Regular exercise has been proven time and time again to promote health and wellbeing. However, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Aside from pushing ourselves to hit new personal records on the bench press or grinding it out on the treadmill, there are many other ways to optimize our health outside of the gym that deserve just as much attention.
1. Supplement With All-Natural Herbs
For thousands of years, many human populations have utilized plant-based medicines to remedy various health ailments and promote well-being. Today’s medical approach largely favors pharmaceutical-grade solutions over plant-based equivalents, but there are many botanical supplements and herbs that can play a foundational role in supporting good health.
The Ashwagandha plant has been utilized in traditional Indian medicine for hundreds of years. More recently, the plant has become increasingly popular in the western world as an “adaptogen,” a classification of natural substances that are thought to assist the body in coping with stress. One study found ashwagandha to be comparable to the commonly-prescribed drug lorazepam in alleviating anxiety.
Kratom is a fine powder derived from the Southeast Asian mitragyna speciosa plant. Although the plant has been historically utilized by indigenous populations for centuries, kratom’s global popularity has soared in recent years. Consumers have embraced all-natural kratom as a remarkably effective alternative to medicines like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and others.
2. Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease With a Plant-Based Diet
Vegetarian and vegan diets have been skyrocketing in popularity lately, and for good reasons. According to dozens of studies, plant-based diets have been found to be health-positive, while diets high in animal proteins have been routinely associated with harmful health effects.
The Mechanisms of Heart Disease And How To Avoid It
Heart disease is the most common cause of death worldwide. In 2014, 23.4% of deaths in the United States were caused by heart disease. Despite these alarming statistics, few people seem to be aware of the causal connection between diet and cardiovascular health.
The term heart disease encompasses several heart complications, including heart attacks and strokes. Most heart disease is the result of plaque building up in the arterial walls, in a phenomenon called atherosclerosis. When plaque hardens in the arteries, it hinders blood flow throughout the body and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
However, atherosclerosis is preventable and as some studies have shown, even reversible. By reducing consumption of cholesterol-rich animal products and replacing them with high-quality plant sources such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, you can reduce your risk of atherosclerosis and promote health and longevity.
3. Eliminate Exposure To Airborne Contaminants
Many people closely examine various facets of their lives in order to optimize their health. We watch what we eat, keep tabs on our weight, and get further insights into our bodies with health metrics such as blood pressure, heart rate, and lipid profiles.
But, as it turns out, one major contributor to health issues is something we can’t see – at least, not with our own eyes.
Airborne contaminants include gases, dust, molds, and chemicals that are invisible to the human eye. And unfortunately, when these microscopic particles are inhaled by humans, various health complications such as cancer, asthma, and allergic reactions can occur.
Studies have found that both short-term and long-term exposure to particulate matter is linked to the development of cardiovascular, respiratory, and skin diseases. Although exposure to these hazardous particles is typically highest in debris-heavy environments such as construction sites, particulate matter can also be present in homes, offices, and schools.
By monitoring the air quality of your environments, you can reduce your exposure to particulate matter and airborne contaminants. If you work in an environment where poor air quality is unavoidable, consider investing in a respirator or mask to prevent toxic inhalation.
4. Get Regular Blood Tests
As visually-minded creatures, we often evaluate our health externally using metrics like weight, BMI, and body fat percentage. However, closely examining our internal health can often provide us with more accurate insights into our own well-being.
Routine blood work provides a “snapshot” of what’s happening inside our bodies and can help us spot lagging nutrient levels, identify potential health risks, and even discover allergies and intolerances.
Best of all, getting your blood tested is generally quick, relatively painless, and inexpensive in comparison to what you could be paying down the line for more drastic medical procedures and interventions.
- Getting a Complete Blood Count panel (CBC) can alert you to the presence of infection and disease
- Lipid panels can help you assess your risk for cardiovascular disease
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panels (CMP) can help you examine your kidney and liver function
- Nutrient panels can provide you with an accurate picture of your body’s levels of essential nutrients and vitamins such as iron, vitamin B12, zinc, and others
5. Optimize Your Sleep
The fundamental role of sleep in maintaining optimal health is widely understood, and the consensus is clear. Without proper sleep, our body’s ability to function,
Good sleep hygiene is associated with increased cognitive function, improved healing, and optimal hormone levels. But despite sleep’s pivotal role in maintaining good health, many people in today’s world simply aren’t getting enough.
According to the United States CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), 1 in 3 American adults are undersleeping – and the ramifications could be devastating. The CDC lists getting less than seven hours of sleep a night as a risk factor for developing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other severe health complications.
Sleep and exercise go hand-in-hand, too. Studies have found that sleep deprivation reduces muscle recovery, which, over time, can compromise your performance and results in the gym.
The importance of getting enough rest is highlighted even further when you examine the relationship between sleep and testosterone, the hormone responsible for muscle growth. This study found that restricting the sleep of healthy males to just five hours for one week lead to a noticeable drop in testosterone.
Plan & Take Action!
From supplementation to sleep, there are dozens of other avenues for optimal health that exist outside of the gym. If you’re looking to lead a healthier life, we encourage you to invest in yourself by examining and exploring these often overlooked wellness factors. Each will play a formative role in ensuring health, happiness, and prosperity.