The ultra, high-tech world depicted in the popular television series “Star Trek,” is what many may envision when thinking of the future. And while it’s yet to be seen if its advanced fictional inventions such as molecular transporters and tractor beams could become reality, one thing is for certain, the miraculous healing techniques and futuristic medical care depicted on-air is still a long way away from anything presently available here on earth. While space-age cures are still in the realm of fantasy, we can take inspiration from the intensely creative, long-lived science fiction series and reflect upon taking care of our bodies and health using the tools and knowledge currently available.
Specifically, in the domain of health and well-being, such transformation would likely involve nutrition and exercise. Our habits in these areas have gotten us to where we are now. Given the facts of the worldwide obesity and diabetes epidemics, most of us are probably not at our ideal weight and out of shape with respect to conditioning and exercise. Fortunately, transforming one’s health status is always possible. The requirements for such critically important change include actively choosing new lifestyle activities and being persistent in your new choices.
The process of actively choosing implies that you are the one in charge. For example, if you begin an exercise program as a result of someone telling you that you should, you probably won’t get very far. If what you’re doing is based on the insistence of another, even if that other is your spouse or a trusted healthcare professional, your commitment to that activity will falter as soon as something more interesting or important comes along. In contrast, if the impetus for your activity is self-directed, then you will continue to fulfill that activity as long as you continue to make the active choice. In other words, the old positive thinking slogan, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me,” still applies.
Once you have actively chosen to implement a healthy lifestyle, some basic information is required in order to begin well. Healthy nutrition is obtained by being sure, on a daily basis, to consume food from the five major food groups: fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy.1 Consuming the appropriate amount of calories is also important. Excess calories will be stored as fat. For most women, a daily intake of 1,500 to 1,700 calories will result in weight loss, over time, down to the person’s ideal weight. For most men, a daily intake of 1,700 to 2,000 calories will result in weight loss, over time, down to the person’s ideal weight.
In terms of exercise, a combination of cardiorespiratory activity and strength training is optimal.2,3 You could have a five-day program of three sessions of strength training and two sessions of walking, running, biking, or swimming. Or you could have three cardio sessions and two strength training sessions per week. The best exercise program is the one that works for you, the one you enjoy, and the one that causes you to make progress. In all forms of exercise, start slowly and build up strength and endurance over time. Injuries are usually caused by attempting to do too much too soon.