Understanding the big, life changing difference between fitness and health

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Health – “A state of complete mental, physical and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (World Health Organization)

How would you define health? Too often the idea of health is simply the notion that we “feel good” or we’re “not sick.” But if you read the statement above, you’ll notice that health is actually far more than these vague ideas. Most of the time when we think we are healthy we are, in fact, tired, out of shape, continually stressed and filling our bodies with all kinds of processed and unhealthy foods.

So how do achieve a complete mental, physical and social well-being? It may be simpler that you think. As a physiotherapist, I believe there are 5 pillars to health that, if made a priority in your life, will allow you to maintain optimal health and wellness throughout your life. Each of these areas is important by themselves but together they help generate true health and by extension open up more possibility for true fulfilment and happiness.

1. Exercise – This doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym or running ten miles every day, but rather some form of physical activity that gets you moving on a daily basis. Something as simple as walking 20 to 30 minutes a day can be extremely effective. The benefits of exercising daily are endless including strengthening muscles, improving joint mobility, reducing stress, losing weight and especially improving cardiovascular health.

2. Nutrition – Your body craves nutritious high quality foods. Unfortunately, we have become a culture of fast food, large portions, refined carbs, and processed foods. Eating a well-balanced diet helps gives you more energy, can help you sleep better, helps your body heal damaged tissues and organs, and helps maintain proper weight. Think of this as the difference between putting low grade fuel compared to high grade fuel in your car. Your body needs high quality fuel and deserves it to be healthy!

3. Quality Sleep – And the right amount of sleep. Too much sleep can be just as unhealthy as too little. Getting the proper amount of quality sleep is important. This is when the body is able to relax, decrease stress and do much of it’s healing.

4. Healthy Spine and Nervous System (Chiropractic care) – Your body relies on the nervous system for every function it performs. Right now your heart is beating, your lungs are breathing, your stomach is digesting, etc. without you even having to think about it. Your brain is sending messages down your spinal cord and through nerves coming out of every level of the spine. These go to every last organ, muscle, tissue and cell of the body. Taking proper care of your spine and nervous system prevents interference with this pathway to restore proper nerve signals and improve function.

5. Positive Attitude (Spiritual Health) – A major contributor (some statistics say over 60%) to poor health is stress and negative thoughts. Surround yourself with the right people, keep a positive attitude, manage stress, believe and have faith every day.

Make true health a priority and top responsibility for you and your family. Remember, it’s not about how you feel, if you’re sick or even if a drug is keeping your blood pressure down. True health is about being complete and balanced.