1. Air: The most critical element for energy, or even life, is oxygen. Without Oxygen we would die in just a few minutes. Since it is just about everywhere and it’s free and easy to get you would think getting enough would never be a problem. However, in order to receive a good supply of oxygen we must breathe properly. Unfortunately, unless we are a long distance runner or athlete we get into the habit of taking shallow breaths through our mouths using only the chest muscles around our rib cage. To ensure we receive enough oxygen for good energy we need to breathe deeply using our diaphragm at the bottom of our lungs. Breathing through the nose helps filter and warm up the air before reaching the lungs. Breathing this way will deliver much more oxygen to our bodies for increased energy. Do the following exercise to increase your oxygen supply and get into the habit of breathing correctly:
Take a full breath in, using your diaphragm and breathing through your nose. Count to 5 slowly(count thousand one, thousand two, etc) as you breath in. At the end of 5 counts do the same thing as you breathe out fully. Do this 5 times to complete the exercise. Complete this exercise 5 times each day until you get into the habit of breathing this way. You can tell this works because if you take in really large breaths too quickly you will get a little dizzy.
2. Water: The second most important element for life and energy is water. We can only live a few days without it. 60% of our bodies are made up of water and some parts an even higher percentage. Our bodies cannot function properly without an adequate supply. Some of the most critical uses is to digest our food and deliver fuel to our muscles (through blood) to burn for energy. It is also used to expel carbon dioxide and waste from our body. Again, since water is so easy to obtain in this country you would not expect the lack of water to be a problem, but it is with a large percentage of us. A good “rule of thumb” to ensure we consume an adequate supply is to consume at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. You may need more at times if you are doing something that may cause you to perspire heavily. NO!! Coffee, beer, wine and many other liquids we love do not count due to their dehydrating properties.
3. Food: This is by far the most complicated of the six items I will discuss and it would take a long time to fully cover it so I will just make a few comments. Good food is critical to our bodies for energy, health and life. People have been known to live for months without food because of all the fat and other sources of energy stored in their bodies, so, in that sense, it is not as critical to life in the short term as the first two items. The type and amount of food we eat will determine our quality of health and weight as well as our energy levels. Since this element is much more costly and more difficult to obtain than the first two you would expect all people to suffer a lack of food. However, in this country we seem to consume too much, especially the bad foods.
One thing that makes this subject so complicated is that we hear so many different and often conflicting reports on which foods are healthy and which aren’t. One of many examples of that is; I heard since I was a child how important dairy products were to my good health, but now, after some research, I have read several reports stating how unhealthy dairy products are, especially for adults.
You would expect the FDA and our politicians to help us out on this important issue but they actually make it more difficult for us. They do more harm than good. We have to be very careful about what reports we believe. When we hear the results of a new research project that may find certain foods or drinks are good for us it’s always a good idea to check to see who funded the research and, if you can, find out if there are any political contributions involved that may sway the report one way or another.
It’s also very easy to get sucked in by great marketing. Skilled marketers can make just about any food seem much better and healthier than it is. A great example is some of the soft drink commercials. Watching their commercials make you believe you can’t live without their product when in most cases it is very unhealthy. Also, some foods are good for some of us and bad for others because we are all different.
Another major source of confusion is all the diets you hear about. In the long run most diets don’t work nearly as well as simply using your common sense and eat the way you know you should. If you need help seek a good registered dietician. There again, what works for some of us may not work for others.
4. Exercise: Our bodies are made to move, not sit in one spot all day. The old term “use it or lose it” definitely applies to our muscles and energy supply. Our bodies will adapt to the conditions we put it under, either good or bad. One great example I see of this is the ever increasing number of men I see with their heads tilted forward and their bodies slumped over. What do you think causes this? If you spend a large part of your day every day slumped over a computer or cell phone your body will retain that shape. However, there are simple things you can do to prevent or correct this problem. The longer you let it go the more difficult it is to correct.
Experts say we need a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week that elevates your heart rate(cardio) and keeps your muscles working properly. If we don’t do this it will gradually become more difficult to move and our energy supply will continue to decline and be stored as fat. There are many other bad things that will happen to our bodies if we don’t get an adequate amount of exercise. If you want to keep the fat off, you need to eat and drink the way you know you should and keep up your body’s metabolism. The calories you burn during the exercise are usually not as much as the extra calories you burn all day long with a higher metabolism.
I walk and run 2 and one quarter miles to my gym and back about four times per week and I work out at least 45 minutes each time. I can honestly say I like doing that so it is not difficult for me to do. When I walk or run I feel like I weigh 100 pounds when I actually weigh 200! That’s a great feeling! It makes me sad to think that many other people don’t or maybe never experienced that feeling.
Just like your muscles, it’s also very important to exercise your brain frequently. No! Watching TV or movies does not exercise your brain; however, there are certain games that will.
5. Rest: Your body, primarily your brain, needs a certain amount of rest in order to repair, rebuild and recharge itself. If we don’t receive the required amount of rest it will have a bad effect on our bodies and energy supply the next day. All our bodies are different so we all need different amounts of sound sleep. The most common amount we hear is 8 hours but for some people it could be a little less.
6. Attitude: Our attitude is extremely important, not only to our energy supply but our quality of life. The great news is this may be the easiest of the six items to adjust and control and likely the most important for you! It’s difficult for most people to comprehend just how much effect their attitude has on the quality of their lives. We all know people that seem to smile and be happy all the time and we know those that complain and seem to be in a bad mood all the time. This happens even if both people live under the exact same conditions. If you think you are tired you will be tired. If you think life is difficult it will be difficult. Do you remember the old quote “Whether you think you can or you can’t you are correct”? Just a simple change in your attitude will have a huge effect on your life, either good or bad.