Active Living and Wellness can be defined as the search for enhanced quality of life, personal growth and potential through positive life style behaviours and attitudes. If we take responsibility for our health and well-being, we can improve our health on a daily basis. The quality of our diet, the amount of regular exercise we get, our ability to handle stress effectively, the quality of our relationships with family and friends and our career success all have an influence on our state of wellness.
The key to achieving an active lifestyle and wellness is balance. This involves a positive interaction between our body, mind and spirit. If any of these areas are neglected we cannot achieve an optimal level of health.
Living an active life and achieving the state of wellness is a dynamic process and involves a lifelong commitment. The following is a list of active life style and wellness promoting behaviours;
- Follow the Canadian Physical Activity Guide (http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/hl-mvs/pa-ap/index-eng.php ) for minimum requirements for an active lifestyle. Avoid the pitfalls of extremes of too much or too little exercise.
- Have a medical examination and clearance before starting a regular exercise program
- Follow an exercise program that is developed based on your fitness level, experience, likes and dislikes and fitness goals.
- Weight control is a lifelong process and involves a balance diet, appropriate size portions and exercise.
- Avoid fad diets.
- Minimize the amount of sugar and salt you add to your food.
- Include 15 to 20 grams of fibre to your diet daily.
- Have a balanced diet involving 50% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 25% fat of which only 10% or less is saturated fat.
- Follow the Canadian Food Guide (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php ) with respect to portion size.
- Brush and floss your teeth after eating
- Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and wear a seat belt
- Avoid the use of tobacco
- Consume less than 2 alcoholic drinks per day.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep.
- Engage in activities that promote relaxation
- Feel positive and enthusiastic about life and the challenges it presents to you.
- Learn effective coping strategies for stress. Learn to control stress rather than allowing stress to control you.
- Learn to say “no” without feeling guilty.
- Develop close and intimate relationships with family and friends.
- Be interested in others’ points of view.
- Feel comfortable with your spiritual life.
- Be tolerant of others’ values and beliefs.
Factors that Influence Quality of Life
Wellness involves having a high quality of life. Developing and living with chronic illness such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory distress and cancer reduces a person’s independence, their ability to live an active life and their quality of life. Table 1 identifies the factors that influence a person’s quality of life.
Table 1: Factors that Influence a Person’s Quality of Life
Reference: Wellness: Concepts and Applications
By: Anspaugh, Hamrick and Rosato, pg. 7
Wellness for a Lifetime
Lifelong wellness is about taking charge of your own health, making good choices and enjoying the challenges that life presents to you on a daily bases. As mentioned previously, living an active life and achieving a state of wellness is a lifelong and dynamic process. Table 2 describes this process.
Table 2: Living an Active Lifestyle and Achieving Wellness at Every Age
|Wellness in your 20’s|
|Body||-Body is in peak form.-Strong heart, muscles and metabolism.|
|Fitness||-Try lots of activities to find what you enjoy most.-Try to establish an exercise routine that includes 20-60 minutes of exercise daily.|
|Nutrition||-Focus on maintaining a healthy weight.-Avoid the habit of eating fast foods.-Focus on lots of fruits and vegetables and portion control|
|Lifestyle||-Your focus is on starting careers and lifelong relationships which can be stressful.-Learn effective strategies to cope with your increasingly stressful life.
-Find time to relax and spend time with your family.
|Wellness in your 30’s|
|Body||-Physiological effects of aging such as decrease muscle strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility begin to appear.|
|Fitness||-Staying active is a big challenge due to family and career commitments.- Weight gain is difficult to avoid.
-Find innovative ways to stay physically activity.
-Focus on raising a family that embraces physical activity
|Nutrition||-Being busy makes eating well a challenge.-Being organized with meal plans helps to ensure that you get enough fruits and vegetables as well as protein to give you the energy you need.-Avoid refined and pre-packaged food that are easy to cook but are usually high in salt and calories and low in essential nutrients.|
|Lifestyle||-Life is hectic trying to balance career, family and relationships with your wife, family and friends.-Chronic stress can break down your immune system.
-Develop effective stress coping mechanisms such as meditation, visualization and exercise.
-Find time each day for you to rejuvenate yourself and maintain a positive attitude.
|Wellness in Your 40’s|
|Body||-You begin to notice significant changes in your body such as wrinkles, increase weight, stiffness and joint aches, hair thinning and/or turning grey.-Start to have bi-yearly complete medical physicals for early detection of health risks to disease.|
|Fitness||-Daily physical activity is needed to fight weight gain, loss of muscle mass and strength and cardiovascular endurance.-Every minute of physical activity is an investment in your health to ward off high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical dysfunction.|
|Nutrition||-Eat a balanced diet and focus on portion control.-Healthy food choices like fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients to support your immune system and fight off illness.|
|Lifestyle||-increase stress from your career, aging parents and teenagers requires effective stress coping mechanisms.-Find time for yourself.|
|Wellness in your 50’s|
|Body||-Both men and women face major life changes at this time. Men’s level of testosterone reduces significantly and women experience menopause. These changes bring physical and psychological stress.|
|Fitness||-Physical activity protects the heart, strengthens bones and muscles and helps maintain flexibility, agility, balance and coordination.- The type and intensity of exercise must be modified to your health and fitness level.|
|Nutrition||-A well balanced diet is necessary and vitamin and mineral supplementation may be needed depending on your health status and exercise intensity.- Hydration becomes increasingly important. 8-12 glasses of water a day is recommended.|
|Lifestyle||-“Age shock” often occurs due to illness or death of a friend or family member.- Keep balance in your life by searching for fulfilling challenges and hobbies.
-Now is a good time to slow down and start enjoying the fruits of your labour.
|Wellness in Your 60’s and Beyond|
|Body||-Development of major illness and reduced quality of life is common in this age group.- Focus on physical activities with the goal of maintaining a high quality of life and healthy independent living.|
|Fitness||-“You do not stop moving because of your age…you age because you stopped moving”.-Resistance training to maintain muscular strength and flexibility exercises to maintain mobility are very important to be able to continue to do the activities of daily living and live independently.|
|Nutrition||-Keep your diet interesting.-Difficulty chewing and gastrointestinal tract problems may influence the types of food you can eat.
-Staying hydrated (8-12 glasses of water /day)is important to maintain your body’s performance and functions.
|Lifestyle||-Retirement begins but stay challenged with your daily life.- Search for new ways to stimulate your mind and spirit.
-Volunteering is a great way to give back and stay involved purposefully.
Living an active lifestyle and achieving a state of wellness is a lifelong process. It requires thought and effort to learn how to eat properly, exercise regularly and cope with everyday stress. It involves an integration of mind, body and spirit. Make the effort to live actively and achieve wellness now or you will have to make time for illness and dysfunction later. An important key to living an active life and achieving wellness is to have FUN every day. Enjoy life to its fullest, starting now.
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