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The Question Insights From Response Readers

What's your secret to good health?

Many people have found their own special recipe for staying healthy — physically, mentally, and spiritually. We asked if you had a secret to share with other readers about maintaining good health.

The Book of Kells

Here's what you said:

I drink lots of water. I take vitamin D and probiotics and use essential oils for their specific healing purposes. I do these things for my children as well!

Sarah Partain, Indianapolis, Indiana

For me, there is only one thing to keep my body healthy after a challenging run: a glass full of chocolate milk!

Elliot Morton, SPU Junior; Soccer Player; Business Administration Major Tacoma, Washington

Essential to my health: hugs, yoga, laughing, lots of Omega-3s, and sunscreen every day, even in Seattle!

Brianna Piedmonte '07, SPU Program Coordinator, Industrial/Organizational Psychology Seattle

I hula hoop around Green Lake — I've heard it burns as many calories as running, but I do it because exercise should be fun.

Kate Hoskin '10, Seattle

My secret to good health is walking with friends. Walking improves my physical health, and talking with friends improves my mental health. My girlfriends and I have walked around neighborhoods, through parks, and in marathons in several states and Canada. We have walked and laughed, walked and cried, and walked and prayed. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a companion.

Karen Altus M.S. '90, SPU Career Counselor Seattle

It will come as no surprise that I would identify regular physical activity as one “secret” to good health. It has been understood as essential to good health since before the time of Hippocrates, and John Wesley said (in the preface to his Primitive Physic) “The power of exercise, both to preserve and restore health, is greater than can well be conceived; especially in those who add temperance thereto.” Indeed, Steve Blair’s article in the July 17, 1996 issue of JAMA suggests that physical fitness (not the same as but highly related to physical activity) may be more important to mortality than the combination of cigarette smoking, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure. While physical activity and fitness have been recognized as important to health for millennia, few have suspected that they may be as important as Blair’s data suggest.

Since such a small percentage of Americans seem motivated to exercise regularly, perhaps the secret is to obtain an appropriate quantity and quality of physical activity by “disguising” it as play and/or transportation. The latter may be especially fruitful as a source of physical activity since about 25 percent of all trips in the U.S. are shorter than one mile, and 75 percent of those are by car — taking about the same time as walking if you include the time to get in the car, drive “to” the destination, find parking, and walk from the car to the destination. Imagine the impact on health resulting from less, air pollution, water pollution, traffic congestion/road rage, consumption of fuel and financial expenditure if we made few-to-no driving trips less of one mile or less. Imagine the joy that might be added to life if we regarded active play/recreation (read “re-creation”) as valuable instead of frivolous and sought/made regular opportunities to participate.

To the above, I would simply add my shorthand definitions of wellness: grateful, loving stewardship (of all that is and of our relationship with the Source of all) and simply balanced living. Appropriate physical activity is just one (but a very important) aspect of this grateful, loving stewardship and balanced living, which I see as paths to health. Gratitude is key in my mind.

Bob Weathers, SPU Professor Emeritus of Physical Education and Exercise Science Anacortes, Washington

I try to eat as close to nature as possible. The more processed something is, the further it is from nature. Fresh fruits, veggies, and meat trump something out of a box or can every time! I also substitute ground turkey breast for ground beef. If it's too dry, I add olive oil; I prefer to get my fat from vegetable sources.

Michelle Morrell '93, Seattle

Our secret is to stay committed to Bible reading, interaction with small group for study and prayer, and weekly exercise — we work out three times a week at Harbor Square Athletic Club. We have yearly physical exams and listen to what the doctor says. We have positive interaction with our children and grandchildren (we are very proud of all of them) and we are also season ticket holders at SPU basketball each year (positive interaction with alums). To this point in life we are fairly healthy with no major illnesses.

Ardyce "Ardy" Cranston '56 and Frank Cranston '56, Shoreline, Washington

My physical health improved substantially when I learned enough about nutrition and the right balance of "calories in/calories out" to make smarter food choices. At the same time, I also began doing serious aerobic exercise to improve cardiovascular fitness. My secret there was a doc who said, "Run or die." OK, that's a little paraphrased, but you get the point.

Timothy Nelson, SPU Professor of Biology Seattle

I don't have a secret, but an observation. We were fortunate to be born during the Depression of the '30s, followed by World War II. Our families lived frugally, and our eating habits benefited. When I look at family photographs of that era, I marvel at how slim everyone was.

I also believe God has endowed our bodies with two natural healing gifts that are totally free: laughter and singing. Jay (Pearson '57) has been living with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma the past four years, and laughter and singing continue to help keep us strong — plus a huge band of prayer partners!

Kathy Pearson '57, Mercer Island, Washington

Daily: Run three miles, recite the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" while doing yoga, and pause throughout for lectio divina.

Laura Lasworth, SPU Professor of Art Seattle

At age 57 and as a cancer survivor, I am even more health conscious than I was before my cancer diagnosis in 2006. I have found the following helpful in maintaining health:
• Watching the sweets. Cutting out coffee creamers helped me shed some extra pounds.
• Exercising at least three times a week, and lifting light and moderate weights to maintain bone/muscle mass.
• Trading jogging for bike riding whenever the weather will allow since having a hip replaced in 2007.
• Reading the Bible and daily devotions to address spiritual fitness.

Gregory Gelderman Ed.D. '04, SPU Certification Officer Everett, Washington

1. Listen to your body.
2. Never deprive yourself, but never indulge yourself either.
3. Make exercise comfortable.
4. Make health a priority.
5. Keep healthy snacks handy.

Delong Tsway, SPU Junior; Biochemistry Major Sammamish, Washington

Here are my practical “secrets” to good health: washing hands, drinking water, walking, sleeping.
My more philosophical answer is the pursuit of internal peace and rest. I don’t mean a “not in touch with reality” calm or detachment. To me, this peace means active seeking after God through prayer and worship — practicing this. Working at it. I experience the tidal waves of emotions when things go wrong, that’s for sure. But there is a peace from God that really can happen despite real calamities like illness, accident, injury happening to me and those I love dearly. I guess it’s an overall wellness of my spirit that is bigger than my ability to describe it.

Alison Leary Estep, Communications Specialist, Seattle

As an aging Baby Boomer, I have been blessed with incredibly good health. My contributions towards this state include running 12 miles a week, trying to eat a low-carb, low sugar diet and practicing yoga one or two times per week. Another habit I’ve incorporated into my life is taking time each evening for quiet reflection and prayer. I am proud to say I have not had to take a single sick day in my four years of working here at SPU!

Patty Farmer, SPU Career Counselor, Seattle

Daily Bible reading, frequent laughter, and a nightly glass of ale.

Stephen Ley, West Palm Beach, Florida

Join the conversation

We want to hear your answers! Tell other Response readers your health secrets.