When we hear the word fitness, our minds often jump to physical activities such as going to the gym, going for a run, doing yoga, taking the stairs, or even playing a sport.
And while staying physically fit is one key component of fitness, being truly fit means that we are healthy inside and out.
While we often try to think about our fitness routines holistically, there are many areas that tend to slip our minds including the roles our doctors play, the impact of our mental health, and how we can’t be fit without connection and community.
Our Doctors Are Our Coaches Too
Too many of us only go to our doctors when something is wrong such as when we have injured ourselves or have symptoms that impact our lives every day.
We think that we are already doing everything that we can to stay healthy and that our lives are just too busy to bother with going to our doctors for annual exams.
In truth annual exams are important because they allow our doctors to know how we are doing and catch any issues we might unknowingly have when the issues are small and easy to correct.
As our doctors are giving us our annual exams, they might suggest other annual tests and procedures we should have based on our age and health goals.
For us women, in addition to meeting with our primary care physician, we also need to check in with a gynecologist. Going to a gynecologist can feel a bit invasive. Few of us look forward to the cervical health screenings that our gynecologist performs, but we need to get over our own discomfort.
In the end, PAP smears and HPV screenings are just as important as checking our blood pressure or cholesterol. These screenings allow our gynecologist to catch issues such as STD’s or cancer at early stages where there are less invasive treatment options.
Mental Health Fitness
Being healthy does not end once we have a regular fitness routine or when we schedule regular appointments with our doctors.
We may find we think we are doing our best but still experience a wide range of common health issues such as anxiety, stress, panic attacks, or depression.
These struggles can start with mild symptoms but often build up over time until they become deliberating and prevent us from having the energy to keep ourselves physically fit.
Taking care of our mental health might look like anything from mediating, going to a therapist, taking a nice relaxing bath with Epsom salts, writing in a journal, or giving ourselves the time and space, we need to be creative and draw, paint, build, or sing.
With mental health there is no one size fits all solution, and we need to simply find what practices work for us. It is also important that we notice when something just doesn’t feel right so we can improve our mental fitness before it throws other areas of our life out of balance.
Leveling Up Our Fitness by Being Social
Finally, in order to be fit we need to make sure that we are exercising our social muscles too. For some of us we have forgotten how to be social over the past year.
It might be surprising to hear but our social lives are one of the most important influences on our mental and physical health outcomes.
So, find a workout buddy to keep you inspired, have a cup of tea with someone you can process your thoughts and feelings with, or take your workouts outside where you can say hi to your neighbors. There are many small ways to help build the connection and community that will help us stay healthy.
In order to be fit and healthy, we must juggle many different areas of our lives. While we are signing up for the next trendy fitness class it is important that we also think about whether we have also signed up for all our annual exams and checkups.
While we are meal prepping for the week, we need to also think about what we are doing to protect our mental health. While we are checking off all our fitness goals we also need to think about if we are spending enough time building the connections and communities we need to thrive.
As women it is important that we understand all the factors that go into our health so that we can make the healthiest choices for ourselves and our families.