By Vee Bright
Emotional Health and Fitness Segment
Numerous studies have shown that exercise such as running, stimulates the neurotransmitters serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine, and beta-endorphin, all of which elevate mood and reduce depression and anxiety. Dr. Austin Go tang, a psychotherapist, and marathoner suggest that the level of bonding among group runners can be therapeutic, and can reduce stress. Gontang believes that when you routinely run with a group, you develop trust, which can lead to airing out any challenges that you might have.
"A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step" Lao-tzu
Patience Nelson, an avid runner has a full spectrum approach to health & fitness
I maintain physical health by exercising at least five days a week during the winter and six to seven days during the summer. I belong to a local gym where I participate in group strengthening training class at least twice a week and I lift weights on my own one day a week. In addition, I belong to a running club (Elijah Running Club) where my husband and I are training to complete in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October of 2013. The training involves completing two short runs a week in River Forest and one long group run on Chicago's beautiful Lakefront. I have found that the combination of strength training and cardio running helps me to stay physically fit.
Maintaining a healthy weight continues to be a challenge because I am a "foodie." I have just started incorporating a detoxification program in my healthy aging routine and I am endeavoring to make healthy food choices by avoiding a lot of pre-packaged processed foods. As a result, I find that I go to the grocery store at least three to four times a week, in search of fresh foods. I am fastidious about reading the ingredients on all food packaging and questioning the source of the food. I have taken a test to determine my body type (www.tymplates.com) and try to eat consistent with the food groups that will facilitate in my goal of maintaining a healthy weight. I am getting better at saying no to foods that are tasty, but lack in nutritional value. When I can't conquer my "sweet tooth, I try to increase my cardio exercise to compensate for my guilty pleasures. Most importantly, I try to remember that food is fuel and nothing more. I also use protein shakes as a meal replacement during the week. My body feels most satiated when I have a steady helping of protein at each meal. When I don't include protein, I often snack on empty calories. I seldom waste my calories on drinks but rather drink water with most meals and alcohol in moderation.
A Journey of Faith and Fitness
I am able to maintain a balanced emotional life by staying connected to my creator and the author of my life. My connection is strengthen by practicing my faith in Jesus including attending church services, conferences, and actively serving in ministries within the church body. In addition, I regularly meditate in the steam room of my gym and participate in prayer walks. Similarly, I use my weekly runs as a time of self reflection and prayer and praise, all of which helps me to achieve emotional well being. I am also blessed to live with my best friend and husband who is a constant source of support and a good listener. I find that talk therapy with my husband helps me think through issues, process feelings and move through emotional challenges. Close friends also contribute to my wellbeing by listening and offering support for life's challenges.
Patience Nelson's thoughts on "Healthy Aging"
Healthy aging exists at the intersection of mind, body and spirit in balance. I am intellectually curious so I read a lot of periodicals that serve as a springboard for stimulating conversations. Engaging in exercise affirms physical vibrancy which I believe can exist at every age, perhaps to different degrees. Relationships affirm our sense of community and connectedness which is really important as we age so we don't feel isolated or that our world is shrinking as a result of aging. Feeding my spirit as part of the aging reminds me that I am valuable even if what I am capable of doing is changing as a result of aging. I also think that gratitude is a key component of aging gracefully. I may not feel how I did at age 20 (exercise w/o any aches) but thank God I can still run at 49 without having any ailments. Also, gratitude is an antidote for warding off incisive complaining and becoming "old and cantankerous."