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Good Health

good healthImagine that human life is a long hurdle race—a race in which runners jump over obstacles. All runners men, women and children start the race together; but as they jump over and occasionally hit the obstacles, the runners slow down, and more and more drop out.

Similarly, human life has a starting point and high hurdles along the way. During life man encounters one hurdle after another. Each jump makes him weaker, and in time, he gives up. The higher the hurdles, the sooner he drops out, goes to sleep and dies. If one lives in the developed world, the drop-out point comes at about 75 years of age. This time period is called the average human life span—comparable to the distance most runners actually go. Some people as a result of good health, run on longer, and a few even reach what is thought to be the maximum human life span, 115 to 120 years—a feat rare enough to make world headline news.

Guidelines for Healthful Living

In general, experts are agreed that good health depends on three major factors: balanced diet, regular exercise, and responsible living. There is certainly no lack of information and products on these subjects, and much of it is practical and beneficial.

Although there is lots of information available, the facts show, regrettably, that achieving good health is not high on most people’s list of priorities. Among other things, “everybody knows what is required to lose weight,” remarked Dr. Marion Nestle of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Washington, “yet the prevalence of overweight doesn’t seem to change much.” According to her office, about 1 in 4 people in the United States is more than 20 percent overweight.

Clearly, more than medical or scientific information on what to do to achieve good health is needed. A greater incentive to live up to our individual responsibility is necessary. We must be motivated not only to do those things that will contribute to good health but also to avoid those things that will tear it down. Where can we find such incentive and motivation to help us live healthy lives?


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Emotions and Outlook on Life

If we want good health we must keep our bodies as clean as possible but also look after our emotions. For example, “medical science recognizes that emotions such as fear, sorrow, envy, resentment and hatred are responsible for the majority of our sicknesses,” said a doctor-author, S. I. McMillen, commented in the preface of his book None of These Diseases. “Estimates vary from 60 per cent to nearly 100 per cent.”

What can be done to remedy this? Interestingly, some 3,000 years ago, an ancient proverb stated: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” But how does one get “a calm heart”? To enjoy good health, we must learn to control our emotions.

This, of course, is contrary to the advice of some modern psychiatrists and psychologists. They often recommend that we act out our feelings rather than try to control them. Letting off steam and venting one’s anger may bring temporary relief to the one who feels hemmed in and disturbed. But what does that do to his relationship with those around him, and what kind of reaction may that trigger on their part? It is not difficult to imagine the tension and frayed nerves, not to mention the possible physical injury that would result if everyone acted out his feelings rather than tried to control them. It merely creates a vicious circle that never ends.

Of course, it is not easy to master these harmful emotions, especially if one is prone to give in to anger and rage. We should work on replacing the harmful negative feelings with positive ones.

What do such positive feelings toward others do to us? “Caring is biological,” writes Dr. James Lynch in his book The Broken Heart. “The mandate to ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself’ is not just a moral mandate—it’s a physiological one.” Regarding the benefits to good health that such positive relationships bring, Robert Taylor, a psychiatrist, adds: “Knowing you have people you can turn to in times of need can provide some very important feelings of security, optimism and hope—all of which can be great antidotes to stress.”

Habits and Addictions

Something else that affects our emotional and physical well-being is the way we treat our body. With reasonable effort on our part—eating properly, getting the needed exercise and rest, keeping clean, and so on—our body will care for itself resulting in good health. However, if we habitually abuse it, sooner or later it will break down, and we will suffer the consequences.
Consider the following report by the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute: “Smoking is an epidemic growing at 2.1 percent per year, faster than world population. . . . Growth in tobacco use slowed briefly in the early eighties, primarily for economic reasons, but is resuming its rapid increase. Over a billion people now smoke, consuming almost 5 trillion cigarettes per year, an average of more than half a pack a day.”

What has been the effect of this ‘growing epidemic’?

  • Tobacco causes more suffering and death among adults than any other toxic material in the environment.
  • The worldwide cost in lives now approaches 2.5 million per year, almost 5 percent of all deaths.
  • Health expenditures plus economic losses in [the United States] range from $38 thousand million to $95 thousand million, or from $1.25 to $3.15 per pack. These totals do not include the cost of tobacco itself—about $30 thousand million per year.
  • Passive smokers are perhaps three times as likely to die of lung cancer as they would be if they were not exposed to smoke.
  • Smoking by mothers diminishes the physical and mental capabilities of their children, and in many countries more than one fifth of the children are exposed to smoke in this way.

What about efforts to stop the habit? In spite of all the antismoking campaigns, success has been minimal on a worldwide scale. This is because overcoming the tobacco habit is a strenuous uphill battle. Research shows that only 1 in 4 who smoke ever succeed in breaking the habit. Apparently all the warnings that smoking is a health hazard are not incentive enough.

Other harmful practices include overindulgence in alcohol, drug abuse, and a host of other troubling health and social problems.

However much we may try to maintain good health, the hard fact remains that, at present, we get ill and die. We can although build healthy lives and care for those around us by making positive life changes. It is our hope that this site will help you achieve some of these goals. Good health to you and yours.


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