Are You Really Well?

    "Only about 30% of the characteristics of aging are genetically determined. The other 70% are linked to lifestyle. People who lead active lives and eat healthy diets age better than those who are sedentary and unconcerned about diet." John Rowe MD

    Do your everyday actions lead to wellness or dis-ease? What is wellness? Let's compare it to a pie with many pieces. Every person's pie may be slightly different due to our own uniqueness. Cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, nutrition, relaxation, spirituality, preventative care, giving back to the community, sports/hobbies, fulfilling work or employment, volunteerism, healthy relationships...these are examples of one person's pie pieces. All together they make wholeness and balance without which we sense something is missing.

    While every pie piece is essential to well-being, let's focus for now on three, cardiovascular fitness, muscular and endurance and flexibility. These healthy slices are common in everyone's pie.

    We all realize that our heart-lung system working properly is vital. So what are you doing to maintain healthy function? For the average person, accumulating 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily is good. What's aerobic? Walking, swimming, cycling, some gardening, skating and dancing are some fun ideas. You need to do some activity that elevates the heartrate and keeps it steadily up there for an extended period of time.

    Next, those muscles need training to enable them the ability to easily accommodate the activities you wish to participate in. You need muscular strength (maybe to move a piece of furniture) and muscular endurance (perhaps to carry a baby or a piece of luggage through an airport). Decide what kind of "resistance" tool you wish to use. This can be weights, gym machines, elastic bands, fitness balls or even your body weight. When designing your weight training program, keep balance in mind. For example: challenge chest musculature with push-ups and balance that with a rowing exercise for the back. Figure you need about 8-12 exercises to target the major muscle groups of the body for a balanced workout. You may wish to find a trainer, a book or a video that can help you with an appropriate program.

    Flexibility is an often ignored realm even with some who exercise regularly. We need to do stretching moves on a regular basis to have the greatest range of motion in all our body's joints. You don't need any special equipment but an elastic band or a partner can help you get more for your effort.

    Keep these stretching tips in mind.

    * Go to a position of moderate pull not pain.

    * Hold position steady, don't bounce.

    * Hold stretches for 10-30 seconds.

    Maybe you know most or all of this but you're still not doing it. Why? Most folks find motivation the challenge. Here are some ideas to get you going:

    • Enlist a supportive friend or workout partner
    • Reward yourself for reaching goals (you did set them, right?)
    • Use music that makes you want to move
    • Join a gym
    • Walk your dog (or borrow a neighbor's)
    • Join a walking club - Can't find one? Start your own!
    • Buy fun exercise videos or borrow them from the library
    • Track your activity
    • Keep a journal
    • Hire a trainer (short or long term)
    There you go! Now lace up those shoes and get moving! Remember wellness is an ongoing state of being, not just a milestone to be reached and forgotten. Be well!