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Why Is Wellness Important and How Do You Improve It?

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Why Is Wellness Important and How Do You Improve It?

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Some people say that they work out or diet to improve their health. Maybe they have high blood pressure and exercise helps lower it. Or they have high cholesterol and watching what they eat helps keep it under control. When better health is the goal, the reasons are often fairly clear.

Then there are the people who exercise or watch what they eat as a way to boost their wellness. Though this term is thrown around a lot, ask anyone what wellness is and they may find it hard to explain. So, what exactly does someone mean when they are referring to their wellness?

What Wellness Is

The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” Does this definition surprise you? It might, because many people think of wellness as a certain level of physical and/or emotional health. Instead, it is more about taking action to improve your wellbeing in a wide variety of areas.

Different types or pillars of wellness include:

  • Physical wellness. This wellness refers to your physical health, such as whether you have a chronic disease or other medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease. It also encompasses your physical fitness level. Are you able to run a marathon with no problem or do you get winded going up a flight of stairs?
  • Mental wellness. Mental health and wellness can be assessed by looking for a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. It should be noted that a mental health condition doesn’t automatically mean a decline in wellness. Many mental illnesses can be properly managed with therapy, medication, and/or other forms of treatment.
  • Emotional wellness. This wellness is similar to mental wellness but is more about your ability to handle stress and make it through difficult situations. For example, if you’re able to bounce back fairly quickly when faced with a negative event, you are thought to have a higher level of emotional wellness than someone who doesn’t rebound as quickly.
  • Spiritual wellness. Your faith, beliefs, and values all fall under the realm of spiritual wellness. Living a life of meaning and purpose results in a higher level of spiritual wellness, for example. 
  • Social wellness. This is about your interaction with and connection with others. It’s about the satisfaction of your social relationships. This includes your family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else you regularly see.
  • Intellectual wellness. Creativity, open-mindedness, and critical thinking are all indicators of intellectual wellness. So too are finding ways to continually increase your knowledge and skills.
  • Workplace wellness. Also sometimes referred to as employee wellness or occupational wellness, this type of wellness looks at your wellbeing while on the job or in your position within the workforce. 

Why Is Wellness Important?

In the end, wellness is about your quality of life. Optimal wellness in a specific area means that you’re living your best life possible with regard to that aspect.

For example, if you have a high level of emotional wellness, you may notice that you’re able to stay calm when life spins out of control. If you have greater worksite wellness, you likely derive a lot of happiness and satisfaction in your job. 

The higher you can get each pillar of wellness, the more your life improves. The good news is that you don’t have to raise each one individually. They are all interconnected so improvements in one area of wellness often lead to improvements in other areas.

The Connection Between Wellness and Social Relationships

Since wellness requires action, you may think only of the actions needed to improve your physical and mental health. These might include increasing your physical activity, improving your diet, and finding ways to keep your stress levels low. Yet, there is also a strong connection between social relationships and wellness.

Research reveals that our social ties influence our mental and physical health. In some cases, they may even increase our mortality risk. 

Think about the last time you had a major disagreement with a friend or family member. Did it increase your stress? How did it impact your mood? Did you want to work out more or less? Did it make you want to stick to your diet or engage in emotional eating instead? (Mood does affect what you eat, so it may have made it harder to make healthy food choices.)

Now think about a time when your relationship with that person was at its strongest. How did you feel then? Were you better able to handle stress? What did it do to your mood? How did it change your workout or diet habits? When your social support is high, you may notice that it’s easier to stick to a diet or exercise program.

Social relationships can also impact wellness by supporting the development of more positive behaviors. If a friend hits the gym every day, for instance, you may be more inclined to do the same. Or if they order a salad at lunch, you may be less tempted to order that burger and fries.

Impacts of a Workplace Wellness Program

Some employers make employee health and personal wellness a priority. Though it may seem like it would benefit the individual staff more than the company as a whole, research disagrees.

Studies have found that good workplace wellness means reduced absenteeism and higher employee morale. Healthier employees also spend less time at the doctor, reducing the company’s healthcare cost

That’s why many businesses provide an employee wellness program or corporate wellness program. These types of workplace wellness programs benefit the employer and employee alike.

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Different Ways to Improve Your Wellness

Even if your employer doesn’t offer a worksite wellness program or some type of corporate wellness solution, that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your own wellness. You can. One way to do it is by creating a wellness program.

This wellness program is basically a guideline for living a healthy lifestyle. It could include taking actions such as:

  • Increasing your physical activity. Improving physical wellness typically requires engaging in regular physical activity. Make it a point to exercise at least three times per week. You can also increase physical activity throughout the day by parking further away from the door at work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. 
  • Eating a healthy diet. Giving your body the nutrients it needs to function at its best can improve your wellness. Get adequate carbs, protein, and fat. Strive to get your recommended intake of micronutrients too.
  • Developing good sleep habits. If you are sleep-deprived, you’re going to feel it in many areas of your life. Aim to get 7-9 hours each night. It can help to develop a bedtime routine that tells your body and mind that it’s time to calm down and rest. Meditation and breathing exercises are two options to consider.
  • Tending to health care issues or concerns. Do you have a nagging health issue that’s always on your mind? Make that doctor’s appointment to take care of it. Even if you find out that it’s nothing, at least you can quit worrying about it.
  • Pay attention to your mental health. If you notice changes in your mental wellbeing, ask yourself why. Is how you are feeling a normal response to everyday life or an indicator that you may be developing a more serious mental health issue? If it’s the latter, it may help to schedule an appointment with a counselor or therapist and talk about what is going on.
  • Monitor your emotional wellness. On a scale of 1-10, what is your stress level? Take regular actions to keep stress at bay. Picking up a new hobby is one option. Exercise also helps to reduce stress.
  • Create a healthy relationship with loved ones. Relationships are two-way streets. Do your part to make your side of the street as healthy and pothole-free as possible. This might involve working on your compassion or empathy. Or it may even require letting some relationships go.
  • Taking steps to improve your worksite wellness. How happy are you at your job? Seek ways to improve your level of workplace satisfaction. Can you work flexible hours or go remote if you have things to handle at home? Are you able to hand some of your work off to someone else if your plate feels too full? If you’re not happy at all, it may be time to make a complete career change. This option may take some effort but it will be worth it if it means that you’ll greatly improve this area of wellness.

Helping Clients Improve Their Wellness

If you are a personal trainer or health coach, you may even want to help clients develop their own wellness program. Talk to them about how they can improve their wellbeing in different areas. Help them make the connection between physical wellness and other forms of wellness, such as worksite wellness or social wellness. 

If they own a business, provide suggestions for improving employee health. Share how corporate wellness can reduce absenteeism and health care costs. You may even be able to make some extra cash by helping them develop a corporate wellness solution that incorporates diet and exercise. 

Not yet a health coach but want to learn more? Check out ISSA’s Health Coach certification. It’s for personal trainers and other health professionals who want to help clients overcome physical and mental health barriers to achieve their optimal wellness. You’ll help clients address obstacles bigger than what can be solved in the gym.

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