What is Wellness?
I was in the company of medical doctors yesterday as we spoke in a Retirement, Wellness and Tourism Seminar sponsored by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce or CanCham.
We all agree that a sustainable lifestyle and graceful aging can be helped by the ff:
SLEEP. Dr Paul Quilino of Healthway stressed that even adults need 7-9 hours of sleep at a minimum. Seniors still need the same amount of shut eye or at least 8 hours. But I often hear seniors saying they can do with a few hours of sleep. Twenty-somethings need 7-9 hours of sleep, but do they get that much?
EXERCISE. Drs. Paul Quilino and Marc Evans Abat ( he is from Geriatric Medicine at Medical City) both stressed exercise and resistance training (like doing light weight training). Walking is simply not enough. And the numbers to remember? Walk 10,000 steps a day or do 150 minutes a week of exercise. I figured that could be 20 minutes everyday or 30 minutes a day for five times a week. Either way, it could be done.
DIET. Less red meat, more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and sweetened food and drinks. We hear this all the time but many are not serious followers of Michael Pollan’s mantra: Eat less food. Mostly plants.
And it helps to know about what causes illness or the absence of wellness.
STRESS? Yes, it causes the two biggest killers or the two most prevalent preventable diseases: Hypertension and Diabetes. So do we need all the stress only to find ourselves seeing the doctor for prescription medicines? I was so relieved and glad hearing Dr. Abat talk about people going to the hospital because they are well, and not because they are sick. That means regular check ups and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. Free from disease and in spiritual and financial health, too.
The highest medical expenses or medical claims are for diseases we can all prevent. Why are they stressing (pardon the pun) these in a wellness conference? Because seniors can definitely live better lives without being a burden to their families if they age gracefully.
“The way to wellness need not be expensive,” says Dr. Quilino. For exercise, you can walk 10,000 steps a day and monitor your progress on your smartphone. There are apps for health like S-Health for Samsung and Health for iOS for Apple iphones.
I am glad there are doctors who espouse wellness instead of those who keep prescribing medicines or tolerate the use of prescription drugs. I am happy there are wellness advocates like Dr. Abat and Dr. Quilino. They prescribe leading a change in lifestyle instead of having yourself subjected to all kinds of tests and then taking maintenance medications.
It was an eye opener for me, too. Yes, although we already lead a sustainable lifestyle, there are things we tend to forget—like good sleep, simple diet reminders and exercise.
Sleep.Dr Jaime Galvez-Tan, a cousin of mine and a colleague at the Wellness Council taught me how to get good sleep. Get yourself some blinders (like what they give you in the airplane) and put them on before you sleep. Sleep must be done in total darkness. Not even the flashing light of your gadgets or a television set on mute.
Exercise and resistance training. “Golf is not enough,” says Dr. Abat, even if you walk 18 holes . You need some resistance training. So I got myself a set of light dumbbells. That should help me tone my muscles.
Diet. Avoid the sugar-laden food and desserts. Opt for more fruits and vegetables. And eat less, note , not avoid but lessen red meat and processed food.
We all want to age gracefully. And we want to be well. Wellness is not just the absence of disease or illness. To be well is to feel good physically, emotionally, mentally and even financially.