A Healthy Body Promotes a Healthy Mind

“It’s widely acknowledged that a healthy body equals a healthy mind,” says Dr. Dregan from Psychological Medicine.  Have you come across this saying sometime in your life?  Have you wondered as to its validity?  Surely, it must be a safe bet if so many doctors preach this philosophy.  But, since it’s easier to equate sitting on the couch with a slice of chocolate cake as happiness, we might toss the whole “healthy body, healthy mind” notion to the back end of our thought stream.  However, in a world where people are living longer, and health and fitness journals abound, it wouldn’t hurt a thing to give some serious consideration to this theory.

One of the first things that might spring to mind is the word endorphins.  We’ve come across the word a time or two.  People say they’re going to go for a run to get those endorphins moving.  Essentially, endorphins are hormones produced within the body which benefit the brain.  Your body produces an array of hormones that are beneficial, adrenaline being another popular one.  When we exercise, our bodies cheer, releasing higher levels of these helpful hormones.  Yes, if we truly understand and appreciate our bodies, they will give off their own natural and healthy highs – one that no drug or swig of alcohol can provide.

So, let’s take a further look at this theory, and think about how we might further promote these natural highs.  After all, who doesn’t want to be happy?

What Are Some Ways to Maintain a Healthy Body?

Nothing that’s about to appear in this list below will be earth-shattering.  However, if you pause just for a moment and reflect today, then you might find yourself incorporating these tips into your life tomorrow.  I wouldn’t say we can change our entire course of life in a week, but slowly implementing one of these tips, week by week, could surely turn the tides, giving us that enviable healthy body, healthy mind.

1. Drink more water.

Why is this constantly being preached?  Goodness, who really enjoys standing in the kitchen and sipping on a cold glass of water?  I suppose those who have recently gone jogging for five miles, but we’re not there quite yet.  On any given afternoon, feeling a bit restless, just as you’re about to sit down and enjoy your favorite TV show or work on the computer, are you craving that cold glass of water, or are you thinking about that Arizona iced tea, Pepsi, or chocolate milk?

Well, the truth is, we ingest all kinds of “junk” into our bodies all day, every day.  With every bite of food being somehow processed or filled with sugar, there needs to be a way to wash that stuff out of our bodies.  Water is the secret key to unlocking the door to the garbage and letting it flush right out of the house.  Imagine a fast-flowing stream.  It’s sure to pick up debris and other non-essentials from the bedrock.  Water can do the same for your body.

If you’re not a fan (hop on the long line), then try tea.  Consider green tea, hot or iced.  If we opened the door to the land of tea, you’d…be…astounded.  There are endless flavors, endless benefits.  I’m not saying become a tea connoisseur, but definitely, definitely think about opening that Pandora’s box someday.

2. Drink less alcohol.

I know.  Insert heavy, sorrowful sigh.  But, alcohol truly is a toxin to the body.  Yes, yes, there are those handy benefits to red wine.  But, we’re talking about a meager four ounces of wine as the “allowable” limit in that scenario.  The benefits to alcohol start to become negated when we’re moving onto our second or third beer or glass of wine.  Now, alcohol is quickly approaching the villainous category.

It’s all true.  Alcohol dehydrates the body, dehydrates the brain.  It’s loaded with sugar, all of it, and that does a number on the kidneys over time.  Our poor livers have to work harder on any given where it has to deal with alcohol, as opposed to, say, that glass of peach oolong tea.

Yet, it can be difficult to achieve the lofty goal of laying off the alcohol when the world seems to revolve all social activities around having a drink – dinner, happy hour, picnics, barbecues, days at the beach, bowling, and on and on.  However, if, at some point, you can make the switch from wine to, say, seltzer, your body will cheer for you.

3. Exercise every day.

Every day?  Impossible.  I’ve got work.  I’ve got kids.  I’ve got night classes.  I’ve got an ailing parent to care for.  I need, at least, an hour to relax in the evening.  Exercise is not happening.  Like the water bandwagon, hop right on.  It’s hard.  It’s one of those things where we don’t want to do it, but after it’s done we feel great.

