Everyone is looking for that magic pill. That next superfood that will be the key to eternal youth, or that exercise guaranteed to make our muscles balloon. Are these things indicative of health? Is this what our bodies really want? Where is the best place for us to spend our money in order to maximise our health? Tell us, tell us, tell us!
Ok… Guys and girls, I’ll tell you. But you may not like the answer.
Well, you’ll like the first bit. It shouldn’t cost you a penny. There is no supplement, machine, foodstuff or piece of equipment that is the be-all and end-all. The fact of the matter is simply this – our bodies evolved in the great outdoors, eating natural foods, walking amongst nature, absorbing sunlight, chasing prey, enduring harsh weather conditions and hanging out with our fellow cavemen & women. This is exactly what our bodies want and it is all our bodies need.
Fish Out of Water
Technological advancements we have made can be a gift, but when it comes to health they are far more of a curse. The levels of comfort we are able to live in these days are making us soft. Constant temperate temperatures, sitting or lying at most times, even to travel, often indoors out of direct sunlight, food that we no longer have to forage or chase, farmed on an industrial scale. This list could go on & on… The point of the matter is, technology and our lifestyles are advancing rapidly, but our physiology has barely changed in 1000’s of years.
Imagine a plant, except now we’re going to try and grow it in astro-turf, under some office lighting while watering it with Red Bull – do you think it will last long?
Just because we are wholly more robust than the plant in my example, doesn’t mean that we are not killing ourselves.
In Maldon, where I live, there is a statue of a man on the promenade called Brythnoth. He was killed protecting our shores in the Battle of Maldon in 991 AD. Why do I tell you this? Because when he was killed he was 68 years old! This is over a 1000 years ago and he’s living to a similar age that we do now – These ‘advancements’ aren’t helping us!
So, How Do We Support our Long-Term Health?
The answer is simple – everything in moderation. We must actively seek to subject our bodies to mild stressors. If we are constantly only exposed to comfort, then our tolerance to that which is ‘uncomfortable’ will be severely reduced.
Things to include:
- Lift heavy stuff.
- Spend time in direct sunlight (at least 20 mins a day).
- Go for a walk (at least 20 mins a day).
- Drink water (2L + per day).
- Sleep (8 hours minimum a day).
- Eat fruit & veg (varied & lots!)
- Expose yourself to hot & cold temperatures.
- Breathe deeply.
- Move your body – challenge those tight spots.
- Elevate your heart rate.
None of this is ground-breaking, but it is the fundamentals. Take this list with you and try to tick each individual point on it, every day, for 1 week. Then see if you still require that magic pill.
Things to avoid:
- Refined Sugars
- This includes alcohol!
- Processed Foods
*Not an exhaustive list
We all know these things. Sometimes it just takes a little discipline to start acting upon them. If you have the discipline to get up to go to work on the dark December morning, maybe because you’re worried about being told off by your boss if you didn’t. Then there can surely be no excuse to not implement this list, as if you don’t, your body will certainly be waiting in the wings to give you a telling off in the future.
Author - Alex Dorrington - Personal Trainer & Mentor
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