Health and Fitness for Resilience
What does health have to do with resilience as civilization accelerates towards self-destruction?
There’s no need to state that being healthy is one of the most important things you can do, no matter the context.
But particularly in an age of ever increasing healthcare cuts, austerity, and economic inequality, it makes a lot of sense to be healthier.
In 2019, 43 people died in Venezuelan hospitals due to an electricity outage (it is estimated that many more died but were unreported), and 10,000 people with kidney failure couldn’t access their treatment.
Being ill puts people at a massive disadvantage during hardships.
Hurricane Maria killed more than 4,000 people and “many of the deaths were due in part to power outages that crippled medical and other services.1Hurricane Maria killed more than 4,600 people — more than 70 times the official toll of 64, study says.”
In a disasters, lacking access to medication, medical treatment, enough food and water, etc. can be mortal for ailing people.
What is a healthy lifestyle?
Everyone knows the basics: exercising, sleeping, managing our body-weight, eating well, hydrating, and quitting unhealthy habits.
Exercise not only brings you benefits by itself, but also can help you with the other basics.
In short, right exercise:
- Keeps your heart and lungs healthy
- Can help keep your mind healthy
- Strengthens joints, muscles, and bones
- Can help you maintain a healthy weight
- Helps prevent medical conditions
Right exercise is at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity (difficulty talking) or 150 minutes of moderate intensity (increased breathing, able to talk) per week.
Now the best exercises in the context of resilience and adaptation are functional exercises.
There’s nothing more ironic than driving to a gym to run on a treadmill.
In our context of living in an age with a declining Energy Return On Investment2EROI of different fuels and the implications for society and an increasing risk of runaway global warming, the best thing you can do is to use your exercise for something useful while reducing pollution.
Run, bike, walk instead of burning gasoline.
Cut wood with a saw or axe, shovel snow and do other useful manual labour that can get your blood flowing.
If you want to go the extra mile you can also do bodyweight exercises anywhere:
Right Food: you are what you eat
Eat a variety of healthy foods each day
Have plenty of vegetables and fruits
Choose whole grain foods
Eat protein foods
Make water your drink of choice
Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat
Be mindful of your eating habits
Cook more often
Enjoy your food
Eat meals with others
Use food labels
Limit foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat
Be aware of food marketing
I think one of the most overlooked aspects of a healthy lifestyle is
drinking enough water.
I’ve felt too many times the impacts of dehydration in my mental and physical abilities, and it makes sense that chronic mild dehydration has negative effects, however subtle, on our health.
How can you tell how well hydrated you are?
The best way is to check the color of your pee.
It’s not easy to define a healthy bodyweight because weight doesn’t take muscle mass into consideration.
I think the best approach is to focus on common sense and functionality.
We all have different bodies with their own conditions, age, and abilities.
Having some extra energy reserves in fat is healthy, and preferable. After all it’s our first line of defense against lean times.
But when your extra fat impairs your ability to do things like running, and increases the risk of damaging your joints, that’s when you should draw the line. Being overweight also increases your health risks.
Like I wrote at the start, having a medical condition puts you at greater risk.
Sleep deprivation is bad for your health. Most people need 8 hours of sleep a day, but some need less and some need more.
Quit unhealthy habits!
Smoking is not only bad for your lungs, it’s a financial liability.
And being sedentary at school or work, day after day is bad for your body.
The damage can be reduced by having quick breaks to get the blood flowing; that’s were body weight exercises can come in handy. Also things like pedal exercisers can help if you must work at a desk all day.
It’s a good idea to keep up to date with vaccines, and to get vaccines that you would get if travelling to the nearest country from the global South. As the climate changes, and as more people move around, the global North will be more exposed to diseases from tropical climates.
Medical Check Ups
Be proactive with medical check ups and dental care.
Forming habits takes 2-3 weeks of consistence and discipline.
To quit a habit you have to substitute it for another one.
Make little changes each time, don’t be too ambitious or you’ll burn out.
Weave it into your daily routine.
Try being a part of a group/community with a healthy lifestyle.
Mental health and physical health are connected.
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