Health Careers Journal

25 Health and Fitness Tips That Health Professionals Wish We All Knew

If someone asked you what the most important thing in your life is, what would you say? Some people say it’s their health but their actions prove otherwise – often due to misinformation or simple lack of knowledge. Here are some health and fitness tips that should be common knowledge but aren’t.

(Please note that while various health resources and professionals were consulted, this article should not be construed as medical/ health advice.)

beer mug1. Alcohol is not a food group.
The way so many people consume potent potables, you’d think it was the secret elixir of life. When you drink excessively you eat less because the caloric intake of alcohol keeps hunger at bay. This of course means that outwardly you may stay relatively trim, but inwardly you’re starving your body of appropriate nutrients. Not to mention, you’re damaging brain cells and shrinking your brain, creating water and electrolyte losses, and doing a variety of other damaging things. There is a very good reason why studies in the U.S., Canada, Britain, etc. have listed alcohol as one of the most dangerous drugs in the world.

2. You deserve a break right now.
Taking a break from work once in a while does not put you behind, despite popular opinion. It helps by letting your mind and body rest, thus preserving your health and sanity. The alternative is to keep working and burn out, which weakens your immune system and eventually sets your work back.

3. Stress will kill you.
Actually, it’s not so much the stress that will kill you, but your reaction to it and your way of dealing with it. It’s been estimated that somewhere between 75 and 90 per cent of all visits to health care providers are for stress-related ailments. Life is full of stress. There is no getting around it, but there are ways of dealing with it and finding outlets for it. Everyone is different in this respect. Some people need to find ways to let it out, others channel stress into activities, and still others need techniques that lessen it. Regardless of what works for you, the most important thing you can do is to not ignore stress and think you can’t do anything about it. Find time to deal with it; find a starting point.

4. Most people don’t know the symptoms of a heart attack.
It’s surprising but a U.S. report shows that about one in four adults know the symptoms of a heart attack. With the incidence of heart problems in both sexes growing due to stress, poor diet, and thyroid disorders, it’s important to be aware of all the symptoms.

woman holding cat5. Having a pet can reduce stress.
It’s not a new belief that having a pet such as a dog or a cat can be good for us, especially if we’re single and lonely. That might stave off depression. New research shows that having a cat might be more beneficial than having a dog, and that this might reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. (The fact is, dogs are also more work to take care of in general, and .)

6. Sex can help relieve stress.
People sometimes say “no” to their partners if they’re feeling stressed or have a headache. Some people have other reasons for not having sex. But because orgasm causes an all-body relaxation, having sex can actually help you through headaches and stress. So be like Madonna and have lots of sex. Just not with Guy Ritchie, or you might end up talking like Brad Pitt’s mumbling Mickey O’Neil character in Snatch.

7. Thyroid disorder can reduce libido.
If you are saying “no” to sex because you just don’t feel the urge, you might have a thyroid problem. This can reduce your libido and fertility, male or female. (Obviously, this is not a problem that Hollywood is having, considering all occupied celebrity vajayjays out there.)

8. Thyroid disorder can cause depression and debilitate you.
In addition to lowering libido (mentioned above), thyroid disorder can also cause weight fluctuations, hair loss, severe depression, heart problems and numerous other problems. While having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have a thyroid problem, it is a growing health issue – possibility due to accumulated fluoride use.

9. Depression can cause heart disease.
This is tied in with thyroid disorders (above), but depression can come from other sources as well, and is now being tied to potential heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.

10. Happiness does lead to good health.
Seems pretty obvious, right? And, I can hear many of you saying that if you had more luck, more money, less stress, etc., you’d be happy. Wrong! You wouldn’t, not necessarily. Being happy is a way of looking at life. The happiest people in the world are not always the luckiest, they are the ones who are able to deal with whatever comes their way and not let it get to them. Have you ever noticed that you actually feel better when you’re happy? That’s because your body’s systems respond to your emotional state.

11. There is no quick way to get fit.
One dangerous development in the area of health over the last 20 years has to be the proliferation of pseudo-health professionals. This includes annoying celebrity spokespeople spouting inane gibberish about how easy some idiotic new workout is, and how it will quickly and easily get you fit without ever having to change your lifestyle. Bull! Nothing in life is easy. Well, except maybe avoiding the truth. Getting fit requires hard work, dedication, time, and consistency. It does get easier once it becomes part of your lifestyle, but it can’t ever be truly easy or it would have no actual benefit. There is an old saying that you cannot get to “there” by standing where you are. If you want to become something else, you cannot hold on to what you are right now. Getting fit requires giving up old habits and replacing them with healthy new ones that will continue on throughout your life – something no fad workout you see on TV can do, because you’ll get bored with it just in time for the next new craze.

12. There is no easy way to lose weight.
This is not the same as the last tip. Getting fit and losing weight are two completely different things. In fact, if you want to get fit, throw out your weigh scale. You’ll never need it again because you’ll be forever enraged to discover that you’ll probably be heavier as you get fitter. (Note: this tip only relates to those people who are within about 10% of their target weight, not for people who really do need to lose large amounts of weight). Muscle weighs more than fat, even lean, toned muscle. Losing weight has absolutely nothing to do with getting fit. That’s why you hear all those fad drugs, diets, etc., talking about losing weight without exercising. They are all part of the group of people who feed your misconception that thin is healthy, or if you’re not thin, you’re ugly and worthless.

13. The term “diet” is often misused.
A diet is the entire scope of the food you consume, not a quick way to lose weight or get healthy. If you learn nothing else in respect to your health, learn this: fad diets are harmful and will end up making you fatter and less healthy. In fact, changing your diet to “lose weight,” without adding in the appropriate amount of exercise, will likely reduce the amount of muscle mass you have (and may even raise the amount of fat). So you might weigh less, but it’s not exactly the result you’d want. Getting healthy requires changing bad habits, including the way you eat, and the amount and kind of exercise you get. This method may take longer, but it will also last longer – mainly because it is a permanent, positive change in the way you do things.

