Friday, April 8, 2011

Eat Well and Exercise—Body and Mind

While I am entering that category of folks that occupy middle- to old-age, what I discuss here is for all ages. 

Eating well:  This refers to two aspects of eating.  First, as is obvious to most people with a little education, WHAT we eat is important.  For a healthy life, we need a balance of fruit, vegetables, grains…and a good source of protein.  Some time back, I published a list of the best fruits and veggies one can eat.  The best grains are whole grains, high in fibre—whole-grain rice, whole wheat, oats, quinoa, etc.  But, it’s as important HOW we eat.  If we rush through a meal, it affects our digestion—a fancy word for how we ‘process, absorb and make useful’ our food.  Most people think that digestion begins when the food hits the stomach, but this is not so.  Digestion begins when we put the food in our mouths.  The saliva in the mouth begins to infuse the food with enzymes that begin the digestion process—what we do with the food in our mouth affects the process in the stomach.  Mind you—a swig of tea or water may soften the food for us, but this does not take the place of a good, thorough chewing.  (Personally, I choose not to drink anything with my meals—it slows me down and ensures a good start to that process!)  If we chew slowly, chew thoroughly, we increase the positive  processing of the food in our stomachs…and affect what the body can do with the food the rest of the way down the line.  So, yes, eat good foods, but eat them well!

Exercise:  I’m beating a dead horse here…but, if we don’t exercise, we’ll be that dead horse—huge and dead!  It doesn’t take a lot of time…and it pays amazing dividends.  Just 30 minutes of sweat-producing exercise a day, 4-6 days a week, and we feel better, look better and live better.  The easiest thing is to learn about exercises, talk about exercises and think about exercising.  The tough part is getting off our butts and doing it!  But, nothing takes the places of doing it.  I recommend exercising outside of your house or apartment—we all need a break from that space, and it’s all too easy to be interrupted by a phone call or a visit.  So, find a community gym or walking track, find a route to walk or run in your neighborhood, and do it!  Remember, this needs to be aerobic exercise—walking, running or swimming.  I shy away from running just because 1) it hurts and 2) I’ve seen too many folks with running injuries.  While I love swimming, walking is my preferred exercise because I can do it in any weather, almost anywhere and at anytime.  In fact, one of my favorite sayings is, “Humans are made to walk.”

Feed and Exercise the Mind:  Read a good novel, read a history, watch a nature or travel show, work cross-words and Sudoku puzzles.  Again, even if it’s just 30-minutes-to-an-hour a day, these sorts of things keep the juices flowing and/or the imagination active.  Studies indicate these things can ward off some aging issues.  And, besides, it’s fun!

So, I write all of this to remind myself…and you…that we have to take care of this body of ours—our bodies and our minds are actually positively affected by these things…and, therefore, our spirits as well.  Live well, live slowly, live healthily…and we may just live longer and live better!.

No comments: