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3 Keys to Healthy Aging

No one really knows why we age other than to acknowledge that as our cells die and don’t get replaced, organs – and ultimately our bodies  – do indeed die. The role that disease plays in this process is obvious – especially if there is no successful treatment available that can address the underlying causes of the problem. I believe in the “art of prevention” as a strategy for helping not only extend our lives – but also improving the quality of the time we have to live.

I did not come to this understanding in my early years because when we are young we assume we will “live forever”. It is only as we grow older and have to face the challenges of aging that we begin to appreciate the beauty and mystery of our own bodies – and what we “could” have done better along the way.

I decided that based upon my own experiences over the past 7 plus decades of life that we ARE in control of much of the aging process as we currently know it. I could assign a number to it (i.e. 80, 90%) but I would most likely be wrong. I will therefore ask instead what if we could control the “majority” of the outcomes we might face, then how would WE choose – and act – today to prevent problems in the future? When we REACT rather than RESPOND to life’s “urgings” we are always going to be “behind the curve” and face unintended consequences.

There are people who live to be hundred or more and then there are those of us who “die before their time”. How do we distinguish between being “lucky” and making good choices and does making thoughtful choices always work? I believe it does and this is why I thought I would share with you what I consider to be the three most important keys to healthy aging as I have lived them.

BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE

From a purely practical standpoint this key is what I would call a “no-brainer”. I started life on Maui in the mid 1940’s (1946) and was introduced to swimming before I could even walk. I remember a man holding me by the stomach in a half empty pool teaching me to kick my legs and paddle my arms. That man became my future swim coach and his name was Mack Nakano – a former champion himself. He shared his passion and love for swimming that animated his own life and I have carried that love and passion for physical activity within me ever since those wonderful days of my boyhood on Maui.

As I grew and I moved on from swimming to other sports (because of circumstances beyond my control), I found I had formed a love for all forms of physical activity. I discovered other ways to enjoy being active when I was no longer competing and that main form of activity became running. As I adjusted to life on the mainland at Syracuse University in 1964, I began a running campaign that has stayed with me to the present day. I can’t imagine letting even one day go by without stressing my body in some form and even when I was injured as I was last year, I still found ways to train and remain active. This idea is a part of WHO I AM.

I have run over 65,000 miles in the more than half a century I have been a runner. I believe my commitment to being fit has saved my life many times over during my lifetime – even in the darkest of times when I felt lost and without hope. My question to you is: What is your passion when it comes to being physically active and will you honor that passion the way I did with my running program? If you don’t have one – then find one! Being physically fit does NOT guarantee a healthy body but a healthy body does require a FIT body. I am hopeful my “luck” continues into the years ahead. I will do everything in my power to insure that it does!

BECOMING A “CRITICAL THINKER”

This is my second choice for a key to healthy aging because the key to life IS thinking and the corresponding choices that we make leading to the actions that we take as a result. ALL thought is powerful but it is in HOW we CHOOSE to use these “power houses” of life that makes all the difference. With the fast paced changes that are occurring in all facets of life today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know “what to think”. I say that becoming “aware of our thoughts” is a key to healthy aging because they lead us to our potential choices and it is through our choosing that we can enhance our circumstances – or cause them to do us great harm.

An example of choice gone wrong would be the choice to smoke. We all know the dangers inherent in smoking – or taking drugs for that matter – but many of us do it anyway. My father started smoking during World War II as many service men and women did during that terrible conflict and as a result shortened their lives. My father died in November of 1983 at the age of 64 from cancer which had spread throughout his body but started in his lungs. I saw him the week before he died and it left an indelible impression on me.  I was 37 at the time and I vowed to never go out like that. The past 35 years have been healthy ones for me because I cared about my future health and most importantly ACTED on that thought.

Deciding to become thoughtful and critically involved in our thoughts is an important part of the healthy aging process. Don’t “fall into” your choices – make them consciously and with the belief that you are doing what is right for you. People buy pills of all kinds sight unseen, and other potentially dangerous products online all the time “without thinking about the consequences” of their actions. I believe that we MUST “think before we leap”. It is the only sensible way to move forward in life and hopefully “cut the odds” in our favor so my advice is simple: Get in touch with your thoughts and act according to what they are allowing you to see and feel about yourself – and then choose wisely. This is the best any of us can do and it will insure WE are choosing our path in life – and not the other way around!

THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

I am not religious and have never found comfort – or peace for that matter – in any conventional religion but I have found that the spiritual path is available to all of us who seek a different way. I found this path in 1985 through a minister at the Church of Religious Science in Huntington Beach by the name of Peggy Bassett. She introduced me to the principles that would guide my life and choices going forward and that have sustained me to this day 33 years later.

I believe in “quiet time” for myself (meditation and affirmative prayer work – a form of prayer that affirms rather than asks for something). Every day presents me with a new opportunity to get “in touch” with my “inner self”, providing me with the opportunity to receive guidance – and even wisdom – that may give me clarity or a new understanding of some aspect of my life that may be causing me pain or any other challenge I need to address in the present. I will respond only when I can “see my way clear” to a solution and only then will I act on this wisdom or guidance.

The role of the spiritual journey is to bring an expanded consciousness – or awareness – into our life experiences and allow us to contact joy, peace, harmony and love in a way that enriches and sustains us while allowing us the opportunity to “let go” of the baggage of our pasts. Regret, guilt, unexpressed anger, hatred and other forms of negative inner turmoil CAN and DO lead us to an early death. The body responds to all forms of emotion and if these emotions – and thoughts – are not directed by US to a “higher consciousness” they will bring sickness and chronic illness in all their terrible manifestations into our lives.

I have never been in a hospital, had surgery, taken drugs or medication, or had any outside medical intervention that I can recall – ever. I believe that through the spiritual path that Peggy me gave all those years ago – coupled with my ongoing efforts to remain healthy and fit – I thrived and DO wake up each day grateful and hopeful. I am “lucky” but this luck came to me because I ACTED on my BEST instincts – and intentions – at the time I was making crucial choices in my life. What will your choice be when it comes to letting go of “preconceived notions” of what you “think” is true so that you can finally live in the REAL truth of who you are – and are becoming?

IN SUMMARY

I believe the world we live in today is “noisy”. There are too many voices and too little silence. I believe in being quiet and thinking and experiencing my life on more than just the superficial levels available in today’s world. I believe listening is becoming a lost art and that we are never going to “hear” anything of value arguing with another. Sometimes I feel as though I was not meant for this world and look back with fondness on the world as it was when I was a boy learning to swim and ultimately getting to know the me that I am today.

The keys to healthy aging are mine and mine alone. Whether others take what I have shared and “think about” them is for others to know. I believe that there is something greater and wiser than me that created me and is helping me to share what I have learned in my own unique way. This is my mission and this mission – or purpose – is always “on my mind”. I want it to be there constantly so that I may choose to support it in any way that I can in order to bring my life full circle from student to teacher – and back to student again.

What will you do with this information and how will your choices today affect your future? Only you will know but I will tell you that in “thoughtful living” we are ALWAYS rewarded by life with the best that it has to offer. Isn’t that worth your time and commitment? It is to me – and it is PRICELESS! Think about that!

Originally published on Healthy New Age. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

If you need help in designing a fitness plan, you can contact Nicholas Prukop via email at runningnick@sbcglobal.net or read his inspiring book Healthy Aging & YOU.

yoga-woman

Meditation for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition where there is muscle pain, fatigue, and tender spots on the body. While there is no cure for this condition meditation may help you to cope with the symptoms. There are many benefits of meditation for Fibromyalgia including: decreased stress, feeling more at ease, decreased blood pressure and heart rate, decreased anxiety, increased energy and pain tolerance.

Fibromyalgia signs

Living a Happy Life with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Pain

A chronic pain diagnosis can sneak up from nowhere, throwing our lives into a whirlwind. You might feel overwhelmed, depressed or even terrified. Perhaps you’re uncertain of where to turn for help coping with your symptoms.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Hundreds of millions of people live with chronic pain. In the United States alone, tens of millions of individuals suffer from fibromyalgia – just one of many conditions which can cause long-term pain. If you have fibromyalgia, chronic pain or any associated conditions, keep reading for some ideas for how to improve your quality of life.

Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the simplest – yet quickest – ways to manage chronic pain and other troubling symptoms of fibromyalgia. Simply put, when you feed your body wholesome, nutritious foods, you’re giving it the fuel it needs for healthy organ function, fighting off illness, and even healing. Enhancing your diet with a few select superfoods can help with fibromyalgia pain, and you probably already have many of them in your kitchen! Red grapes have a compound called resveratrol that helps keep muscle tissue strong, ginger and cherries have natural pain-fighting properties, and fish rich in omega-3s gives your brain the boost it needs to send relief to tender spots when they send pain signals. Similarly, there are lots of foods that have anti-inflammatory properties – like whole grains, leafy greens, tomatoes and olive oil – which should replace all or most of the processed foods consumed by fibromyalgia sufferers. That’s because the additives in processed foods may increase pain sensitivity, making physical discomfort feel even worse. If you’re enduring chronic pain, it’s critical that you take a look at your diet, and choose nutritious, natural foods over unhealthy, high-processed foods as often as you can.

Despite our best efforts to take care of ourselves, when your health starts to feel out of control, you might find yourself frustrated with your physical body and your life. During these difficult times, experts say it can be helpful to refocus your mind.

Author and transformational coach Sean Meshorer recommends redefining the things that make us happy. Meshorer can speak to the power of the bliss method from his own personal experiences living with chronic pain. This allowed him to develop “the bliss method” which completely focuses on finding happiness, contentment and peace – all without depending upon external factors.

By refocusing our minds to search for happiness within ourselves, we can better cope with our chronic pain. These techniques also help ease the depression, anxiety and fear that can come with our diagnosis, and help keep us from practicing harmful coping methods – like turning to our prescription pain pills – for comfort. In fact, you may be able to ease up some of your pain naturally via vitamins B, C, and D. If you aren’t already taking a vitamin supplement, it is worth looking into. There are several trusted brands, such as Ceregumil Vitamix Plus, which are great for joint pain.

Dr. Joseph Christiano, ND, CNC, agrees. “Refocusing the brain, using mental imagery, and practicing [breathwork],” he says, “are a few of the many techniques used for managing chronic pain in order to thrive while moving closer to pain-free living.”

Once you begin shifting your attention to the positive aspects of your life, you’ll find it easier to tap into your own potential for happiness. This is a skill that can be learned. Start by getting a piece of paper and a pencil, and creating a list of all the enjoyable things you can still do despite your chronic pain diagnosis.

Your personal reasons to stay positive might include having a warm, loving relationship or finding creative, new ways to serve humanity. Write down your favorite show to binge on Netflix. Be sure to include relaxing in bed with high thread count sheets, if that’s your ideal day. Whatever it is that brings you joy, write it down – and don’t be afraid to get creative. These are the things that will give you hope each day.

Many people also find a sense of calm, purpose and well-being by helping others. For some of us, that could mean blogging about our illness, with the underlying hope that others with chronic pain will realize they’re not alone. If you’re not a writer, you can still help others by donating to your favorite charity or finding other ways to help those in need.

Why are these techniques so powerful? The answer might have something to do with cortisol, the stress hormone. Many doctors now screen chronic pain patients for cortisol levels. Cortisol levels can be naturally reduced through lowering environmental stress factors. Activities such as yoga, meditation and massage also help by stimulating a calming neurotransmitter in the brain.

As you can see, there are various ways to cultivate hope and happiness, even with a chronic pain diagnosis. From yoga to bodywork, from acupuncture to meditation, try a variety of practices until you find something that works for you. As always, check with your doctor before trying any new activity or holistic treatment method. You’ll want to make sure it is safe for your personal condition, and that it won’t contribute to further pain or illness.

If you have a chronic pain diagnosis, you can still live a blissful life. Don’t give up; use the tips above to train your brain. Keep searching for things that bring you joy. Your body and mind will thank you for it.


Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.

References

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html
http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/diet-tips-fibromyalgia
http://bodyredesigning.net/how-to-thrive-when-battling-chronic-illness.asp
https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/pain/cortisol-screening-chronic-pain-patients
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/eating-healthy-important-7166.html
http://www.aarp.org/food/diet-nutrition/info-03-2011/pain-fighting-foods.html
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html
https://www.healthcentral.com/article/vitamins-b-c-d-may-prevent-pain
http://www.drugrehab.org/the-45-warning-signs-of-prescription-drug-abuse/