There is certainly no shortage of information about things we can do to maintain an illness-free and healthy lifestyle. Perhaps our biggest challenge is deciphering which nuggets of information are beneficial and which aren’t so great!
Developing a preventative mindset may be the true answer to long-term health, and it is necessary for each of us to implement practices which prevent sickness and disease before they happen.
Imagine never having to delve in the world of doctors, hospitals and pharmaceuticals until the very end (when it’s absolutely necessary).
Wellness guru Dr. Andrew Weil is famous for saying that he wants to live only as long as he is able to maintain a full-range of health, awareness and vitality…and have his life “culminate with rapid decline” at the end. Living as long as we can while being as vibrant and healthy as possible—that seems like a worthwhile goal to me (and the purpose of this article)!
So how do you start integrating preventative measures in your life? Here is a list of 10 practices that will help you stay away from hospitals, feel healthier and live longer:
1. See a Chiropractor
The roots of chiropractic care can be traced all the way back to the beginning of recorded time. Hippocrates, the Greek physician, who lived from 460 to 357 B.C., declares in one of his writings “get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases”. Effective chiropractic care: inhibits spinal degeneration, restores normal nerve supply, improves immunity, allows better sleep, prevents surgery, and slows the aging process. This is preventative lifestyle at its finest.
2. Laugh HARD
Falling on the floor laughing is one of the best things you can do to prevent sickness from entering your life. Laughing boosts immunity, strengthens the heart, and improves lung function among a myriad of other benefits! Making a habit of renting funny movies, going to comedy clubs and watching Saturday morning cartoons like you did when you were a kid (SpongeBob Squarepants is actually hysterical…I have to admit) can add several years to your life!
3. Scatter your Workouts
“Shaking up” your workout routine is a great way to stay healthy over the long-term. Too often we get stuck in exercise patterns that do not promote a diverse experience for the body and mind. Although you may feel like you are doing a really good thing by concentrating on one routine, you may be limiting yourself. People who only do Yoga need to lift weights; people who focus solely on weights need should do more Yoga! Doing the unexpected creates a wonderful “pop of opposites” in the body (a major component of Yin Yang theory). I’m not saying to ditch your favorite workout, but changing it up can strengthen a wider variety of muscles and tendons, increase your heart rate and intensify mental clarity!
4. Sleep at least 7 hours a night
Making a habit of sleeping well is the number one thing you can do to boost your health and longevity, and if you follow no other suggestions on this list try and implement this one. It has become widely accepted that the risk for developing disease increases significantly for people who get less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep each night. Furthermore, lack of sleep has been associated with the worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, and increases risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Sleeping adequately reduces stress, lowers inflammation in the cells, and makes you more alert.
5. See an Acupuncturist
The basic premise of acupuncture, and much of Chinese medicine, is that all sickness we encounter is the result of obstruction to our naturally flowing life-force (or “Chi”). Practitioners treat conditions that are a result of Chi becoming stuck, depleted or weakened and thus making the individual susceptible to illness. Acupuncture benefits the improvement of physical health conditions as well as affective disorders and instills a feeling of increased mental clarity. Acupuncture is an invaluable tool for long-term and sustainable health (And no, the needles are not bad at all)!
Meditation is the practice of silencing the mind, and can increase your health and vitality beyond measure. When your mind is silenced and focused on a particular part of the body, the blood flow to that part increases and cells receive significantly more oxygen and other nutrients. Continuous meditation practice has been shown to strengthen the mind, and enables it to execute projects more efficiently. Meditation also leads to the following: deeper levels of relaxation; increased blood flow; a lower heart rate; an enhanced immune system…and it can build self confidence! A truly wonderful way
to add healthy years to your life!
7. Perform Cardiovascular Exercise at least 4 times a week
Integrating at least 20 minutes of cardio workout a minimum of 4 times a week is a wonderful preventative measure to take. “Cardio” increases the capacity of the lungs to provide oxygen to the blood and improves the hearts ability to transport oxygenated blood to the cells. What is considered an acceptable heart-rate during a cardio routine depends on many factors (age, weight, general health) but no matter what kind of shape you think you are in you can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and decrease body fat by consistently getting the heart rate up!
Stretching prevents injury by increasing the length of both your muscles and tendons. This leads to an increased range of movement, which means your limbs and joints can move further and (often) thwarts injury before it occurs. Stretching also ensures that your muscles and tendons are in good working order and conditions them to handle the rigors of sport and exercise. Furthermore, regular stretching improves blood circulation and increases energy levels! A great time to stretch is first thing in the morning, and is an incredible preventative activity to integrate!
9. Eat Organic Food
In my article The 5 Greatest Foods For Your Health, I covered some fantastic foods for longevity. I did NOT mention the importance of food quality and think it’s important to add “eating organic food” as a critical factor leading to long-term health. Bottom line, you want the least chemicals in your body as possible and eating as much organic fare as you can limits the amount of pesticide and chemicals you ingest. There is much ambiguity in the scientific community concerning the role of pesticides in human disease…but your best bet is to stay as far away from them as possible!
10. Be Wary of Medications
This is the only recommendation on this list that has a negative spin to it (where I suggest “not” do something) but I think it’s important to note the potential dangers of our pharmaceutical friendly society. There are tens of millions of people in the U.S. alone dependent on drugs, and I think its necessary to ponder whether or not this is a good thing. Although proponents of pharmaceuticals will point to the increasing longevity of human beings as a sign that they are good for us, I think what is really needed are some new statistics. Perhaps something like: “longevity while living with independence, strength and happiness” will do the trick. For more information about the drawbacks of pharmaceuticals, read my article on 8 Realizations About the Pharmaceutical Industry.
In conclusion, cultivating a “preventative lifestyle” means habituating a way of living that inhibits illness from ever taking a hold of you. Amid all the clutter out there it is absolutely imperative for each of us to begin taking responsibility for our own health. The recommendations in this article are holistic and timeless, and can get you on the right track for living 100+ years with full awareness and fulfillment…so try them out!
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