Take control of your health – lessons from the pandemic
We are all hoping that we’re heading into a post-covid world, or at the very least, learning to live with it as we all continue to return to what we once viewed as our normal existence.
We can but hope that on a Governmental level, lessons are learned worldwide which will put everyone in a better situation were anything to arise again, however, leaving all the learning down to Governments won’t be a wise way forward for us all. We need to learn too.
What has been so depressing from a health and fitness perspective regarding the pandemic is how little has been spoken of the impact of a healthy lifestyle. The vaccine process has been admirable and has no doubt saved countless lives, but the reality is that the majority who died had underlying health conditions – many of which were preventable.
Here are the five key areas that will fight illness and disease and give you the very best chance of riding into a long and healthy future.
Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer.
Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Inadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week—disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic. Short sleeping increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure.
Simply put, make sure you get a minimum of 6-7 hours per night.
Stress is when our body is challenged and our means to deal with that challenge does not surpass the level of the challenge itself. Our reaction is still linked to our hunter-gathering days. Cortisol levels (produced by the adrenal gland) rise. This rise produces energy to the muscles and focuses the brain evoking the fight/flight response. This response also activates the immune system. The problem is that an over-stimulated immune system means it is out of sync with your actual requirements. Therefore, when you truly need it to function – to fight disease, it’s not called upon as it should be.
Reducing our stress levels, will ensure our immune system is ready to fight disease when we need it, not when our brain receives an arsey email!
Food and drink
We eat too many refined sugars which impact on our insulin sensitivity and ultimately towards diabetes. We eat too many saturated fats which contribute to clogged arteries and we do not eat enough fruits and vegetables which provide high levels of antioxidants, which help to slow or prevent molecular damage.
It’s unlikely you need to completely overhaul your diet, but you can make easy small changes. Ensure vegetables are in every meal, snack on fruits for your sweetness, reduce red meat consumption, limit alcohol intake. These changes will make a significant difference to your overall wellbeing.
If you heart and lungs are efficient, then any virus that may negatively impact on them will still be less dangerous than if your starting point was that of inefficient heart and lungs. By exercising you improve the circulation of blood to all major organs and muscles. You improve the ability to oxygenate blood. This is all aside from better posture to prevent pain as you age and the fact that you’ll look and feel better.
The key here is little and often. Aim to train at least 2-3 times per week – as in dedicated fitness training sessions – performed at an intensity which is challenging. But supplement it with activity. Move more. Walk instead of drive. Stand instead of sit. Make everyday changes which will positively impact on your health.
This final one is important. When you have a problem, do you go to the doctor’s and ask for a pill? Do you keep getting different pills to solve problems? If so, you must recognise that your mentality needs changing. Don’t stick a plaster on a wound. Find out what the problem is, how can you address and prevent it and be proactive in doing so. Relying on pharmaceutical companies for your health and wellbeing is a dangerous game and won’t end well. Utilising all of the guidance above will put you back in control.