“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness,” posited Joseph Pilates in his book Return to Life Through Contrology, first published in 1945. A recent observational study of Pilates practitioners provides support for his position.
Even in childhood I had a philosophical bent. I distinctly remember sitting at the dinner table with my twin brother and discussing with him why the dog could eat hamburger and it became “dog,” whereas we could eat hamburger and it became “us.” An interesting question for a couple of 9-year-olds to pursue. Sadly, we never figured it out.
By my early 20s I had taken up the study of yoga, and my worrisome won- dering about the big questions of mean- ing and purpose in life was becoming more refined. Now I really wanted to “understand” what life was all about.
￼A large, population-based study of Midwest adults has shown that use of certain dietary supplements, including fish oil, echinacea and coenzyme Q10, was tied to changes in subjects’ systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.
Protecting Kidney Function
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 20 million U.S. citizens suffer from chronic kidney disease—the slow loss of kidney function—and that it is the ninth leading cause of death. Recently, researchers learned that exercise may slow kidney function decline in kidney disease patients.
Good news to share with clients who worry that if they don’t practice yoga daily, they won’t get results: Attending yoga class just once a week can provide positive, measurable help for people with low-back pain.
A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1155/2013/658030) reported that weekly yoga classes were as effective as twice-weekly classes for relieving low-back pain in low-income minority participants.
Most of us know that helping others has its rewards, but now scientists have been able to measure the cellular effect of altruism, and results confirm that contributing to others may do more for your health than simply satisfying your own needs. The study appeared in PNAS (2013; 110 , 13684–89).
The percentage of women aged 50 and over who are satisfied with their bodies is quite low, accord- ing to research from the Journal of Women & Aging (2013; 25 , 287–304).
The report was based on information from 1,789 women, who reported body-size satisfaction on a figure-rating scale. Only 12.2% of respondents were satisfied with their bodies.
“Satisfied women had a lower body mass index and reported fewer eating disorder symptoms, dieting behaviors, and weight and appearance dis- satisfaction,” the authors reported.
What makes us weaken with age? The prime culprit is sarcopenia—age-related loss of muscle mass, strength, power and function (Sayer et al. 2013; Morley 2012). Morley (2012) says 5%–13% of 60- to 70-year-olds and 11%–50% of people in their 80s have sarcopenia, which means “poverty of flesh.”
While many continue to hope for a “magic pill” to prolong youth and sustain health indefinitely, encouraging research demonstrates the power of a back- to-basics, integrative approach—a plant-based diet, exercise, stress management and social support.
The heart is an incredible organ, not only delivering a constant, reliable stream of life-giving oxygen and nutrients, but also responding instantly to challenges like stress, cardiovascular workouts and high-intensity bursts of energy.