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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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No Health in Us…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Growing waiting-lists for needed surgeries remind us of the crisis in our current health system.  One doctor summarized the essence of modern medicine as either removing something (surgery) or putting something in (medication).  All of us want to be healthy.  But do we want to be healthy badly enough to radically change our lifestyles?  Are we willing to give up junk food and start heading to the gym on a regular basis?  Perhaps true health begins when we get out of denial and admit, as the BCP puts it, that ‘there is no health in us.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘health’ as ‘soundness of body, from the West Germanic ‘hailitha’ (whole).  The ‘Canadian Global Almanac 2001’ notes that 25% of Canadians see themselves as having excellent health.  Only 44% of Canadians age 20-64 were an acceptable weight for their height, according to the ‘Statistical Report of Health of Canadians’.  I was sobered to read that twice as many baby-boomers have a weight problem compared to Canadians age 20-24.

The percentage of overweight Canadian men has gone from 27% to 35% (and from 14% to 23% for women).  I remember having lunch with another man who told me that, in contrast to women, being overweight looked good on men.  Perhaps this kind of rationalization explains why Canadian men are almost twice as likely to have a weight problem as women.  Health Canada research has shown that ‘overweight and obesity are linked to a wide range of health problems, especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer’.

There are many other health challenges faced by Canadians than just being overweight.  Twenty-six percent suffer from high chronic stress.  Twenty-eight percent still smoke and despite years of cancer education, smoking tragically seems to be on the rise among female teens.  Nine percent of Canadians consume 14+ drinks per week.

In the face of all these health challenges, only 21% of Canadians are physically active.  Our physical inactivity as Canadians is bearing a huge toll on our health system with each Canadian costing $2,512 in annual health expenditures.

The good news is that it is never too late to turn this around.  I have personally experienced considerable benefits in pain and stress reduction by consistently going to the gym for the past ten years.  Statistics Canada reported that “there is accumulating evidence that indicates physical activity may have multiple beneficial physiological and metabolic effects on heart health.  These include ‘advantageous effects on atherosclerosis, plasma lipid/lipoprotein profiles, blood pressure, availability of oxygenated blood for heart muscle needs (ischemia), blood clotting (thrombosis), and heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmia).”  There are also indications that increased physical activity can help reduce depression through “exercise-induced changes in brain neuroreceptor concentrations of monoamines (norepinephrine, dopamine, or serotonin) or endogenous opiates (endorphins and enkephalins)”.

Thank God for the wonderful array of weight rooms and gyms available on the North Shore, especially at Ron Andrews and Parkgate Rec Centres.  The clean, spacious, well-stocked facilities are a tremendous encouragement when one is struggling to get to the gym.

One of my favorite workout machines is the stationary bike.  I enjoy it because it produces a good warmup and also allows me to read without crashing!  I enjoy doing Morning Prayer on the stationary bike.  I have found a real wholeness through this experience by bringing health to my whole person: body, mind, and spirit.  Silently reading the Book of Common Prayer  not only makes the workout go much quicker, but also brings my spirit more alive.  It has shown me that both in the physical and the spiritual, we can ‘dissemble and cloke’ our laziness and ‘follow too much the devices and desires of our own hearts’.  Perhaps that is why the Bible says that ‘workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.’ (1 Timothy 4:4 Message Translation)  It’s time to say no to being a spiritual and physical couch-potato!

My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may find fresh encouragement to get up off our couches and begin a healthy workout of our bodies, minds, and spirits.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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The Medical Benefits of Laughter

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Dr. Patrick Dixon MA, MBBS, is an English physician, business consultant and futurist internationally respected for his creative research and analysis.  In 2005 he was ranked as one of the 20 most influential business thinkers alive according to the Thinkers 50 (a private survey printed in The UK Times).  His Global Change website has had over 12 million different visitors. Dixon has written fourteen books covering a wide range of issues and trends including risk management, digital society, geopolitics, consumer shifts, health care, biotechnology, social issues, politics and business ethics. Futurewise, first published in 1998, uses the word FUTURE as a mnemonic standing for “Six Faces of the Future” which will impact every large business: Fast, Urban, Tribal, Universal, Radical and Ethical.

Dr. Dixon  has made a stunning diagnosis of the medical benefits of laughter.  Out of five million medical research papers published around the world since the mid-1960s, Dr. Dixon discovered  hundred of papers analyzing the phenomenon of laughter.  The first thing Dr. Dixon noted is that some people hardly seem to laugh at all.  Everything is taken seriously.  Such people, notes Dr. Dixon, are hard to live with and often have a tendency to be morose or depressed.  Someone who can never laugh is as emotionally imprisoned as someone who can never cry.  Doctors and nurses, commented Dr. Dixon, are now realizing that laughter is a powerful way to reduce tension and stress, creating a sense of well-being, increasing contentment and alertness, helping us place the problems and difficulties of life in context.

Medical research has discovered remarkable impacts on our hormonal levels, in response to laughter.  Laughter has been shown to shut down the “stress” hormones like cortisol, dopamine, adrenaline, and growth hormone, keeping them at lower healthier levels.  Such hormones are released when we are tense, working hard, worried, or afraid.  It is all part of the fight or flight reaction built into all of us, enabling us to either overcome an attacker or dash away to safety.  In our modern business culture, however, all the “stress hormones” are released, but no exercise follows and the body suffers.  Consequently, says Dr. Dixon, we develop stomach ulcers, our arteries clog up, we become irritable and develop many other symptoms – all because our bodies are pumping out hormones that we don’t need.

Laughter is remarkably selective in what it shuts down.  In the  Journal of the American Medical Association #267, Dr. W. Fry notes that the endorphin protein, a natural morphine-like substance in our bodies, seems to remain constant in laughter, even as the stress hormones are being shut down.  Virtually all of us learn to laugh at four months of age, something which requires the action of fifteen facial muscles and changes in breathing.  When we laugh, at first the heart rate increases as does our rate of breathing.  After our laughter ceases, there is a period of relaxation, easing muscle tension and useful in breaking the muscle spasm in some neuralgias and rheumatism.  It has been estimated that 100 good laughs are equivalent to 10 minutes of rowing.  Dr. James Walsh, in his book Laughter & Health, described laughter as a massaging of all the organs within the body.  Cumulative laughter throughout the day, says Dr. Fry, may be significantly greater than that of an average marathon.  He describes laughter physiologically as an aerobic experience, an internal stationary jogging!

Laughter, comments Dr. Dixon, also aids lung ventilation, helping people with chest problems to clear congestion.  Research by Dr. McClelland, Dillan & Baker shows that laughter significantly increased levels of salivary immunoglobin A, a vital immune system protein which protects us against respiratory illnesses.  Dr. W. Fry at the 4th International Conference on Humour in Israel noted that laughter improves alertness, memory, learning, & creativity by releasing catecholamines into our body.  Laughter also has a measurable impact on reducing high blood pressure.

Why are we often attracted to others with a good sense of humour?  Because we seem to intuitively know that the ability to see the absurd, the ridiculous and the entertaining in the serious and trivial helps keep us mentally stable and healthy.  Somehow the burdens of overwork, excess responsibility, and the grief of life can fall off our shoulders, as laughter lightens our hearts.  Dr Patrick Dixon reminds us that laughter is not a frill, but a medical essential. Perhaps that is why the old proverb reminds us that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.

My prayer from Psalm 126 for those reading this article is that our mouths may be filled with laughter and our tongues with songs of joy. May the Joy of the Lord be our strength.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca