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More than Diet and Exercise: How to Be Healthy

by Marc A.

Pop Quiz: Whenever you hear or have a discussion about being healthy, what are you most likely to hear about?


Answer: Diet and exercise.


Most people believe that eating right and exercising is the way to health. It's true that cannot be denied but those aren't the only ways. In order to get into the guts of how to be more healthy, we have to discuss what health really is. Health is a state of well being but not just physical, mental as well. Both those sides need to be intact and taken care of in order for one to be truly healthy. 

What I'd like to get into is ways to be more healthy outside of diet and exercise. There are a ton of ways but I chose my top ten and I'd like to elaborate a little on each one.

So let's proceed, shall we?

1. Get some rest. Adequate sleep is probably one of the most underrated techniques for contributing to our overall well-being. Sleep allows our batteries to recharge. It helps us to recover from our tough workouts. It helps us to be more clear and alert during our waking lives. It helps with our overall moods. I could go on and on yet so many of us get less than the 7-9 recommended hours per day. Once that sleep is lost, even getting extra sleep another day will not make up for it. Sleep debts aren't made to be paid back. We all want to enjoy life and work hard and we can't do that if we're asleep but sleep will help that life be much longer so we'll still have that time we would have kept by staying awake. Even just taking the time to relax and lie down can be rejuvenating. I recommend this step over all the others if you had to choose. 

2. Alcohol in moderation. I'm not talking about alcohol abuse. That goes without saying that that is dangerous and unhealthy but I'm speaking to even the weekend warrior. A drink per night is moderation. 7 drinks in one night (although technically the same amount) is not. When your body goes from not drinking to drinking heavily that, it takes a toll on your liver and if you're drinking like that every weekend, it may cause problems for you over time. Even if you only drink one night a week, try to limit it to no more than 3.

3. No smoking. This one is pretty much a no brainer but if you're a smoker, STOP NOW! There isn't one good thing that comes out of smoking cigarettes and a ton of ways that it affects you negatively from that terrible smell on up to lung cancer and death. 

4. Find a hobby. Take your mind off the stresses of life and find something you enjoy doing. It can be anything from stamp collecting to photography to fishing. Whatever it is, enjoy every minute of it. This will raise your overall mood and quality of life. It also gives you something to think about and look forward to doing when you're not working.

5. Have a laugh. You know the idea that laughter keeps you young? It's true! Laughter not only makes you feel good, it can also make you look good. So find a good comedy, hang out with some friends or do something silly. Chuckle it up!

6. Read a book, solve a puzzle, play a game.  The bottom line with this one is to keep your mind engaged. Reading books can also fit in with #4 and #5. Books can make you more creative or imaginative. Books can make you more intelligent. Solving puzzles and playing games keep your mind sharp and also are known to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. Your mind is a muscle. Keep working it out and it's less likely to deteriorate on you later.

7. Meditation. Meditation, like yoga, has so many positive effects on your mental well being. It makes you more aware of your own body and surroundings. It helps you to focus. It brings down stress levels. It makes you less anxious. If you have problems keeping your mind on one thing, I definitely suggest trying meditation. It will be hard at first and may take days, weeks, or even months but you will get better if you stick with it, that I can promise you. It doesn't have to be a complex process. It can be something as simple as taking 50 deep breaths. Breathe in and out deeply and focus on your breathing as you count each breath. If your mind goes astray, it's ok! Just bring it back to what you're doing and continue the count. Meditation is great for anyone.

8a. Prayer. Now, this one may not apply to everyone because we don't all worship a high power but for those who do or want to start, prayer is invaluable. Prayer, when combined with faith, allows you to release your frustrations and fears. It can be very therapeutic.

And for those who don't wish to pray (and this also works for those who do),

8b. Keep a Journal. Write your innermost thoughts and feelings in it. Releasing them on paper (or on screen, if you prefer to type) is a great way to vent and make yourself feel better. Even though you're not speaking to someone else, letting it all out without filter and just saying whatever you want to say can work wonders for any grudges, apprehension, sadness, etc. you may be feeling.

9. Tweak your environment.  By this, I mean making changes to the world around you. Sometimes your life gets monotonous or mundane or it feels cluttered. Making subtle changes to your environment can do a world of wonders. Rearrange the furniture in your apartment. Clean off your messy work desk. Try a different way to or home from work. Try cooking a new meal. Do something you wouldn't normally do. Just do something different!

And finally,

10. Spend quality time with others. This, in my opinion, comes right after sleep, in the ranking of important things on the list. Spend time around other people. Play around with your kids. Have dinner with your parents. Go see a ballgame with some friends. Have a date night with your significant other. All the other 9 things on this list can be practiced in some way shape or form with other people. Don't underestimate the value of time spent.

I know I said 10 but I had to throw this one in...

10a. Sex. Whether casual or in a relationship is up to you. I won't speculate either way, that's not my job. The act of sex, though, has a plethora of physical and mental health benefits from hormonal to emotional to being a form of exercise.

As you can see mental health is just as important as physical to maintain overall health. Over at my blog, Dr. Marctagon, I love to discuss both these areas of wellness. Stop by and check it out!

So what are some of your techniques for maintaining health? Can you add to this list? Reply in the comments below!!
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