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Optimal Health

Getting Back to the Basics

After the holiday season many of us find ourselves thinking about our "new year’s resolution" and how we are going to change our lives for the better. So with this being my first blog of 2019 I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about getting back to the basics. More specifically, focusing on the importance of sleep, regular exercise and healthy eating.


Sleep hygiene is essential and seems to be sometimes overlooked in our busy North American lifestyle, but just like healthy eating and exercise, sleep is essential for our overall health. “Approximately 1 in 3 adult Americans are sleeping less than 7 hours per night (37.1%), an amount at which physiological and neurobehavioral deficits manifest and become progressively worse under chronic conditions.” (Luyster et. al, 2012)  In addition the aforementioned, other negative health outcomes of poor sleeping habits include increase risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, increased glucose tolerance, increase stress and increased hunger.(Luyster et. al, 2012) So what is the recommended amount of sleep per night? Research shows that aprox. 8 hours per night is necessary for positive health effects. For more information on sleep hygiene you can click the link at the bottom of the page.


There is no doubt that regular exercise has copious amounts of health benefits. The following are just a few health benefits of regular exercise that are listed within the “Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines”. Exercise can aid in the prevention of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, overweight and obesity. Exercise can also lead to improved fitness, strength and mental health.

So how much exercise should you get? The Canadian Health Guidelines suggest that people from the ages 18-64 years old should engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity of aerobic activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more to avail of health benefits. In addition to aerobic exercise strengthening activities of all major muscle groups at least 2/week is important. For more information about different forms of exercise, tips on how to start exercising, etc, click the exercise link at the bottom of the page.

Healthy Eating

With the availability of fast-food at our finger tips it can be hard to meal plan and cook healthy meals for ourselves and our loved ones. However, just like getting proper sleep and regular exercise, eating healthy is essential for our overall health. It is important to always come back to the fact that food is what provides our body with the energy and nutrients it needs to carry out all of it’s functions. I personally believe that the body is an amazing machine and deserves to be fed nutrient rich food to help it function at it’s optimal capacity. Remember, you are what you eat! The following are just a few of the health benefits of proper nutrition: reduced risk of cancer, diabetes management/reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart health and stroke prevention, maintenance/improvement of bone density, helping maintain healthy gut health, and improve mood, memory and sleep. For more information on ways to eat healthy click the appropriate link at the bottom of the page.


Even though we have all heard the importance of sleep, exercise and healthy eating many times throughout our lives, it is sometimes difficult to change current habits, especially if you do not know how to change. Remember, change takes time, but bringing awareness to the things you wish to change is a good first step. Re-visiting your values can also help clarify what aspects of your life are important to you. Hopefully, you value your health, because if you don’t have your health, what do you have?

The links below provide tips and further information on how to get a better night sleep, how to exercise more, and how to eat better.

Sleep hygiene:  


Health Canada Exercise Guidelines:


Healthy eating: 


Author- Brittany is a physiotherapist who graduated from Dalhousie University in 2016 with a Master’s of Science in Physiotherapy. Her main clinical interest is neuro science and restoring functional movement patterns. She is a firm believer in the mind-body connection and enjoys incorporating this throughout her treatment sessions. Her treatment philosophy is to help people become more aware of their bodies, their physical stressors and abilities in order to help them get back to their work, family and activity.

Luyster, F. S., Strollo, P. J., Zee, P. C., & Walsh, J. K. (2012). Sleep: a health imperative. Sleep, 35(6), 727-734. 
Health Canada Exercise Guidelines