Taking control

By: David Cooper

Conversations around health and happiness are common in our industry when we see those who are ‘down and out’ with injury or following surgery. 

It is not just physical pain that has to be considered but the impact on all areas of wellbeing. For many years I have simplified the idea of health or fitness to mean efficiency. How efficient is your body in all that it does? Is your blood efficiently pumped around your body? Do your stomach enzymes, gut and metabolism efficiently process food and nutrients? How efficient are you at processing or coping with mental or emotional stress? In recent times, especially – how efficient is your immune system at fighting off the odd bug or cold, or recovering from an injury?

The medical world is slowly starting to learn how closely connected our body systems truly are. We know that mental wellbeing is closely linked with physical wellbeing. We understand that chronic pain is best managed with physical exercise. We know that Vitamin D from the sun, Vitamin C from fresh fruit and vegetables, and so much more, not only improve our immune response but overall wellbeing.

To be truly happy and healthy the two states must be intertwined – a sound mind in a sound body. Our body needs to be efficient.

In 2021, it may be helpful and encouraging to know that improving our body’s efficiency does not have to be complicated. As the saying goes, “to eat an elephant takes one bite at a time”. What could those “bites” be when it comes to our health? Perhaps they may include going for a short walk once or twice a week; dedicated alcohol-free days each week; a weekly vegetarian meal; switching off social media feeds for a few hours each day to stem the bombardment of information; or trying meditation, breath-works, yoga or another form of relaxation.

Aristotle is quoted as saying “We are what we repeatedly do – excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”. A simple small goal accomplished repeatedly is far more effective then attempting an ambitious, unachievable goal and falling short.

I believe that 2021 is the year to take ownership of our health and happiness. It is never too late to start taking a small step in the right direction.

Hibiscus Matters welcomes physiotherapist David Cooper to our Health columns. David owns Kinetics Physio in Whangaparāoa. The former competitive (now recreational) athlete says a lot of his exercise these days involves running around after his three young sons with his wife Sonya.

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