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Summer Wellness Series Part 5 - Physical Well-Being

The Key to Wellness: Building a Strong Foundation with Physical Well-Being 

Welcome to another installment of our Summer Wellness Series! Today, we focus on an essential aspect of wellness: physical well-being. Remember, we are not aiming for perfection or setting unrealistic goals; instead, we focus on taking good care of our bodies. Physical well-being consists of the ability to perform physical activities and carry out social roles without being hindered by physical limitations, pain, or poor biological health (Capio & Sit, 2014), it’s about building your capacity and becoming stronger. Let’s look at the importance of these four pillars of health: sleep, nutrition, exercise, and medical appointments. 

Sleep: The Foundation of Recovery and Energy 

Getting a good night's sleep is like hitting a reset button. It helps us leave the stress of the day behind, thereby providing a fresh start. Unfortunately, we average only 6.7 hours on weeknights, falling short of the recommended seven to eight hours. This sleep deficit leads to slower movements, concentration issues, forgetfulness, poor decision-making, increased irritability, and visible signs of sleeplessness (Rath & Harter, 2010). 

To improve your sleep, start by identifying barriers that may prevent you from getting to sleep at a reasonable hour. Make small but impactful changes: set a consistent bedtime, create a calming pre-sleep routine, and limit screen time before bed. Everyone knows we need good sleep, but the key lies in making better choices to achieve it. How can you tweak your evening routine to ensure you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day? 

Exercise: Building Physical and Mental Strength 

Regular physical activity is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, offering numerous benefits: 

  • Boosting Mood and Energy Levels: Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones that help reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress while increasing energy levels and improving mood. 

  • Improving Physical Health: Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, strengthens the cardiovascular system, enhances muscle strength, and increases flexibility and balance. It also lowers the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. 

  • Enhancing Sleep Quality: Engaging in physical activity can help regulate sleep patterns, ensuring a more restful and restorative night's sleep. 

Moreover, exercise has both cumulative and acute effects on mental health. Chronically, it can reduce the risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders. A recent meta-analysis reported that individuals who engage in higher levels of physical activity significantly reduce the risk of developing depression compared to those with lower levels of physical activity (Cooper, 2020). In a study involving young adults aged 18 to 35, higher levels of physical activity were linked to higher psychological well-being. Additionally, intrinsic motivation emerged as a crucial determinant of psychological well-being, particularly among male participants with higher activity levels (Granero-Jiménez et al., 2022). This highlights the importance of fostering intrinsic motivation to improve physical activity levels and, consequently, psychological well-being. 

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine doesn't have to be daunting. Start with simple activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, or even dancing. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week.  

What small steps can you take today to get started? You might not reach 150 minutes this week, but can you reach 30 or 60 to start moving in the right direction? For those struggling to get motivated, what barriers have been holding you back? Identifying these obstacles is the first step. Then, think about one small step you can take today to address one of those barriers. Whether it's a 10-minute walk or a short workout session, every bit helps move you towards better mental and physical health.   

Nutrition: Fueling Your Body Right 

Proper nutrition is about making yourself a healthier and stronger person. Eating a balanced diet provides the energy and nutrients needed for optimal body function. Ensure you eat a variety of foods, stay hydrated, limit processed foods and sugars, and practice portion control. Don't forget to treat yourself occasionally but remember that food should not be your only source of pleasure. Explore other ways to find joy and satisfaction in life. 

Medical Appointments: Proactive Health Management 

Regular medical check-ups and screenings are vital components of physical well-being. They help detect potential health issues early, when they are most treatable, and ensure you are on track with your health goals. Plan your appointments and create a schedule to keep up with your check-ups. Don't wait for an emergency to see a doctor. 

Ask yourself: When was my last check-up? Do I have a schedule for regular health screenings?  

Practical steps to get started: 

  • Set a reminder to book your next appointment. 

  • Create a health calendar to track your medical visits. 

  • Research which screenings are recommended for your age and health profile. 

  • Write down any health concerns to discuss with your doctor at your next visit. 

What small step can you take today to prioritize your health? 

Final Thoughts 

Prioritizing physical well-being through good sleep, regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and proactive medical care is crucial for a healthy and fulfilling life. By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can enhance your physical health, boost your energy levels, and improve your overall well-being. Remember, small, consistent efforts lead to significant improvements. Embrace the journey and celebrate each step towards better physical health. Stay tuned for more insights and tips in our Summer Wellness Series, and don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions and experiences. We’re all in this together, striving for a healthier, happier life! 

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