What does it mean to be healthy? If we asked the members of First Church, responses would vary greatly but most would agree that being (and staying) healthy requires a lifetime of trial and error. Influential factors include health fads and trends, personal health issues, and life stages.
God created human beings with the perfect design. Our major organ systems work the same but as Psalm 139:13 (NLT) says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb,” creating each of us with our own DNA identity. Wow!
In his book Fit Over 50, physician and medical journalist Dr. Walt Larimore states that health can be separated into four areas. He references Luke 2:52, “Jesus grew in wisdom [emotional/mental health] and stature [physical health], and in favor with God [spiritual health] and man [relational health].” Dr. Larimore also reminds us that Jesus is the only person who had perfect balance in all four areas.
Here are some helpful ideas to promote all four areas of health.
Think positively. Join support groups such as GriefShare, if you are suffering from the loss of a loved one. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones has an impact on both physical and mental health. The Apostle Paul says, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). He goes on to say that if you do this the peace of God will be with you. Avoid too much social media and news stories which tend to upset your peace of mind.
Keep your mind active. Enroll in an online course, get involved in an organization that you are passionate about, join a book club. In general, reading can reduce stress, improve cognition, delay dementia, and add years to your life. Playing games like Scrabble or Chess stimulate the mind. Creativity gives the brain a workout, too. Do you like to paint or draw or color in an adult coloring book? Great! Just do it.
Eat good food. Food fads have come and gone over the years, but some things have remained consistent: simple sugars and processed foods are not healthy. Lean meats, fresh veggies, and whole grains are the better choices. The fewer cans, packages, and jars in your pantry, the better.
Move. That which benefits the body often benefits the mind. Regular exercise can improve your cognitive skills. Hike a nature trail with your kids, grandkids, or spouse, and offer gratitude for God’s creation. Take up water aerobics or yoga, walk on the beach, walk the dog; movement keeps you flexible and helps prevent falls. Exercise improves mood, burns calories, and strengthens muscles. If you work at a job that requires sitting, invest in an elevated desk and stand up for part of the workday incorporating stretching exercises.
Pray. Prayer has been shown to positively affect outcomes of health related to anxiety, heart disease, depression, marital satisfaction, pain relief, and generalized well-being. Find time each day to speak with God in a quiet place. Include prayer in your daily chores. Join a prayer group. The Apostle Paul tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6, NLT).
Read the Bible. According to Dr. Larimore, research has shown that those who internalize biblical teachings have high levels of satisfaction in life, a sense of well-being, and more overall happiness. Scripture teaches us how to live and nurtures a heart of gratitude. (And we know how important a healthy heart is!) Reading Bible stories with children and grandchildren benefits spiritual, relational, and emotional health.
Connect with others. In 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, Dr. Larimore says that relationships are so vital to health that we should “avoid loneliness like the plague.” A healthy social life can improve longevity by 50%. Although these days it is more difficult to safely congregate with others, there are ways to connect with loved ones from the security of your home. Texts, emails, phone calls, FaceTime, Zoom, and social networking can help to ease isolation and improve mindset. Share with others from a distance; join an online book club or brain games site.
An APP-le a Day… Helpful Apps
AllTrails Shows pictures and describes nature trails near to your location, the length, difficulty, and rating of each.
WordBrain Access word puzzles to exercise your brain.
WhatsApp You can video call with up to eight participants, plus texting.
Bible in One Year Receive a Psalm or Proverbs reading, and a reading from both the Old and New Testaments.
BMI App Find your Body Mass Index; just type in “BMI calculator” for options
from the Parish Nurse Ministry