Health, wellness, fitness and nutrition are among the hottest topics at present. Yet in the midst of so much information, some of which might even sound conflicting, it’s important to clearly understand what is involved in a healthy lifestyle. What it does not involve is also a very important area for a proper perception of the subject. This is because widely circulated general recommendations often prompt people to make wrong conclusions. Jumping from one fad diet to another, sporadically going to the pool to do a few dozen laps or occasionally going for a walk on the beach to get some sunshine do not lead to a healthy lifestyle. It also does not involve turning to special nutritional supplements or weight loss medications in order to lose weight and get into the perfect shape.
The physiotherapists at Health Point Physiotherapy specialize in women’s health and we have developed our unique Health Maintenance program. Let’s review a few factors which are involved in attaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In order to get the optimal results it is best to implement the suggestions outlined below as a whole rather than only some.
Consuming 2-3 servings of raw fruit and at least 5 servings of raw vegetables daily.
When we cook vegetables and fruit they lose their nutrients in the cooking process, so it’s best to eat them raw as much as possible. Also the cooking oils/sauces which are often used in cooking do not help with weight loss and maintaining health.
Making sure that you drink 1.5-2L of water daily.
Drinking water has many health benefits and is important in order to prevent a number of problems, such as dry skin and mouth, headaches and, with more severe dehydration, confusion, fatigue, dizziness and others. Also water significantly helps with detox. It’s also important to remember that it’s often easy to disguise thirst as hunger, and then eating something when what your body really needs is water.
Eating higher calorie foods for breakfast or lunch and keeping dinner very light. Also trying not to eat after 6pm.
By having heavier foods earlier on in the day your body will have more time to burn the calories as opposed to eating late.
Including good fibre and healthy fats.
A healthy diet does not mean that you need to completely eliminate carbs. This will be hard to sustain and our focus is not on diets but on a healthy lifestyle. It’s therefore ok to have wholegrain or wholemeal bread, pasta and rice occasionally, just make sure it’s not the refined white flour. Healthier options include yeast free breads, such as sourdough, spelt or brown pasta and brown rice.
Make sure that you also include good fats in your diet, such as avocados, nuts and olive oil as they will help us lose weight.
Research has shown that there is a direct link between sleep and weight. It’s best to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. This will help you to remain motivated and on track to reaching your goals. Avoid too much stimulation before going to bed, such as listening to loud music, watching action movies, using caffeinated drinks and doing vigorous exercise before going to bed. Also try to avoid using ipads, smart phones and laptops before going to bed as the bright blue light produced by these devices stops your body producing melatonin - a chemical responsible for making us sleepy. Try to relax and keep your bedroom temperature between 18-22°C.
Appropriate exercise program
- Strong core muscles which help to treat/prevent back, neck and joint pain and allow you to exercise safely and effectively
- Stronger abdominal muscles
- Generally improved muscle tone and strength
- Improved overall body shape
- Good posture
- Stronger pelvic floor muscles which will help to manage/prevent incontinence
Clinical Pilates classes, which are conducted by experienced physiotherapists, unlike Pilates instructors, is the usually preferred over regular Pilates. At Health Point Physiotherapy the first step is always our thorough full body assessment. This allows us to identify your areas of strength and weakness, diagnose the cause of your aches and pains and develop a unique program tailored specifically to your needs. The first session also involves the routine use of Real Time Ultrasound which allows you to see how your core muscles work, making sure that you are activating them correctly.
We are often asked whether Pilates alone will help to lose weight. The answer is no. While Pilates will help you to tone up and improve your body shape you need to do in combination with cardiovascular exercise in order to lose weight. Cardiovascular exercise can include power walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and others – just make sure that it’s something that increases your heart rate and that it’s an activity you enjoy.
Another concern women often have is making sure that they don’t bulk up as a result of exercise. You can rest assured knowing that this won’t happen. The reason why men bulk up is due to the hormone testosterone which is hardly present in women. So while exercising will help improve your figure it won’t make you bulk up.
Last but not least we want to discuss the importance of sun exposure. A lot of people believe that sun avoidance and regular application of sunscreen are necessary for good health. This, however, is not entirely true and needs clarification.
While it’s definitely true that excessive sun exposure is risky and should be avoided, sunbathing safely will help you look healthier as well as aid in the biosynthesis of vitamin D. Modern research has shown that vitamin D is necessary for prevention of osteoporosis, diabetes and many other diseases.
So how do you sunbath appropriately to get the best results while avoiding overexposure? The answer will depend on your skin type, work and leisure activities, health, and other conditions.
Here are some general guidelines though which will help:
- sunbathing for up to 15 minutes per day, away from the water, up to 11am and after 4pm is generally safe
- make sure you spend roughly the same time sunbathing on your back and on your stomach
- slowly build up your sunbathing time up to approximately 30 minutes in total
Remember that these are only general recommendations. Discuss this further with your doctor or physiotherapist.