The way we choose to live our lives can have serious implications for our health. As osteopathy aims to improve general health by targeting the health of the musculoskeletal system, osteopaths often offer patients practical advice on how to ensure they make the right lifestyle choices and subsequently keep their bodies and minds as healthy as possible. A few of the most important choices are outlined below:
Diet is extremely important to ensuring our bodies are fit and healthy; unfortunately, many people do not realise the consequences associated with eating an unhealthy diet and are consequently suffering from poor general health. In terms of supporting the musculoskeletal system, it is very important to maintain a stable and healthy bodyweight. You can find out whether your weight is healthy by checking your BMI (body mass index). Carrying excessive weight places huge strain on the muscles and bones, as well as applying significant pressure to the vital organs; obesity has been consistently linked to joint pain and muscle degeneration as well as serious medical health conditions including heart disease and diabetes.
A healthy diet should be composed primarily of fruits and vegetables and complex carbohydrates; proteins and fats should also be consumed but the intake of these food groups should be significantly lower than the major groups. Fruits and vegetables are rich in essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins, which are important for the body to function properly. Eating excessive amounts of sugary and fatty foods causes body weight to increase, which contributes to a range of serious illnesses.
Exercise is extremely important for maintaining the body�s systems and organs; the benefits of exercise are plentiful, with numerous social and mental advantages, as well as physiological benefits. Exercise is particularly important for the musculoskeletal system; the major benefits are outlined below:
- Increased muscle tone: this makes the muscles stronger and also enhances the physical appearance of the individual.
- Improved circulation: this keeps the heart healthy and prevents people from feeling the cold.
- Stable body weight and decreased body fat: exercise keeps the body at a healthy weight, which increases confidence, decreases pressure on the joints and muscles and reduces the possibility of suffering from conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
- Improved muscular endurance: this helps to muscles to stay strong over a long period of time; this can only be achieved by regular strength training sessions.
- Decreased levels of stress: exercise has consistently been proved to reduce stress and boost confidence, leading to improved standards of psychological health.
- Increased levels of energy: exercise releases hormones which improve people�s moods, as well as making them feel rejuvenated and energised.
- Social benefits: exercise is a great way to get out and meet new people.
Sleep is vital to the body�s ability to function properly. Experts recommend that adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night; however, studies have indicated that a large proportion of British adults are not getting the amount of sleep they require. Sleep deprivation can have serious implications on health, as well as affecting people�s social and professional lives. Physiological effects of sleep deprivation include a less effective immune system, muscle aches and pains, dizziness, increased blood pressure and difficulty maintaining a stable bodyweight.
Osteopaths may recommend ways to improve patient�s sleep patterns, such as ways to combat stress, relaxing exercises and activities and ways to cope with stressful situations that may arise in daily life. Activities such as massage, having a hot bath or gentle stretching of the muscles may also be recommended.
Poor posture is one of the most common causes of back and neck pain, conditions which are becoming increasingly common as people adopt increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Osteopathy can teach people how to sit and stand properly, as well as offering treatment to correct the alignment and positioning of the bones and muscles. Good posture releases tension in the muscles, reduces pressure on the muscles and bones and prevents aches and pains. In addition to physiological benefits, having good posture can increase levels of self-esteem as it helps people to walk tall, which makes them seem more confident.