First Published Sunday 1 January 2012

This is the first entry in the first Health Calendar on the first day of the first month of the new year. There are so many issues associated with health, it is almost impossible to know where to begin. But we should start somewhere so here goes:

Dorland’s Medical Dictionary:

“Health is a state of Optimal Physical, Mental and Social well-being and Not merely the Absence of disease and infirmity.”

It is thus a fallacy to say “I am healthy” when in essence you are just “not ill”. That would be similar to saying you are wealthy if you are not poor or bankrupt.

A great new year’s resolution would be to try and improve a little bit on our health status every day.

But: There are SO many facets involved that it is impossible to achieve really optimal health. Yet that need not be a distraction: Like a beacon guiding a ship through treacherous waters, a goal that cannot be achieved serves to perpetually maintain direction. Remember, our destination is a bit short of the beacon: No ship wishes to make physical contact with the beacon that guides it.

It is universally accepted that the two major factors that determine the well being of our bodies are

* Nutrition and

* Exercise.

Unfortunately there are about as many ideas about nutrition as there are professionals in this field. We often observe excellent results from each of two opposite philosophies. This is one topic that will likely never be conclusively resolved. Thus I intend to touch on nutrition repeatedly over the coming days, weeks and even years.

Exercise is a bit simpler. Most physiologists agree that a human needs about ten thousand steps per day to maintain a reasonable basic level of fitness. So how about getting yourself a little pedometer:

They are available in most sports shops. Then for a week or so, just see how many steps you do walk, run or jog every day. Once that is established, start looking for, and discovering, opportunities to increase this, aiming for ten thousand. Reward yourself for each incremental achievement. It is rather amazing how many opportunities there actually are, but which we were unaware of until we started looking - and how much more observant we are when we know it comes “on record”. There’s the stairs instead of the elevator, there’s a shaded parking spot just a bit further from the entrance, you can drop into a colleague’s office instead of using the telephone, you can walk just about anywhere if you wish to...

Let’s start walking - or even jogging - into the new year.