Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Sunshine

For those of you in the northern hemisphere, they are currently in the lightest time of the year. June 21st marked the Summer Solstice, the time when the sunlight is at its peak. From this point on, the Sun will lessen in its strength, but more than ever we need to protect ourselves from it. Oddly enough, regardless of the season, dermatologists recommend our putting on sunscreen when we are out in the sunshine. But it is beneficial and advised by dermatologists to get at least 15 minutes of natural light every single day.

That's right. While we do need to watch our sun exposure and protect ourselves when we are in the sun for long periods of time, our bodies also need full-spectrum natural light on a daily basis. Incandescent lights and fluorescent lights don't produce a sufficient amount of lux (a measurement of light) to provide us with positive health benefits. The most efficient way to reap these benefits is to go outdoors.

Those 15 minutes a day out in the sunlight can do a lot for your body, including positively affecting your endocrine system, reproductive system, and your circadian rhythms or internal biological clock. Light exposure also boosts your serotonin levels to help you to stay awake and alert.

Plus, natural light helps your skin to produce vitamin D, which helps your body absorb the calcium needed for strong bones. Daily exposure to sunlight also helps reduce stress and improve your mood.

How can you be sure to get those valuable 15 minutes of sunlight on a regular basis? Go outside whenever you can. Enjoy your lunch break out of doors, or take a short morning or afternoon walk. All of these are excellent ways to safely get the amount of light your body requires.

So, I hope you will think about your daily dose of sunshine. And now I hope you will take some time to go over your forecast. May it shed light and brighten your path. Have a lovely sunny summer week!

Until next week.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Some ways to keep our body healthy

This morning, I read an article in the newspaper about the negative effect the economic crisis is having on our health. Some people are compromising their health by working more than one job and burning the midnight oil. Others are experiencing anxiety and stress as a result of the financial instability they are experiencing, and still others are choosing to cut back on important health benefits, such as exercise or the quality of food they are eating.

There is no doubt that tough times take a bite out of everything, and it's certainly important to be conservative during periods of financial downturn. However, we need to think seriously about what we cut from our budget, and healthy food choices and a regular exercise routine should not go easily. More practical expenses to cut back on include entertainment costs, such as movies and shows, perks like cable television, and nights out at restaurants and clubs. Now is the time to consider spending more time at home and economizing on gas, electricity, and water consumption.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your body healthy and fit even when your wallet isn't. With just a few simple shifts, you can continue to eat right and get plenty of exercise while sticking to a tighter budget.

For starters, do things to nip your stress in the bud. Make a point of getting as much rest as you can. This is especially necessary if you have had to take on a second job. Rearrange your schedule so that you can get at least 7 hours of sleep daily. Also, drink lots of water to keep your system flushed. Save money by avoiding bottled waters and purchase a water filter for your kitchen tap instead.

If you can't afford to go to the gym, find new ways to get exercise. Get outside and take advantage of the changing seasons by walking, skating, biking, playing softball, basketball or Frisbee, and swimming or doing some outdoor gardening. If you have to be indoors, you can always plug in an exercise video or put on your favorite CD and dance until you start feeling sweaty. These activities require a relatively small investment, if any at all.

When it comes to groceries, there are a few things you can do to save money without compromising nutrition. Buying fresh produce is great but can be expensive, and it begins to lose its nutritional value within just a couple of days. So buy foods that you must eat fresh, like apples, plums, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados, and opt to go to the frozen food section for the rest. While some people feel that frozen food is less nutritious than fresh, both types tend to have the same levels of nutrients. That's because frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen at the peak of their ripeness, which actually locks and holds in their nutrients. So, all you have to do is to allow for thawing time when planning meals.

Even though money is tight right now, you can still maintain a healthy lifestyle on a lean budget. It just takes a little planning and adjustment to doing a few things differently. Before you know it, your new routines could become habits that help you save money in the long run.

Until next week... have a great Father's Day weekend!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A weekend walk in the park...

I just returned from a pleasant visit to the park, in Salcedo Village, where I sat on a bench and people-watched. The park is a perfect place for this activity as there are so many people to see: nannies pushing prams, young mothers watching children on the playground, people strolling leisurely along the walks, and professionals taking a break from their office, enjoying their lunch outdoors.

However, in addition to just looking at the passersby, I also was also reading about human behavior. An elderly couple strolled past me, arm in arm, talking, giggling, and seeming to enjoy each other's company. Their giggling was a bit unexpected, but certainly pleasant. At one point, they stopped and he kissed her on her forehead before the giggling began again and they walked on.

Near the playground, a young boy and an older woman were crouched on the ground, looking at something in the grass. The woman, possibly a grandmother, seemed to be explaining something to the child. Other children joined them and, suddenly, a small group was receiving what I imagined was a nature lesson. Then, a teenage girl glided past me on roller blades, grinning wickedly, her long brown hair flowing behind her. Behind her a young woman who was also on skates, but seemed to be having difficulty keeping up, called out, "Wait up!"

As you know, my attention focuses on what makes people tick and how they act with others. I have long been interested in how people behave and interact. I guess you could say that people-watching is one of my hobbies. The best thing is that you can people-watch almost anywhere -- in the park, the local bookstore, a tea or coffee shop, or even a shopping mall. It is a very inexpensive hobby, which costs no more than the price of a cup of tea or coffee.

It can be fascinating watching our fellow human beings. If you aren't already a people-watcher, I invite you to give it a try. You may find that it opens your mind to human nature. And you may even see aspects of yourself in others, as I sometimes do. Regardless, you won't be bored.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The fountain of youth

Are you familiar with the legend of Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer who was supposedly looking for the fountain of youth and discovered Florida instead? Well, he certainly wasn't the first person to be lured by a dream of eternal youth. There are numerous stories about powerful figures in history such as Alexander the Great and Cleopatra who also sought to hold onto their beauty and vitality.

And the search for youth continues. All you have to do is to turn on the television or open a beauty magazine to find advertisements for miracle hair tonics, wrinkle cures, stomach flatteners, etc. It seems we are still looking for a fountain of youth, but this time it is through creams or supplements or health regimens that make extravagant, unproven claims. However, I don't think that is the way to stay young.

It seems that studies done on centenarians – those who've live 100 years or more -- show that they have certain things in common. And that's staying active, having interests, and keeping connected with their loved ones. So it seems that the mind-body connection is what is most important.

Staying physically fit is important, but so also is keeping mentally and emotionally fit. Centenarians who were studied showed they handled stress well and were the type of people who could let go of their worries at the end of each day. Like anyone else, they had their difficult or challenging experiences, but it was their positive response to those difficulties and challenges that enabled them to carry on.

So there may be a fountain of youth after all, but not exactly as we envisioned it. As the "ageless" Sophia Loren has said, "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age."

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