101 Guide to Physical Health & Fitness

The following is a Guest Blog by Brighde Dougherty, Owner & Coach at Flow Self Empowerment.  

The good news?  Wellness is one of the fastest growing trends in the United States.

The bad news?  There is so much information out there it is hard to decipher what is real and what is best for YOU.  In the fitness realm alone the options are overwhelming.  Some experts believe 30-40 minute endurance workouts- exercise that causes sweating and an increased heart beat- two to three times a week are the best way to increase and maintain one’s fitness level.  Others say it’s entirely possible to get a phenomenal workout in just 20 minutes of interval training-  30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 90 seconds of recuperation, for a total of 8 repetitions- two to three times a week.  Don’t forget to add strength training in there twice a week.  Light weight with more repetitions or maximum weight with slower speed and decreased repetitions?  No wonder so many people are afraid to start a fitness routine . . .

The best news?  There are simple steps you can take outside of the gym to increase your health and inspire your fitness.  No one is perfect, but if you can strive to balance the following you are building a strong foundation for personal wellness.

Eating Healthy: every body is different and moderation is key.  Strive to eat clean instead of processed foods.  Limit sugar intake and consider fruit as a main source of sugar when you need it. Introduce healthy food into your diet, then eliminate bad food.  There is more calcium in dark greens then dairy.  Try not to eat 3-4 hours before going to bed.  If you are hungry at night, drink a glass of water.  Remember, we are what we eat.

Sleep: 7-8 hours in the same time frame.  No, naps do not count towards nightly sleep.  If you do need a nap, 10 minutes or an hr is optimal.   Set an alarm to give yourself an hour to unwind before bed.  Avoid computer and phone screens within an hour of falling asleep.

Hydration:  water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.  An adequate intake for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. For women the intake is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.  Although the “8 by 8” rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it’s easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,” because all fluids and some food count toward the daily total.

Slow Down, In Order to Speed Up: allowing your body and mind to rest and recovery energy allows you to accomplish more.  This could entail meditation, breathing exercises, bringing mindfulness into your daily life, stretching/yoga/pilates, a walk, bike, hike or anything in which you bring conscious effort into slowing down your mind in order to connect with your body.  Aim for at least one, or a combination of the above, daily or as many times a day as needed.

Remember wellness is a lifestyle, not a crash course.  All these steps are interconnected and depend on one another for optimal health. This can be overwhelming, but the goal is to balance the above to the best of one’s ability. Take one day at a time and make the exploration of what works best for your body fun.  Try new ideas, create combinations and set achievable weekly goals.  As you achieve success turning two or three of the above into habits you will be more energized to integrate fitness.

Author: Brighde Dougherty Owner & Coach at Flow Self Empowerment. Brighde Dougherty works closely with Footprints to Recovery patients through various activities, including sports to encourage self-empowerment.

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