You talk about being healthy with others, you hear about it in the news, your doctor tells you to be healthy. But what does good health really mean?
First, we need to consider what “health” is. Health encompasses three main areas: physical health, mental health, and social health.
Being healthy is about being as free of disease as possible and managing any health conditions we do have within these three areas. The advantages of doing so are that we can live longer and in a more youthful manner, spending less time and money dealing with the consequences of living an unhealthy life.
While the definition of healthy varies somewhat from person to person given our genetic makeup, our environment, and other circumstances, it isn’t completely subjective. There are key building blocks that determine what can maximize everyone’s healthy based on years of science and research.
Physical Health: Good Diet and Sufficient Exercise and Sleep
Our physical health is related to how we treat our body. The factors that contribute to this are how we fuel our bodies (food and drink), how we move our bodies (exercise), and the recovery period we provide our bodies (sleep).
A healthy diet includes a mix of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy products. Sugar and salt are minimized, and alcohol is consumed in moderation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) MyPlate website outlines recommended food proportions.
Daily water needs vary by gender, level of activity and other factors. On average, 11-15 cups of fluids (from water, foods, and other sources) are suggested.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that we should get 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week that are ideally a mix of aerobic activities that get your heart rate up and strengthening activities that increase your muscularity. That may sound like a lot, but it’s only roughly 21 minutes every day. And you can exercise for less time if you do it vigorously.
In terms of sleep, 7 or more hours a night are needed for good health. This amount of time allows your body to sufficiently recuperate from daily activities and stressors.
Mental Health: Controlling Stress
Mental health is all about keeping our emotions, behavior, and thinking balanced. When we experience difficult situations, good mental health is about returning to a point where stress, the body’s reaction to certain situations or events, doesn’t negatively affect our physical health.
There are numerous ways we can manage stress to benefit our mental health. Exercising, eating well, relaxing are just some of those ways. The National Institute of Mental Health provide more information about stress and mitigating it.
Social Health: Having Relationships that Support Your Well-Being
Other human beings have a profound effect on both our physical and mental health. Our interactions with family, co-workers, friends, loved ones, and even total strangers can influence these two factors. Developing relationships with people who contribute to our well-being is key to our social health. The Johns Hopkins University provides some on the elements of a good relationship—regardless of who it’s with—and suggestions to nurture your social health.
The challenge of healthy living is being able to maintain the three health areas simultaneously, which isn’t easy for any of us to do.
In my capacity as a health coach, my mission is to help you pinpoint areas of your health to be improved and work toward achieving this healthy balance—both through my writing as well as working with you personally!