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7 simple strategies to increase a leader's health

| by Jim Farrer

A Lifeway survey revealed that 42 percent of ministers worked 60 or more hours a week. Starting a new in-depth health and fitness regime may add more stress let alone strain. Below are seven simple strategies that may enhance any leader’s health, fitness and longevity.

1.Blueberries, strawberries and heart health

In 2013, the journal Circulation noted that the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data collected from 93,600 women over an 18-year period. Women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32 percent reduction in their risk of heart attack. An additional study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that participants who added about one pound of strawberries per day for one month dropped their levels of cholesterol by 8.78 percent, their LDL by 13.72 percent and their triglycerides by 20.8 percent. When these participants eliminated strawberries from their diets, their initial values returned.

2.Gazpacho soup and blood pressure

The Townsend Letter journal (May 2015) disclosed the results of a cross-sectional Mediterranean population study of 3,395 participants. Those who regularly ate the cold vegetable soup gazpacho lowered their blood pressures by as much as 27 percent.

3.Two Brazil nuts a day and cancer

An article entitled “Ten Easy Ways to Slash Your Cancer Risk” on 2/8/18 announced that “in an eye-opening five-year study, researchers at Cornell University and the University of Arizona found that 200 micrograms of selenium daily--the amount contained in just two Brazil nuts--resulted in a 39 percent reduction in cancer deaths in individuals studied.”

4.The role of vitamin C

One of the initial reports of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) published inEpidemiology(June 1992) surveyed 11,348 people ages 25-74 on their vitamin C intakes during a ten-year span. Men and women with an intake of vitamin C of about 300mg per day from both food and supplements had a much lower death rate from heart disease than with those with lower intakes. Specifically, men had a 42 percent lower death rate from heart disease and women had a 25 percent lower death rate.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008 revealed that “a prospective study in 20,649 British adults found that those in the top quartile of baseline plasma vitamin C concentrations had a 42 percent lower risk of stroke than those in the bottom quartile.”

5.Come apart so you won’t come apart

Professor Leonard Sweet in The Jesus Prescription for a Healthy Life reminds us: “Sometimes Jesus ‘came apart’ by himself where no one could find him (Matthew 14:23). He withdrew from being the center of attention (‘Everyone is looking for you’) to find His true center through prayer ‘retreats.’ Jesus disengaged from people so that he might engage more fully with life” (p. 153).

Jesus also commanded his disciples/apprentices: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and you must now rest awhile” (Mark 6:31).

6.Fasting one day a month

Research by Utah’s Intermountain Health Care demonstrated that fasting one day a month led to a 58 percent reduction in heart attacks. It should be noted that this was a water-only fast. Even gum chewing was prohibited. (This was published in the Salt Lake Tribune on April 15, 2011.)

7.Exercise for body and mind

Kenneth Cooper M.D., who coined the term “aerobics” and founded the aerobics movement, observed that of any group of professionals with whom he consulted, pastors were in the worst shape.

In his book Christian Renewal: Living Beyond Burnout, Charles L. Rassieur reflects that “… in over 10 years as a professional psychotherapist, I do not recall anyone ever coming to me for counseling who was at the time engaged in a program of regular exercise!” (p. 42).

We have neglected loving ourselves with the stewardship of responsible self-care. St. Paul reported that he hardened/disciplined/pommeled (words translating a Greek term used in the sport of boxing) his body in order to be able to compete in life and ministry (1 Corinthians 9:27), and Jesus spent years at his father Joseph’s side as a carpenter/builder/construction worker and then walked many miles throughout Israel teaching and preaching.

According to a US News and World Report article entitled “Brain Power,” a daily half-hour stroll has been shown to even increase scores on intelligence tests.

We would be well advised to recall that Genesis 17:1 shows that walking in God’s presence is a person’s supreme fulfillment.

Photo source: istock

Jim Farrer

A broadly-trained church consultant, Jim Farrer is the founder of Vital Signs Church Consulting and a member of the Society for Church Consulting. A veteran of ministry positions in Canada and the U.S., he has trained leaders from 18 denominations and led seminars and coaching sessions nationwide. His articles have been published in the Journal of Evangelism and Missions and the Great Commission Research Journal. You can reach him by e-mailing or calling 814 629-5211.

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