KEYS TO FITNESS: Developing a Healthy Mind and Body

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YONEMOTO, SHEILA-colorBy SHEILA YONEMOTO, P.T.

Cultivating a balance between mind and body has been promoted since ancient times. In our current society, the health care system is now moving towards a balance by encouraging healthy lifestyle habits such as eating as if food were medicine and exercising so that muscle, joint, heart, blood vessel, lungs, brain, digestive, lymphatic and immune systems all get nutrients.

Today we recognize the importance of eliminating wastes and maximizing communication and coordination of all body systems. We acknowledge that intellectual stimulation will benefit self, community and future generations, and there is an emphasis on spiritual nourishment to feed the soul and make life worth living.

Admittedly, making changes can be difficult. It takes at least 21 days to change a habit. That means we need to expend effort 24/7 to switch from an automatic, robotic way of living to being constantly aware of our daily actions. We must discipline ourselves to effect change. Oftentimes willpower wanes and we end up back to where we started.

It helps to get positive reinforcement while changing our habits, since this gives us a boost to continue on our path of change. In weight loss, it’s encouraging to see the inches disappear and the weight drop off. In fitness programs, it helps to see that we’re not breathing as hard or that we can lift more weight or walk a little further. In stress management, it might mean we can sleep better or find ourselves smiling more.

The key is to start with a doable program that gives almost instantaneous positive reinforcement. Look for any change that leads you in the right direction. Be consistent and have a support system.

One of the best ways to get started is to walk more. Start by walking 10 minutes a day and increase slowly until you are doing 20-60 minutes daily. Drink more water to hydrate your cells, especially in Southern California in warmer weather. Your body will function much better with hydrated cells, and you will look younger because your skin will be plumper and less wrinkled.

This happens even faster if you eat less sugar and more vegetables. You will feel more energy and lighten your body with more frequent elimination.

For enhanced organ function, take a qigong class. It will boost energy, improve sleep and mood, and will improve overall health and longevity. It’s easy to do and even at beginning levels you will see changes with a daily practice of only five minutes a day.

Take the first step to improving your health. Make a decision now to do something different. Move in a direction that will lead you to a more youthful “new you” in the coming new year.

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Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for more than 30 years, specializing in integrative manual therapy, utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave., Suite 100, Alhambra, CA 91801. Sheila also offers a qigong “Chinese energy” exercise class. Your first class is free. Call (626) 576-0591 for more information or visit www.yonemoto.com.

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