Our current Western society has adopted a mantra of “getting healthy.” Conversely, we are posting disproportionately high levels of obesity and mental illness. In order to reach that vague goal of “good health” it’s important to consider the definition of health, why we sometimes fall short, and how to attain that vague standard.
Just like a machine, we want our body to run smoothly with no “sputtering.” Our body requires good quality fuel that is appropriate for its particular mechanisms. Some lawn mowers run best when they are “fed” a mixture of gasoline and oil, while race cars require fuel blended with alcohol to produce the desired results — speed. Using that model, a 21 year old athletic young man requires lots of food (calories) to maintain performance. You can practically hear his metabolism humming simply be standing beside him!
An elderly woman has very different nutritional (diet) requirements. She must have an adequate amount of calcium as her bones may lose density. Sodium intake must be monitored, especially if she is experiencing higher blood pressure. Because her metabolism is markedly slower than her aforementioned counterpart, consuming the same quantity of calories would add unwanted weight since she cannot burn fuel at the same rate.
Our younger man is more naturally active in competitive or leisure sports, therefore he burns more fuel. But for the elderly lady, this is no time to give up on physical activity — quite the contrary. Although this is no time for her to jump into competitive triathlons, a sensible amount of physical activity must be included in order to maintain overall health. If she does not exercise, be it walking or yoga, her muscles will begin to atrophy. That may leave her compromised in a variety of areas, such as muscle tone, appetite, immunities and so on.
We shouldn’t forget mental health and it’s relation to physical health. If an individual is attempting to lose weight, he/she will not stay on their diet plan if their mindset is telling them they are not worth the effort. Depression, for example, can lead to isolation and a sedentary lifestyle which manifests itself in overweight, lowered immunities — even suicide if not addressed. While keeping ourselves physically active, we must not neglect social activity. Leading an active and loving social life not only enhances the quality of our mental health, but our physical health as well.