Some things are good by themselves but better when they are together. Take salty and sweet. Salty is good say pretzels but when dipped in chocolate you’ve got a melding of flavors that are addicting. The crunch, the salt, the sweet and savory all blasting your taste buds at the exact same time. Irresistible. Right?
Believe it or not a healthy lifestyle is pretty much the same. A healthy lifestyle goes together like the wheels on a bike. You can ride a bike with one wheel but it’s easier with two. To enjoy a healthier life it takes a combination of actions that all create a better you. You are most likely good now only taking a few actions but you would be better if you do them all.
The actions to take to be healthy are no secret. You’ve heard the mantra many times. They are eat 9 -13 servings of fruits and vegetables, drink 8 - 13 glasses of water, get 7- 8 hours of sleep, manage stress, exercise 30 – 60 minutes every day, don’t smoke and social support like friends, family and community.
Community plays a big part in our well-being. A community is a gathering of people who have similar interests. For example, religion brings together a community of like-minded people who pray together. A city is a community of people who work, play in live sharing an interest in the safety where they live.
We don’t hear much about how important it is be included in a community and surrounded by like minded people when it comes to your health who are all seeking longevity and happiness.
In 2005 National Geographic Magazine published the article The Quest for Longevity and sited 3 cities where people lived to be more than 100 years old and enjoyed good health. The cities they found to have the highest number of centurions are Loma Linda, California, where they found the longest lived Americans to be among the Seventh Day Adventists, Sardinia and Okinawa, Japan.
In these three cities people live about seven good years longer than the average American. They have a five times greater chance of reaching the age 100, and they have about a fifth the rate of cancers and heart disease that kill Americans. How do they do it?
What is strikingly apparent is the experiences the people had in common in these three cities have in common. They all consumed a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lead an active lifestyle and are supported by a close-knit community. A community of people who sense they are all traveling the same path together. In other words a supportive social network.
On the road to better health a social network increases health, happiness and longevity. Healthy people are accountable. Healthy people profess their choices. They share what they are doing to get and stay healthy. They are not bragging, they are holding themselves accountable to their choices. Studies show when you share with someone what your personal health plan is you are more likely to stay the course.
Healthy people are happy. A network of like-minded people all following the path of a healthy life, supporting each other, sharing stories of well-being build towards happiness.
Healthy people live more fully. Longevity is not just living longer its living better more fully. Longevity is living each day in the best healthy and with the most wellness.
What can you learn from the National Geographic Study to help you get healthier in your own life?
Build a social network of people who all want what you want, who support each other and cheer each other on to stay on the road to better health. A group of people who all hold each other accountable, who are building towards longevity, are happy and fun to be with. Have fun sharing recipes with healthy pot luck dinners, gather the group go for walks together, watch movies together about what is happening with our food, families and communities. In other words create your own community.
Join your healthy community movement.
Many companies have picked up the torch of good health to propel the get healthy movement such as C2 Your Health LLC who has launched a social media campaign on Facebook, Transform 365 Today Community #OneSimpleChange (www.facebook.com/Transform365TodayCommunity) to provide a forum for sharing healthy living strategies, recipes and ideas.
The Juice Plus+ Company (www.YourJuicePlus.com) is another company inspiring people around the world to live a healthier lifestyle including sustainability and supporting the locavore movement in their message with hydroponic vertical tower gardens.
Join a community health challenge.
A community health challenge will add you into a healthy community who will increase your awareness of unhealthy behaviors and teach you the strategies to create a healthier life. The Michiana (Michigan and Indiana) communities are currently running a Kenko Challenge #MichianaKenko (http://www.cindycohenrn.com Michiana Kenko tab) filled with 8 weeks of internet based friendly competition, utilizing social media, videos and prizes to motivate teams of 2 – 10 people to a healthier life.
Getting yourself on the road to better health and staying there is best traveled with others. Belonging to something bigger than yourself is not only motivating it’s meaningful.
That’s what we all really want isn’t it? A life that means something important like being around long enough to share our wisdom with our great grand kids and be old enough for them to listen.
Your partner in health,
Cindy Cohen RN
Certified Health Coach
This article first appeared in Small Biz Forward