By Joel Curry, MSW, CMT, Pathways to Health
"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that of the key factors influencing an individual's state of health, everyday lifestyle choices comprise 53%. Quality of medical care is only 10%. Heredity accounts for 18% and environment is 19%. The decisions people make about their life and habits are, therefore, by far the largest factor in determining their state of wellness.” Susan A Walter, The American Holistic Health Association.
A few of the principals on which to base life style choices have to do with managing stress, becoming aware of how nutrition effects us, and staying physically fit.
Managing Stress: Massage Therapists can usually identify the primary activity of a person just by kneading their upper back and neck for a few moments. The “chronic” commuter and computer user have repetitive use tension that crunches muscles to the point of triggering pain receptors. This pain due to over-use is sending a message to us saying “Back Off!, I need a rest”. The real stress comes when we are unable to listen to these signals.
Nutrition: Andrew Weil, a Harvard trained MD and one of the most vocal propionates of holistic or natural health, begins his book NATURAL HEALTH, NATURAL MEDICINE with a chapter entitled “What Should I Eat”. Nutrition is considered a vital life style choice in maintaining system balance by many health practitioners. It is a factor that we may have the most freedom of choice to change for the better.
Exercise: Like dealing with stress and nutrition, keeping ourselves in reasonable shape is one of the spokes of the wheel that keeps us turning. Exercise, even moderate levels, helps keep our stress level down and serves to transfer nutritional energy into useful functions in our bodies. Just a thirty minute walk a day can have significant benefits. Walking around the grocery store is better than using a golf cart, but the most benefit comes from walking while just enjoying the surroundings or the conversation of a fellow walker. And walking in nature adds a connection to our source that borders on the spiritual and may be necessary in maintaining good health.
For most of us, just becoming more aware of our stress level, our diet, and exercise will have tremendous benefits to our overall well being. For more information on natural health from Dr. Weil, check out his web site at www.drweil.com, and from The American Holistic Health Association at www.ahha.org effects of holiday induced stress.