We all know that we have to eat right and exercise to be healthy. But there is so much more to it than that. Our bodies are complex machines that need attention 24/7. Unfortunately, we tend to think of our health as something that just happens. It’s not.
The fundamentals of your health start with what you eat and how much you move. Mayo Clinic recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of mild cardio each week plus strength training. You can sneak this in by committing to 10 to 15 minutes of activity a few times each day. For example, walking through the neighborhood or playing with the kids can get your heart rate up without being over-strenuous. You don’t have to hit the gym to sweat!
Food is another essential part of your day. Each cell in your body relies on nutrients to work properly. Protein, iron, calcium, and a range of vitamins and minerals come from the things you eat. The best way to eat well is to eat a variety of lean protein, grains, vegetables, and dairy. But don’t eat blindly. Invest in a food scale so you can track what you eat. Remember, even healthy foods can hurt you if you overdo it. Food scales are an inexpensive and easy way to hold yourself accountable for your dietary choices.
We haven’t told you anything you didn’t already know yet, but there are many aspects of your health that you probably neglect without even knowing it. Your feet, for example. They are literally the platform upon which your body stands. How much thought do you give them every day? Feet need more than properly-fitted shoes to keep them healthy and pain-free. You have to make sure your feet stay clean, and that your nails are trimmed correctly to avoid infections.
Your skin also deserves a little love. After all, without it, your insides would be exposed to all the bacteria and germs in the air. Unhealthy skin can become dry and cracked, leaving you sore and susceptible to infections. Plus, having great-looking and feeling skin improves self-confidence. Make sure to moisturize every night, and talk to your doctor if you notice any unusual changes to the texture or color of your skin.
Other things aren’t quite as visible, but they are just as important as your feet and skin. Your internal systems, such as the endocrine system, which controls hormones, and your urinary tract also make a difference in your overall wellness. Urinary tract infections can cause burning and discomfort “down there,” and can trigger a kidney infection if not treated. Stay hydrated and practice excellent bathroom and sexual hygiene, especially if you are a woman.
As far as your hormones go, both men and women can experience hormone imbalances. Since hormones control everything inside of you, it makes sense to keep them in check. Each hormone or group of hormones help to control a different function. Insulin, for instance, assists in energy absorption and blood sugar control. If you are diabetic, your insulin levels may be off, or you can’t use insulin you make naturally. This can lead to weight gain, which may trigger the over- or under-release of other hormones.
Weight gain can also put stress on the joints and cause systemic inflammation. The body may react to inflammation by releasing histamines, a neurotransmitter that’s part of the immune response. Essentially, not keeping your hormones stable can have a domino effect that touches on every part of you. MaxLiving.com suggests addressing toxicity in your environment and getting enough sleep as just two ways to balance your hormones.
Your musculoskeletal system also matters, and anything that keeps your bones, muscles, and ligaments healthy and in their proper place will benefit you throughout your entire life. The spine is a major component of this system and keeping it healthy is crucial to your comfort. According to the Spine Health Institute, repetitive movements, untreated sprains, and poor posture are all things that can affect your backbone.
Your health matters, but not just in the ways you might think. Make a point to eat well and exercise, but also don’t neglect the unseen systems that keep you up and running.