Welcome back! We are back at it for more healthy-habit building, fun, and movement—woohoo! Happy to be joining you all as we tackle another week of the Rock The Walk Challenge.
So far, we’ve discussed Visiting your Primary Care Provider and Knowing Your Numbers when it comes to being aware of your health, and now we get to step into…more of the ‘meat and potatoes’ of being aware of your health with different dimensions of wellness, and how you can directly apply them to your life and your health.
Those of you who have read my blogs know that I….*ahem*…REALLY like physical activity. It’s been incredibly beneficial in my own life, and I feel the need to yell from the top of mountains this blog of its importance, and I hope to bring that into focus for week 3, along with other important topics along the realm of “Physical Health”.
Many times, we hear Physical Health and we think of physical activity, however—so much more goes into how we take care of our body and overall health when talking about this dimension of wellness. I could write a separate blog (or 80) about exercise, nutrition and sleep, but for purpose of your sanity and mine, I’ll keep things short and sweet and give the general information.
Exercise is the name of the game for Rock the Walk and, well, it’s a great opportunity to add a ton of health benefits for a little moving, sweating and hopefully having fun. It’s recommended that you aim for 150 minutes a week of physical activity, and to also make sure you incorporate a variety of cardiovascular exercise (hearts pumping, lungs breathing heavier) and strength training and flexibility for a well-rounded exercise regime. Being aware of your health means to recognize the importance of exercise and to incorporate it daily to your life.
To add a little flavor and fun to this blog, and because the overall goal is exercise-based, I’m going to give you a few tips below for how you can deliberately add in movement to your day while you’re at home:
Nutrition is a big topic for anyone who is embarking on a wellness journey or looking to make health improvements to their lives. food is the fuel for all of our body's processes, but to also give us energy to work, exercise, move and play, and we have the ability to choose how we fuel our bodies. This fuel can help us work towards our health goals (weight loss, improved health numbers, feeling better, etc.) and should be focused on daily.
Nutrition has some simple concepts (fruits and vegetables are good!) and some concepts that seem to change daily (are carbs good today, or should I avoid?) and it can be really confusing. Additionally -- each person has a little bit different nutritional need based on their body composition, daily activity, and perhaps some deficiencies you may experience.
A few great starting points for working towards improvement of your nutritional goals:
Ahhhhh sleep -- is there much better than waking up refreshed and feeling like you can tackle the day ahead of you?
Sleep is a glorious thing, but it is frustrating when you know how important sleep is and yet you have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep. I had my own sleep difficulty years ago that resulted in a multitude of doctor appointments and medications to try and get me regulated, and I remember feeling helpless. It's OK to reach out to your Primary Care Provider in the case that you are experiencing sleep disturbances and it's affecting your health.
First, it's important to recognize the importance of sleep. Sleep is your body's way to reset and rebuild, and if you cut your sleep to less than the recommended 7-9 hours, you may experience side effects such as grogginess, irritability, mood swings, and mental health concerns. If your sleep disturbances become chronic, it can ultimately lead to long-term concerns physically and mentally.
Second, it's important to create and ideal sleep environment and prep your body for sleep. About 30-60 minutes before bedtime, begin winding down with calming and soothing activities, such as reading, meditating, stretching or taking a bath. During this time, it may be beneficial to avoid caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and exercise as these can all affect sleep hygiene.
You also want to be sure your sleep space is inviting and 'built' for sleep. The room should be cool and dark, and free of electronics (sorry friends, watch those phones before bed!). Your bed should be comfortable with enough blankets and pillows and as noise proof as possible to avoid disturbances. Sleep saboteurs should be avoided and make notes of anything that does disturb your sleep and make a plan to improve the situation -- in the case of pets or snoring significant others -- those are tough. In the case of the snoring significant other, you may be able to find an Over-The-Counter assist or it may be a good opportunity to check in with their Primary Care Provider. Pets... well... I have 2 cats that think my pillow is their bed at night, so this would be a "do as I say, not as I do" recommendation.
Being aware of your health has many different facets, and your overall physical health is a great starting point to make changes after you recognize where you can make improvements. It takes time, but it is definitely worth it!
Until next time!