Running, Renee Naturally
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Four Cornerstones of Good Health - Part 2

How are we feeling after last week’s focus on a positive mental attitude? As we discussed, changing your outlook and internal dialogue takes time and consistent effort, but I hope that any changes you’ve made are starting to have a flow on effect – influencing the energy, interactions and successes in your world.  Positivity is undeniably an essential step of the four cornerstones that make up the foundation of good health, especially when we look at one of the aspects that makes up one of this week’s focus – exercise! Here’s a quick recap on those four foundations;

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  1. A Positive Mental Attitude
  2. A Healthy Lifestyle: Exercise and Sleep and Health Habits
  3. A Health-Promoting Diet
  4. Supplementary Measures

Now, I’m no personal trainer, supermodel, or ripped athlete, but as a Naturopath, I’m constantly reminded about the importance of staying fit and I know that exercise is absolutely vital for good health. Regular exercise is obviously a major key to good health. We all know this, yet excuses likes lack of time, energy, equipment and motivation can be given. Are these excuses valid? How important is your health?

While the immediate effect of exercise is stress on the body, with regular exercise, the body adapts; it becomes stronger, functions more efficiently, and has greater endurance. The entire body benefits from exercise, largely as a result of improved cardiovascular and respiratory function. Simply stated, exercise enhances the transport of oxygen and nutrients into cells. At the same time, it enhances the transport of carbon dioxide and waste products from the tissues of the body to the bloodstream, and ultimately to the eliminative organs. As a result, regular exercise has loads of benefits, including;

Musculoskeletal System;

  • Increase muscle strength
  • Increases flexibility of muscles and range of motion
  • Produces stronger bones, ligaments and tendons
  • Lessens chance of injury
  • Enhances posture and physique

Heart and blood vessels;

  • Lowers resting hear rate
  • Strengthens heart function
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves oxygen delivery throughout the body
  • Increases blood supply to muscles

Bodily processes;

  • Improves the way the body handles dietary fat
  • Reduces hear disease risk
  • Helps lower blood cholesterol
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Improves immune function
  • Aids digestion and elimination
  • Increases endurance and energy levels
  • Promotes lean body mass; burns fat

Mental processes;

  • Provides a natural release from pent up feelings
  • Helps reduce tension and anxiety
  • Improves mental outlook and self-esteem
  • Helps relieve moderate depression
  • Improves the ability to handle stress
  • Stimulates improved mental function
  • Induces relaxation and improves sleep
  • Increases self-esteem

If the benefits of exercise could be put in a pill, you would have the most powerful health-promoting medication available.

Creating an effective exercise routine;

- Recognise the Importance of physical Exercise

- Select an activity you enjoy

- Do It Often – A minimum of 30 mins at least three times a week is necessary to gain any significant cardiovascular benefits from exercise.

- Make It Fun – If you can find enjoyment in exercise, you’re much more likely to exercise regularly. One way to make it fun is to get a workout partner.

- Stay Motivated – vary your routine –doing the same thing every day becomes monotomous and drains motivation.  Keep track of your progress helps motivate you to continued improvement.

The better shape you’re in physically, the greater your odds of enjoying a healthier and longer life. Researchers have estimated that for every hour of exercise, there is a two-hour increase in longevity. That is quite a return on investment!

Sleep is absolutely essential to both the body and mind. Impaired sleep, altered sleep patterns, and sleep deprivation impair mental and physical function. Exactly how much sleep an individual needs varies from person to person. Sleep needs tend to decrease with age, for example, a one year old requires about 14 hours a day, a five year old about 12 and adults, about 7 to 8. In addition, women tend to need more sleep than men. As people age, their sleep levels may decline, but so does their ability to sustain sleep, probably as a result of decreased levels of important brain chemicals such as serotonin and melatonin.

Dreams can sometimes aid us in working out the issues of our waking lives. They allow us to view what is happening and what is imprinted on our subconscious mind and are often symbolic attempts to sort among our choices in life. The problem with trying to interpret every dream is that not every dream will be meaningful. However, it’s important to examine every dream for possible clues to personal growth. Often dreams speak to us in symbols, so it may not be clear at first.  Examine each person or item in the dream from a simplistic point of view; what does it mean for you? To help you with interpreting dreams, here are some important questions to ask:

  • What are you doing in the dream?
  • What is the story line?
  • What were the feelings you experienced in this dream?
  • What was your mood upon waking?
  • How does this dream relate to what is going on in your waking life?
  • What are the insights that you have gained from this dream?

Without question, a healthy lifestyle improves the quality and length of our life. The key components of a healthy lifestyle are avoiding cigarette smoke, following a regular exercise program, and practicing good sleeping habits. Lifestyle definitely comes down to choices. If you want to be healthy, simply make healthy choices. Choose to not smoke. Chose to find a physical activity that you enjoy, and do them often. Make getting a good night’s sleep a priority, and have fun with your dreams. These simples lifestyle choices will have a profound effect on your health and the health and quality of your life.

