Friday, January 30, 2009

Aging well



Secrets to aging healthy and happy:
  1. Exercise: 30-40 minutes a day three to four times a week
  2. Nutrition: frequent meals of fruits and vegetables, fish
  3. Social: develop at least one emotional relationship
  4. Prayer and meditation: sit in a pleasant, quiet spot, breathe deeply and just be.
  5. Stress: appropriate and balanced


The "Serenity Prayer" offers a practical approach to this problem: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Dr. Bradley Willcox, in his book on longevity, reports on the residents of Okinawa who are more likely to live 100 years and less likely to experience cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mental deterioration than North Americans. This research suggests that balancing a low fat diet, exercise, and stress reduction through meditation and spiritual activity seems to slow the aging process.

People are bio-psycho-social organisms. Our needs are not only physical, biochemical, and nutritional, but also social and spiritual. If we neglect our social, spiritual, and psychological needs we harm the physical organism. By changing how and what we think, through talking therapy, such as cognitive therapy, we can bring about demonstrable changes in the biochemistry of our brains - elevating serotonin levels and decreasing depression. By exercising we reduce the risk heart disease and stroke through altering levels of serum cholesterol and developing collateral coronary circulation while increasing brain levels of essential neurotransmitters. By continuing to use and challenge our brains, the functions and probably the corresponding structures of this most important organ are preserved. Participation in support groups has been shown to increase both quality and quantity of life in people with terminal illnesses. Dr. Randolph Byrd, in a randomized, prospective study on the effect of prayer on coronary care unit patients, reported a significant positive health effect.

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