hours, and as Vicki will testify, resulting in me getting out of the bed on the wrong side!
So, despite knowing some of the things we do are bad for our health we still do them, and we sometimes avoid things that are good for our health. At the end of the day, it is all in moderation, afterall would life be worth living without Wine!!
So, I hope the very brief summary of Olivia’s report does not make you feel too guilty, apologies if it does, that was not the intention. I hope, like me, you get something from it and you are able to make one or two improvements that will improve your own health.
Four Ways To Improve Your Health
Happiness and quality of life are both enhanced when we are in full health both mentally and physically. While life can sometimes deal some cruel medical blows there are some areas we can control to live a healthy lifestyle.
- Enjoy a Balanced Diet
Diet becomes more important as we get older due to our metabolism slowing down; this means that we burn fewer calories and therefore, it becomes harder to lose and maintain weight. To prevent your metabolism slowing down your diet should include, fewer calories and more protein-rich foods; because they help the body to burn more calories.
‘Diet’ is often mistaken for being an intimidating weight loss regime, which involves restricted eating and unsustainable changes.
‘Diet’ is actually defined as the food required to provide the correct nutrients to allow our bodies to function properly. We must provide our bodies with the correct diet to suit our lifestyle and body type. The diet is mainly made up of three macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Those who live a very active lifestyle (exercising 6/7 times a week) will need a high calorie diet, with a large supply of carbohydrates to provide the most amount of energy.
If you are less active, your body will require less energy from food than someone more active. Therefore, you should consider reducing calories, carbohydrates and refined sugars.
Carbohydrates often cause a great deal of confusion as to whether they should be included in the diet. When consumed they are broken down into glucose (sugar) and converted in glycogen and stored in the liver and skeletal muscles. When you exercise the body will use the glycogen up to provide energy. Therefore those who exercise regularly and live an active lifestyle should include a sufficient amount of carbohydrates in their diet. However, if you over consume carbohydrates or live a less active life there will be too much sugar in the blood stream. Therefore the hormone insulin will be released to control the amount of sugar by storing it as fat, resulting in weight gain. Without carbohydrates we will have less energy and become fatigued quicker.
A successful diet will be flexible and maintainable, without the restrictions. A good rule to follow is to eat clean (consuming whole foods – fruit, vegetable, proteins and healthy fats) 90% of the day and then fulfil your cravings for 10%. For example, have a good breakfast, lunch and dinner, then treat yourself with an ice cream on the evening; this is flexible dieting.
- Get Some Exercise
Exercising plays a huge role in improving our health. The proven health benefits include:
- Increases our metabolism
- Reduces and prevents diseases
- Improves cardiovascular fitness
- Improves strength and flexibility
- Improves mental health and function – reduces anxiety and stress, prevents Alzheimer’s and dementia, improves cognitive function.
With all of these benefits why are 31.1% of the world’s population inactive? If you’re part of this statistic you need to consider the factors as to why you’re inactive. These could include: time, lack of motivation, family, health etc.
At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise should be performed each week. The types of exercising that should be included weekly are cardio and strength training. Cardio training is exercising which increases the heart rate; this includes, running, walking, swimming and cycling, etc.. Strength training should be performed 1-2 times a week as it has great benefits on our health. Over the age of 30 we lose 3-8% of muscle per decade; this results in the weakening of our muscles, the slowing down of our metabolism and reduced balance. The most detrimental factor of the weakening of our muscles is the increase chance of falls. In the UK 1 in 3 adults over 65 have at least 1 fall every year; this can be prevented. Strength training includes, body weight, free weight and resistance exercises. These can be done at home or in a gym. Pilates classes are a great way of improving you muscle strength and flexibility; it’s also a great social environment. Having good muscle function ensures that our balance, mobility and independence will be sustained later in life.
- Manage Stress
Stress management is vital to maintain and improve our health. It helps to strengthen our immune system, sleep, mood and productivity. Ways to help manage stress are:
- Exercise – yoga, walking, swimming.
- Take time out to do things you enjoy.
- Identify the source of stress in your life and manage this as best you can.
- Manage your time better – don’t take on too much and allow yourself breaks. Say No!
- Sleep Well
Sleep is essential in maintaining our physical and mental health. It helps to enhance our memory, motivation and mood, improving our overall mental health. It also helps strengthen our immune system and repair important cells and tissues in the body. Sleep deprivation is one of the UK’s biggest health problems, and it affects 37% of adults. So how can we help ourselves sleep longer?
- Avoid caffeine after 3pm – coffee, tea, chocolate, some pain relievers.
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time – create a pattern for your body clock.
- Exercise during the day
- Avoid big meals at night
- Relax 1 -2 hour before bedtime – read a book, have a bath.
All of these factors will contribute to a more energised and healthier you. By creating and maintaining these healthy habits you will ensure there is more balance and understanding in what your body wants and needs. What you must remember, everyone is different, so try out what works best for you.
Much of my research has been extracted from the below web-sites which you are free to peruse if you would like more detailed information:
- Use this website to find your required calorie and macronutrient intake: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutrients_calculator.htm
- Strength training exercises: http://travelstrong.net/bodyweight-exercises/
- The importance of strength training: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670
- Stress management: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-2557/Why-Stress-Management-Is-So-Important-for-Your-Health.html