To Your Health
Five simple and easy ways for wheelchair users to give their health an extra boost in 2013.
It’s important for everyone to keep track of their health, but that effort takes on added importance when someone has other medical issues, such as spinal-cord injury/disease.
Doctor’s visits and regularly taking prescriptions are great, but that’s not all everyone should be doing to stay in the best health. We all know the mantra of diet and exercise. Most of us don’t really like it and some don’t do it, but we know how important they are to our health.
Having a full-blown exercise routine and diet are awesome, but that isn’t easy for everyone to do. What is easy is incorporating a little bit of health into our everyday life. Whether it’s eating a certain healthy food to benefit your diet, a quick stretch to aid your body or even a short exercise to help you relax, it’s all good, and it all adds up.
These are five simple and easy ways to give their health an extra boost this year. Some are basic concepts with an added twist while others are new, but they’ll all help.
(1) The nice warm embrace of sunshine always feels so good when it’s not too hot outside. It’s also good mental health. To light up your life some, try getting outside for a roll around the block or spending time in front of a sun-exposed window.
Playing games or even just conversing with friends can help your brain work and keep your memory strong.
If those aren’t possible, APA recommends light therapy. This form of therapy involves exposure to very bright light (usually from a special fluorescent lamp or light box) between 30 and 90 minutes a day during the winter.
For other helpful ideas and tips, visit healthyminds.org.
(2) Drinking cranberry juice to try and prevent urinary tract infections (UTI) is nothing new to wheelchair users, but that doesn’t mean you can’t freshen up that tired old glass of plain juice into something different.
There is some scientific research behind preventing UTIs with cranberries. The basic idea is that the fruit is thought to have a substance that stops infection-causing bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls.
For recipe ideas, visit oceanspray.com/Kitchen.
(3) Exercise has obvious benefits to the body, but what may not be as easy to see are its benefits to your mind. The ancient Chinese art of qi gong provides both in number of movements that can be easy for wheelchair users to do.
Qi gong is from the Chinese word “qi” (chee), which means life force, and “gong” (kung), meaning skill (say it as chee-kung). It’s basically a combination of slow rhythmic movements or stretches, breathing techniques and focused intentions.
A 2011 study published in Biological Research for Nursing found qi gong may be helpful for older adults in wheelchairs. The study found participants’ blood pressure, distal skin temperature, and psychological health were significantly improved after a 12-week qi gong program.
If a local class isn’t offered in your area, wheelchair qi gong videos and DVDs are on YouTube and at amazon.com.
For more information, visit nih.gov.
(4) Red is a very strong, vibrant and powerful color, and it turns out that is especially true when it comes to the kind of tea you should be drinking for your health.
Rooibos tea (say it as roo-ee-bosh) is an antioxidant powerhouse that rivals its green cousin, without any caffeine. Made from the rooibos plant native to South Africa, the tea is believed to help the heart, fight viruses, reduce risk of some cancers, lower stress, fight inflammation and even help allergies.
A 2008 clinical trial at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa found six cups of rooibos per day helps to reduce oxidative stress in the body and lower the risk of heart disease.
For more information, visit sarooibos.co.za.
(5) Plenty of things to do are good for your physical well-being, but it’s important to keep your brain in tip-top shape, too.
Giving your brain a daily workout can help keep your memory strong and may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Tons of computer games are on the Internet and for your smartphone, but there are also plenty of “low-tech” options.
Crossword puzzles are good, but if you already do that, try something else such as sudoku or a word jumble. Learning something new makes your brain work harder. Believe it or not, even switching the hand you brush your teeth with (if you’re a righty, use your left hand) can help your brain work.
Even social connections and conversation can help. A study from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research found that just ten minutes of talking with a friend worked just as well as brain games to strengthen the memory.
For more information, visit games.aarp.org.
To Your Health
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