Health refers to both your mental and physical state of being. You need to maintain a healthy mind and a healthy body so you can enjoy more at work, enjoy a fuller life at home and be around to enjoy the success you are creating for years to come. You owe that to yourself, your loved ones and to those you impact throughout the world.
Monitoring your physical health basics
For years people have looked at height/weight indexes to help determine overall health. That may be an okay method but we can do better. Overall health is more than simply maintaining a given weight for a given height. I would recommend knowing and watching the following numbers as a much better guide to understanding your physical health. You obviously want to be talking to and working with your doctor on these touch points but here are the basics:
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. This simple measure applies to both men and women and can be easily calculated. Your target should be a BMI less than 25. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has an easy to use BMI calculator located online at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/
Blood Pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps out your blood. High blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, your heart, your kidneys and other parts of your body. High blood pressure is a silent killer. If undetected and untreated it will cause major damage and lead to early death. Blood pressure can be easily checked and monitored by your doctor and yourself at home.
Normal pressure should be less than 120 Systolic and less than 80 Diastolic. Systolic is the measurement of the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood and Diastolic is the pressure when your heart is at rest between beats.
Cholesterol is a substance found among the fats in your bloodstream and in the cells of your body.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the major cholesterol carrier in the blood and is often called “bad cholesterol” because too much leads to excessive build-up in your arteries. This build up can lead to blood clots and cause a heart attack or stroke.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is known as “good cholesterol” and is thought to help remove excess cholesterol from your bloodstream lessening the chance for heart attack or stroke.
Our understanding of both “good” and “bad” cholesterol is getting better all the time. The optimum level for LDL would be less than 100 mg/dL while the higher the HDL number the better.
Do you know your numbers?
You need to get educated and stay on top of these basic numbers as well as any others your doctor feels are appropriate for your age and any current health issues. Your body does not come with a built-in digital display board to keep these numbers constantly in front of you. BMI and Blood Pressure can be tracked at home. Cholesterol tests require a blood sample to be sent for analysis. Discuss the best testing interval with your doctor and then stick to it. A healthier you means a more successful you.
Additional physical health notes
Take time to think about what you are feeding your body. The fact of the matter is that many of us typically over eat and typically consume too much sugar, sodas and refined products. The best foods are the ones eaten the way they came off the tree or out of the field instead of being processed and re-processed. Work on eating foods in their natural state and aim for five to nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each and every day. It takes some planning (i.e. use a shopping list) but you will be amazed at the payoff in your overall health and energy levels as a result of a better diet.
Physical fitness can be divided into two major areas. The first is cardio. Cardiovascular health has to do with the overall health of your heart and lungs. Proper cardiovascular health requires an exercise regimen that raises your heart rate. Thirty to forty-five minutes of cardio exercises four or more times a week should be the target (Work up slowly to this level - especially if you have not been working out on a regular basis). Calisthenics, aerobics, jumping rope, jogging and playing basketball are all ways to improve your cardiovascular health. If you are not breaking a sweat and not raising your heart rate, you are most likely not getting any real benefit from the exercise.
The second major area would be strength training. Strength training improves the strength and endurance of the major muscle groups in your body. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the minimum amount of strength training to be eight to twelve repetitions of eight to ten exercises, at a moderate intensity, two days a week. I would keep strength training sessions to less than 1 hour. The goal is not to bulk up for a Mr. Universe contest, but just to keep your muscles strong and healthy.
When I talk about mental health I am really talking about attitude and outlook. Your attitude about yourself and life in general greatly influences the level of success you will obtain. If you are positive, energetic and forward looking you will be ready for and will see the opportunities coming around the next corner. Conversely, if you are negative, worn out and always looking in the past the opportunities of tomorrow will pass right on by.
You need to be paying attention to the ongoing conversation on your head. Your brain and subconscious are always chattering. More times than not, if left unchecked, this mental chatter turns negative. I have always said in the absence of real information the brain fills in the blanks in a negative way. You have to be ever vigilant and take control of the conversation. Ask yourself questions that require a positive response. Do not ask why can’t I…? Ask how can I…? Give your subconscious something to work on that will help propel you forward.
The only person that can control your health is you. No one can eat right for you. No one can exercise for you. And no one can think for you. No matter what your age, you can always improve your overall physical and your mental health. It is never too early to start and it is never too late. The key is to just get off your butt, put a plan of action together and then follow the plan.