Summer is upon us! And the WISE Leadership Team is leading an effort to promote a “Summer of Wellness” which is intended to remind us all that there are basic things we can do to improve our mental and physical health, enhance our sense of spiritual wholeness, reinforce our social connectedness, and generally add to the quality and quantity of life.
I am surely no expert on this, but I have been thinking about it quite a bit in response to some recent health challenges. The following is some basic information that has the potential to make a difference.
Eating right matters, especially being aware of carbohydrates – which are everywhere, and which are an especially noteworthy contributor to weight gain, diabetes, and a cascade of other related complications. Part of eating better is unlearning that old food pyramid that emphasized carbs and limited fats and proteins. (Did you know that that model of nutrition was derived from a model designed to fatten cattle? It seems we would do well to come at eating in a different way, right?) There are a variety of very good eating plans and “diets” available that do not involve adding to the coffers of the multi-billion dollar diet industry. Common sense and moderation are fundamental guiding principles. Reading nutrition labels helps.
Hydration matters. A common recommendation is to drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day. That might be a good starting place, but necessary fluid consumption depends on a host of factors including activity level, climate, and overall health. Recognizing that every single cell and system of our bodies depends on water to survive and thrive, it might be good to aim toward the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations of 15.5 cups of water per day for men, and 11.5 cups per day for women.
Exercise matters. The bottom line is that any kind of physical movement and activity is better than none. Beyond that, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week for “substantial health benefits.” Older adults should do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. A comprehensive resource on physical activities is available at: health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf
Sleep matters. The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 7 or more hours of good quality sleep per night for adults. (See their sleep recommendations for all ages at www.cdc.gov/features/sleep/index.html) Frequently waking in the night and being sleepy during the day may be indications of poor quality sleep and might be good reasons to consult a medical practitioner. Sleep allows time for the body to heal and revitalize. On the other hand, the CDC warns that “if not getting enough sleep is a regular part of your routine, you may be at an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke, poor mental health, and even early death.”
All of these things work together, of course, and addressing them can lead to new levels of holistic health. And there are surely other factors for which to account, including attending to our psycho-spiritual selves by way of practices that engage and connect us with ourselves and others and God (prayer, meditation, connections with nature, good time with friends, etc.). Finding ways to manage and release stress can also bring about meaningful improvements in overall health and well-being.
As I talked about in a recent sermon, having a Life Purpose has also been shown to improve the quality and quantity of life, attending to what it is that gets us up and going each day. Indeed, having a clear purpose in life has shown significant life-extending results across factors like gender, race, socioeconomic status, and education level, and it may matter more than stopping smoking and drinking or starting an exercise program. Soon we will explore the healing effects of gratitude and look into mindfulness as ways to live better and longer.
And for those looking to do something healthy with others right now, know that we have been able to arrange for weekly yoga sessions to happen in Fellowship Hall from 11:30am to 12:30pm on Saturdays. If you have been wanting to try yoga or seeking to come back to it, this program might be what you are looking for. Sessions are open to all and will be adapted as needed. The cost is $5 per person per session. Contact Tom Templeton if you have questions or are interested (410-236-4851).
Stay tuned for more information about various health screening opportunities, nature picnics and hikes, a possible family swim, and more. And do feel free to share your ideas about wellness by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s be healthy and well together! There is so much for us to do…