In 1521 the Spaniard Ponce de Leon first embarked on a search for the fountain of youth. When he landed here with his caravel during Easter-week, he was so enchanted by the blooming splendor he discovered, that he named this place Florida, the Flowering. To this day, the beaches and the healthy climate of Florida draw travelers from all over Europe, only today by jet. They all recognize the secret, which this place has to offer.
Florida’s unique combination of sun, sea and warm temperatures invites us for a total renewal of body, mind, emotions, and soul. Here, each and every one of can find what we are looking for – fitness, vitality, wellness, and beauty. The holiday-traveler can recover from the stress of his daily working life, the businessman enters a field of unlimited possibilities in the US-economy, and the retiree is offered an area with high recreational value without large seasonal climatic fluctuations.
This continuously healthy and mild weather during the entire year aids nearly all bodily functions. Here, I will describe only a few of them. Sunlight activates the melanocyte stimulating hormone, MSH, in the brain, which induces tanning. In addition, it accelerates the metabolism and increases the supply of fat reserves in the body. This leads to suppression of hunger feelings with reduced food intake, contributing to weight reduction. Increased light exposure also stimulates the thyroid, which likewise accelerates the metabolism and prevents weight gain.
An important mechanism in the body, which depends on sunlight, is the formation of Vitamin D3 in the skin, the largest organ of the body. This system is the prerequisite for a functioning calcium up-take from our intestine. After only 30 minutes in the sun, the Vitamin D level in the blood rises to the 50-fold amount necessary to prevent Osteoporosis. According to recent findings of American Cedric Garland, vitamin D also reduces the occurrence of intestinal cancer by 80%. Its positive influence on the autoimmune system also contributes to a better tissue compatibility with transplant operations. Even in mainstream medicine "irradiation”, a strong concentrated beam of sun-like heat, is used for some skin diseases, for instance, with certain forms of Psoriasis or Acne. Sunlight also regulates our sleep-wake-rhythm, which plays an important role in recovery during nightly rest and stress-management.
As is the case for everything in life, the benefits depend on the dosage. A person’s tolerance for sunlight is determined by the skin-type. One differentiates six so-called photo-types according to Fitzpatrick of Harvard Medical School, depending upon sensitivity for ultraviolet light. Four of them are represented in the Central European population. To prevent serious damage to the skin it is important to follow certain protective measures. One should apply sun lotions with sufficiently high light protection factors (SPF (sun protection factor)) and consider the duration as well as the time of day for the sunbath. The harmful UVA-radiation is strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Therefore, one should avoid these hours or use special caution, such as staying in the shade, to enjoy them.
With all these positive effects of sunlight on the body a visit to Florida is a wonderful opportunity to initiate life style changes for a healthier you. This includes the prevention of serious illnesses like heart disease, stroke or cancer. The rewards are: Boosted energy and vitality of the body, increased mental capacity, feelings of well-being, and beauty of soul.
"Where can I have the most fun during Germany’s wet-cold and uncomfortable season?" My clients ask me this each and every year. Again and again, my simple answer is: The best place for swimming, biking, hiking, walking, sailing, and fishing, is the Outdoor-Paradise Florida! Why? By alternating different physical activities it is possible to reach the maximum and longest lasting health effects of stress reduction, recovery, and fitness fast.
Utilize Florida’s unique features like 3640 kilometers of coastline and 159 State Parks. These offer unlimited possibilities for the recuperation of body, mind, and soul. Depending on individual preference, one can select from undisturbed nature, or well-designed nature trails for healthy activities all year around.
Research shows, as little as 20 minutes of medium to strong physical activity three times per week offers enormous health benefits. There is a clear relation between effort and health effect. Which means more is better than none, but the correct measure is vital. It is also important that one enjoys these activities and does not consider them to be chores.
Florida’s sun, warmth, and waves combined with sports, activate the body’s self healing forces and lead to increased strength and rejuvenation through the production of new cells. That is self rejuvenation at its finest. Deepened respiration during physical activities enriches the blood cells with more oxygen and increases the elasticity of the cell walls. This enables the blood to travel into the smallest capillaries in all tissues and guarantee a healthy supply of energy from oxygen and glucose. In this way, new blood vessels and tissue can even be formed in muscles, the heart, and brain. The improved mobility of the blood decreases the risk of blood clot formation, and its attachment to the artery walls preventing the occurrence of heart attacks or strokes.
