OPINION: From the physical therapist: Five ways to improve your health
With the fall months quickly approaching and the weather changing, I would like to take the time to discuss a topic we could all take more seriously (especially given current circumstances): self care. I’m going to talk about five ways that you can make a rapid improvement to your health with flu season coming up in order to stay at the top of your game and be ready for whatever life proverbially “throws at you!"
- Eat an apple a day. Apples are high in fiber and keep your GI tract healthy as well as your colon in good shape. Fiber also acts as an appetite suppressant, so if you are a few pounds overweight, try adding more fiber to your diet. (You can use a “BMI scale” on the internet to check your obesity risk).
- Consume food in an eight-hour window. When you eat during an eight-hour window, your body has 16 hours to digest and heal. If your gut is unable to heal and repair (it ’t do this while digesting), you are more likely to develop “leaky gut” or damage to the intestinal lining. (Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/leaky-gut-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-2017092212451)
- Get eight to nine hours of sleep at night. The first step to getting a good night sleep is to establish a consistent routine and follow it religiously! Not only does sleep allow for muscles and tissue repair, but sleep also improves mood, memory consolidation and your body’s immune response in order to fight and prevent disease. Pro tip: No alcohol before bed! Alcohol reduces the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the stage during which your body experiences the most healing and benefits.
- Do this stretch every morning. My favorite stretch for improving low back flexibility and general health is referred to as the prayer pose or child’s pose. This stretch hits your posterior longitudinal ligament that tends to become calcified over time and is a contributor to back pain for many. To perform correctly, stretch for one minute within the first 10 minutes of waking up. First thing in the morning, your spinal discs have the most fluid. (Yes — you are taller in the morning!) So, you will get the most benefit then.
- Reflect and practice gratitude. Buy a notebook. Yes, the tangible one you can feel, not the one on your iPhone or android device. In this notebook you will write down three things that you are grateful for every day for seven days. Especially amidst current events, no time is better than the present to be grateful for every breath we take and who we are blessed to enjoy our lives with. Write down what and who you are grateful for, and let them know!
I hope you learned a thing or two from this article and you are a happier and healthier person for it. If you have any questions of how you can further improve your health or wellness (or you just want to say hello!) I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sean T. Lordan is a doctor of physical therapy and owner of Concierge Physical Therapy in Sutton. He graduated from Northeastern University and Saint John’s High School, and resides in Grafton with his wife Brooke and daughter Noelle. He is board-certified in orthopedics by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties and maintains a certification in strength and conditioning.