By Sam Ben
If you’re struggling with your health, even if it’s something mild such as you just don’t feel right, getting a wellness exam is a very good first step. There are many external factors that may cause us to feel out-of-sorts from time to time, from the food we eat, being dehydrated, a lack of exercise, stress we feel, and getting enough sleep.
Suppose you have any negative symptoms, from fatigue to aches, and generally not feeling well. In that case, the best advice is to consult your primary care physician so that they can diagnose whether this is an acute (sudden, short-term) concern or symptomatic of something much more chronic (long-term). Before you reach a crisis point where you feel the need to consult a doctor, understand that you can control some factors with your health, but there are some that you can’t.
Focus On Your Health
To live well, you need to focus on your health as a part of an overall wellness strategy. Taking an approach that considers the type of food you eat, your level of activity, age, weight, the amount of sleep you average, and stress on the body (such as excessive sunlight) is defined as taking on a holistic approach. Holistic living is understanding how each aspect of your life is one part of a larger picture, the “whole” of your life.
There are three main areas you can directly control that can impact your health positively or negatively. Each of these areas — diet, exercise, and sleep — offer mild benefits, independent of each other. But take all three as part of the larger whole of your health, and the benefits of a lifestyle change can be enormous.
- Diet: The adage “we are what we eat” is the best descriptor of the value of what we consume. If you eat processed, fatty foods, well, you can imagine how you’ll feel. However, if you commit to a more plant-based diet, you’ll have more energy, your body will process and digest more efficiently, and feel better.
- Exercise: Getting moderate daily exercise is the bare minimum to living well. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 75 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise and some form of strength training every couple of days. Exercise strengthens the skeletal-muscular system, improves cardiovascular and respiratory function, as well as heightens moods.
- Sleep: Any discussion of wellness must include the amount of quality sleep an individual is getting. Too often, when we’re busy or stressed, sleep is the first thing we’re willing to sacrifice, which is entirely detrimental to living healthy. For example, we can cut into our sleep to “buy” extra time in a day, or we may be suffering from a sleep disorder such as insomnia.
Sleep regenerates and repairs the body, controls hypertension and blood sugars, enhances the immune system, and boosts moods. On average, a fully grown adult should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night for optimal health.
Limit What Risk Factors You Can Control
As you focus on wellness, eliminating some external factors is prudent. Limit the number of risk factors such as alcohol (and drugs), smoking, sun exposure, and maintaining an ideal weight.
- Sun Overexposure: Avoid overdoing it in the sun as sunlight is a significant cause of skin cancers and other types of cancers.
- Smoking: The primary risk factor associated with lung cancer is smoking, so avoid it as much as possible.
- Alcohol: Studies show that moderate (3-5 drinks a week) have some health benefits; however, too many people drink in excess (more than 2-3 drinks a day for continuous days) leading to a variety of health issues.
- Weight: Maintaining an ideal weight is crucial for heart health and overall wellness.
Factors Beyond Your Control
While there are some factors we can control with our health, there are others we can’t, such as age and genetic history.
- Age: We can’t control our age, but as we age, we need to focus more on our wellness, physical fitness, and flexibility. Joining an age-appropriate exercise program or hiring a coach is an excellent first step to ward off some of the health issues that come from aging.
- Congenital Factors: Congenital factors are those that you’re born with, such as a family history of cervical cancer or colon cancer.
To optimally live well, your health needs to be a priority. Get regular health checks for all types of potential issues, including colon and cervical cancer for women and colon and prostate cancer for men, recommended by your doctor to eliminate any potentially serious health concerns.