Health is something we all have. It is part of what makes us who we are and how we interact with the world around us. By managing that health, we gain control of both ourselves and how we go about living our lives. Most people prefer to be in good health, and at least think about what is required to achieve and maintain it. And, of course, thinking about it is a good place to start; thinking leads to curiosity, and curiosity will yield a certain amount of results.

The results of our curiosity will vary depending upon where that curiosity leads us. This is as simple, and difficult, as determining which source of information we follow to gain understanding. If the source or sources are credible, our results will be much better. But how do we determine which source is and isn’t credible? How can we determine who is and who is not giving us the information we need? And most importantly, how can we be sure the information applies to us as individuals? It’s a challenge, to be sure, because no one wants to intentionally apply the wrong information.

The beginning of the solution, as in so many things, starts with the basics. And on a basic level, there are three major factors that impact a person’s health. These three basic factors and how we deal with them will help us to determine what is right and wrong for us. Naturally, these three factors interact with each other, and how these factors are managed and, when possible, adjusted will determine our overall health. And a basic understanding of them can be built upon and adjusted over time.

The three factors which impact overall health the most are genetics, diet and exercise.

Genetics is the factor over which we have the least control, but it determines a lot of who we are and how difficult or easy maintaining our health will be. Genetics controls things such as how tall we grow and how much basic fuel is required to maintain daily function. A wide variety of other things are affected by genetics as well, and at this point in medical history changing genetic predispositions is not possible. But even though we can’t change our genetics, it benefits us to understand it because it will offer valuable insight into how to go about changing the other two (and more) factors.

Diet is the second — many say the most important — factor affecting our overall day-to-day health. The old saying of “you are what you eat” carries a certain amount of truth. The human body is an amazing organism that can operate on nearly any type of fuel; but each body operates better when it is given better fuel. Each body requires a percentage of protein, fat and carbohydrates to operate properly, and though there are many similarities, each body is actually different. This goes beyond weight loss or weight gain. The body requires certain things to simply function and has problems when forced to process certain other things.

Exercise is the third factor to consider when it comes to overall health. We know, at least, in theory that there are benefits to exercise; the proof of this is that many new year’s resolutions include a promise to ourselves to get more of it. But we need to understand what actually constitutes “exercise” and what real benefits we hope to achieve. Is joining a gym or an exercise class the answer? Possibly. Or is buying any or all of the wide variety of machines we see in television ads the answer? Possibly. However, it truly depends upon each individual, and of course the first two factors we mentioned. The only short answer to “should I exercise” is yes. It is the method and the actual results we can expect that can prove to be tricky.

But all of this sounds much more confusing and difficult than it really is. We need to learn a little and apply a lot, but that’s OK because we can do it together. Wherever we are on the spectrum of health and wherever we want to be, we really can get there from here. It’s just that our paths to the same goal might diverge a bit. You might ride an exercise machine and your neighbor might be using weights. It’s safe to assume that I won’t be jogging along the path to fitness (bad feet), but walking at a steady pace will eventually get me there, too. And maybe along the way we can also find good food that actually tastes good.

Reach CHARLES ROMANS at cromans@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2655.

Recommended for you