Your General Health
When people think of their health, they often consider it from a purely physical level. They also assume that if they have a healthier body, that is, they aren’t sick or tired, and have a thin waistline or good muscle tone, then they are truly an icon of strength and wellness, but there are many subtle aspects involved that need attention. The ‘appearance’ of healthiness simply isn’t good enough.
Consider the forty-year old man who looks like the perfect physical specimen. He has rock hard abs, runs twenty miles a week and juggles a demanding job along with a new family. His wife just had a baby this year. One day he goes out for his morning jog and has a heart attack. What gives? How can someone who seemingly represents impeccable fitness suffer such an egregious demise? Surely his wife and new baby want to know what went wrong.
Or, consider another woman, in her late teens. She is getting ready for college and has been on her college basketball team as a starter for three years. All her friends look at her as a shining example of good form and fitness. She makes straight A’s and comes home from nights out with her girlfriends before curfew. One day, during the last game of the season, she runs across court to defend a three-pointer that would tie the game, and she pulls a hamstring. She is out of the game and can’t return, and now her college scholarship is in question because she could be benched her entire first semester away from school. She is schocked that she has injured herself so badly and can’t even get up to walk normally as she stands. Her recovery will take months.
Or consider the well-being of a young child just beginning kindergarten. She has loving parents who would do anything for her, and they really want her to succeed in school. They have been taking her to a playground near their home so that she can get fresh air everyday, and she loves to be active, but they have also been feeding her lots of refined sugar and packaged foods, often stopping at drive through restaurants for dinner since both parents work long hours. She has been falling asleep at her desk at school, and her teachers can’t figure out why. She is developing a little chubby belly, even though she has grown well past her baby-fat years. Her parents don’t understand what is wrong. In her latest tests she scored very poorly, even though her teacher has mentioned that she seems bright and willing to learn.
These stories are indicative of societies relationship to health. In the first case, the 40-year old man had such high stress levels, that his cardiovascular system was severely compromised, and while he looked incredibly fit, he could have benefited more from a morning yoga class, that helped him lower his resting heart rate and learn to control his breathing in stressful situations, rather than take another six-mile run.
The teenager, could also have benefited from a stretching routine to balance out all her running and endurance training, and the long hours she spent in the gym as a means to stave off injury and keep her joints and ligaments strong, especially since she was demanding so much from her body on a daily basis.
The parents of the kindergarten needed to pay more attention to their child’s nutrition, since school-aged children often score 30% lower on standardized tests when they eat poorly, and often suffer from numerous concerns when subjected to the ‘typical’ American diet.
True health is a combination of mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. It does not stop at just not being sick, or having a great physique. Great vigor and overall wellness is a delicate balance between strength, endurance, flexibility, proper nutrition and a peaceful mind. Without one of these elements, you are simply falling short of your most realized self.