Written by Juliana Jade
Despite the season of the year or the stage of your life, the time is always right to be healthy. Being fit means something different to everyone – strong, muscular, lean, fast, functional or energetic, but whatever it is, it all requires the same ingredients, just in different proportions, so let’s take 5 minutes to break it down so you can see which block is missing or might simply need a bit of patch.
CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITIONING is essential to functionality and heart health. To run up a hill, climb a flight of stairs or carry grocery bags without huffing and puffing, and even prevent heart failure, you better get on it. American Heart Association recommends an hour of walking a day, and that’s just for heart health. We have come to rely on cars to get us from place to place which has led to deconditioning. To go beyond a healthy heart, cardiovascular activity needs to be intensified or prolonged, depending on your bench-mark.
STRENGTH TRAINING, also known as resistance training, is just as essential for functionality and carries a few additional benefits, such as bone density, soft tissue density, muscular strength and endurance, better posture, injury prevention and improved metabolism. When man stopped hunting, raising crops by hand, hauling water from the well and goods to the market, muscular deconditioning of society has begun. As little as half hour of resistance training every other day goes a long way to counteract the modern lifestyle. For this one, I hope you get an experienced professional trainer, unless you know with certainty how to do it right. Your strength regimen must be balanced and appropriate for your level, with progressive increase in resistance.
FLEXIBILITY is often overlooked as a key ingredient but it does not change its importance. Soft tissue elasticity (that includes muscles, ligaments and tendons) must be developed, and this becomes even more crucial for those whose tissues undergo positive stress of exercise. It is vital for the sake of injury prevention, postural alignment and range of motion.
NUTRITION is too big of a subject to address here in any level of detail, but some of the core principles, such as: calories in – calories out and the quarter-plate rule (a plate for each meal should be split in quarters: one – proteins, another – starches and two – water-rich vegetables). As superficial as those recommendations are, they make for a solid foundation.
HYDRATION is essential to healthy metabolism. Your internal organs rely on it to function efficiently. A simple rule-of-thumb is to replenish moisture lost through perspiration, evaporation and urination with 1 oz of water per a kilo of body-weight. So split your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get the number of liquid ounces needed for 24 hours.
RECOVERY makes function possible. Balanced nutrition and sleep are its major elements. If you are low on energy throughout the day, note how much you sleep and bring that number up to the next sum of 1.5 hour blocks, so if it’s 6.5, make it 7.5. Depending on your life-style, massage and sauna practice, or nutritional supplements may also aid in recovery.
CONSISTENCY is the final block. It is multi-faceted, comprised of habits, accountability, motivation and even inspiration. If habits are established, you won’t need the rest as much, but if not, external assistance to provide accountability and motivation may be necessary.
By now you are either patting yourself on the back, seeing some missing blocks in your fitness or feeling entirely frustrated because having all of them in place seems impossible. But it’s not. Even if you deal with special conditions, medication side-effects, time restraints or work overload, all of the above are essential to your well-being, your functionality and feeling and looking your best. I hope you take a step toward making yourself a higher priority.