Wellness in the Body
Wellness is a relatively new word. For those who grew up in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, you will remember physical education in the school system. “Wellness” meant that you could run around the football field 13 times and climb a knotted rope in the gym — while dressed out, of course.
Today, wellness encompasses much more than physical activity. It involves the entire body, mind, and soul. Physical strength and endurance are certainly included, but so is meditation, healthy eating habits, stress reduction, relaxation and reflection, attention to sleep, and a focus on mental well-being.
Wellness and self-esteem are closely tied. If you feel good about your body and your physical appearance, your self-esteem improves. If you feel well, meaning that you have an absence of physical illness, your self-esteem improves. If you are mentally relaxed and healthy, your self-esteem improves. If you are relatively stress-free, your self-esteem improves.
Get Up and Get Out
Daily exercise is one of the keys to wellness. Fitness experts, wellness gurus, TV infomercials, and even medical professionals tout the benefits of just 20 minutes of exercise daily.
Exercise can consist of working out in a gym, lifting weights, running, swimming, kickboxing, or simply walking briskly around the neighborhood. Exercise does not need to be something that is dreaded or something that costs you $123 a month, but it does need to happen in your life. Exercise improves your ability to fight illness and your ability to bounce back from an illness.
There are several types of exercise that can help you work on your physical and self-esteem health. The three leading types of exercise are strength exercise, stretch exercise, and cardio exercise.
Strength exercising involves concentrating on your muscles and muscle groups. This includes lifting weights and doing pushups, sit-ups, and exercises to strengthen the muscles in the stomach, arms, back, legs, and neck.
Stretch exercising concentrates on stretching the muscles in your body. Techniques such as yoga are in this category. Cardio exercising is working on strengthening your heart and lungs. Good cardio exercises include running, jogging, swimming, cycling, rowing, skating, aerobic dancing, kickboxing, and the like.
Finally, there is cross-training exercise — a workout that includes each of the three types of exercises — strength, stretch, and cardio. You might consider doing fifteen minutes of stretching exercises, thirty minutes of aerobic exercises, and twenty minutes of strength exercises to complete a well-rounded program. Always check with your physician before you begin an exercise regiment, especially if you are overweight, over sixty, smoke, and/or in generally poor health.
Exercise aids the body in many ways, but specifically, it helps the body to release endorphins (a natural body chemical) into the bloodstream. Endorphins help fight stress by calming the body.
Exercise does more than strengthen the body and keep you physically healthier; it also helps relieve stress, decreases the potential for depression, and subsequently, helps you build healthier self-esteem.
An exercise program can begin as a simple, brisk walk down the street. When you begin your program, keep the following tips in mind:
Choose an activity that you like to do.
Make exercise a daily routine.
Do simple things like taking the steps and parking further from stores than usual.
Exercise with a group of friends to help time pass more quickly.
Don't do the same thing every day; vary your workout.
Join a group at a fitness center (aerobics, kickboxing, tai chi, etc.).
Work in the yard raking leaves or sweeping the sidewalk.
Purchase an inexpensive treadmill and weight set for your home.
By keeping with your exercise program, you will not have to wait six months or a year to begin to feel and see the results; you'll begin to notice a change in your life in just a few weeks.