Life is what you make of it. Find your happiness in the moment!
I intend to work as long as I can. The healthiest and wittiest people I know are active in various enterprises, commercial businesses or community programs. Conversely, even though they would like to, unhealthy people can’t work. As a result, I have chosen to be grateful for the opportunity to do my work. The trick is to find work you enjoy.
I recently received a newsletter announcing passage of a bill called the “Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act,” which allows people to work past age 65 and not be penalized by having benefits reduced as their earnings increase. With this bill, people will probably be working longer, making it necessary for them to maintain better health. I also read about some very active working seniors, 70- 90 years old, who were operating home businesses or still employed.
If the majority of folks who reach age 65 still need to or would like to continue working, they will have to take better care of their health to remain competitive in the workplace. Those who decide to retire at age 65 will also need good health in order to enjoy their retirement. Here are some suggestions you can use to help you lead a long, healthy and productive life.
Life is what you make of it. Find your happiness in the moment!
Life begins with the first breath we take and ends with the final breath.
The body can live without food, water, sunshine and shelter for short periods. It cannot live without oxygen over 3-5 minutes. In Chinese medicine, lungs are most closely associated with heaven since air is the element closest to the heavens. Inspiration can mean breathing air in, bringing in more spirit or being moved to create. Life begins with the first breath we take and ends with a final breath.
Different disciplines use breathing to enhance health, performance, awareness and spirituality. Yoga, qigong, meditation and martial arts all use the breath to enhance body, mind and spirit. Relaxation exercises focus on deep breathing and releasing tension with each breath.
Exercise combines movement of muscles, acting like a pump, moving blood more efficiently throughout the body. When exercise is combined with taking good air into the lungs, oxygen saturated blood flows to all parts of the body, bringing good nutrition to the cells and taking away waste.
Oxygen is the chief way of metabolizing fat or converting fat into energy. If you can’t talk while exercising, you have probably switched to doing anaerobic exercise, without oxygen, and are using the energy stores from your muscles. Weight lifting uses primarily anaerobic exercise and develops neuromuscular coordination, improving communication between the nerves and the muscles. Aerobic exercise develops the cardiovascular system improving communication between the heart and the lungs.
Smoking causes narrowing of blood vessels, decreasing blood flow throughout the body and decreases the ability of the small air sacs to move air in and out, eventually decreasing elasticity. The lungs become more rigid, often leading to a widening of the chest. Inhaling particles small enough to get into the lungs competes with oxygen and may get into the blood stream.
Doing deep breathing exercises on a daily basis can increase lung capacity. Doing any sustained exercise which increases breathing will do including walking for at least 8-10 minutes at a pace producing a light sweat and larger inhalations. If you try breathing in for 8-10 seconds through the nose and then breath out through the mouth like you are blowing out candles for 8-10 seconds, this will force more air into more parts of the lung. Putting your arms and hands in different positions may also enhance moving the air into different parts of the lungs.
Try breathing with hands at your side for 2-3 minutes. Then switch to hands across the chest for 2-3 minutes. Then put hands on top of your head for 2-3 minutes, all the while breathing in through your nose for 8-10 seconds and out through you mouth for 8-10 seconds. Over time, you may find your resting breathing rate will decrease, which means you are breathing more efficiently, and you will feel more energetic and able to do more activity with less effort.
A good respiratory system is key for energy production, good brain function and other organ function as well as prevention of disease, including cancer.
A teacher took a group of students on a trip across country and ended up breaking her leg and getting a cast. She called me a day later to state her leg was hurting badly. I advised her to go to the nearest hospital ER and have the leg examined, as it could have been incorrectly treated. When the group returned, I learned she opted to continue on the trip because she wanted to wait until she returned home for follow-up, only to find out her leg had not been properly cast and she had to have the bone reset. Her healing took much longer than if she had followed my advice. It turned out she simply wanted to save money by waiting.
When it comes to exercise, I advise patients to look for subtle signs of increased exertion, more effort with breathing or slight signals of muscle fatigue, versus waiting for a pain to signal them to stop. In my physiology classes in undergraduate and graduate schools, pain is usually an indication of cellular damage. In a physical therapy course, one of my instructors said if you have to use ice after exercise to alleviate pain and soreness, the exercise is too vigorous.
Cultivating awareness may be as simple as paying attention to your environment, noticing how your body feels and making a decision to take action rather than doing something routinely without thinking. What do you make a conscious effort to notice each day? Do you notice nature? Do you take time to evaluate your energy level? Do you pay attention to which foods make you feel better and which ones make you feel worse?
Another approach to cultivating awareness is to use different sense organs to experience the world from different points of view. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How does your body move? What tensions can you feel? How heavy do you feel? What speed of movement feels comfortable to you? What temperature do you notice at various parts of your body? How clear is your thinking? How does your skin feel? What is your balance like?
These are just some examples of ways you can focus your attention to improve your awareness. Who knows what sensation may prevent an injury, prevent an accident and may make life more enjoyable?
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