Physical Wellness — On the way to physical well-being

We all strive for physical health and overall well-being, but what is actually the key in the quest for the path to health and well-being?

The well-being is defined as good physical and mental condition [1]. That is, it is the ability to live an active and fulfilling life, to understand, accept and act accordingly [2]. Thus, we must learn to properly use and utilize our personal abilities.

What exactly does Physical Wellness mean?

Physical wellness is generally about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise [3]. Because, as Hippocrates said, “If we could give each individual the right amount of nutrition and exercise, we would have found the surest path to health”.

The 7 dimensions of wellness

To achieve general wellness, it is not only important to pay attention to physical wellness. Rather, there are 7 dimensions of wellness, all of which are equally significant to overall wellness [3]. In addition to physical wellness, the 7 dimensions of wellness include social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and environmental wellness [3].

While physical well-being refers to the right amount of sport and exercise as well as a suitable diet, social well-being is about good relationships with family and friends. Emotional well-being deals with the ability to understand and properly express one’s feelings rather than suppressing them. Intellectual well-being focuses on the ability to try new ways of thinking and improve personal skills in order to continuously learn and develop. Spiritual well-being is about finding meaning in life and includes meditation, prayer, or time in nature. Occupational well-being is concerned with the demands and enjoyment of the job, while environmental well-being focuses on mindful stewardship of nature and resources [3].

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So you can see how many aspects of life are important to our overall well-being.

Why are nutrition and exercise so important for our physical well-being?

Both our diet and exercise can alter various metabolic reactions in our body and thus contribute significantly to our physical well-being.

Of particular importance is that diet and exercise can reduce or prevent risk factors such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or elevated blood lipids, which are associated with an increased risk of mortality [4].

A suitable diet can, for example, compensate for an existing nutrient deficiency. This is absolutely necessary to prevent deficiency symptoms and associated diseases. Particularly through a high-fiber diet, the intestinal microbiome is changed in such a way that this also leads to positive changes in our metabolism [5]. This has an impact on blood sugar and cholesterol levels and can ensure that more positive messenger substances are released and our physical and mental well-being increases [6, 7]. In addition, it can reduce or prevent the risk of various diseases such as overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD), atherosclerosis, the risk of heart attack or stroke, and cancer [8, 9]. Again, Hippocrates already said, “Our foods should be cures, our cures should be foods.”

Sport and exercise have positive effects on physical well-being, for example by lowering blood pressure and blood glucose levels [10]. This reduces secondary diseases such as overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, sport has a positive influence on the psyche and has a mood-lifting effect [11]. In addition, the burning of calories reduces the body’s fat mass — including abdominal fat, which is harmful to health and active in metabolism — and builds muscle mass. This additionally counteracts overweight and obesity [12]. To quote Hippocrates again: “Walking is man’s best medicine”.

How do I achieve Physical Wellness?

In general, there are dietary patterns that are more suitable than others. For example, the Mediterranean diet is much more suitable for achieving physical well-being than a Western diet. While a Western diet has a high proportion of convenience foods, fried foods, sugar and pro-inflammatory fats, alcohol, and red and processed meats, the Mediterranean diet describes a predominantly plant-based and anti-inflammatory diet. In particular, the proportion of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fresh herbs and high-quality fats — the omega- fatty acids3 — from fish and olive oil is very high [8].

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that every adult should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise (such as swimming or cycling) or at least 75 minutes of higher-intensity exercise (such as jogging) per week [4]. Various scientific studies prove the positive effects of high-intensity training such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to slower sports such as Tai Chi on the general well-being [13, 14].

Nevertheless, the metabolism of each person is very individual. This also means that the same combination of exercise and certain foods may be beneficial and contribute to “physical wellness” for one person, while it may not produce such positive effects for another. This is exactly why personalized nutrition is becoming more and more important, which is about adapting nutritional recommendations to the individual needs of a single person.

With MillionFriends you can decode your personal metabolism for 14 days and thereby learn which combination of exercise and food is best for you and how you can achieve your “Physical Wellness”.

Bibliography

[1] Duden spelling. On the Internet: https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Wohlbefinden

[2] International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), 2022. On the Internet: https://www.icaa.cc/activeagingandwellness/wellness.htm

[3] American Medical Student Association, 2015. On the Web: https://www.amsa.org/the-seven-dimensions-of-wellness/

[World Health Organization, 2010. Global recommendations on physical activity for health. Geneva: World Health Organization

[5] Holscher, H.D. (2017). Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut microbes. 8(2):172–184. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2017.1290756

[6] Li, L., Ma, L., Fu, P. (2017). Gut microbiota-derived short-chain fatty acids and kidney diseases. Drug Des Devel Ther. 11:3531–3542. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S150825

[7] Adan, R.A.H., Van der Beek, E.M., Buitelaar, J.K. et al. (2019). Nutritional psychiatry: towards improving mental health by what you eat. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 29(12):1321–1332. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2019.10.011

Dinas, P.C., Koutedakis, Y., Flouris, A.D. (2011). Effects of exercise and physical activity on depression. Ir J Med Sci. 180(2):319–25. doi: 10.1007/s11845–010–0633–9

[8] Martín-Peláez, S., Fito, M., Castaner, O. (2020). Mediterranean Diet Effects on Type 2 Diabetes Prevention, Disease Progression, and Related Mechanisms. A Review. Nutrients. 12(8):2236. doi: 10.3390/nu12082236

[9] Lean, M.E., Leslie, W.S., Barnes, A.C. et al. (2018). Primary care-led weight management for remission of type 2 diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomised trial. Lancet. 391(10120):541–551. doi: 10.1016/S0140–6736(17)33102–1

[10] Ishikawa-Takata, K., Tanaka, H., Nanbu, K. et al. (2010). Beneficial effect of physical activity on blood pressure and blood glucose among Japanese male workers. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 87(3):394–400. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2009.06.030

[11] Dinas, P.C., Koutedakis, Y., Flouris, A.D. (2011). Effects of exercise and physical activity on depression. Ir J Med Sci. 180(2):319–25. doi: 10.1007/s11845–010–0633–9

[12] Thompson, D., Karpe, F., Lafontan, M. et al. (2012). Physical activity and exercise in the regulation of human adipose tissue physiology. Physiol Rev. 92(1):157–91. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00012.2011

[13] Huston, P., McFarlane, B.. (2016). Health benefits of tai chi: What is the evidence? Can Fam Physician. 62(11):881–890

[14] Jelleymen, C., Yates, T., O’Donovan, G. et al. (2015). The effects of high-intensity interval training on glucose regulation and insulin resistance: a meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 16(11):942–61. doi: 10.1111/obr.12317

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