As a member of a major fitness club in Canada, a Registered Massage Therapist and a College Instructor teaching Nutrition and Pathology, I was trying to establish a catch-all to keep my patients/clients healthy.  There is no key aspect to keeping and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. What is necessary to live healthy and live life to the fullest?

Exercise

There are many benefits to exercise. Most health professionals would agree that 20 minutes moderate to vigorous exercise at least 3 times per week is the standard recommendation.

Exercise can assist in losing weight, gaining and strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility.  Exercise can help tone muscle and shape the body. Exercise improves cardiovascular health and lowers blood pressure. The heart pumps blood through the whole body to deliver nutrients and oxygen and assists in ridding the body of waste products. If our heart is strong and working optimally, then we live optimally.

Find something you love to do like biking, walking, swimming or even hula-hooping.  Just move your way! You will stick to a new exercise program if you love doing it. However, any significant changes to fitness levels should be discussed with the family doctor.

Healthy Eating and Drinking

Health Canada maintains the key to a healthy lifestyle is incorporating a balance of six main nutrients: fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.

Carbohydrates are the bodies fuel and energy source. Without carbohydrates, our body uses muscle tissue and stores fat so we tend to put on weight.

Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, fish and nuts are needed for many reasons including maintaining body temperature and building hormones.

Proteins are made up of amino acids that build and repair tissue.

Fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colours provide the body with necessary minerals and vitamins.

Eat more healthful whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meat and fish often.  Oatmeal with fresh fruit is a great way to kick-start the day.

Drink water throughout your day. Limit caffeine as it dehydrates the body Limit artificial sweeteners, although, they are considered safe, use sparingly.

The things that are not as beneficial are high fat, processed food, excess salt, fried and pre-packaged meals.  If there are many ingredients on the label, especially words that are unfamiliar, it’s likely not something the body needs regularly.

Eat clean and your body works well for you.

Sleep

Our body needs sleep to repair and rejuvenate. Everyone is different. Most people need between 6-8 hours per night depending on age.

Shift work plays havoc with the body. To prepare for shifts, ease into it.

Visual stimulation like phones and TV’s trick the body into staying awake. Perhaps the sounds of silence or relaxing tunes could lull into a much-needed sleep. Set the alarm to a favourite song to motivate the day with a happy jingle.

Stress

Stress is a preventable way to keep healthy. The body doesn’t make the differentiation between physical, emotional, or any type of stress. Stress is stress, bottom line.

Exercise to keep muscles, joints, and tendons flexible and fit. Try yoga for relaxation and flexibility.

Try a meditation class to learn how deep breaths and visualization techniques can lower stress levels. Don’t hold it in, let it out, talk about it with a friend, loved one or counsellor.

The body has two major nervous system responses: para-sympathetic which helps the body rest and digest and the sympathetic nervous system which is the fight or flight mechanism.  The fight or flight response is a safety or protective mechanism not meant for long periods of time. Increased amounts of adrenaline and cortisol pumping through the body can suppress an already weak immune system and trigger diseases and disorders.

Massage

Massage is a great way to work out tight achy muscles, increase flexibility and range of motion in joints.  Massage can relax and lull us into a perfect frame of mind and a much-needed restful sleep.  This is what our body needs most.  When we sleep our body rests and repairs itself.

So fuel your body with the right things; sleep, nutrients, exercise and a de-stressed body. If the body is fuelled in the right ways, it will work for you when you need it.

So live life to the fullest and live life on your terms.

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