Natural healing, natural wellness

Health Basics 101

Walk Away From Dementia

Here’s another good reason for going for daily walks. A study of nearly 300 people in Pittsburgh, USA, found that those who walked at least 9.7km a week had less age-related brain shrinkage than people who walked less. In other words, walking at least 9.7km per week may help keep dementia at bay.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia which affects an estimated 26 million people worldwide. Brain cells are slowly killed off in those afflicted, and there is presently no cure for this disease. However, activities like walking have been shown to build brain volume.

The University of Pittsburgh study – published on Wednesday in the journal “Neurology” – began in 1995 and involved 299 volunteers who were free of dementia and who were asked to keep track of how much they walked. Nine years later, their brains were scanned to measure brain volume. Four years after that, researchers tested the volunteers for any dementia or cognitive impairment. They found that the risk of developing memory problems was halved in those who walked roughly 9.7km to 14.5km a week.

Researcher Dr. Kirk Erickson said: “Brain size shrinks in late adulthood, which can cause memory problems. Our results should encourage well-designed trials of physical exercise in older adults as a promising approach for preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease”.

Prevention is always better than cure, so put on your walking shoes!

Less Is More

I weighed myself today and discovered that I’m the lightest I’ve ever been for almost 20 years. All I have to do is shake off 4kg more and I’ll be back to what I weighed when I got married, when I looked pretty darned good. Yay!

Besides eating healthily, regular exercise is an absolute must if you want to lose weight and keep it off. Twice each day, I walk my dog Ginger for a minimum of 25 minutes each time. I like to walk briskly, which helps to burn calories as well as keep muscles, joints and other parts of the body well-oiled. At least every other day, I try to fit in another walk in-between of at least 25 minutes duration. Fortunately, there are several shopping malls just 10 to 20 minutes walking distance away from where I live, and there’s also a scenic river just across the road. Finding incentives to go for a walk is easy.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I don’t have iron-clad willpower. I still snack daily, and my nibbles include naughty things like chocolate, ice-cream and cookies besides healthier stuff like dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Hey, you’ve got to have quality of life! Of course, I’m particular about the quality of my snacks and go for top-quality ingredients with nothing artificial added, as far as possible. You can still lose weight without depriving yourself. Just be discerning about what you eat and exercise, exercise, exercise.

Being overweight causes all kinds of health problems, such as high cholesterol, high-blood pressure, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes and joint problems. It can also be a factor in cancer. Maintaining a good healthy weight is plain common sense, if you’d like to live long and well.

My next target is to lose another kilogram by Christmas, which is less than a month away. Wish me well!

Live Simply

What a relief! My computer’s working again! When it crashed and I was told that I had probably lost everything on my hard disk, I was devastated. It took a while but thank God it’s back in action again and I haven’t lost much data. This is a reminder to all of us to back up our computers regularly!

My life has become so dependant on my computer, the internet and other technological aspects of modern living that I often long for a much simpler life. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to care about checking emails, or writing reports and articles, or even responding to the cellphone for that matter? We’d probably also be much healthier without constant exposure to radiation and other hazards from computers, mobile phones, microwave ovens, television and various urban devices.  My eyesight would probably improve if I spend less time staring at a computer or TV screen and more time gazing at some distant view.

I’ve been trying to simplify my life and get back to basics. Instead of spending hours glued to the computer or the TV – like many modern humans – I try to get out more for long walks and fresh air. Rather than rely on convenience foods or eating out, I take my time to prepare fresh food from scratch. For the past three months, for instance, lunch has been a large, fresh, green salad with home-made dressing. The result? I’ve lost some weight and I’m hardly ever sick these days. I used to get coughs and colds frequently.

When life was simpler and before personal computers became commonplace, people used to actually write letters and send real Christmas cards. When was the last time you wrote or received a hand-written letter or card? Emails and e-cards may be convenient, but don’t you think they’re rather soul-less?

Getting back to basics is good for the body, mind and spirit. Billy, my cat, is sitting behind my computer monitor, swiping at my hands as I type on the keyboard. He wants me to know that he’s lonely and he wants me to play with him. Time for me to turn off this computer, spend some quality time with Billy and  then take my dog Ginger out for a nice, long walk.