By: Clifford Sonnie, M.D., M.P.H.
Stress is probably the number one reason for any aliment in the human condition. It is how we handle stress that will ultimately determine how healthy we remain or become. In my clinic, I try to detoxify the body and replenish it with the needed supplements, hopefully replacing those in time with diet. But ultimately, it all comes back to the patient and how well they deal with stress. I want to talk about two easy and cheap methods that only require some dedication. They are walking and breathing. Ok, so where’s the joke? I do that every day. Yes you do, but with today’s sedentary society you have to do more than what you do during the common work day. Deep ain’t it?
First, let’s talk about walking. For those who remember me a year ago and 65 pounds heavier, it was walking that got me going and to this day keeps me going. It doesn’t need any fancy training films or machines, and it doesn’t require a personal trainer. It’s safe and it will help literally every part of your body mind and soul. Start slow. Choose a familiar route. Choose a time to walk. Start three times a week and work up from there. Walk at a speed that is brisk. If walking with a friend (always a good idea), you should be able to finish a sentence before having to take another breath. If you can talk in paragraphs without needing to stop and take a breath then you ain’t walking. You’re strolling and that don’t count. Start by walking for 15 minutes (7 out and 8 back). Every day try to go a bit farther in that same time. After that, increase the time. While walking keep your head and spine straight look forward and keep your arms loose. Breathe at regular intervals and don’t hold your breath. Make sure your stride is comfortable. Shoes are the only thing that you may need to buy. Walking shoes should supply support and be comfortable. Any sporting goods store will have a supply of good shoes. In Medina we have a group of runners (and walkers) that can also help. Check the Medina County Road Runners. I know it says runners but I am sure that folks like to walk too. The folks at Second Sole are very knowledgeable, have a great selection and you won’t go wrong going there but I won’t kid you either, the price is more than the discount stores. For those that advance from here, you can start jogging and go from there. It will become a part of your routine. Ask my office manager. She knows when I haven’t been working out lately. I will never run another sub 2:30 marathon (35 years ago) but I will never stop moving. Ultimately what it comes right down to is, get off your duff.
Second is relaxation. Relaxation and exercise go together. It is the Ying to the Yang, the in to the out, the light to the dark. Or to paraphrase the wise philosopher, Rocky Balboa, it is the cuff to the link. And the best way to relax is to breathe. Now I am sure there are many out there will advocate massage, Rieke, meditation, or any number of other methods to release tension. These are all great and very effective. But breathing is free (at least for the time being) and you can do it anywhere. The method I use I was first taught by a massotherapist while I was in medical school back in the 70’s. I’ve seen a lot of “practitioners” claim this as their own and actually charge you for the technique. Wow. Anyway, it has been referred to by a number of different names but I know it as 4784. Don’t blame me, I didn’t name it.
How do you do it, you ask? Well sit up straight. Hold your jaw relaxed but keep the lips closed. The teeth don’t have to be touching if this is comfortable to you but the lips are closed. Put the tip of the tongue on the back side of the top teeth. Breathe in through the nose for a count of 4. Hold it for a count of 7 then exhale through pursed lips as if you were blowing out candles. Do this for a count of 8. Yes you will make a whooshing noise doing this. Now this part is tough because you can blow out all the air by the count of 2. The point is to exhale slowly and more importantly you want to continue to almost force an exhale to the count of 8 to get all the air out. Now comes the last number. You do this at least 4 times. In fact you can do this for any period of time and as many times as you want. This whole action helps reduce physical and mental fatigue, improves oxygen concentrations, relaxes the mind, actually makes the diaphragm to push on the abdominal organs and massage them if you will improving their function and helps eliminate toxic CO2 waste. I know it sounds hokey, but give it a try. I bet you’ll be surprised and happy with the results.
That’s it folks. Simple, cheap and easy. It helps relieve stress and until I figure out how to get rid of stress in the first place, it works. As always everything in moderation and also as with any exercise program, first check with your family MD or DO. Come see me at the Balance of life Clinic and we can talk about that detox and supplement part of the program. Until then, enjoy the walk, take time to smell the roses and be healthy. Remember the smart health care consumer is informed and aware.
Clifford Sonnie, M.D., M.P.H is the physician at the Balance of Life Clinic.