Begin Your Life of Wellness Today
Recently, the World Health Organization published the global status report on physical activity 2022. The report identifies that regular physical activity promotes both mental and physical health for people of all ages. It is never too late to become more active.
I am a public health doctor who focuses primarily on prevention, and I am a fitness buff. I engage in physical activity daily by walking my dog, riding my bicycle or lifting weights. I see the benefits of wellness in my life, and I readily recommend it to all.
These are five practical ways to live a life of wellness. Of course, some of these recommendations are easier to do regularly with time, resources, and a safe neighbourhood, but any little bit can make a difference.
First, exercise as many days a week as possible. John Rohn, an American entrepreneur and motivational speaker said, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Exercise is a simple, effective way to take care of our bodies. It doesn’t require an expensive gym membership; you can build regular exercise into your daily routines. For instance, if your office is in a high-rise building, consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to your bus stop. If it is not far, consider walking to the restaurant for lunch instead of driving from your office. Doing these small steps each day ensures you get your daily 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise as recommended by the WHO.
Secondly, eat healthily by consuming nutritious meals and fruits, especially those available locally. Nigeria is blessed with nutritious vegetables, fruits, meats and others. Let me simplify it. People think of expensive exotic fruits such as apples, grapes etc when they are asked to take fruits. In contrast, there are more affordable fruits that are equally as nutritious such as oranges, watermelon, pineapples etc. Most importantly, we must prioritize fruits that are in season because they are cheaper. How foods are prepared is also important, for instance, we shouldn’t fry tomatoes for too long because it will kill their nutrients. Instead, we should fry tomatoes under low heat and for a short period. Also, let us also make it a habit to eat washed fresh tomatoes. The benefits of eating fresh tomatoes include reduced risks of heart disease, boosted immune system, and lowered blood cholesterol levels.
Third, drink at least three litres of water daily. We know some Nigerians may not have easy access to clean water. A way to deal with that is to ensure you boil your drinking water. According to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control, the benefits of adequate water consumption include the prevention of dehydration improvement your mood, prevention of constipation, prevents the formation of kidney stones and helps manage one’s body weight. My friend, Angela Ochu-Baiye, founder/CEO of Jela’s Development Initiatives encourages us to get a ‘water bottle of life’ – one that has a volume of at least 1 litre. This makes it easier to keep track of the amount of water consumed daily.
Fourth, reduce the consumption of alcohol. Consuming too much alcohol is not good for the body. Short-term consequences of alcohol include changes in hearing, vision, and perception; loss of coordination; and trouble focusing or making decisions. In the long term, alcohol leads to a weakened immune system (you might get sick more often); changes in libido and sexual function; and changes in appetite and weight. On a day that alcohol is consumed, two drinks or less for men or one drink or less for women are recommended. Though, the best fluid to consume is water.
Lastly, buy health insurance for yourself and your loved ones. Less than 5% of Nigerians have health insurance. This must change. There are monthly private health insurance plans that cost 2,000 Naira and state plans like Niger State health insurance that costs 7,200 Naira yearly. Living a life of wellness means being, financially ready to pay for treatment and laboratory tests when needed. Having a health insurance plan is a cost-effective way of being ready. Having health insurance means you can screen for some health conditions such as physical fitness, hypertension, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, kidney function etc. These screenings are preventative and help ensure wellness.
An Igbo proverb says, “Mgbe onye ji tete ụra bụ ụtụtụ ya’ – “Your morning begins when you wake up”. You can decide to begin a life of wellness today.
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