We all know some people who get sick all the time. They're just getting over one thing when here comes the next round of illness. We also know people who just seem to be full of energy. Those people never get sick or so it seems. What are the key differences between these North and South Poles of health? One key difference is healthy behavior.
On the North Pole side, people who frequently get sick think this is something that happens to them. In other words, their health problems are related to fate. "I catch whatever's going around the office", they say. "I catch whatever my kids pick up at school" is another common refrain. These individuals - and they represent most of us - don't seem to realize it's their behaviors, actions, and choices that lead to their continual state of unwellness. For example, two-thirds of all American adults are either overweight or obese. Is this fate? Or something else?
On the South Pole side, people who are rarely sick are usually very clear about what's going on. These individuals have trained themselves to take control of their health and well-being by making active choices. These choices, known as healthy behaviors, result in: a stronger immune system,
lower serum cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, more restful sleep, and a positive mental attitude.
Healthy behaviors have been shown to reduce blood glucose 1 (good news for diabetics) and reduce the occurrence of life-changing disorders such as stroke.2 What are these action steps? Everybody knows them, even North Pole people. Healthy behaviors include: regular vigorous exercise (the Federal Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of exercise five times per week) - 30 minutes of walking fulfills your daily exercise requirement. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (the Federal Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least five portions per day) Also, eat a balanced diet including high quality protein, complex carbohydrates, and mono- and polyunsaturated fats. 3
Make sure to get the rest that you need (seven hours of sleep per night is the recommended average).
Healthy behaviors do require discipline and effort. In the 21st Century, good health does not come for free. To be healthy and well, we need to do the planning, make our schedules, and put in the time. Of course, there's a very big payoff. How great would it be to have a healthy height/weight ratio, normal levels of blood glucose, and a normal-for-age blood pressure? It would be very great.
The payoff is not only adding years to life, but also adding life to years. It's much more fun to have good health. We all know how not-fun it is when we're sick.
Your local chiropractor can be an important part of your plan for good family health, and is an expert in all aspects of healthy behaviors. We will be glad to help you design plans and programs that will work for your needs and those of your family.
1 Hamman RF, et al: Effect of weight loss with lifestyle intervention on risk of diabetes. Diabetes Care 29:2102-2107, 2006
2 Forman JP, et al: Life style as a blood pressure determinant. JAMA 302(4): 437-439, 2009
3 KKhan LK, et al: Recommended community strategies and measurements to prevent obesity in the U.S. MMWR Recomm Rep 58(RR-7):1-26, 2009
Exercise - An All-Purpose Health Tool
Exercise is the gift that keeps on giving. Our high school PE teachers ("gym teachers" if you're old school) had it right. When they were yelling at us to climb those ropes or do another ten squat-thrusts or get back on our feet and finish that one-mile run they were really helping us, not hurting us.
But it's important to listen and not only hear. Now that we're older, in our 30s, 40s, 50s, or beyond, exercise is more important than ever. Scientific research has consistently proven that exercise reduces blood pressure, reduces blood glucose levels, and improves lung capacity and circulation. Of course, these critical results are in addition to the "looking good" benefit.
So, what are you waiting for? Put on your gym clothes and get started.