IF YOU COULD take a pill that would help you lose weight, sleep eight hours a day, reduce your risk for all major diseases, oh and puts you in a good mood, would you take it? This question was posed to me last summer by a human Ken doll named Randy Gibson, who was obviously taking this pill. Besides running two health clinics in Novato with his wife, Cat, an equally impressive human specimen, Gibson works closely with the Buck Institute. So I was hoping he was going to reveal a new pill they were developing and was recruiting me as a test subject. Nope. He just smiled. “Exercise.”
Ugh, the Randys and Cats of the world make optimal health look so easy. But he’s right: exercise is the magic formula. A quick glance online produces listicles touting the benefits from all the major health sources: Mayo Clinic, Medline (U.S. National Library of Medicine), Harvard School of Medicine, etc. Harvard’s experts state, “Adding as little as half an hour of moderately intense physical activity to your day can help you avoid a host of serious ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, depression and several types of cancer… Regular exercise can also help you sleep better, reduce stress, control your weight, brighten your mood, sharpen your mental functioning and improve your sex life.” In other words, just do it!
Here in Marin there is no shortage of opportunities to sweat or at least get your heart rate revved. Personally, I opt for outdoor recreation, which includes getting out on the miles of trails or taking select suburban strolls. As long as I can hit my steps, I feel great; I feel even better if I do it with a friend and get that boost of emotional connection. Many years ago, we published a story about John Horton who at 86 walked nearly every street in Marin. I’d love to do this too; it would be a great way to explore the diverse neighborhoods.
However, my world was rocked a couple months ago when I tagged along on a community stand-up paddle with 101 Surf Sports in San Rafael and found the best workout I’ve ever done was actually on the water. Dave Wells leads free early-morning adventures for customers. “Getting out on the water is the new health craze,” he says. “It’s called Blue Mind Therapy and combines the healing powers of the water with the movement of the body. What’s made paddle sports so popular is the blending of meditative rejuvenation with physical improvement all in one workout.” In one hour I had activated every muscle in my body and I saw a bald eagle, countless waterbirds and an otter family. I was working so hard, I didn’t have the energy to wipe the sweat dripping off my nose. And, a big bonus, I burned enough calories to enjoy eggs Florentine and pancakes at Theresa and Johnny’s guilt-free and still made it into work by 9 a.m. Just another epic Marin morning.
In this issue we explore many ways to achieve ultimate health. We review the newest research on stress and how it affects our overall well-being and the latest exciting medical findings from Bay Area hospitals. Curious about the hubbub over microdosing for mental health, Kasia Pawlowska dives into that controversial topic: once-maligned psychedelic drugs are seeing a resurgence in clinical settings, with some very positive results. And of course, the new research has roots in the Bay Area and Marin.
As always, we welcome your feedback and would love to hear about your health hacks, favorite hikes and activities indoors or out. How do you stay healthy? After all, we’re living in one of the healthiest counties in the country; we must be doing something right.
Mimi Towle, Editor