The 8 Modalities of Wellness
The physicians at www.heart.org and I observe that people who work out regularly have a higher standard of living. You can see the obvious results in the body, but the improvements do not stop there. People who exercise tend to be more emotionally stable and confident. They tend to flourish in other areas of their lives. They also tend to be happier and more fulfilled. There is a reason for this. Improvements in one aspect of your health have positive benefits throughout your life and overall health. Your wellness is a puzzle, and all the pieces fit together.
Exercising regularly, getting adequate rest, drinking enough water, and eating properly translate into a healthier body. Cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility improve. This allows the body to work efficiently. This, in turn, boosts the immune system, and reduces the risk of many everyday injuries.
The physical benefits from working out can spill over into our other selves, too. This entry will focus on how physical fitness improves the other aspects of health. But remember that all systems are integrated. We could discuss how any of the other facets affect physical wellness in their own ways.
Emotional & Psychological wellness
The emotional and psychological are bound together in this category, although they are not one and the same. A combination of personality, genetics, life experiences, and hormones controls our emotions. There isn’t anything you can do to change most of these; however you can still affect an immediate improvement in your mood by working out. Physical exertion releases a cocktail of hormones that impart feelings of euphoria, excitement, pleasure, and serenity. Together they promote a sense of achievement and pride.
Working out during a bad mood, a fit of anxiety, or a bout of depression fosters a sense of discipline and reward. It causes a release of endorphins that improve attitude and bring the world back into perspective. Physical fitness encourages a perspective of contentment and accomplishment. (Color also strongly affects you, so wear them appropriately to positively affect your mood and motivation!)
When you approach physical fitness properly, it proactively involves and conditions not only the skeletal, muscular, and circulatory systems, but also the central and peripheral nervous systems. What does that mean? Exercise creates new synapses in the brain.
Yes, exercise makes you brighter, not dimmer. Dumb jocks are only one substrata of the fitness community. There are many athletic people who are also incredibly intelligent. For the vast majority of people, physical exercise is a beneficial endeavor. It improves self-image, motivation, cognition, psychological development, teamwork skills, leadership skills, confidence, and identity development. For some, however, exercise can become an obsession. This is not the column to discuss the phenomenon in depth, but be aware of this potential pitfall.
Relationships with other people are a vital aspect of achieving balance. People, for the most part, need interaction with others. It is common to suffer a variety of stressors as a result of isolation. Disconnection is unhealthful.
The synergistic effect of physical, emotional, and psychological health is the appearance of being attractive. It is common to see people who exercise enjoying a fulfilling social network. Being active generally implies being out and about. It put them in a position to meet people. Participating in activities and events gets a person in the mix.
Whether you make friends at the gym, while out walking, or playing a favorite sport, you will be more apt to meet others who share your interests. In non-athletic situations, people who are physically powerful are attractive to others, because they often radiate poise, stability, beauty, and/or happiness. Cliché or not, appearances are valuable, and those who are fit are magnetic to others for a variety of reasons.
Appearances are valuable. We see repeatedly in the professional world that physically attractive people make more money than their plain counterparts. As ridiculous as you may think that sounds, the fact remains that people who are healthy and attractive have more opportunities, even if they aren’t necessarily more qualified. Why?
As I mentioned before: People who are physically fit are less likely to take sick days. This cuts down on their demands on insurance and adds to their productivity. They are more likely to project an image of contentment, constancy, sociability, and success. They are appealing to other people. In short, they put forward a pretty face for the business, and that brings in more business. Companies want to be attractive to clients. Healthy, physically fit professionals are very good at serving that purpose.
This aspect of your wellness is not about religion. It concerns your relationship with the world around you and your sense of purpose in life. Physical fitness, for many spiritual people, is an extension of the idea that the body is a temple. In the Western monotheisms, although believers often associate the body with sin and decay, they also believe it resembles the image of a higher power. The image of this higher power itself is sacred, therefore our bodies are also holy.
Taking care of the body and keeping it strong allows an individual to act for the betterment of the world. It makes the individual a contributor to creation (and therefore an extension of the deities in question). You don’t have to do crunches for the greater glory of Jesus. But being fit does mean that you take care of yourself, and are perhaps better able to contribute something positive to a cause external to yourself.
Alright, time for a fun fact. According to new medical research, men who have two orgasms a day have a greatly reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. The jury is still out on cervical cancer, ladies. The Victorians could not have been more wrong. Masturbation and sex do not cause fatigue, mental illness, nervous disorders, or wasting. Sex and pleasure contribute to good overall health. Just remember to practice your sexuality safely. The consistent and proper use of condoms is still an important part of your wellness regimen.
Aside from the physical benefits enjoyed throughout the body because of exercise, the reproductive system is generally at its best when the rest of the body is conditioned. Again, all the body’s systems work together. A connection between athleticism and reproductive vigor is evident in the way we perceive “beautiful.”
When forming attractions, it is common to associate strength with beauty. Strength implies health, and health implies “fitness” (in the Darwinian sense). In other words, we have evolved to desire healthy people. So you have a better chance of preventing prostate cancer (and possibly cervical cancer) by being in shape.