Wednesday, 28 August 2013

What is a healthy lifestyle?

We convince ourselves that this is complicated. There are lots of different answers and it seems like the details are always changing. I hear this from patients all the time. One week they're told that wine is good for them....the next week don't drink it. Exercise.....don't exercise too much. Use margarine, olive butter!

Truthfully pursuing a healthy lifestyle is pretty simple. Although there are a lot of recommendations there are some universal truths about getting and staying healthy. And you will see these repeated on lots of websites and books and by many organizations and experts. Although some of the details might change, the big picture stays the same - the fundamentals of health are what we need to pay attention to.

Check out the list below and take a few moments to reflect on your own health status. You might be very focussed on one component (nutrition) but way off on something else (sleep). I often meet people who talk a lot about food and exercise but not about the other fundamentals. And we know from research and statistics that these can make a big difference to your health.  

So in general what should we all be thinking about....

Fundamentals of a Healthy Lifestyle:
  • Nutrition: Fuel the machine! We need to fuel our bodies with the right nutrients and ditch the calorie-rich nutrient-deficient foods we are crowding our plates with. 
  • Exercise: You don't have to run any marathons (although some do). But we all need daily "moving time". It doesn't matter if you are walking, running, dancing, or playing squash. 
  • Sleep: It isn't just the kids that need 8 hours of shut eye. The big kids need sleep too. Shut off the TV, the computers, and the mobile devices and hit the hay a little earlier. 
  • Drugs & Alcohol: Nicotine, alcohol, street drugs, and....brace yourselves....caffeine. Yep I said it. Caffeine is a drug. These are all really tough on the body and mind. 
  • Emotional Health: Stress is a killer. Some stress is a necessary but excessive stress over long periods of time does damage whether it comes from work, home, or problems in relationships. 
  • Balance: Simply put we all need some play time. Working overtime or mismanaging personal time (aka "overcommitting") causes burnout and all the sleep in the world won't fix it. I also believe that creative time is therapeutic whether it's painting, music, or knitting. 
  • Screening: Not all conditions have screening tests. But lots do and it can be very helpful to catch a problem early and deal with it. Could be a simple blood test, a mammogram, or a fecal occult blood test (affectionately known as The S*%t Kit). Some tests are very worth doing. 
  • Immunization: Accessible and free in Canada. We can prevent a lot of very serious diseases with some simple, and relatively painless, immunizations. 
  • Self-protection: No I don't mean full body armour. Although sometimes that might help. Protecting yourself can mean wearing your seat-belt, wearing a helmut, going to the dentist, or anchoring the ladder down when you are cleaning the eaves troughs. 
Any plan for improving health and lifestyle must be tailored to suit your individual needs. Which fundamental health component is a priority for you? Where are you lacking? What do you think you are ready to change this year, this week, today? How have your priorities changed because of your age, your family, or a medical diagnosis?

In future blogs we will talk about choosing your health priorities and how to make change. There will be lots of info coming on each specific fundamental with ideas for how to eat & exercise, screening tests you might ask for, and how to get a good nights sleep.  I also hope to have guest bloggers who are experts in various fields including nutrition, exercise, & rehabilitation.

Stay tuned and thanks for visiting Getting Healthy with NP Sam

To comment on this blog please click on the pencil icon below.


Health Canada. (2013). Healthy Living: Lifestyles. Viewed at
Mayo Clinic. (2013). Healthy Living. Viewed at 

Coming Soon: "Lifestyle Profile - Which one are you?"and "Making Change - How to get started."
And we will be starting "Real Fast Food" and "Whole-some Weekend" posts with pictures & instructions for quick, tasty, healthy meals. 

No comments: