Two little words… ‘health’, ‘fitness’. Easy to say, they roll off the tongue together so easily and without hardly thinking about them. We see magazines filled with articles headed by those two little words – all professing to give the best advice (or at least opinion). Television programmes are interspersed with infomercials extolling the virtues of fitness equipment or health regimens, or both… and all the while the world’s population is becoming less and less healthy and more and more unfit! So, how do we remedy the fact that those two simple, slip-off-the-tongue words are not so easy to put into practice?
First we have to recognise just what ‘health’ means – it refers simply to the human state of physical and mental well-being. ‘Fitness’ is, in general terms, a loose reference to the physical condition of the human frame, internally as well as externally. Most physical instructors agree that to have a fit body you first must cultivate a healthy mind. Nutritionists will argue that you cannot hope to enjoy a fit mind until you are sporting a healthy body! The truth is, of course that the two go hand in hand. We need to apply the oriental teachings of Yin and Yang – the balance between the physical and the mental condition of we mere mortals.
HEALTH FIRST OR..?
All we really need in order to be both healthy AND fit at the same time is the correct mental approach. The yin and yang referred to earlier is an ideal way of expressing the nuances of health and fitness. The literal definition of ‘Yang’ in Chinese is ‘light, sunshine’. In Chinese cosmology ‘Yang’ and its complementary opposite ‘Yin’ are the fundamental principles of the Universe – yin meaning ‘shade’. Thus, by providing the light and the shade for our health and fitness programmes we automatically apply the balance required for that which we are seeking.
How do we manage this? Well, it’s fairly easy if we remember the saying ‘little and often’. If we exercise often, but without it being excessive, that’s fine. By the same argument, if we eat a little several times a day, again we achieve our goal. Several small meals each day rather than one big one only hours before retiring has been shown by the health gurus to be far more beneficial to one’s health and overall fitness. A useful axiom to remember is: ‘Eat like a King at breakfast, a Prince at lunch time and a Pauper at dinner’.
That way the body has a high store of energy to work on from early in the day, but is not trying desperately to digest a large quantity of nutrients just when the body’s metabolism is about to ‘close down’ for the night.
Now there’s a dirty word – to some even the thought of something called ‘exercise’ is off-putting in the order of things labeled ‘Health and Fitness’.
But exercise doesn’t have to be a labour on its own. Exercise can be almost anything you want it to be because you don’t have to join a gym and leap around with a gaggle of other damp and possibly even non-aromatic individuals, all with the same objectives – to lose weight and/or get fit… whatever that might mean!
Apply a mental thinking approach of balance to your programme of exercise. Run or walk briskly on a regular basis. Set yourself a target of one and a half kilometres (a mile) each run/walk to begin with. Time yourself over that distance and check the time after each; you’ll soon notice that the time shortens and the breath lengthens. Some people don’t like running – that’s fine, do what you are comfortable doing. If you don’t like walking well, I guess it’s back to the gym with a bottle of perfume. All in all, what you do for exercise is totally a matter of personal preference. Push ups, press ups, sit ups, crunches, bunches, weights or rowing machines are for those who enjoy the activity, and perhaps, the company of other like-minded folk. In the final event, you are the one to decide which regime is best for you.