Why People and Purpose are just as important as Kale and Kettlebells
People, purpose whats yours?
It may surprise you to hear that there are many ways to improve your health and wellness that don’t include diet or exercise.
It’s true. Although fitness and nutrition are important, there are other elements of your life that can improve your health that have nothing to do with either kale or kettlebells!
The first is your ‘Sense of Purpose.’
Having a sense of purpose is more important than you may think. In their book, “Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” the authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles set out to investigate the extraordinary longevity of the residents of Okinawa. Roughly a quarter of the inhabitants there live to be over one hundred years of age and are in excellent health well into their very senior years.
But it’s not just their longevity that captivated the authors, it’s also their vitality and sense of joy. It’s fascinating to learn how and why their lives differ from ours in the west, and what we can discover from their practices that will enhance our own life experience.
Although you won’t find the Okinawans sweating it out in the gym, they do keep themselves fit and healthy. They’re keen gardeners, growing many of their own fruits and vegetables and they also love walking.
I was delighted to read about this having recently relaunched Walk With A Doc in Birkenhead Park. You may have seen me featured on the BBC news recently. Walk With A Doc is a doctor led walking group that aims to improve health through movement and conversation
If you’d like to join me, I’ll be walking around Birkenhead Park every Tuesday at 4pm. To find out where we will be join my Facebook Group for the latest info.
Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity. It’s easier on the joints than running and is safer for people with orthopaedic ailments, heart conditions, and those who are more that 20% overweight. In addition, research has shown that you could gain two hours of life for each hour of regular exercise, so that quick stroll around the park is definitely a good use of your time!
Here is my latest video from my last walk, hopefully this gives you some idea of what a walk would be like 😊.
If you are interested in finding out more about my journey with Walk with a Doc you might like my blog … You can see a video clip of me on he news!
Of course, what we consume is also important if we want to keep fit and healthy. You may have already guessed that the Okinawans don’t live on burgers and chocolate cake and they don’t sit in bars drinking and smoking. However, it’s not just their food and drink which keeps them hale and hearty; it’s their ‘Ikigai’ or sense of purpose.
Ikigai literally translates to your reason to jump out of bed each morning. It’s that thing that makes you tick and makes you feel alive. It could be connected to your work, but it could also be your hobby, or caring for your family.
Other Western researchers have also discovered the link between a sense of purpose and a lower mortality rate.
A study of over 6,000 people carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan found that people who feel their lives are meaningful are more likely to live longer and enjoy better health. They are also more likely to get regular health checks and be active members of their community.
Which brings me to the subject of ‘People’.
Friends and family are of utmost importance to your health.
“People who feel lonely, depressed, and isolated are three to ten times more likely to get sick and die prematurely from virtually all causes when compared to those who have strong feelings of love, connection and community,” says Dr Dean Ornish in his book “Undo It” which describes how simple lifestyle changes can reverse most chronic diseases.
There’s no escaping the fact that we are social creatures, and we need to be part of a community in order to thrive.
Being part of a community gives us the opportunity to confide in friends, to open up, to support and feel supported, to share fun and laughter, which really is the best medicine of all.
There is a famous quote by the motivational speaker Jim Rohn on the importance of choosing our friends carefully. He says, “You’re the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.”
This is not just true in a business sense, it’s also true of your health and wellbeing. According to some research, we are influenced, not just by our friends, but by the friends of our friends.
For instance, the researchers Christakis and Fowler found that if you have a friend who gains weight, you are 45% more likely to gain weight.
And even more interesting is the discovery that if a friend of your friend gains weight, your chances of gaining weight increases by 20% even if you’ve never met that person.
This sounds unbelievable, but it’s mainly because the more people you know who gain weight, the more normalised that weight gain becomes.
Christakis and Flowler also discovered that this pattern of influence holds true not just of weight gain but also of smoking and other health-related behaviours.
But before you ring your friends and quiz them about their bad habits, it’s important to note that we are also influenced by their good habits. So, if your friends are healthy, happy people, it’s more likely that you will be healthy and happy too.
In other words, birds of a feather flock together.
So, this springtime, as the birds feather their nests and we ease ourselves out of lockdown, remember that in order to look after your health, you need fresh air, exercise and healthy food but you also need a sense of purpose and quality time with friends and family.
With any luck we’ll be able to spend more time with our loved ones soon, even if that is just a get together in a garden for now, it will still help us to feel a lot healthier and happier.
That’s it from me this week, don’t forget to be your best inside and out!
Bye for Now
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