Live well, live long, live naturally 

Renée x


Thanks Renee, for this post....I have to admit that I don't like doing physical exercises, but I love biking, and I use bike everyday to go to work. I bike for 30 minutes on my way to work and 30 minutes on my way home after work., and I do this at least 5 times a week. Is this enough? I hope so....^_^
And I can understand the importance of sleep, I'm a nurse so I have to work even during the night, and this is very stressful. But I have to admit that, in last years, my body adapted and now I'm able to get asleep almost immediately after put my head on the pillow!

Hi Elena,  
You definitely sound like you get heaps of exercise into your day - inspiring! I love the idea of biking to work (or to cafes for brunch in the weekends etc) but I'm a bit chicken about riding on the road here in's not the safest for cyclists unfortunately! You're really lucky that your body has adapted over the years to working shift work and you're still able to sleep. It can really throw some people, and they find their body clocks are all over the show. Sweet dreams! x

Believe me, the streets are not safe even here in Milan, Italy!! But I like a lot going with my bike, and I always keep an eye all around me! ^_^

Milan, how gorgeous! It's like a romantic cycling dream, to bike around on one of those gorgeous old bikes in Italy (I'd just have to learn the road rules before coming, otherwise I'd definitely be a hazard...) Enjoy!x

This are great tips and information. Im gonna apply to my daily routine, thank you for sharing :)

Happy that you found some of the tips to be things that you can add to your daily routine :) Good luck Jo - let me know how you get on! x

My husband has been running for the past year and has lost about 20kg.
This year he is training for a marathon and I have started running to complete a 10k race (can't even do 5ks yet), I've also picked up my daily yoga again and vow to get more sleep... speaking of which it is nearly 9.30, bed time!

Hi Jen,  
20kg weight loss over a year - that's sensible discipline for you! Sounds like you're totally on the right track to getting fit too. Yoga and running work so well together - really balanced benefits. I love silence when I'm doing yoga and then in contrast, really crank the uplifting tunes when I go for a run (it's the only way I've found to get 'enjoyment' out of it!) Good luck with your training!x

Dear Renée,
I am a College student, and I live with 2 other girls in a flat. So, as you can imagine ( which is not a valid excuse ) we're all very busy: studying, taking care of our flat-duties and working.
When I read this post of yours I couldn't help myself but thinking :"She is so right!" so I "copied & pasted" all your tips and printed them, to put them on the fridge of our flat.

So far, we've changed our "after lunch" coffee for a tea or an infusion. Also have brought some books from our homes in order to read them instead of watch Tv. Actually we also comment them and enjoy the end of the day much more than before, since we communicate better with each other.

We were discussing about the tips you've shared with us this week and were wondering:
- Is it good to drink some tee before sleeping or it's not recomended?
-What do I do to ventilate my room? It has just one window and it's so small.
-Until when can we make some sport. Meaning, can we excercise 2-3 hours before going to sleep?

Ah! We've also found a Gym near our flat and joined it (two of us). We're going to do some yoga and cardio. And the thing is that the other girl works from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. we don't know what excercise could she do, could you help us, please?

Your such an inspiration and a blessing for us all.
Once again, THANK YOU SO MUCH :)

Hi Anna,  
I can definitely relate to trying the study/work struggle to find time and think it's awesome that you've got friends around you who are also trying to find time for balance. It sounds like you're fully on the right track with everything you're doing. In answer to your questions;  
- I personally don't recommend drinking any tea with caffeine in it after 5pm, but drinking herbal infusions before bed is fine, even beneficial if they include herbs like chamomile for relaxing. The only thing is making sure that you don't drink it too close to bed so that your sleep isn't interrupted by having to get up to go to the bathroom!  
- I guess just trying to keep that window open when possible, and your bedroom door open when you're out. You could also get a few plants in your room to help oxygenate…  
- Leaving 2-3 hours before you go to sleep after exercise is ideal. It gives you time to have dinner, and then have some wind down time before hitting bed. Although, as long as you are sleeping well, I think that anytime you can fit in exercise is better than nothing!  
- As for your friend who is working 7am – 7pm, perhaps she could try fitting in smaller exercise sessions throughout the day? Like, she could go for a 30 min brisk walk or run in the morning or evening, and try doing a few yoga stretches during breaks at work or to unwind after work/study in the evening? There are loads you can do without equipment or much space. See if she can rent a yoga DVD or book from your local/college library!  
Thanks much for saying that I’m an inspiration. I have to share with you, that I woke up really early for a flight this weekend, and read your comments and it inspired ME to squeeze in a thank YOU. x  

Thankyou for this post, it is truly inspiring and I will definitely print out some of your tips.
I'm already eating well, making sure I get enough sleep and exercising regularly but my main goal for the year is to ditch the rush!
Rushing has no purpose, it makes you stressed and it tends to cause more mistakes in the long run.
So, my best advice for the new year. NEVER RUSH!
Make sure your organised and work on time management. You will feel de-stressed and amazing in no time!
Good Luck to everyone who chooses to adopt this 'no rush scheme' even if it is just for a week it is a great thing to try. It has been a truly positive step in my life and makes everyday seem even more precious.
Much Love, Quita xx

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