Many years ago a desert dweller climbed a mountain and talked to a bush on fire. What resulted was a set of laws that was to revolutionize mankind’s behavior. These were not ten suggestions formulated by a long range planning committee nor were they ten proposals put forth by a strategic consultant, they were commandments from a Holy God. These laws have become almost universally accepted, even by divergent religions, as wise and worthy of adopting.
With all humility and a sincere desire to be unpretentious (I am not even worthy enough to scrape the grasshoppers from Moses’ designer goat skin sandals), I propose the Ten Commandments of good health to serve as a lamppost for your journey down fitness lane. It seems unfair to hurry through these guidelines, so I will opine in both this month’s and next month’s column to cover them all.
You Shall Exercise:
Live Longer, Reduce Stress, and Grow Your Brain
Exercise is the elusive fountain of youth. If you are heavy, harried or hormonal, moving with purpose is a critical part of the solution. Everyone knows exercise is good for you, but few of us follow through. Exercise begins above the neck with a commitment to self and family. Part of this motivation lies in the hidden benefits of exercise that are not common knowledge such as the prevention of breast and prostate cancer, reduction in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and as a cure for clinical depression. Start with a simple walking program and free yourself from the “couch of doom”.
You Shall Rest:
A Nap a Day May Keep the Doctor Away
We live in a hurry-up culture where “Just Do It” supplants “Let It Be”. Busyness has become a virtue that is without merit. Idle hands are the devil’s playthings only in those who haven’t learned the discipline of relaxation. Certainly there is a place for goal setting and industrious behavior, but there is also a purpose in rest and play. Relaxing on purpose is healthier than just doing something aimlessly. A major area of our lives that is most affected by this culture of chaos is sleep. The average adult requires eight hours of restful sleep a night to function best the next day. The average adult actually gets around six hours of sleep a night. This obvious disconnect leads to chronic fatigue and foggy thinking. 40% of Americans (100 million people) are moderately to severely sleep-deprived!
You Shall Not Worry:
Make Stress Work For You
Stress is the little yapping dog biting at the heels of our health. It is generally an annoyance, but, if it goes on long enough, can become a festering wound. There are a number of books and counselors that provide a wealth of guidance on effective stress management in a world that oozes anxiety. Studies indicate that up to 75% of visits to doctors are related to anxiety. Stress is simply a perception of an internal or external event and thereby can be influenced by our thoughts. One person’s stress is another person’s opportunity. You will never be without stress, but you can control and minimize the adverse effects.
You Shall Get Checkups:
Prevention Pays Lifelong Dividends
A healthy mind and body is dependent on action and education, not passivity and ignorance. You must be an advocate for you and your family’s well-being by embracing prevention. Men are especially negligent in this arena, and often decisions regarding family health are delegated (by default) to women in the household. Seventy percent of health decisions involving the family are made by mom, which includes checkups, vaccines, nutrition, and screening tests. Most importantly, the woman, by her actions and decisions, sets the tone for current and future health decisions. A major health care crisis today is not cancer, AIDs, or heart disease, but people not making healthy, proactive lifestyle decisions. We have to transform a system based on sick care to one that truly embraces well care, and that can only be achieved by practicing individual, responsible prevention.
You Shall Not Be Gluttonous:
Eat Your Way to Good Health
We are often called a society of consumption. The talking heads are referring to consumerism; however, the real consumption issue is what we eat. Our diet has more of an impact on our health and longevity than almost any other activity. Content and quantity are the evil twins of gluttony. There are four simple guidelines that, if followed consistently, will provide a foundation of healthy nutrition that will build a legacy of wellness. Simply stated, eat balanced, low fat, low sugar, and high fiber meals. It is possible to alter the health inheritance of our kids and grandkids by changing how we think about food. You can spring the family from the prison of poor nutrition and not be held captive by your genetics through a simple and doable eating plan. We truly are what we eat.
Next month…what else but six through ten!