Dengue, West Nile virus, yellow fever, Zika, and malaria: what do they all have in common? All five are diseases spread to humans by a mosquito bite (in the microbiology world, the first four are known as arthropod-borne viruses, or arborviruses for short). All five have been present here in the United States, and all five have the capacity to cause several public health issues, with disease symptoms ranging from small fever, to rashes, to serious disease, and death.
In my last column, I discussed the high prevalence of childhood obesity and some of the interventions done to help create a heart-healthy lifestyle. I would like to focus a bit more on exercise in this column.
For people who are regularly active, watching one’s weight isn’t as important as being aware of body composition. Heart disease and diabetes are still common issues in active people when they are retaining too much body fat. This isn’t meant to suggest that a certain body type is better than another, or that the goal is to become muscle-bound, buff, or “swole” as the kids are calling it these days.
Men and women alike exercise to get stronger, faster, thinner, more muscular, and healthy overall. All of these are physical results, but the benefits of exercise can be mental, too. As a therapist, I use weight training as a tool for recovery from bullying. The act of lifting weights alone is an empowering experience. Exercise is also an effective way of reducing stress. Mental health professionals will often suggest engaging in physical activity as part of their clients’ regimens.
In a recent interview, Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children and Nature Network, was asked about his description of children as having “nature-deficit disorder.” Louv described how recent research is beginning to indicate that several physical and psychological challenges, including attentional difficulty, emotional illness, and obesity, are significantly reduced through the simple act of children experiencing nature personally. Louv pointed out that humans have functioned for the vast majority of history through honing all of their senses, working physically within natural environments, and taking calculated risks to their physical well-being. Abandoning this heritage to a technology-rich world leaves children restless and underdeveloped when faced with adversity later in life.
For some people, it can be easy to find the right balance in their lives to get in enough activity and good food to keep them feeling active and healthy. For others, finding the right balance can be challenging. I’ve found that keeping an account of your workouts and meals each day gives you the clarity to see how well you have been keeping to your activity and meal commitments.
Alana* doesn’t call us at first, but her friend does, “My friend’s pregnant. She’s incredibly stressed about it. I just read about you — I really think she needs your help.”
The era of virtual reality is upon us! Soon we will all be wearing those wrap-around goggles, completely absorbed in a realer-than-real scenario of our choosing. A brave new world indeed, and maybe a little scary ... or exciting, depending on your point of view.
Here’s a typical scenario I see a lot as a therapist: a young Orthodox couple has been married a year, and unfortunately they have not been successful with adjusting to intimacy. The problem could be with an unconsummated marriage, pelvic pain, or libido concerns. As a parent, what makes this story even more heartbreaking to me is that their parents have no idea that this is happening and that their children are really suffering. Furthermore, the situation the couple has been struggling with was potentially a preventable one.
Many parents ask me what book I’d recommend for teaching girls about their developing bodies. I often respond that American Girl has several books that are geared toward providing girls with information and ideas related to the areas of physical and emotional development. One of my favorite books from American Girl is “The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls” by Valerie Schaefer.
Just the other day, my mother sent me an advertorial, written by a naturopath, extolling the virtues of a special herb found in the Chinese medical pharmacopeia. This herb was so effective at treating a certain condition, he wrote, that he was “surprised” that Chinese medicine wasn’t already using it for the condition he had identified.
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- The Obesity Epidemic in Children
- Building Your Own Walking or Running Program
- How to Fight Better
- Muscle Tension-Release Techniques for at Home or at Work
- Four Things to Monitor for Better Health
- Making (and Keeping) Friends
- When Back Pain Has You in Its Grip
- Celebrate National Nutrition Month by ‘Putting Your Best Fork Forward’
- Alcohol Ingestion Impairs Muscle Growth, But Then So Does Running Marathons