“Take care of your health, or your body will suffer.”
We’ve all heard some variation on this old adage. You’ve probably heard it so often that whenever someone mentions it, the words jostle around inside the ol’ brain like an annoying hum.
However, for anyone who needs a quick refresher on what is physical health: it’s just a way of saying, “Make sure your body works.” Yes, you need to keep yourself free from chronic diseases like cancer. It can include activities like sticking to a proper diet or exercising. Why is physical health important beyond that, though, and how should you maintain it in older adults?
Why is it important to take care of physical health?
So you can live a longer, healthier life. No, seriously, that’s what this wellness meaning and physical health benefits boil down to. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Time and again, physical health examples from formal studies have shown that a balanced diet and regular exercise can lead to a lower mortality rate. These habits can reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes and neurological conditions.
Additionally, these factors can lower your stress levels and promote wellness. If you avoid hard drug use, alcohol and cigarettes, the risk to your health drops again. Of course, some external factors will always increase adverse health effects, like hereditary conditions, exposure to air pollution or the mental strain caused by COVID-19. Most of these are beyond your control, so why make the situation worse by engaging in unhealthy activities alongside it? Remember, by achieving proper rest and relaxation and keeping yourself in good shape, you can also positively influence your mental health. That, in turn, will help you deal with anxiety and depression in our post-pandemic world.
What affects our physical well-being?
For the factors that are beyond your control, we’re here to say that you shouldn’t feel bad about them. It’s not a failing on your part, even as you try to mitigate their effects.
You’re sometimes at higher risk for inherited conditions because of little quirks in your family tree. One of the most infamous examples of this is breast cancer. If your maternal grandmother had it and your mother had it, there may be a higher risk for you as well.
Where you live
Environmental pollution can have devastating effects, and exposure to industrial byproducts can cause complications. Look at the many instances of lead poisoning over the years. Air pollution worsens asthma, while UV exposure without protection can increase your risk of skin cancer.
Your income or education
If you have the money, resources and proper knowledge of how to take care of your body, you’re likely a step or two ahead of those who don’t. So count your blessings! Access to higher education can lead to specialized knowledge and higher-paying jobs, which gives you more financial freedom to afford luxuries like purchasing healthier foods instead of processed ones, joining a gym, hiring a personal trainer or developing a personal meal plan with a nutritionist.
How to improve your physical health
To balance out these factors, here are a few ways in which you do have a say,
Eat a balanced diet to the best of your ability
When possible, buy whole foods over processed ones. Avoid items that could contribute to high cholesterol. Go for whole grains instead of white. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. For protein, look at fish, poultry and eggs.
Practice good hygiene
If you don’t clean your face, wash your hair and brush your teeth, it can make you feel bad about yourself. In turn, poor mental health can affect your physical activity.
With that in mind,
- Shower regularly.
- Always wash and moisturize your face.
- Brush your teeth multiple times a day.
- Don’t forget to floss. (Hats off to all you dentists and dental hygienists out there!)
Sitting too much can lead to chronic health problems. Just talk to anyone who works a desk job and see how those good ol’ knees are doing (spoiler: not great).
To maintain this part of your physical fitness, add at least 20 minutes of daily exercise into your routine. If you work a nine-to-five, always indulge in a short break every hour where you stand up from your desk to stretch.
If you’re a healthcare worker who spends most of your time on your feet, wear comfortable women’s scrubs or flexible men’s uniforms to facilitate easier movement.
Good quality sleep
A lack of sleep can drastically affect your mental and physical health. Buy yourself assistive devices to sleep better at night, like light-blocking curtains or eye masks. Try to schedule a set sleep time, too, preferably seven to eight hours nightly.
Go to your medical checkups
Medical checkups are preventative care and a crucial part of good physical health. They allow specialists to check for warning signs like heart disease or high blood pressure and prescribe the medication you need.
If funds permit, go to the dentist; take that eye exam. If you’re of the age where it’s time for regular breast or prostate exams, don’t skip them. These tests have the potential to catch cancer issues early and even save lives.
Limit alcohol intake
A little bit of alcohol is not bad for you. For example, a glass of red wine at a particular dinner party is not the end of the world; in fact, it can be good for the soul! However, too much alcohol can damage your internal organs and decrease your daily health benefits. Try to avoid when you can, and moderate when you can’t.
Make sure you’re immunized
We’re singing a familiar tune here, as everyone is keyed into the pandemic. Ensure you have all your flu shots and other immunizations. They’ll prevent you from catching something contagious that can radically alter your quality of life.
And even if you’re immunized, make sure to wear a face mask to cut down on your chances of exposure.
Keep an eye on your mental health
Although mental health is a category of equal weight all on its own, your physical health will benefit if you maintain your mental health, as well. Engage in activities that help you keep a positive outlook on life. If you’re looking for other ways to improve your health care, check out our article on how to make yourself a priority.
Good health to you always!