When it comes to Health and Fitness, Get Back to What’s Simple and Natural!
For many, getting fit and healthy evokes intimidating ideas of lifting weights amongst bulging bodies in a health club, or even radically changing one’s regime to conform to the latest bestselling diet book that’s hitting the stands. However, maintaining your fitness and being ‘in good shape’ really doesn’t have to be so complicated. Despite the booming production of high-tech “fat-burning” equipment, and the massive growth of the dietary supplement industry, your health and wellbeing are still best fostered the old-fashioned way, through an active and balanced lifestyle. When it comes to your health, ignore the hype and stick to common sense practices that you can live by throughout the years to come. Here are a few simple lifestyle staples, easily underestimated and often overlooked, but nevertheless fundamental in the battle to stay fit and healthy.
Eat Fresh and from the Earth
More and more processed and packaged foods such as microwave dinners, chips, cookies, pastas, and desserts are filling the isles at the supermarket. They are even finding their way into the stalls of farmer’s markets. Although tasty, packaged foods can have high amounts of preservatives, sugar and sodium. Unfortunately, they can also have harmful chemicals that seep from the plastic into the food itself during storage. Similarly, certain packaged foods labeled BIO or Organic, aren’t necessarily good for you. Despite their conformity to the bien-etre movement, many of them can be high in sugars, salt, and saturated fat.
Think Simple: Foods that come from the earth are always better than from the factory. Forget counting calories, and enjoy healthy-sized portions of a variety of food that is grown locally and is in season. Choose colourful fruits and vegetables from local farmer’s markets, and avoid the inside aisles of the grocery store. If you must do your shopping at the supermarket, remain near the outside aisles, where the fresh food can be found. Prepare lunches and snacks that travel with you in order to avoid an impulsive unhealthy food purchase, and be wary of food that has a long shelf life.
Get your H2O
Our bodies are made up of over 60% water. The average male needs to 3.7 liters of water everyday and the average female 2.5 liters. Exercise, salty foods, caffeine, and alcohol dehydrate the body. Drinking enough water is essential for maintaining good healthy skin, warding off colds, flu and other winter ailments, as well as maintaining proper organ function.
Think Simple: Try drinking a full 8 oz. glass of water first thing upon waking. It is an excellent way to rejuvenate the body and reactivates your sleeping digestive system. Carry a refillable bottle of water with you and sip it throughout the day at work. Drink 500 ml of water an hour before any physical activity, then another 200 ml 20 minutes before, and then again every 15 minutes during activity.
Get out there and Play.
Our bodies are designed to be mobile. However, the average person does not get enough exercise and spends the majority of their time on this earth in a chair or in their vehicles. Most doctors agree that in order to maintain an appropriate weight and a healthy heart, we need to do a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise 3-5 days per week. But what defines exercise, and how do you know if what you’re doing is effective for your particular body? For some, a 10 km run is child’s play, while for others, vacuuming the living room carpet can be strenuous. So how can you know if you’re fulfilling your body’s exercise needs?
Think Simple: Play a sport, walk with friends, or bike to work, but be sure that you are working at the appropriate intensity for you. To determine if you’re working too hard or not enough, perform a few self-monitoring tests. For starters, monitor your perspiration. The body will sweat at room temperature if it is working. Similarly, you can monitor your breathing. Can you carry on a conversation with someone during activity? With the appropriate intensity, you should be able to chat without gasping for breath. Finally, second to none for assuring that you’re working at the intensity that is best for you, know your Target Heart Rate (THR), there are a few ways to perform this calculation, the simplest one that has been used in the fitness industry for decades is as followed. To find your THR subtract your age from 220 and then multiply your answer by .6 to find the lower end of the range. Then do the calculation again, but multiply by .85 to find the upper end of your TRH.
For example, for a 45 year old male:
175 x .6= 105
175 x .85 = 149
Target Heart Rate: between105 beats per minute to 149 beats per minute
Generally speaking, a 45-year-old male should aim to have his heart beating between 105 and 149 beats per minute during physical activity. A novice exerciser should stick to the lower end of the range, while those more experienced at the upper end. To monitor your HR during exercise, place two fingers on your wrist or neck and count your heartbeats for 15 seconds. Then multiply that number by four. If the number falls within your THR, you are working at an intensity level that is appropriate for you. If it falls below, turn up the intensity and vice versa.
Achieving your optimal health can be simple. Eating fresh and healthy, exercising your heart, as well as strengthening and stretching your muscles regularly are the simple gests that count. You needn’t be a member of an expensive fitness club, restrict your diet, or buy the latest exercise equipment. Sticking to simple and natural exercises that you enjoy, eating fresh, locally grown food, with treats in moderation, and consciously making an effort to commit to a healthy lifestyle over the long term, is your best bet in achieving success that lasts a lifetime.