Health – The Pil­lars of Good Health

These days it seems that we are bom­barded with ex­hor­ta­tions and mes­sages about health and fit­ness, some promis­ing ‘the earth’ whilst ask­ing you to do lit­tle in re­turn ex­cept part with your hard earned dol­lars. I have a par­tic­u­lar is­sue with ‘weight loss’

Business First - - CONTENTS - by Lau­retta Stace

In my opin­ion, an ob­ses­sion with an in­di­vid­ual’s ‘weight’ or ‘weight-loss’ is a neg­a­tive mes­sage. Firstly, it fo­cuses pri­mar­ily on body im­age as op­posed to gen­eral health and well­be­ing. It also sug­gests that by be­ing over­weight, the per­son has failed in some way, so it’s very judg­men­tal. Over­weight and obe­sity in so­ci­ety is an ex­tremely com­plex is­sue, heav­ily in­flu­enced in Aus­tralia and other de­vel­oped na­tions by the so­cial de­ter­mi­nants of health, which are the con­di­tions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. It’s not al­ways just sim­ply the prod­uct of “en­ergy in/en­ergy out”.

We all know that ex­cess weight (read ‘fat’) is an im­por­tant risk fac­tor for a range of chronic health con­di­tions. How­ever, I don’t think it’s help­ful to keep beat­ing this par­tic­u­lar drum. I doubt that over 60% of the pop­u­la­tion have pur­pose­fully set out to be­come over­weight. It has hap­pened and now we must fo­cus our ef­forts on un­der­stand­ing why this has oc­curred and what needs to change in our so­ci­ety, en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture to make some pos­i­tive and long-term changes to this statistic.

The fo­cus for our mes­sages should be on health, ac­tiv­ity, fit­ness and well­be­ing, not weight­loss. These el­e­ments are more pos­i­tive and in­spi­ra­tional. They are also non-judg­men­tal. But the best thing about these mes­sages is that they are sim­ple to con­vey and un­der­stand.

When think­ing about well­be­ing, the sim­plest method is to go back to ba­sics and look at four foun­da­tional pil­lars of good health – rest, ex­er­cise/move­ment, nu­tri­tion and hy­dra­tion.

1. Rest

Both the qual­ity and quan­tity of healthy sleep is im­por­tant. A lack of sleep af­fects our men­tal and phys­i­cal per­for­mance and mood. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. A rest­ful night will pro­vide you with the en­ergy to tackle your wak­ing hours with gusto and put you in the right mood to bet­ter man­age ev­ery­day stresses.

2. Ex­er­cise/Move­ment

A mix of aer­o­bic ex­er­cise plus some strength­en­ing and stretch­ing ex­er­cises through­out the week on a reg­u­lar ba­sis will help to keep you strong, fit and flex­i­ble at any age. Ex­er­cise also gives you an en­ergy boost and en­hances your mood.

3. Nu­tri­tion

Your body needs reg­u­lar nu­tri­ents and en­ergy from food to func­tion well. The food that you choose should nour­ish your body, not ag­gra­vate it. Eat more of the foods at each meal that don’t need fancy food la­bels, like fresh and nat­u­ral sources of protein, veg­eta­bles, whole­grains and fruits. Eat less or avoid highly pro­cessed foods that con­tain ex­ces­sive su­gar, sat­u­rated fat and salt.

An­other tip – be ‘present’ and pur­pose­ful when you eat. If you eat when you are dis­tracted or stressed you are more likely to make less nour­ish­ing food choices and/or con­sume ex­ces­sive amounts of food. So plan your meals and snacks pur­pose­fully and take a break from other dis­trac­tions when you are eat­ing.

4. Hy­dra­tion

Wa­ter is pure and free! Ditch the pro­cessed drinks, save money and im­prove your health. Limit the in­take of drinks that de­hy­drate the body in­clud­ing al­co­hol and caf­feine.

If you are able to get these four el­e­ments right most of the time, then bet­ter health and well­be­ing will gen­er­ally fol­low. This in­cludes ef­fec­tive weight man­age­ment. So, my the­ory is that if we fo­cus our mes­sages on the four pil­lars of health and well­be­ing, and en­gage our so­ci­ety more of­ten in these con­ver­sa­tions, we won’t need to keep talk­ing about weight man­age­ment be­cause it will just be one of the out­comes of health­ier liv­ing.

As busi­ness lead­ers, I be­lieve that we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to as­sist oth­ers to lead healthy, pro­duc­tive and pur­pose­ful and more joy­ful lives. We also have the reach and in­flu­ence to make this hap­pen. By liv­ing in align­ment with the pil­lars of good health and leading oth­ers by ex­am­ple, we can in­flu­ence many oth­ers and make a real dif­fer­ence to the health and well­be­ing of so­ci­ety.

‘ The fo­cus for our mes­sages should be on health, ac­tiv­ity, fit­ness and well­be­ing, not weight-loss. These el­e­ments are more pos­i­tive and in­spi­ra­tional.’

Lau­retta Stace is Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Fit­ness

Aus­tralia. fit­ness.org.au

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