Fitness as a Whole

I was thinking recently, as everyone is perusing their New Year's Resolutions, about how fitness needs to be more than just what we do in the gym.

According to Oxford's definition, fitness encompasses the word health. I do not believe fitness is just summed up in our gym performance.

I do believe physical exercise is extremely important, of course. Our bodies are meant to be moving. I think walking, just moderate paced, medium length walks are so beneficial. I always feel better somehow if I can sneak in a few miles for a walk during the day.

But there are other important factors - equally or more important - to our fitness than just what we do in the gym. Call it health, wellness, fitness or self-care, when we approach a healthy lifestyle we need to consider the following as well:

Nutrition
Eating a healthy diet is probably more impactful than anything in regards to our health, especially in terms of achieving and maintaining health weight and body composition. Weight loss can be achieved strictly through nutrition - without exercise at all. And I hesitate to use the word diet because of the negative connotations. Diet only means the food one habitually eats. You can have a vegan diet, a keto diet, a whole foods diet, a candy bar diet - whatever you eat habitually is your diet. The important thing is having a healthful, sustainable diet that include healthy foods and fun foods - to balance the needs of the body with the great snacky desires of our hearts. Once you find this balance, your relationship with food improves dramatically!

Sleep
No one sleeps enough. Studies more and more are showing that people are chronically sleep deprived. Whether this is demands of life or a lack of making sleep a priority I do not know. Sleep helps our bodies heal and regulate. Proper sleep has shown to reduce depression and anxiety. Sleep helps repair our muscles after a hard workout. It helps our brains, our hearts, all our organs function optimally. People who say, "I only need six hours of sleep" are misunderstanding. Maybe you can function on 6 hours - I can also function on six hours - but all health indicators improve when you consistently get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. Including a decrease in my resting heart rate, a more manageable appetite and more focus during the day.

Sunshine and Fresh Air
I personally have always found that I am happier and feel more robust if I get a little sunshine and fresh air each day. Even just 10 or 15 minutes seems to do a lot for brightening my mood. This is why sometimes even when I am on a rest day, I will take an easy breezy walk for a while, it brightens my mood and just makes me feel refreshed.

Water
If you are not drinking at least 2 liters of water a day, you are not being kind to your body. Period.

Consistency, Balance and Routine
Once you find a health balance of exercise, nutrition, proper sleep, lots of water and fresh air, and can find a way to sustain that long term, your body will thank you. Not only that, you soon notice patterns that pop up when something is off. For example, my resting heart rate always spikes when I am starting to come down with something. This helps me to begin taking care of myself to fight it off. Also, if you know your general patterns, you know when something is off. I am rarely tired mid-afternoon. If I begin to feel chronically fatigued during the day, I know to speak to my doctor because I know for me that is not normal.

When I build my fitness plan, I take all of these factors into consideration, a holistic approach to fitness and wellness. A well rested, fed and hydrated body is going to surely help me meet my fitness goals better than a strung out, anxious, poorly rested and ill fed one is!

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