“What is this life full of care?
We have no time to stand and stare.”
– William Henry Davies
Reflecting the hectic and complicated nature of present day lifestyles, this quote is a grim reminder of the precedence acquired by material considerations over health and happiness. In our eagerness to earn more, we have neglected the balance between various aspects of life. Research has proved the link between contemporary lifestyles and disorders like obesity, heart and lung diseases, depression, anxiety, mood disorders etc.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as the state of complete physical, psychological, and social well being, not merely the absence of disease. Therefore, a healthy lifestyle is one that leads to such a complete state of well being. Broadly speaking, a healthy lifestyle can be attained by adherence to the following:
- Positive Thinking: The mind has great power over the body. The hardest part is making up your mind. If you are determined to adopt a healthy lifestyle – there is always a way. Develop a positive self image and be yourself. You can do well by not being unduly influenced by what other people say and by being ambitious only to a reasonable degree.
- Balanced Diet: A balanced diet contains adequate amounts of nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and fats along with fiber and water. These are essential for efficient operation of the body. Fruits, vegetables, cereals, milk, and meat, should be sufficiently consumed in a balanced manner. Consuming whole grains and salads is particularly beneficial. If you are fond of intoxicating brews, opt for red wine that is an appetizer and aids digestion. Liquor is beneficial only in moderate quantities.
For best results, distribute the food intake throughout the day and progressively decrease it as the day progresses. Include proteins in your diet at the start of the day – these suppress the feeling of hunger and, thereby, limit the desire for eating junk items between meals.
Herbal nutritional supplements are a natural way of compensating diet imbalances. They also improve immunity, memory, and sleep quality.
- Exercise: A thirty minute daily workout keeps the body fit. Priority should be given to cardiovascular / cardio exercises like brisk walking, jogging, aerobics, skipping / jumping rope, swimming, bicycling etc. which increase the heart rate and maintain it for a sustained duration. These exercises improve the heart rate, metabolism, immunity, and hormonal profile. Cardio exercises are different from Pilates that focus on strength building and stretching. Cardio exercises are more effective for burning calories and weight maintenance. Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are beneficial for similar reasons.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a reasonable measure of a person’s fitness. It is the mass of the person in kilograms divided by the square of the person’s height measured in meters. A BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered normal for an average adult.
- Rest and Sleep: Rest and sleep repair the body, reduce stress and mood disorders, improve memory, and keep the heart healthy. Children need around ten hours of sleep, while adults can do with eight hours.
- Social Interactions: This is related to the spiritual – psychological wellness. Interacting with friends and relations transports us away from routine pressures thereby reducing stress. These meetings also produce a sense of belonging improving self esteem. Weekend picnics, holidays, vacations, and playing with pets have the same de-stressing effect.
- Healthy and Hygienic Habits: Maintaining a clean, dust free ambience at home and at workspace promotes health. Keeping things organized, so that they are easy to find, brings down stress levels. Personal hygiene reduces the possibility of skin disease and, possibly, allergies. Smoking can be a fatal habit and needs to be given away or, at least, kept in check.