The following is an excerpt from our upcoming book, Don’t Stop Now: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life.
Physical health is the foundation of a good life, but for many of us, having and maintaining a healthy body is a challenge. We can change some things—such as diet, alcohol consumption, and exercise—but other things—like osteoarthritis, cataracts, and even some cancers—are part of the aging process.
You’ve heard it before and perhaps you know it from firsthand experience: growing old is no fun at all. There’s no way around the fact that losing some of our physical abilities just plain sucks. While some of the challenges to our bodies are unavoidable, others are clearly our own fault. Your inner track star or cheerleader is now a distant memory, and because you’ve stopped using your body, it’s easy to believe you’ve permanently lost it. If that’s how you think, you’re simply fooling yourself into believing a myth. Even if you’ve been sedentary for years, you can do something about it. It means taking baby steps at first, but eventually—if you get out of your own way—your body will choose health.
In assessing your physical health, you might want to think about your lifestyle.
Can you do most of the things you want to do, or are you limited in some way that is out of your control? If you lost the fifty pounds your doctor has been nagging you about for the past ten years, would it make a difference? Are you getting enough sleep and drinking enough water? What about the long-overdue knee or hip replacement? What’s stopping you?
If you were born with a physical defect such as a bad heart or have a genetic propensity for high cholesterol or diabetes, what’s the reality of your situation? Are you using poor health as an excuse, or are you doing what you want in spite of your circumstances or limitations?
What, exactly, do we mean by physical wellness? We like this definition: “The physical dimension of wellness encourages cardiovascular flexibility and strength and also encourages regular physical activity. Physical development encourages knowledge about food and nutrition and discourages the use of tobacco, drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption. Physical wellness encourages consumption and activities that contribute to high-level wellness, including medical self-care and appropriate use of the medical system.”