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Set the Table for Health This Fall

This time of year is rich in transitions: the kids go back to school, temperatures fluctuate between hot and chilly, easy summer livin’ gives way to more structured schedules. Change can be hard and stressful, and leave our immune systems vulnerable. Taking a moment to review the basics of health will help you stay strong and resilient.

I love the image of health as a table. The four legs of the table are the four pillars of health, and if any of them are too short, too long, or missing, the table—your health—gets wobbly. No single pillar takes priority over another; all the legs of the table are equally important. It’s all about balance. 🌊🏄

1. Movement/Exercise

Move your body, daily or weekly, ideally in a way that brings joy and relieves stress. It all counts, and some is better than none.

In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its physical activity guidelines with recommendations for all age groups, pregnant and postpartum women, and people living with chronic health conditions and disabilities:

  • Children and adolescents (ages 5-17): 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Vigorous aerobic activity three days per week to build strong muscles and bones.
  • Adults (ages 18-64): 150-300 minutes moderate (or 75-150 minutes vigorous) aerobic activity per week. This translates to 21-43 minutes moderate (or 11-21 minutes vigorous) activity per day. Twice weekly muscle strengthening can provide additional benefits.
  • Older adults (over age 65): same as adults but should also include strength and balance training 2-3 times per week to protect against falls.
  • Pregnant and postpartum women: 150 minutes moderate aerobic activity per week, including muscle strengthening exercises.
  • People living with chronic health conditions and disabilities: Same recommendations as adults and children, with modifications as recommended by their physician.

 

2. Food/Nutrition

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, and that’s a good thing. Our diets, like our bodies, are living, evolving things; what works for me might not work for you, and what worked ten years ago might not fit your needs today. A healthy diet is diverse and balanced, includes nutrient-dense whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains/fiber, and meets the energy demands of your current life. A healthy diet is not calorically in excess of one’s daily energy needs, or high in processed foods, salt, sugar, or saturated and trans fats. For inspiration, start with a few of the recipes found in the Selby Acupuncture Recipes blog.

3. Sleep

The CDC recommends most adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Healthy sleep habits are vital for our physical and emotional stability:

  • Keep to a consistent sleep schedule
  • Remove screens from the bedroom
  • Keep the bedroom quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime

For more tips, check out the Sleep Foundation’s webpage on sleep hygiene.

4. Joy / Stress management

There are a million and one ways to reduce stress levels in our lives. Sometimes prioritizing this can be difficult, so be kind to yourself as you work to make positive changes in your life. Identify the ways that bring you joy, recharge your batteries, and foster connection with your self and others. Hot tip: acupuncture is excellent at relieving stress.

This fall, renew your focus and commitment to keeping yourself healthy and keep that table level. Check in with your acupuncturist to ask how acupuncture and herbs can help support your health goals.

 

Joanna Willis, L.Ac.

Photo by Berna Yumaklı on Unsplash