Before we get started on how to maintain good health, we need to know the actual meaning of ‘health’. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. So health is not just an absence of disease, but our ability to recover and get back from various kinds of illnesses and other problems. In today’s fast-paced life, our health has taken a backseat and it has become extremely essential to make health our priority.
HOW TO MAINTAIN GOOD HEALTH:
To maintain good physical and psychological health, the 3 most important factors include:
- Balanced diet
DIET: a well balanced diet including all the essential food groups which provide the required carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water plays an important role in leading a healthy lifestyle. It is a clear fact that the food we eat has a direct impact on our health and wellness.
Certain changes in the diet can make a big difference to our health and the following are some of them:
- Start including whole grains in your meals. Replace refined flour (like maida) with whole grain flours.
- Eat at least 2 fruits a day.
- Include a large chunk of vegetables in your meals. Make sure to include a variety of seasonal vegetables to gain maximum benefit.
- Include at least one good protein source in each meal. This could be chicken (without skin), eggs, fish, beans, pulses or curd/yoghurt.
- Do not skip breakfast.
- Restrict your intake of salt and refined sugar. This applies to restricting processed foods as well which are generally high in sugar and sodium content.
- Drink sufficient water to stay hydrated instead of sugary or high calorie drinks/juices.
- Use portion control. Stick to 1-2 servings and do not stuff yourself till you’re so full that you can’t eat anymore.
- Be cautious of unhealthy snacks. Prefer eating whole fruits, nuts and seeds as snacks instead of biscuits, fried snacks, etc.
- Avoid smoking, tobacco and alcohol.
Good nutrition combined with regular physical activity will help you maintain a healthy weight with a good body composition and thus, reduce your risk of chronic lifestyle disorders and promote overall health.
EXERCISE: regular exercise does not only improve our fitness levels but also affects our emotional and mental health. Physical activity truly has long term benefits for each one of us.
Exercise can be divided into the following categories:
- Aerobic exercise which include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, playing tennis, etc.
- Strength/weight training either by lifting weights or using a resistance band
- Flexibility exercises which include various stretches and yoga
Most people tend to stick with one type of exercise/activity. However, each type of exercise has its own benefits and hence, trying to include each one throughout the week would help achieve optimal fitness.
Following are some of the benefits of exercise:
- It improves heart function and muscular strength
- It helps prevent chronic diseases like cardiac diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure
- Improves body composition i.e. increases muscle mass and reduces fat (true for weight training)
- Builds overall strength and endurance and improves flexibility
- Strengthens the bones
- It reduces the risk of injury
- Improves sleep pattern
- Relieves stress and anxiety and improves self esteem
REST: rest is often an overlooked component of a healthy lifestyle. Sufficient rest assists with recovery and keeps you motivated. Likewise, sleep is equally essential for maintaining good health. Sleeping helps in recovering from physical as well as mental exertion. Try getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep which will help in achieving maximum recovery.
PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH: when you read about how to maintain good health, be sure to know that our mental health should not be neglected. Psychological/emotional well-being is as important for maintaining good health as is our physical well-being.
The following are certain ways in which you can pay attention to your emotional health:
- Develop a good opinion about yourself.
- Pursue a hobby/read a book/play a sport that makes you happy.
- Learn how to manage stress.
- Strike a balance between your professional and personal life.
- Maintain healthy relationships with family and friends.
Thus, the best way to maintain good health is by following a healthy lifestyle rather than waiting until we fall sick to get things in place. It’s never too late to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle. By indulging in fresh, wholesome food and by incorporating physical activity in your daily routine, you will see positive health benefits and move towards a better you. Following a good diet and exercise regime with adequate rest will give you good results. But our aim should be its benefits in the long run. Hence, this regime should be a sustainable one which we can make part of our lifestyle to bring about a permanent lifestyle change.