November 22, 2006

Indy Shrink

Putting Minds and Bodies in Motion, Part Two

Last week we spoke about the importance of keeping our minds in motion, of making sure that we utilized our mind and brain power to sustain our mental acumen and to add years of flexible and creative mental activity to our lives. I counseled you to go to the "mental gym." This week we are going to focus on our bodies and I will be counseling you to go to the physical gym or if that is not practical, then to take up some kind of physical activity that you will do with regularity and with zest.

Now of course any physical activity should be discussed with the health care person who has knowledge of where you are physically and what kinds of activities would make sense for you. So all that I say takes that as a starting point. That said, then let's look at some possibilities.

First, take note of the fact that the newspapers and magazines are literally bursting at the seams with new studies and support for the power of physical activity to create optimal conditions for health. Over and over again we get the news that those people who exercise regularly live longer and more healthily. The evidence is accumulating to the point of being almost overwhelming. So when you sit down at whatever age, but particularly those of you who are moving into later middle age, as getting old is now called, you should give very serious consideration to this advice. Now it is clear that there is something that you can do to influence your own physical destiny.

You should of course give due attention to your diet. What you eat is not a neutral thing. The same tsunami of evidence about the importance of physical exercise is also building in the area of nutrition. They go hand in hand. The point is that again we do have some real input into how we will be able to live and enjoy the rest of our lives. The input is not absolute of course, but it is much more palpable and trustworthy than it has ever been. So, any effort you make to steer yourself away from the kinds of foods that have empty calories or are heavily laden with sugar or carbohydrates that are not of the complex variety is going to do you a lot of good. By all means use the Internet to inform yourself in this regard. The amount of information is staggering to say the least.

As to what to do physically, as I noted above, if you can afford and are physically capable of getting to a gym, then do so. The availability of machines that are especially constructed to get the most bang for your effort simplifies your strategies. Also the camaraderie that can come of meeting like-minded people will only encourage you to persist in your effort. If that is not in the cards, not to worry. Here we are in the most beautiful spot on the planet. Get out and move your body through this wonderland every day. Walking at a pace, which pushes your physical capabilities is the way to go. Do it for at least 30 to 45 minutes every day.

At home, do pushups, sit-ups, and the old fashioned things that we learned as kids. Do it all, as noted above, with the advice of a medical person who knows you and supports what you do, but above all make sure you get it done! The main indicator of mortality has been shown to be the degree to which you can comfortably walk a half-mile or more without strain. So get out and keep yourself ahead of that limit and let me know what you think.

Frank Mosca Ph.D. is a licensed counselor, life and marital coach with a practice in Hampton Bays and Garden City. His views can be accessed at puttingmindsinmotion.com.

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