Fitness and Well-Being
In an era where life is fast-paced, it is not uncommon to be on a path of never-ending action. Such a lifestyle will take a toll on your health and wellbeing. Research has shown that integrating self-care practices into your life improves your quality of living, productivity, well-being, and helps to keep disease away.
Exercise as a Self-Care Practice for Well-Being
Exercise offers tremendous benefits for mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It helps to improve your mood, boost your energy, reduce stress, improve sleep, promote better clarity, build muscular strength, and rid the body of toxins.
However, according to a Huffington Post article, exercise can be a cause of self-harm to your well-being. Her concern was rooted in the tendency for compulsive exercising, where you push your body beyond its limits. Compulsive exercise exposes you to overtraining, low performance, muscle tissue breakdown, and the risk of injuries.
The key to successfully using exercise as a self-care strategy for well-being is to integrate fitness-related self-care practices into your exercise routine as well as other non-physical health-related self-care strategies.
Fitness-Related Self-Care Strategies
Do not overdo it. As noted earlier, compulsive exercising is more detrimental to your health and well-being than it is beneficial. Start small and build up gradually in regards to frequency, time, and intensity. If you are truly now dedicated to changing your life with exercise, in the long run, does it really matter if you reached wonderful health at the age of 28 and 8 months versus 28 and 4 months, or 53 and 6 months versus 53 and 1 month? Easy does it; and easy does it well! Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
- Get adequate rest and sleep. Rest helps your body to recover and rebuild after exercise. Plan for at least one rest day in a week where you do not exercise or you engage in low-intensity, low-impact exercise. Depending on your fitness level and goals, you can take up to four rest days in a week. Aim to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night to give your mind, nervous system, and body time to rejuvenate. If you’re having issues sleeping, it could be time to replace your mattress, especially if it’s more than seven years old.
- Nourish your body with healthy foods. Proper nutrition fuels the body. It provides all the essential nutrients necessary for body cells’ development, proper functioning of the various tissues and organs, and boosts immunity against diseases.
- A healthy diet should be comprised of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, that provide micronutrients and the appropriate amounts of healthy sources of macronutrients. Opt for complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and legumes in place of highly-processed simple carbohydrates, such as white wheat flour, rice, bread, and refined sugar. Remember to maintain your caloric intake within your daily recommended value. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep your body hydrated and flush out toxins.
- Note: If you are recovering from substance abuse, fitness promotes self-healing but don’t let your workouts become an unhealthy addiction.
Non-Fitness-Related Self-Care Strategies for Well-Being
Engage in your hobbies. Hobbies are an excellent way to recharge your batteries without feeling like you are idle. They include activities such as reading a book, taking a walk or going for a relaxing bike ride (which actually are a bit of fitness as well), creating a piece of art, gardening, photography, scrapbooking, playing an instrument, or any other healthy constructive pastime that you enjoy.
In addition to taking up a hobby, these self-care practices will boost your overall well-being:
- Nurture your spirit. Connect with nature by taking a walk on the beach, basking in the sun, hiking in the mountains, or watching a sunset. Some people also like to spend quiet time in meditation, reflection, or prayer. You could even find a peaceful spot in your home to design your own meditation space.
- Practice gratitude. Appreciate what you have in life. These could be experiences, people, or simply the gift of life itself. Some people keep a gratitude journal where they take time to write things they are grateful for, while others practice gratitude meditation.
- Physical clutter can make your mind foggy. Organize your house and workspace, get rid of items you do not use, and arrange items neatly for easy retrieval.
Your self-care plan for well-being should be holistic. It should integrate practices to take care of your physical body, emotions, and mind. It takes being deliberate to schedule your self-care activities on your calendar and follow through. Remember that self-care is not a one-time deal; it is a way of life and takes consistency to significantly impact your life.
Note: This blog post article was primarily authored by Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com.
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