Posted: October 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

IN today’s fast-pace and stressful world, how can one stay healthy, live longer and be disease-free with little or no cost involved?

What is to be written is so basic and common sense, yet, most people take these ingredients for a healthy life for granted. Or they simply can’t see the forest for the trees.

There are four objective and one subjective (spiritual) things in life which are basically free but which most people don’t have or do enough. Lack of any of the four ingredients can cause severe health and mental problems.

The first is the lack of fresh air and oxygen which can cause lethargy, tiredness, depression and many illnesses. Most people don’t breathe enough and our body needs adequate oxygen for a host of processes, the most important one is to generate the “energy of life”.

For thousands of years, techniques in breathing had been developed in some Asian cultures for good health. Correct breathing can also generate another mysterious and invisible life-force called “qi”. In martial arts, “qi” can be both deadly when executing a hit and protective when taking a blow from an opponent.

An example of how to breathe properly is the proven traditional Chinese practice of Qi Qong, which is basically a slow body movement coordinated with deep breathing and a relax mind. Qi Qong is not only for general health and longevity. Like the traditional practice of acupuncture, it has been known to cure or alleviate many serious illnesses. Another traditional practice developed from India is Yoga where breathing is coordinated with meditation (mind relaxation technique) to generate the best effects on the mind and body.

If you are untrained in breathing, the easiest way is to breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes in the morning when you get up and at night before you sleep and if possible, the breathing should be aided by the slow movement of your hands in any way you like to coordinate with your breathing. And do it every few hours when you are awake especially when you are feeling tired in the office, outside or if you are driving (with your hands on the wheels), as long as the air around you is generally fresh and clean. Remind yourself to breathe deeply and slowly whenever you can. It is never too much or enough. Breathing also helps to reduce stress, fear and anxiety.

The second essential thing which most people don’t do enough is drinking clean water. Studies have shown that lack of drinking clean water has been attributed to more than a hundred diseases including many deadly ones. Severe lack of water can cause premature aging, dehydration, kidney- related illness and urinary problems and in many cases (if untreated) leading to death. The solution is simply to drink more clean water and to develop a routine or habit of drinking water every few hours.

The third is the lack of exercise. It is a fact that most people do not exercise enough. Our body is biologically designed to undergo constant movement in order to keep our cells, tissues, muscles and bones healthy and active for as long as possible. Countless studies have shown the importance of exercise to keep fit and healthy and a sedentary lifestyle is not good for our body and soul.

Many commercial fitness centres are thriving on the growing recognition that the various types of exercises, appropriate for different ages and recovering patients, are essential to improving and maintaining health and longevity. Doing simple exercises indoor at your home, office and outdoor (especially jogging or walking) is free. If you cannot find the time to go to a gym or jog, just walk around (without disrupting others) instead of sitting at one place for hours. Use the stairs as much as possible. Explore other innovative ways of mitigating a sedentary lifestyle.

The fourth ingredient in life, which many people lack, is enough rest and sleep, which again is free. Many working adults and many students do not rest or sleep enough and this can lead to a host of stress-related problems. Again our body, including the brain, is biologically designed to have enough rest so that it can recover from a hard day’s work and be ready to face another day.

Many people have successfully substituted sleeping enough with short periods of naps and for some, even meditation. Studies have shown that naps of 30 minutes or so are known to be beneficial to the health and productivity of those who lacked sleep. Many famous world leaders are known to resort to “power naps” (deeper kind of naps) to supplement their lack of sleep.

The next free thing in life, which most people may not do enough, is more subjective, depending on one’s belief. It is spiritual and religious in nature.

Doing prayers (for believers to communicate with God) is free. Prayers (those meant for faith healing) are known to have healed or saved people with various kinds of illnesses including some incurable diseases, although it may be difficult to prove scientifically.

Some people believe that the positive results of prayers may be related to the mysterious and still undiscovered power of the mind or collective minds (in group prayers) to help someone to heal or recover. The explanation may not matter, the point is that if prayers can help to heal a person or cause miracles to happen, why not pray more, for other good things as well. Prayers certainly reduce stress and create positive thinking. Stress can be a real killer in a modern society causing many illnesses and mental problems. Furthermore, studies have shown that people who are positive-minded are more likely to be successful and lucky in achieving the results they want. Even people who do not believe in God have acknowledged the positive effects of prayers.

To sum up, the four essential, beneficial and free ingredients of life which most people lack or do not have enough are breathing, drinking water, exercise and sleep/rest. The other spiritual and generally beneficial ingredient of life (for those who believe in God) which is also free and which many believers may not do enough, is prayers.

The writer, the chief executive officer of a think tank and strategic consultancy firm, believes in the simple things in life to stay healthy and fit.


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