If you exercise you must care, to some degree, about your well-being. For whichever reason you hold dear you have decided to put time and effort in to maintaining a fit and healthy body. For that you get a massive thumbs up, a high five and a hearty handshake – too few people care about their fitness!

However, when we look into what is going to keep you fit and healthy exercise is a little way down the list and there are quite a few things we should prioritise first:

Breathing – ever tried not doing it, you’ll likely last a few minutes. Luckily your respiratory system is controlled by your medulla oblongata and a series of automatic bodily processes that don’t require you to think about them. However, it can be massively beneficial to spend some time each day sitting and thinking about your breathing, how it feels, how its controlled and how it is effected by your thoughts. A basic form of meditation – sitting and thinking of your breathing for 10 minutes – will do wonders for your physical as well as your mental health.

Drinking – how many of us get to the end of a busy work day, feeling crap and with a banging headache, to realise we failed to have a drink all day? Without adequate water your body will ultimately shut down and stop working – it pretty much runs on the stuff. Yet too few of us drink anywhere near enough each day. Get your hydration on point and your energy levels will increase, you’ll be able to concentrate more and joint and muscle aches will be kept at bay.

Sleeping – you can last longer without food than you can without sleep. A lack of sleep can affect our physical, mental and emotional states in varying ways – none of them good. Low energy levels, headaches and mood swings can all be attributed to not getting enough sleep yet so few of us put much importance in getting our 8 hours in every night. That film, that Instagram post, that next page in the book – it will still be there tomorrow so don’t sacrifice a half hour of shut eye for it.

Eating – now eating goes one of two ways with people. They either don’t eat enough or they eat too much, and normally too much shit. The mantra ‘you are what you eat’ is pretty accurate and eating a healthy, nutritiously dense and varied diet is one of the easiest, but most underutilised, methods to securing optimal health. What, when and how much food to eat is a very personal thing and will be dictated by your lifestyle, activity levels and body type however you can’t go wrong with eating meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Avoid overly processed foods and grains and you’ll be on the right track.

Exercising is great, its literally one of my favourite things to do but there is a lot more to being healthy than just hitting the gym – and neglecting them will have just as much impact on your health as skipping a session at the box. As always, I’m not suggesting you live to this article verbatim but take it on board, digest it and see if you can use it to improve you.