Fit Body, Fit Mind
“I don’t have time to exercise.” “I don’t have time to worry about what I eat.” “I don’t have time to be ill.” Do these sound familiar? Well if you invest time in striving for a fit body, fit mind, you will save time on the third.
What is the Link Between Fit Body, Fit Mind?
Most of us will agree that there is a clear link between our physical and mental wellbeing. Often when we stop taking time to look after one, we notice an impact on the other. Lives are busy, and these things don’t look after themselves. They need time and effort. They need planning, preparation and most importantly, perseverance.
“I don’t have time” must be replaced with “I make time”. It is important to make looking after ourselves a priority.
There will always be anomalies with any links, people who are physically unwell but with good mental health and those who are physically well but with poor mental health, however, on the whole, the connection is there.
It is important that we invest time to look after both and the correlation between the two is less the exception and more the norm. Physical wellbeing and a healthy body can simply mean an increase in activity levels. Not everyone likes sport or gym related activities, but this isn’t necessary for us to be ‘active’. Increasing the amount we move is a great place to start.
What Activity Works Best for You
We don’t have to be at our peak of physical fitness to have an impact on our mental wellbeing. Going for a walk is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to increase our activity levels. It is also one of the most effective ways to create an impact on both physical and mental aspects.
If your mobility is limited, then ‘Youtube’ can offer many videos that will offer you alternatives. Stretching and pilates or yoga for beginners will help increase your mobility. This can help raise your heart rate in a similar way to walking.
(Graphic courtesy of www.believeperform.com)
Different activities will have their own advantages. What is important is that you choose an activity that you enjoy doing. Something that is sustainable with your lifestyle and your existing commitments. Choose something that you can make a priority, an activity that you can look forward to and something that doesn’t feel like a chore. If it helps, find an activity that you can do with someone else so that you can help support and encourage each other as well as being accountable.
Don’t pay attention to what is the popular activity of the moment, to what everyone else is doing, or what the media are telling you is best. Find what works for you and stay consistent.
Enjoyment and sustainability are key here!
What are the Benefits of Being Active?
Increasing activity, in whichever way you choose can have the following benefits;
- Improved cognitive function
- Reduction in stress, anxiety and depression symptoms
- Increase in confidence
- Improved concentration and mental focus
- Release of ‘feel-good’ endorphins
This is not an exhaustive list; it is, however, the most common benefits of people who are active.
What Diet is Required to Keep us Active
A poor diet doesn’t just mean excess of calories, it also means the quality of food we eat.
Our body needs nutrients, minerals and vitamins to be optimal. 200 calories is not just 200 calories. It can mean 200 calories of a variety of nutrients or 200 calories of just energy/calories and very little else. Whilst we can physically function on the foods that just give us energy, we fail to take in what our body needs most to keep it healthy and functioning in the best possible way. Failure to provide the vitamins and minerals our bodies need can have a huge impact on our immune system, overall energy levels and cognitive function.
Focus on consuming a volume of good food rather than eating less. 200 calories of good nutritious food is likely to be higher in volume than a plate of 200 calories of foods that are predominantly fats and sugars.
As with activity levels, our nutrition should also be enjoyable and sustainable. Good food doesn’t have to be boring. Plan in advance and get adventurous with the foods you eat.
Different colours in different natural foods represent different vitamins and minerals. Plates of food should be filled with colour. ‘Eat the rainbow’ to make sure your intake is varied.
Think 1% Changes to Strive for a Fit Body and Fit Mind
Don’t try and make big changes. Think 1% increase or decrease of what you already do and start today!
- Park further away and walk, walk the long way around and walk and talk to colleagues at their desks rather than sending emails or calling.
- Take the stairs if you can.
- Take a quick walk in your lunch break. If you don’t have long then make it a short brisk walk.
- Join a class or activity with a friend and use it as catch up time.
- Plan your food. Look at your schedule for the week and plan for what you have time to prepare and the foods you have access to.
- Remember; not less food more good food. Eat a variety of foods that are rich in nutrients that will provide optimum fuel for your body.
- Aim for 80/20% rule of what you eat and drink. 80% should be made up of what your body needs. 20% of what your body wants.
- Decrease foods that contain high sugar and fat content by 1%. Excluding foods does not work for everyone so try reducing the amount you consume. (7 slices of pizza instead of 8!)
- Drink a glass of water by 10am/2pm/6pm/10pm. As you get into this habit, increase the size of the glass/bottle.