Good health is necessary for peak performance in any endeavor. If you are a CEO, parent, minister or Little League coach, you will accomplish more if you feel well. I remember being in a meeting over thirty years ago and the speaker said, “You are not much use to God in helping his children if you are dead.” That was a wake-up call! I came home and started a jogging regimen the next morning and have not stopped.
Most would agree that maintaining good health is a worthy goal. The problem is that health problems typically sneak up on us so slowly that we delay making healthy choices until we have a serious issue. Be proactive and begin a healthier lifestyle today.
The following are some ideas to help motivate you to identify what you might change for better H.E.A.L.T.H:
University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, of Princeton, N.J., led a team that analyzed more than 160 long-term studies of human subjects, experimental human and animal trials, and studies that evaluate the health status of people stressed by natural events. He is quoted in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being as saying, “The overwhelming majority of studies support the conclusion that happiness is associated with health and longevity.”
Their review found “clear and compelling evidence” that – all else being equal – happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.
Shawn Achor, author of New York Times bestseller, “The Happiness Advantage,” and former Harvard University professor writes that studies have shown the following daily activities improve our level of happiness.
- Recall three things you’re grateful for
- Journal a positive thing each day
- Perform a random act of kindness.
Illness eventually comes to almost all people. It is a part of life and must be dealt with rationally and with as much faith and hope as possible. It doesn’t help to complain. In fact, it is harmful. Living as normally and happily as possible is better for everyone.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states these facts: “To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in.” ”People who have lost weight and kept it off typically engage in 60—90 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week.”
Of course, it is easier said than done. However, it will not become a burden if you:
- Find an activity you enjoy
- Exercise with someone whose company you enjoy
- Set aside a regular time to exercise
I began jogging three miles a day, three to four days a week in my twenties. I have continued that regimen but as I got older I increased the number of days and decreased the speed to a brisk walk. The net effect is the same, burning calories.
Ron Friedman, identified in his article “Regular Exercise Is Part of Your Job,” in the Harvard Business Review, October 3, 2014, the following side benefits:
- Improved concentration
- Sharper memory
- Faster learning
- Prolonged mental stamina
- Enhanced creativity
- Lower stress
Even though there is a new fad diet each month that some doctor or movie star endorses, there is only one that works. Eat less, exercise more. If that were not true, Oprah Winfrey would be skinny.
The CDC states, “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.” There is no reputable evidence that vegetarian or vegan diets are better for humans. There is also no evidence that nutritional supplements are as healthy as proper food choices.
The CDC guidelines are as follows:
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Compare sodium in foods and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
My wife is the mother of nine children and she has always looked great. This is her advice. “To lose weight and not make your body think you are starving – lose 5 to 8 pounds a season. That’s 20 to 30 pounds a year. You won’t have to buy so many new clothes and you go slow enough your body can get a new set point. You only need to tweak your diet or exercise program a little to lose 1 to 2 pounds a month. To begin, I increased exercise by one day per week. Next, I ate an apple or had a drink of water when I started eating everything in sight. Also, eat every four hours so your blood sugar doesn’t get so low you have to eat a lot.”
Our loving relationships with family and friends are more fulfilling than wealth, jobs, degrees, honors, fame, or anything else. They are also essential to good health.
According to a Harvard Medical School publication, dated December 1, 2010, “Social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”
The U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health states this, “For example, Berkman and Syme (1979) showed that the risk of death among men and women with the fewest social ties was more than twice as high as the risk for adults with the most social ties. Moreover, this finding held even when socioeconomic status, health behaviors, and other variables that might influence mortality, were taken into account. Social ties also reduce mortality risk among adults with documented medical conditions. For instance, Brummett and colleagues (2001) found that, among adults with coronary artery disease, the socially isolated had a risk of subsequent cardiac death 2.4 times greater than their more socially connected peers.”
The message is – if you are fighting with your brother or have a grudge against your neighbor, stop it! For the sake of your good health, be a better friend, neighbor and relative.
Time for Rest
Sleep deprivation has long been used to debilitate a captured enemy. Don’t debilitate yourself. Your good health depends on getting sufficient sleep, typically 7 – 8 hours every day for adults.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
- Make sure your bedroom is a quiet and dark.
- Make sure your bedroom is neither too hot nor too cold.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable.
- Do not use your bed for reading, watching TV, listening to music, etc.
- Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom.
- Avoid large meals before bedtime.
Nothing is more important to good health than eliminating bad health habits.
The CDC states, “More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States during its history.”
“Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costly to our Nation, exacting more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
The personal costs of substance abuse, include the following:
- Drunk driving deaths
- Automobile accidents
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Life destroying alcoholism / cancer / disease
- Child and spousal abuse
- Loss of a job
- Loss of the trust of ones colleagues
- Saying things that should never have been said
- Wasted time, wasted money and wasted lives
Good H.E.A.L.T.H. is important to everyone so we can do the things we want to do, for our self-image and how others perceive us, for our longevity, our effectiveness at work and at home and for the enjoyment we get from every day of life. Begin today to improve your own.
If you want to help others, don’t continually badger them. They know better than anyone that they have a problem. They will ask for help when they want it if we let them know that we will help. Until they ask, we should set a good example by exercising regularly, smiling, being kind, getting rid of unhealthy habits and eating healthy. Most importantly, be good and do good.