June 13

The Value of Health-Basic Habits for Better Living

The Value of Health-Basic Habits for Better Living

By Deborah Johnson

June 13, 2024

balanced diet, Deborah Johnson, healthy habits, podcast, quality of life, regular exercise, sleep, stress, value of health

Lately, I have been reflecting more and more about the value of health, particularly as I see those around me start to face health challenges ranging from worn-out knees and hips to the daunting reality of cancer. These issues don't discriminate by age; they affect us all. Even though our life span has lengthened by a good twenty years from the 1950’s to today, the pursuit of good health is top of mind for creating the quality of life most all of us desire. For those of us reaching a certain age, we find our conversations quickly merge towards different ailments we all face. It’s almost laughable how fast this happens!

One of the jobs I have enjoyed for a number of years is to play the beautiful piano in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Hotel in Southern California. It is one of my favorite places for people-watching. During a recent engagement, I observed a young mom in a wheelchair spending time with her daughter, not yet two years old. The little girl was entranced by a small battery-powered votive candle, repeatedly removing it from its glass container, inspecting it with wide-eyed wonder at the flickering electronic flame, then putting it back. Her mother sat patiently by her side, assisting her with the task. Even though I had no idea of what specific challenges the mother faced due to her wheelchair, at the end of my set, I felt profound gratitude for the ability to stand and walk away from the scene.

For those of us fortunate enough to have enjoyed relatively healthy lives, it might be challenging to recall moments where we simply sat with a child, guiding them through a moment of wonder, whether it be in nature or something as simple as a battery-powered candle on a table. Amidst the hustle and bustle of life—rushing to appointments, events, and work—we often take our health and time for granted. Yet, it's the daily habits we cultivate and maintain that typically contribute to a higher quality of life. Observing the young mother in a wheelchair, I recognized the tradeoff she made, ensuring her health didn't detract from the quality time spent with her daughter. While many of us would be dashing off to the next engagement, she remained rooted in one place. This experience underscored two key lessons for me: gratitude for my own health and the importance of nurturing good habits and routines to sustain it. In the following discussion, I'll delve into some of the essential daily practices we should all prioritize. Incorporating these habits into your daily life can enhance your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, paving the way for a more joyful and fulfilling existence

Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson The Value of Health-Basic Habits for Healthy Living with Deborah Johnson 6-18-2024
00:00:00 00:00:00

One: Regular Exercise

Exercise doesn't demand vast amounts of time, but consistency is key. Like any habit, it's best when it's scheduled and seamlessly integrated into a routine. The benefits are tangible; according to the American Heart Association, adults who meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity—150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week—enjoy a 30% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to their inactive counterparts.

To put those numbers into perspective, this translates to just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week or 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise daily. For moderate-intensity activities, options like walking or biking suffice, and even walking the dog counts—I personally enjoy daily walks with our little dog, Amelia, aptly named after Amelia Earhart! Meanwhile, vigorous-intensity exercise can include cross-training or interval training, offering numerous adaptable options to suit most schedules. I've also discovered that if exercise isn't integrated into a routine, it's unlikely to occur regularly, if at all. For me, part of my early morning routine includes exercise, so I know I’ve accomplished at least what is needed for my basic health.

Two: Balanced Diet

In the movie Elf, Buddy humorously defines a balanced diet as consisting of four main food groups: candy, candy corn, candy canes, and syrup—a notion that elicits laughter, but also highlights a pervasive issue. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the average American consumes approximately 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, totaling around 270 calories. Shockingly, some individuals kick off their day with a can of soda, packing in 39 grams of sugar from one drink, equivalent to almost 10 teaspoons!

While there exists a multitude of diets and nutritional approaches, most heart-healthy diets, as outlined by the American Heart Association, emphasize food groups like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. With over 50,000 diet books and 70,000 nutrition books available on Amazon, the options can be overwhelming. However, adhering to a basic plan of nutrition, such as the Mediterranean Diet, known for its heart-healthy benefits, is often the most consistent choice, even though health considerations like celiac disease and autoimmune disorders may warrant exceptions. See extra resources included at the end of this article.

Three: Get Adequate Sleep

In my younger years, I could easily manage with fewer hours of sleep, although it wasn't simple, especially with young children in the house. When our kids were infants and toddlers, consistent sleep was a challenge due to issues like colic, earaches, and their perpetual activity. As time went on, even juggling late-night gigs at clubs and early mornings didn't significantly impair my functionality. I'd often stay up late to wrap up my own musical work projects or wake up in the wee hours to squeeze in extra work. However, as the years have passed, I've noticed a growing need for a full night's sleep

Research consistently demonstrates the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive function, including reduced alertness, vigilance, working memory capacity, and learning abilities. Also, inadequate sleep is directly linked to various health issues such as an elevated risk of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, increased inflammation, cardiovascular problems, and even a shortened lifespan. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed that individuals who reported sleeping 6-7 hours per night had the lowest mortality risk compared to those who slept less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours per night.

Fortunately, there are numerous natural remedies available to address sleep issues, ranging from herbal teas to soothing soundscapes and devices like C-pap machines that assist with breathing. Additionally, taking a brief power nap of 15-20 minutes can offer rejuvenating benefits and it’s nothing to feel guilty about. It's essential to explore and find what methods work best for your individual sleep needs.

Four: Stress Management

Stress, often called the “silent killer,” can sneak up on us, sometimes only revealing its presence once it dissipates. With sudden onset of stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. Chronic stress is stress experienced over a long period of time and is associated with heightened risks of heart disease, depression and weakened immune system. It is common to also experience other physical ailments stemming from the effects of chronic stress.

To mitigate stress, I have incorporated some preventative measures into my life, aiming to reduce its impact as I navigate my daily responsibilities. One such measure is scheduling a deep tissue massage every 4-6 weeks. While it requires time and resources, I've found it to be a worthwhile investment, yielding increased energy levels and alleviating tension in my shoulders and back. Additionally, I've integrated more stretching and strength-building exercises into my routine to further counteract tension and promote relaxation.

Beyond self-care practices, addressing the root causes of stress is crucial. This involves nurturing strong relationships for friendship and feedback, learning to let go of anger, and seeking professional assistance when needed. The changes implemented and the support received in managing stress can ultimately have life-saving implications. In fact, they may save your life!

Application: Evaluate the Value of Your Health

A stark reality check, whether prompted by a health scare or walking through the liquidation of a home, often serves as a poignant reminder of the value of our health and living, along with time and relationships, as our most precious assets. While money is indispensable for sustenance, its value pales in comparison when our health is compromised; no amount of wealth can indefinitely extend life or resolve health challenges. While adopting good habits doesn't guarantee a longer lifespan or bring complete immunity from health issues, healthy habits significantly enhance quality of life, emotional well-being, and improve overall odds. So, take the time to assess and integrate these basic habits into your daily life to increase your odds!

Bonus Podcast!

Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson Holistic Methods of Health and Wellness with Adrien Cotton 6-14-2024
00:00:00 00:00:00

Additional Articles and Podcasts

Living with a Chronic Illness

You can reach Adrien at: https://AdrienCotton.com to find out more about her programs.

Handling Stress and Indecision

Authentic High Energy without Lattés

Invisible Wealth: How Wealthy are You Really?

The Importance of Exercise (including podcast on stretching & strength training

Courses to help move you forward: In career: A New Way of Doing Business; In life & career: Hero Mountain Summit

Amidst the hustle and bustle of life—rushing to appointments, events, and work—we often take our health and time for granted. Yet, it's the daily habits we cultivate and maintain that typically contribute to a higher quality of life.

deborah johnson

Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author

If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning

1,376 words

Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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