May 2018: The ‘String test’ and Friends

In our last blog we talked about waist circumference and its role in your health and longevity. An even simpler ‘string test’ exists to assess your visceral fat. Just get a piece of string about as long as you, then stand on one end and hold the other at the top of your head. Now bring the two ends together and with the string doubled and so now half as long, see

 

if you can wrap that around your waist? If you can well done, if not it means you may be harbouring too much of that inflammatory visceral fat around your organs. To learn more go to here.

But my main focus this month is not our expanding middles but rather how connected you are?

“Shikinoo, chui shiijii, shiru, kurasu”.

One cannot live in this world without the support of others.

Okinawan proverb*.

You may have heard about those so-called ‘Blue Zones’ around the world, places such as Okinawa in Japan, Costa Rica, the Greek island of Ikaria and the mountainous hills of central Sardinia where researchers have found an unusually high number of centenarians.

While everyone knows now that much of what we eat, drink and smoke and how little we move is killing us off a long way short of our potential active life, what many may not know is that the one thing that all of these places have in common is their high degree of social relationships. Conversely extensive research shows that loneliness and/or social isolation strongly negatively affected mortality. Living alone increased the odds of death by 32%. Being lonely and isolated is bad for your health! Living alone can be fine but we all need to keep connected and remain in contact with a good network of friends and family that we spend time with on a regular basis.

If like me you cultivated all sorts of friends around the world in a busy and active life, but as you get older and perhaps don’t wish to travel so much, you may find that you have fewer friends and family close by that you can talk to.

Make sure you reach out and build that network and keep connected. These areas need just as much attention as smoking, obesity, or a sedentary lifestyle. Social engagement not only is fun but also is good for our physical and mental health. Recently we tipped the balance where by more than half of us worldwide now live in an urban environment, where connections can be frayed.

So this month why not do an inventory, below, to assess your Social Support Network. To stay healthy and live long, as well as looking in your fridge with a critical eye, why not have a think on how you can keep connected and make new stronger social connections.  The evidence is it is as important for your health as not smoking!

 

Assessing Your Social Support*

Check off each statement that applies to you.

 

1. If I wanted to go on a day trip to the country or mountains I could easily find someone to go with me. ¨
2. There is someone with whom I can share my most private worries and fears. ¨
3. If I were sick, I could easily find someone to help me with my daily chores. ¨
4. There is someone I can turn to for advice about handling family problems. ¨
5. If I decide one afternoon that I would like to go to a movie that evening, I could easily find someone to go with me. ¨
6. When I need suggestions on how to deal with a personal problem, I know someone I can turn to. ¨
7. I often get invited to do things with others. ¨
8. If I had to go out of town for a few weeks, it would not be difficult to find someone to look after my house or apartment. ¨

 

9. If I wanted to have lunch with someone, I could easily find someone to join me. ¨
10. If I were stranded ten miles from home, there is someone I could call who would come and get me. ¨
11. If a family crisis arose, it would be easy for me to find someone who could give me good advice how to handle it. ¨
12. If I needed some help moving to a new location, it would be easy to find someone to help me. ¨

 

Add up your totals: Each check equals one point.  (For a more in-depth analysis, go to www.mayohealth.org and type in the search term social support.)

11-12 You have high levels of social support.

9-10 You have moderate levels of social support.

8 points or lower your healing web could use some patching.

If you checked each statement, think about how you can improve your healing web. We all can stand to strengthen our social relationships and make them more satisfying- out health depends on it!

*From, The Okinawa Way: How to improve your health and Longevity Dramatically

By Wilcox, B., Wilcox, C. Suzuki, M., 2001.p.289.

 

 

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