Fitness for a Full Life

One of the most interesting things that I have watched during the past several years has been the rise of the health and wellness industry. Grossing in the hundreds of billions of dollars, even during the recent recession, it is easily one of the juggernauts of our current economy. Several pundits have connected the baby boomer generation’s desire to stay young and enjoy a full and rich retirement to this segment of the economy. Whether or not that is true, a gentleman of style and substance does well to remember these five things regarding a lifestyle of health and fitness.

Your health is in your hands. While it is true that none of us can predict whether or not we will be afflicted with a significant disease such as a form of cancer or involved in a life changing accident, everything outside of that is in our control. What we eat, when we eat it, how frequently we exercise, all of these things are well within our immediate control. And each of these things has a dramatic impact on the quality of life that we live.

What we put in impacts how we look. By that, I mean far more than the obvious implications of how we look when wearing a bathing suit or how our favorite suit hangs on us. What we eat and drink also impact things like our skin, hair and nails. Just because a man is no longer in the throes of puberty doesn’t mean that his complexion is no longer impacted by the pizza he had earlier that week. And the liquids we choose impact our smile, our skin and our voices, all aspects of how we are perceived by the world around us.

With that in mind, let me say something about supplements. Supplements have been part of my life ever since I had my first Flintstones chewable vitamin when I was five years old. Chances are the same may be said for many of us. But in today’s world it is wise for us to remember that supplements are supposed to be an addition to food, not a replacement for food. Too many people seem to be adopting the idea that they can eat all the junk they want at mealtime and undo the damage with a pill or five later in the day. This just isn’t wise.

Select a supplement that compliments the way that you currently eat, but remember to keep your eating habits sensible in both content and quality.

Exercise impacts the way we think and feel. When we are moving regularly, our blood flows more freely through our veins and makes it to the brain more easily. Several studies have been performed that demonstrate a correlation between exercise and learning, but a man of substance need only conduct his own test to see the value. Before the big meeting, go for a short walk, and maybe even include some push ups or other standard exercise. See for yourself if that simple test doesn’t aid you in being more successful in the meeting. Additionally when you take the time to work out, you will find yourself feeling more calm and confident around your peers, to say nothing of how you feel when confronting challenging situations, like a friendly game of pickup basketball or a quick football scrimmage in the back yard.

Get some sleep. Few things impact every facet of our lives as much as the sleep we get. When we were young, we were constantly being reminded that bedtime was important, and that 8 hours of sleep were necessary for a successful day. As we grew older, a badge of manhood became a shrinking need for sleep. It was nit uncommon for my friends and I to try to see how little sleep we could get by on. My record was 3 hours for 8 days straight.

What a foolish plan.

Sleep is critical if we desire to thrive. It allows the body to recover from the exertions of the day. Current research indicates that during sleep our bodies secrete human growth hormone, essential to the repair of damaged tissue. Weightlifting and other workout regimens are focused on breaking down muscle so that it can be rebuilt larger and stronger. There is also a growing body of evidence that indicates that during sleep our brains construct new neural pathways, making events and information learned during the day more permanent. As part of a fitness regimen, don’t forget to factor in time for sleep.

Play! Most of the fitness plans that I have seen have emphasized the importance of selecting activities that you enjoy. For instance, if you really hate running, setting a goal of running a marathon may be a tad unwise. And while I totally agree with the advice of selecting something that you enjoy for your fitness activity, can I add one extra thought to it? Focus on play.

Activities that burn calories and involve others can easily be found. And what better others to involve than your children. Play catch in the back yard, set up some small nets for soccer goals, let them come with you for a run or a ride, whatever you like, but give some serious thought to consider adding your children to the mix. They will love spending time with you, develop habits and appreciations that may last well into their adult years and, most importantly of all, form connections with you that will become bridges for future involvement in their lives. After all, no matter how old we get, we all need Dad sometimes.

So there you go. Five things to think about when it comes to a lifetime of health and fitness. I hope you have enjoyed this, and I hope you will find ways to implement these suggestions I your life.