During exercise we burn more calories. Therefore, we lower the risk of weight gain, diabetes, and elevated unhealthy blood fats. Faster intestinal passage of food helps eliminate toxins quicker, reducing the probability of cancer of the large intestine and of the breast. Regular and varied training also prevents development of Osteoporosis in men and women. It increases vitality and the mobility of muscles and joints, which in turn enables individuals to enjoy an independent lifestyle even in old age. The improved blood circulation in the brain has proven to lead to the continued experience of joy, concentration, attention, memory, and orientation and counteracts the development of the Alzheimer disease.
While being active and still, hours later, during the relaxation phase, hormones are released in the brain, which cause a general feeling of well-being, thereby diminishing stress and the occurrence of depression. The felt euphoria can be easily recognized by others through the radiating eyes which look particularly attractive. All these factors lead to increased quality of life.
Still, caution is advised: Make sure that you drink sufficient quantities of liquid. It is best to begin one hour before starting the training with approximately a half Liter of water and altogether drinking at least two to three Liters of water or sports drink during the active day. Alcohol, coffee, tea, and soft drinks are not to be taken into account and avoided completely if possible.
After the often hectic Holliday Season has passed and all New Years resolutions are made, one longs to calm down again and catch the breath. The prospect of fueling up with sun and warmth in Florida’s vacation heaven constitutes a true silver lining in the darkness of the German winter. It promises a welcome recovery for the heart on all levels: Body, mind, emotions and soul.
A winter break in the warmth and sunny weather of Florida is particularly suitable for the prevention of cardio-vascular problems, specifically with advanced age or already existing symptoms. Recent studies from Germany, England and France showed that just a decrease of the outside temperature by only 10 degrees Celsius increases the risk of a cardiac infarct by up to 13%. Altogether, between January and March up to 50% more such potentially lethal health crises occur than during the summer month. Some people react to variations in temperature immediately, others only after two to three days. These observations were made in regions, in which the temperatures differ markedly between summer and winter. In areas with warm temperatures throughout the whole year, such fluctuations in health risks do not occur. One explanation for this phenomenon is that our life habits also are subject to seasonal changes. For example we tend to eat more and move less during the cold season, particularly around Christmas. Outdoor activities are clearly reduced. In contrast to the life style in Europe life in Florida takes place outside in nature.
In addition, adjustments inside our body take place in cold weather. Blood vessels of arms and legs contract, the heart must work harder in order to provide sufficient oxygen supply to these areas. Elderly or high blood pressure patients encounter increased risks of illness with a rise of their blood pressure by as little as 18mmHg and more. As a result the oxygen supply of all tissues decreases markedly in the cold. The composition of the blood changes immediately and continues to remain so for days. Blood platelets, red blood cells, coagulating factors, and Cholesterol go up, thickening and slowing down the bloodstream by about 20%. These mechanisms contribute to the formation of blood clots in coronaries, lung or brain. The cold season also brings a rise in infections to us, which in combination with many cold and flu medicines put an additional strain on our cardio-vascular system.
According to P. Glasser, Professor for Preventive Medicine at the University of Alabama, the shortened daylight hours in the winter up North contribute to important changes of our hormone levels and make the heart more susceptible to illness. Scientists, who are specialized in the research of bio-rhythms, therefore already suggested a light therapy. When spending time in Florida you get this light therapy with its positive effects on the heart for free! Not only more hours of sunlight, but also a higher light intensity ensures the production of vitamin D in the skin. Swedish and Danish studies proved that, among other things, the benefits of this are a lowering of blood pressure and the blood fat Triglyceride.
New Year’s resolutions, for example the common plan to begin a health regimen, lose weight, or engage in a new sports activity can be facilitated by Florida’s mild climate; starting out slowly and then gearing up the routine heart, body, mind, emotions, and soul can regenerate holistically. Following a planned program step by step increases the probability to follow through long-term and not give up prematurely leading to the well-known relapses.
A healthy climate contributes to a healthy whole: body, mind, emotions and soul.