14. Being thin does not mean you’re fit.
Just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re fit or healthy. Case in point, many alcoholics and drugs addicts are very thin, but you’d never call them healthy or fit. Genetics, body structure, and the amount of fat cells you developed as a child will determine just how thin you can become, it has nothing to do with how fit a person is. Fitness is cardiovascular fitness, muscle stamina and strength, flexibility, etc. Learn to accept your body type and concentrate on getting or staying healthy enough to do the things you want to do, and should be able to do for your age group.

15. Extra pounds does not mean you’re unfit.
If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, it doesn’t mean you’re not fit. It’s human nature to get hung up on one thing and ignore all the rest. If you’re an active person who eats well, and looks after themselves in other respects but still can’t lose those last few pounds, don’t discount all the good things you’re doing to stay healthy. The worst thing you can do is look in the mirror or weigh yourself and become discouraged. Don’t give up all the good you’re doing.

16. Celebrity beauty is often an illusion.
Models, actors, and other celebrities don’t necessarily look that beautiful without makeup. Jamie Lee Curtis did an incredible photo shoot a few years ago where she allowed herself to be deconstructed on camera. She wanted to show how she looked all made up, tucked in, etc., versus how she looked for real underneath it all, in a bra and panties, with no make-up, no cinchers, no help of any kind. She wanted to show men and women that Hollywood and fashion are a world of make-believe. No one really looks the way you see in magazines, theatres, or television. Even in the days before digital technology, no photo of a model was ever shown to the public that hadn’t been retouched in some way by a very skilled artist.

17. Obesity is becoming an epidemic.
It’s all over the news but some people just aren’t getting it. It might be “your body” to do with as you please, but loading up on the wrong food can trigger Type 2 diabetes – which is as terrible and painful a disease as any other. This applies to both school-aged kids and adults. Even several celebrities of late, including Russell Crowe and Val Kilmer, have been photographed bearing a lot more weight than you’d ever see them with onscreen.

18. Just a little exercise goes a long way.
A thirty-year U.S. study shows that moderate aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of stroke. Just 30 minutes of daily brisk walking or something equivalent can cut risk by almost 40%.

19. Dance, little sister, dance.
Guys, too. If you don’t like exercise, try dancing. It’s and an aerobic exercise that doesn’t feel like one. And unless you’re a total grinch, dancing is fun and social besides. One health network held a dance for health event in late February that over 60 U.S. cities participated in.

20. Don’t treat your body like a forklift.
Whether you’re lifting weights while working out, or heavy objects at work or around your home, knowing proper technique is essential – especially if you’re stressed out. Do you know your limits, and know what equipment and supports you can utilize to help you, especially when your body is in an awkward position? Consider weight belts (even if you’re not working out), wrist straps, motorized dollies. Carry smaller amounts in repeated trips to minimize the stress and strain you put on your body.

21. Damage is cumulative and subtle.
It’s easy to get caught up in our busy lives and do things to our body that we know is wrong. Nothing may appear wrong. At least not for years to come. Those aches and pains you’re suffering from right now might actually be due to events from years ago. Whatever you’re doing now, you may not feel the repercussions today, but months or years from now, when you have a noticeable injury, you’ll wonder what happened. Maybe it was that day in high school or college when you and your buddies tried to carry the teacher’s car and high-sided it on a concrete barrier. Also, damage is cumulative. That one event may not have caused you any serious damage, but what it did do was teach you a bad lesson that you could get away with doing stupid things so that each successive stupid thing built on the damage the first one created.

22. Keep active medical records and family histories.
Even thought this seemingly benign tip can stir up heated debate, the core of what it does is never really in dispute. The idea that every patient should keep an active record of their medical conditions, treatments, and family histories, is not a new one, but with technology, changes in lifestyle, treatment options, etc., it has become a very important one. With people traveling more and seeing a variety of health care providers, these records would not only aid in diagnosis and treatment, but would help reduce incidences of “medical misadventure.”

23. Going to a doctor does not make you look like a weenie.
Men in particular seem to have a hang up about looking weak, which is odd since most men look up to their favorite athletes. Athletes see doctors almost daily. They have to because the stress and strain of their job requires it. So, if athletes are not weenies for getting every ache and pain checked, why are you? You’ve heard this before: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Just make sure you follow it.

24. Pharmaceutical drugs are not always the answer.
As much as society and many allopathic physicians have fallen into the trap of having a pill for every ailment, many doctors will tell you that they’d rather not prescribe medication unless it’s absolutely necessary. Pharmaceuticals, even the most benign and necessary ones, have side effects and can cause long-term issues that occasionally surpass the illness they were trying to resolve. Worse, they become a crutch and absolve the patient of having to address the issue that caused their ailment in the first place. Like someone who eats twice as much of a “light” food, patients often continue or worsen their bad habits when they know a pill will “cure” them. Pharmaceuticals also complicate a doctor’s life because it can mean there are fewer options for treatment when a patient develops a condition that really can be effectively and safely treated by a drug, but that drug can’t be used because it contraindicates another drug the patient has been taking.

25. Give yourself a starting point for change.
With our lives so busy these days, it’s often frustrating trying to find time to do something we want to do. That includes exercising, eating right, lessening stress, and so on. If you wait until you “have the time,” you’ll never have the time and you will never start. Set aside the time today to start doing things that improve your health and wellness. Start small so there is less chance for failure, but start somewhere. That small success will build and allow you to take a bigger step tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

For more health and fitness tips, check out One Big Health Nut.

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