What is physical health? Well, it involves a variety of aspects that are vital to keeping your body in tip-top shape. The amount of physical activity and the foods you eat play a significant role, as do the conditions of your organs. For instance, the health of your heart is crucial to your cardiovascular strength.
Your physical health is closely related to mental and emotional wellbeing, too. Understanding the dimensions of wellness and how to keep yourself physically healthy is key to living a long and happy life. How can you determine what your level of physical wellness is, though?
Knowing the Numbers
Checking your weight is as easy as stepping on a scale, but that’s not the only number you need to know in order to gauge your physical wellness. You also need to understand your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Since weight is still an essential factor, start with your body mass index. Every person’s healthy BMI varies due to things like height and body frame, but adults are generally considered a healthy weight when their BMI is between 18.6 and 24.9. You can use a BMI calculator to find out where you fall on the scale.
Your cholesterol is something that your doctor will have to check. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by your liver and comes in both low-density (LDL) and high-density (HDL) varieties.
Cholesterol cannot dissolve in your bloodstream. Instead, it is carried out by lipoproteins. HDL is easier for these proteins to remove, while LDL poses the risk of clogging up your arteries. Generally, a healthy level falls around 200mg for every deciliter of blood.
Most grocery stores have a cuff that reads your blood pressure for you, making this metric easy to keep track of. It is made up of both systolic and diastolic pressure, which represent the two numbers that appear after a reading. The top number is systolic, while the bottom is diastolic. Healthy blood pressure is anything under 130/80.
This is another one that your doctor will have to check for you. Blood sugar is the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin present in the blood. Anything less than 6% is considered excellent, lessening your chances for diabetes type I and II.
What’s Up, Doc?
Since half of the tests above must be administered by a doctor, now is an excellent time to make an appointment. During your wellness checkup, allow the physician to perform a physical exam. Why? It can:
- Screen for any diseases
- Tell you what risks you may have for medical problems
- Update any vaccinations
- And tell you exactly where your physical health is at
This is your chance to talk with your doctor about your goals, and maybe get some good advice on ways to help achieve them. A physical exam tells you everything you need to know about where you are now, and what you need to do to get in shape.
Avoiding Harmful Substances
Everyone has their vices, but two of the most significant enemies of your physical wellness are drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco. If neither of those applies to you, skip ahead to the next session. However, the majority of people in the world do drink in moderation.
If you’re a smoker, quit now. Each cigarette effects your body’s ability to absorb oxygen, which your organs and muscles need to function at their peak. They also damage your heart, which can lead to many of the long-term side effects associated with smoking.
Cigarettes contain a blend of chemicals that are toxic to your body, with carbon monoxide being the most prominent. Even short-term smokers begin to experience a decline in their overall health, starting with shortness of breath and becoming fatigued faster during exercise. It isn’t easy to quit, but doing so will help you to reach your health goals.
As for drinking, one or two on occasion isn’t going to hinder your health. However, continually drinking in excess can have devastating effects on your body. High blood pressure, pancreatitis, and steatosis are just a few conditions that over-drinking can cause.
If you want to experience peak physical wellness, then it’s best to limit the amount of alcohol you drink. The recommended amount is a maximum of five drinks per week.
There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep, especially when it comes to your health. As you’re catching some Zs, your body works to repair tissues and refresh your mind. The more restful sleep you get, the healthier you look.
What happens when you aren’t getting enough sleep, though? Surely those late nights out aren’t doing that much damage, right? Whether it’s staying out drinking or cramming all night for tomorrow’s final, missing out on a good night’s rest can put a damper on your physical health.
Trading sleep for a few more hours of wakefulness can increase your risk for conditions such as:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- And Obesity
Your immune system is also weakened when you miss out on quality sleep. This can increase your ability to catch multiple illnesses, but the common cold remains the number one sickness those who do not sleep enough suffer from.
Your body needs a minimum of seven hours each night, but you should aim for closer to eight or nine. Keep in mind that being well-rested also benefits your cognitive function and wards off signs of aging like wrinkles and crow’s feet.
Exercise and Diet
While all of the above plays a significant role in your physical wellness, the two largest influencers are exercise and diet. Adopting healthy eating habits is vital to your overall well-being, and can really make a positive change in your life.
Everyone knows that cutting down on over-processed junk foods and soda is a great start, but eating habits involve a little more work than just that. Adopting these habits requires a thorough lifestyle change and dedication.
To keep up your physique and health, start by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Your diet should also include starchy carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, and at least two servings of fish per week. It’s also a good idea to cut down on the sugar and salt.
Adding too much sugar to your diet can cause your blood sugar levels to rise, increasing your risk for diabetes. Too much salt, on the other hand, can lead to high blood pressure and decreased cognitive function. Higher blood pressure puts you at risk for cardiovascular issues like a heart attack.
It isn’t easy to switch up your diet, but making conscious choices to eat healthy every day is a sure fire way to improve your wellbeing. Starting an exercise routine can also help you see drastic changes.
You don’t need to jump on the P90-X train, though. Exercising for just 30 minutes a day, three times a week, will help you to maintain your weight while keeping your body in healthy condition.
Alternatively, you could take a 30-minute walk every day. Set aside time either before or after work to step outside and enjoy some fresh air. Walking isn’t difficult, but it still counts as valuable exercise.
Your Physical Wellness
Understanding the dimensions of physical wellness is the first step to a healthier you. Monitoring aspects like cholesterol and blood pressure can help you to stay on top of your physique as well as set wellness goals for yourself. So can talking with your doctor about what steps you can take to improve your health.
Physical health is all about treating your body right. The better care you take of yourself, the better you’ll feel. The benefits don’t stop at your physical body, either.
As you improve your physical condition, you’ll notice that your mental and emotional states benefit as well. Your self-esteem will get an incredible boost, while your ability to focus on tasks at work or home will increase.
People who work on their physical health also gain a more positive outlook on life. Diet and exercise are excellent ways to combat anxiety and stress, relieving the tensions of daily life. The benefits are near endless once you start down the path of wellness.
If you’re ready to get into the healthiest shape of your life, then start by visiting your doctor and making a list of the changes you will make to your lifestyle. Starting this journey with others is also an excellent way to increase your odds of seeing your goals through to the send, so ask your friends and family for support.
Remember, the path to good health takes time. Take it day by day, and you’ll reap the benefits before you know it.