Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ways to Stay Healthy

Living in a coop I am able to tap into a social network where I can combine good food and good company at our weekly potlucks. This picture depicts a typical Sunday in the Court yard. Creating productive multiple networks is key to fostering good mental fitness.

Ways to Stay Healthy and Fit
Alyssa Shaffer recently wrote an article on ways to stay healthy that I would like to share with you. I invite you to reflect on the following questions: What would you add to this list? What have you discovered about your personal health needs that would personalize and this list for your benefits? How can you fine tune your health plan to reflect your needs? How can you work more closely with your health care professional to ensure an effective and healthy prognosis?
Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah

Learn How to Relax

You can't always control when stress hits, but you can control how you handle it, says David L. Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. The key is to first acknowledge its presence. When you feel the anxiety coming on, give yourself a brief time-out. Do some deep breathing--inhale through your nose for five full counts, then exhale through your mouth for five full counts--until you start to feel calmer. To counteract chronic stress, like a demanding job, build in ways to blow off steam. "Not everyone relaxes by doing yoga or meditating-a brisk walk or smashing a tennis ball might be better," says Dr. Katz. "Just figure out what works for you."

<Stretch It Out
A few minutes of stretching a day can greatly improve your overall range of motion, which not only makes everyday tasks like reaching for the top shelf in the pantry easier but also reduces back or knee pain. "We spend so much time today hunched over computers, on the phone or in our cars that we forget to give our muscles a chance to lengthen and relax," says Dr. Fryhofer. The perfect time to stretch? When your muscles are already warm, like when you've finished doing some basic household tasks (vacuuming, carrying laundry or scrubbing the kitchen). Do some simple stretches for your hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves, shoulders, chest and back. Go to for a few.

Don't Discount Hormone Therapy
If you're early in menopause (in your 50s), Hormone Therapy (HT) may not be the demon you think, says Dr. Fryhofer. "It's not for everyone, but for the right person and the right reason, hormones may be the right answer." In 2002, the Women's Health Initiative study reported that there were more drawbacks to HT than benefits. Today, while some doctors don't advise using HT long-term, there may be a role for using it short-term to relieve uncomfortable symptoms and boost bone health.

Make Friends with Bacteria
Your digestive system needs "good" bacteria to keep the "bad" kind at bay. Some studies have shown that these positive bacteria (also known as probiotics) can help lower the risk of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and vaginal yeast infections. But you may need more than just a few spoonfuls of yogurt to get the benefits. "Supplements--especially the live version, available in spore form--have a better chance of getting into your gut," notes Dr. Roizen, who recommends brands like Align or Sustenex.

Go Low-Tech-At Least Sometimes
The constant buzz of your cell, PDA or other seemingly indispensable device can be doing you more harm than good. "It's a disruption that can add significant stress to your life," says Alice Domar, PhD, executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Waltham, Massachusetts, and author of Be Happy Without Being Perfect. If you find yourself paying more attention to your phone than to your family, or your heart speeds up whenever you see that flashing message light, take a BlackBerry break for a few hours (or even days).