With so many articles and news stories published each and every day proclaiming the dire health of the individuals in our society, I am reminded how quickly we forget that taking care ourselves is often in our own power. In the majority of our lives, maintaining health involves consistently making decisions for our benefit, not our detriment. This involves ensuring we live with healthy habits each and every day. There are three simple healthy habits in our daily choices over which we have direct control that impact our overall well-being.
We tend to be a sleep-deprived nation, opting to work long hours and pursue recreational activities (late night TV shows, anyone?) that sacrifice sleep. Most adults require 7-8 hours of sleep per night, although there are no hard-and-fast rules regarding how much sleep is necessary. The goal with sleep is to know yourself and focus on getting an adequate amount of sleep that fits your individual needs on a nightly basis.
There are so many potential factors to consider with diet that it is easy to get lost in the details. There are two primary areas of dietary focus that seem to have the most impact: food choice and consumption quantity. Michael Pollan, an author and journalist who advocates for health and nutrition, said it best: Eat food that is food. Period. Pretty simple, right? Food choices are a fundamental aspect of health. We have a plethora of options available to consume, and we often make some pretty poor decisions. One way to think about food choices is to consider what you are about to put in your mouth: if it was not hunted, fished, picked, grown, or harvested in the form sitting directly in front of you, chances are that it is not food, but rather a food-like product. Be wary of consuming too many food-like products instead of real food. The second area of focus is quantity of food. Too often we ignore listening to our bodily ques and eat way past the point of fullness. Listen to your body. When your body signals that you are full, stop.
Research time and time again points to the advantage of living an active lifestyle. For Colorado readers, we have a pretty intense take on what this means as we pursue many types of extreme sport. For most of us, focusing on 30 minutes of mobility with increased heart rate several times per week has long lasting impacts on overall health (mental and physical) well-being, and sense of vitality. I once heard (can’t recall where) that if you can limit sitting, sleeping, working, taking care of household responsibilities, and watching TV to just 23.5 hours a day, you are probably heading in the right direction with exercise.
Taking care of ourselves needn’t be a difficult, arduous task. With daily attention in each of the above mentioned areas, health and vitality can be sustained.