The human body is an amazing creation that functions best under a variety of particular conditions. Fitness professionals primarily focus on the specific design of exercise programs, assessments and the development of clients’ fitness levels. While a well-designed exercise program is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, there are a number of other important health behaviors that greatly contribute to optimal functioning of the human body.
Actively incorporating a variety of healthy habits—in addition to exercising—promotes greater success and improvement in our clients’ overall physical fitness and performance levels. Furthermore, physical gains may be more significant and sustainable when more complete healthful conditions are provided for the human body to flourish.
Here are five crucial healthy habits every fitness professional should actively promote as part of a clients’ fitness program:
1. Sleep at least seven to eight hours per night.
Adults need to sleep seven to eight hours per night for the brain to recharge and cells to repair themselves, and for the body to release vital hormones. Without enough sleep, we can experience a number of consequences, including physical, mental and emotional issues. The human body is unable to perform to the best of its ability when proper rest is not taken on a daily basis.
For more information on sleep, check out my “Everything You Need to Know About Rest” article.
2. Drink at least nine to 13 cups of water per day.
The human body is more than 60 percent water, which plays a vital role in a variety of functions including digestion, absorption of food and chemical reactions. Water is the major transporter of nutrients and it helps regulate body temperature, lubricates joints and assists with getting rid of waste products. Women should consume at least 9 cups (2.2 liters) of fluid per day and men should drink at least 13 cups (3 liters) of fluid per day. When exercising, your clients should consume one cup of water every 20 minutes to stay well hydrated throughout the workout. Without proper hydration, the human body cannot perform to its fullest potential during and outside of workouts.
3. Eat at least three to five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Fruits and vegetables are filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals. In the United States, many adults do not consume the minimum recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, depriving themselves of the essential nutrients the body needs to perform well. Fiber assists with healthy digestion, vitamins help promote and regulate chemical processes, and minerals contribute to the regulation, growth and maintenance of body tissues and cells. Urge your clients to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in every meal throughout the day.
4. Abstain from harmful substances.
Smoking and using drugs, and the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and sodas all can have detrimental and harmful effects on the body. While some argue that everything in moderation is just fine, here are two questions worth asking:
- Could the human body perform better during fitness sessions and throughout the day if harmful substances were completely avoided?
- Do the benefits of using or consuming harmful substances outweigh the costs?
Try answering these questions with your clients, writing down the benefits and consequence of drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages, for example. Then evaluate whether the choice to drink these beverages actually helps one to be more successful and productive, and to experience optimal functioning in relation to physical fitness.
5. Sit less and move more.
Modern conveniences and the design of our environments have highly contributed to a much more sedentary lifestyle for most Americans. Encourage clients to intentionally incorporate more physical activity into daily living. Energy levels and stamina are automatically increased when one sits less and moves more, even at low-intensity levels. Urge your clients to aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps taken throughout the day, outside of their structured fitness/exercise session. Steps can be tracked by an inexpensive pedometer or one of many free apps currently available. Physical fitness success rates will greatly depend on overall physical activity levels.