Truly, there exists no magic pill to make this lofty goal happen.  It’s just something you have to ask yourself.  Am I worthy of having a fine-tuned, well-oiled machine of a body?  If the answer is yes, then start small.  Take an hour’s walk every morning.  Start somewhere; start anywhere.  Just consider yourself worthy of a happy life.

4. Eat your greens.

Stop picturing your grandmother there in her apron, shaking her wooden spoon at you.  And, eat your greens.  The darker the green, the better.  Lettuce, avocado, lime, broccoli, brussel sprouts.  It’s not fun.  But, perhaps you’ll serve your fish on a bed of sautéed spinach, instead of beside a loaded baked potato.  Perhaps you’ll have a cobb salad, instead of a juicy cheeseburger, medium rare.

That’s just one healthy choice per day.  And, okay, once in a while, head out to that Sunday barbecue and have that burger and beer.  Wash it down with the brownies and the ice cream.  The thing is, you’ll appreciate and smile over those treats the more they become just that – a treat, and not an ordinary thing.

What Will Happen Once We’ve Improved the Health of Our Bodies?

1.  You will feel proud.

Enter the mind, stage right.  As you, slowly but surely, start to see the benefits to these few, small, weekly changes, you will start to realize you did this.  You brought this positive effect into your own life, all on your own reconnaissance.  Recall that time you worked hard for two weeks and pitched that amazing presentation to the higher-ups.  You felt so proud that all your hard work materialized into a spectacular presentation, and the looks of that PowerPoint presentation didn’t hurt a thing.

Well, all the hard work you’re putting into the health of your body will make you feel as though you’re doing something meaningful, and you are!  One of the side benefits to that work will be similar to that of the good-looking PowerPoint presentation.  On the exterior, your clothes won’t tug and pull.  They’ll just sit pretty on you, as they should.  Comfort, confidence, and a greater sense of accomplishment all wear themselves well on one’s sleeve.

2.  Your skin will clear up.

This is not a teenage acne sort of thing.  This is a brightening to the skin.  This is a lack of redness or splotchiness.  This is a tightening to the otherwise dehydrated flesh.  Think of all the sodium we ingest.  Think about the talk we already had about alcohol.  Skin needs hydration, vitamins, and care, too.  With every bite of something green, we’re swarming our body with healthy vitamins and minerals.  Walking hand in hand with those better-fitting clothes, healthy, glowing skin is not too shabby a benefit.

3.  Your heart will smile.

Whenever I cook up an old fashioned pot of oatmeal, I see that Heart Healthy sticker boasted proudly on the center of the container.  I wonder what this means.  Turns out, whole grains and oats work magic on the body, too.  With every bite of red meat, every sip of wine (beyond those meager four ounces), our heart becomes the target for the disrepair we bring upon our bodies.  Letting your heart pump after a robust morning walk, and then filling your body with vitamins and minerals seems like a cleansing, rewarding way to start the day.

4. You just might live longer.

Turn the spotlight on your best friend’s grandmother who smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish and lived the ripe old age of 97.  That cannot be explained, unless you want to get into the whole “higher power” debate.  Shall we stack the many, many men and women who have suffered heart attacks or strokes due to an unhealthy lifestyle against that lovely old grandmother, who probably has the best stories to tell?  Unfortunately, that stack would be shocking.  There’s just no way around the glowing testament that good health and proper nutrition provide.

So, in the very simplest, borderline-oversimplified terms, you can equate mind with mood.  Feelings of accomplishment, clearer skin, a stronger heart…  These will, more than likely, boost your mood.  With that added spring in your step, it’s a straight shot down center field.  Your mind will be happy, healthy, and whole.  Like anything else, the mind is a terrible thing to waste, and so is the body.  Why not contribute vitamins, nutrients, and good choices to your individual makeup?  That sense of accomplishment, that ensuing transformation will really turn a light on and turn your life around.  Let’s take it one small step at a time, and let’s live lives filled with happy, healthy minds that rejoice alongside the happy, healthy body that’s just glowing with pride.  Good luck to us all!

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