Fathers: Time to take a health check

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With Father’s Day being celebrated this month, it got me thinking of the health of fathers out there and also gave me a chance to look in the mirror at my own health.

The main reason I got into the health profession is that I have a deep desire to help people achieve peak performance.  As a physical therapist I’m on a journey to become an expert in human movement and function.

But over the last 15 years as a practicing physiotherapist I’ve come to learn that movement, exercises, and manipulation does not complete the healing response in many clients.  Over the last two years I’ve learned that to achieve authentic healing you must have a balanced mind along with a balanced body.  Often this approach is called mindfulness, mind/body connection or being intentional with holistic health and wellness.

Now science is starting to catch up with the mind body connection.  I recently watched a film featuring a line-up of internationally recognised experts, doctors and professors from Harvard Medical School, Stanford University School of Medicine and several other medical schools from Australia and the US.  The documentary is called “The Connection”. It has by far the best explanation I have come across on how we can live, function and perform at peak performance.

theconnectionThe filmmaker Shannon Harvey travelled the world in search of the missing link in healthcare.  From interviewing world-leading scientists to meeting people with remarkable stories of recovery from severe back pain, heart disease, infertility, cancer and multiple sclerosis, this documentary delves into the link between our mind and body.

I’ve just watched the film and am buzzing with ideas on how to integrate mindfulness exercise into my daily life, as well as offering a mindfulness service to the community through our wellness centre in Hamilton.  For example we have all heard about the body’s stress response and how stress is really bad for our health. Well now research shows that the body has a capacity opposite to the stress response, called the relaxation response.  Learning to train this response has many benefits.  According to research, here are a few benefits to training the body’s relaxation response.

• The mind’s healing response effect is 30-50  percent of any biological cure
• It changes your gene expression for the positive
• Your telomeres get longer. (A telomere is a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of a chromatid, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromo somes )
• Shortened telomeres have been linked with many age-related diseases.
• It can reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease
• Improves immune system function

A research report of medical students found the immune systems became profoundly suppressed before or just after an exam period.  But if taught relaxation techniques they showed significantly better immune function and less illness during exams.

Chronic pain including back pain can be improved by training the body’s relaxation response.

The film goes on to talk about how science has found neurotransmitters and hormonal receptors on the surface of the immune cell creating a direct connection to the brain. They have also found more than 80 million neurons in your gut; which can act independently of your brain, so effectively your mind is not just in your head but through your whole body.

Many of our fathers out there, myself included, are pushing ourselves to the max.  We are stressed from over work, business deadlines, family, sport and life in general.  If we flogged our car as hard as our bodies, we would most likely need a new car every few months.

So how can we make change?  First of all you have to watch the film.  I believe so strongly that the Hamilton community needs to see this that we have purchased the film for public viewing.  It is being screened at the Lido Cinema, Centreplace, Hamilton, at 8pm Monday, September 21.

Tickets at www.iticket.co.nz or from Advance Physiotherapy on Victoria St.  We have only a limited number of seats so get in quick if you want to see the film or buy a ticket for your dad.

Secondly we run stress reduction yoga classes at our Advance Wellness centre in Hamilton. Call to book your spot and get started on being intentional with your mind/body health.

The Connection is brought to you by Advance Physiotherapy Health & Wellness Centre and Sue Kohn-Taylor, personal development coach.  I am looking forward to seeing you at this exclusive screening.

Director of Advance Physio, John Appel is dedicated to helping everyone function fully and enjoy everyday life without the restriction of pain.With a Masters in Physiotherapy, a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology, an Athletic Training degree, and as a Myofascial Release therapist, he  works with a wide range of clients from professional athletes to chronic fibromyalgia clients. www.advancephysio.co.nz

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