Five Pillars of Fitness: Get Healthy, Holistically

Have you wanted to become healthier, but in a world of supplements, group exercise classes, and protein shakes, don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve been hitting the gym four days a week with no results, and now you’re wondering why you don’t see any gains. Try working on a more holistic view of your health by working on the five pillars of fitness! The five components of fitness are a great place to start your fitness journey or even focus in on a specific aspect of your health, so you can reach your goals. Below are the five pillars of fitness and easy steps that you can take to work on improving each aspect of your overall fitness!

Mental Strength and the Mind-Body Connection

The first aspect of fitness, and arguably one of the more overlooked ones, is the mind-body connection. The mind-body connection is the theory that your thoughts and attitudes affect your well-being and vice versa. But where do you start with improving your mind-body connection? Try giving to others, participating in spiritual or religious activities, or even just sitting outside in the sun for a few minutes.

Who Does the Mind-Body Connection Help?

The short answer is everyone! Strengthening the mind-body connection can help healthy people, as well as help with the management of chronic mental and physical illnesses. Having a robust mind-body connection can help manage ailments like stress, stopping smoking, weight loss, chronic pain, insomnia, and substance abuse. Working on the mind-body connection during spots of chronic pain or during hospital visits may even be helpful in reducing the pain or reducing the time spent in the hospital!

Movement and Exercise

Exercise may as well be a foundation for your wellness rather than a pillar: regular activity can lead to stress relief, an increased metabolism, weight loss, and other excellent health benefits! To get the most out of your exercise, consider switching up the intensity, duration, and type of workout. Cross training is excellent for this– whatever you decide to do, make sure it contains full-body weight training, aerobic conditioning, flexibility, and some core training. High-intensity exercise, which is usually shorter than other forms of exercise, is the most intensive form of activity with the most bang for your buck! Exercising around five to seven times a week, with varied intensity, is the most optimal way to work out.

Exercising with Help

Are you having a hard time getting in the time to exercise? Try an exercise app with reminders, an exercise buddy, or a personal trainer to get you in the groove! Workout apps, like Nike+ Training Club, JEFIT, or Fitbit are all great for getting you into a workout routine and keeping you in the habit! Personal trainers at gyms around the country can give you essential skills, hold you accountable, and help you get the gains that you want! Group fitness classes are also a great way to get you into a routine and switch up your workouts, keeping you interested!

Nutrition and You

The third pillar of wellness is nutrition. What you put in your body, especially in the recent trend towards processed, fatty foods, is becoming increasingly important. Almost as important as what you put into your body is how much you digest– as nutrition also covers gut health. Learning how to prepare healthy meals and snacks, having social support, and planning your snacks and meals are all significant steps to take to eat healthily.

Nutritional Aides

Are you in need of some help with nutrition? The best way to determine your calorie intake and the number of macronutrients would be to see a dietician, but if that isn’t an option for you, consider MyFitnessPal or a similar app, where you log your food every day. The apps give you an estimate of how many calories and nutrients that you need to be eating every day, and sends you reminders to log your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you never miss a meal! Body scans, which tend to be available at most gyms and some YMCAs, are great tools to use when beginning a diet. They often give you a basal metabolic rate, or how many calories your body burns just by existing, and body fat percentage, as well as ranges of weight and body fat to shoot for, all of which can take some of the guesswork out of dieting and goal-setting.

The Science of Sleep

Sleep is another pillar, arguably one of the most overlooked ones, of fitness. An average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. If you aren’t getting in your approximately eight hours, it often is due to unmanaged stress and heightened cortisol levels in your blood. Turning off your screens, managing your stress, and getting a consistent sleep cycle are all great ways to up your time spent sleeping.

Stress Management

The fifth pillar, which goes hand-in-hand with the fourth one, is stress management. Being relaxed and laid back can lead to a better attitude, more quality sleep, improved digestion, and more efficient exercise, which then plays into all of the other pillars. Participating in spiritual or religious contexts, meditating, and taking time for yourself throughout the day are all great ways to work on managing the stress in your life.

Do you have a pillar that you need to work on or any tips on how to improve your well-being? Leave a comment in the comments section below!

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