The physical therapy/fitness room on the Guest House campus

Wellness is an active process of change and growth – of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy lifestyle. All individuals must be involved in their wellness. A multi-faceted idea, wellness includes the well-being of body, mind and spirit. All the pieces are addressed in the Guest House programs to assure that our clients have the best opportunity for quality recovery and overall health and wellness.

The component of physical wellness promotes proper care of our bodies for optimal health and functioning. Physical activity helps to keep a body in top condition. Some benefits of physical activity are strengthened bones and muscles, reduced risk of disease and stroke, and more energy. In turn, it is important to recognize the necessity of quality rest or sleep. It is a balance of activity and rest working together that maximizes the body’s ability to function. Everyone must make choices in their lives that keep them properly active and rested.

Health assessments are critical for all individuals to monitor health needs. When clients comes to Guest House for evaluation, they receive complete medical and clinical assessments. Our full-time medical director meets with each client on a regular basis, identifying and addressing all health care concerns. Though ideally health care visits should be a priority in everyone’s lives, the reality is that they often are not. Getting our clients “caught up” on their health care is an important role of our medical director. His recommendations include attending to hearing and dental needs. Taking care of underlying issues encourages the treatment process.

At Guest House we partner with HealthQuest Physical Therapy to provide on-site services to our clients. An initial physical therapy assessment includes a complete body screening, identifying any pathological concerns or lack of function. Following a two to three-week program with a physical therapist, designed to meet the client’s individual needs, the client then has full access to the on-campus gym and a trainer. The trainer performs a fitness assessment and sets goals to address any weaknesses. Working “from scratch” with each client, the trainer focuses on core foundational work that addresses mobility, stability and strength (in that order). In addition, cardio programs, stretching routines and other exercises are shared with each client; these helpful practices can be done independently, becoming part of a healthy lifestyle.

A priest near the end of his program sums up his experience with exercise: “I never worked harder at anything in my life. I thought I couldn’t do it in the beginning, but Caleb (trainer) guided me and pushed me, and I grew stronger every day. My physical strength and stamina are the best they have ever been, and I feel confident.” A Sister also shares, “It’s was exhausting work in the beginning, but now I find it exhilarating.”

All people must take an active role in their physical health. Anyone can try the following exercise to engage the core. The “TA (transverse abdominis) Draw In” is considered a foundational core function exercise:

  1. Lie on your back on a solid, flat surface. If needed, support your head and neck with a rolled towel.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the surface.
  3. Pull down your lower back into the surface – think of pulling your belly button down. You should feel your stomach tighten. It can be helpful to set a small object such as a block or deck of cards on your stomach in line with your hip bones.
  4. Tighten your abdominal muscles as if you are trying to fit into a tight pair of pants and aim to flatten your back onto the surface. You want the object on your stomach to sink down and not rise up.
  5. While breathing normally, hold this position for five seconds and release for two to three seconds. Counting aloud helps you to maintain normal breathing.
  6. A good start is ten repetitions of the contraction and release.
  7. Beginners should perform two to three sets of the ten repetitions.
  8. As you strengthen the core muscles, you can increase the length of the contractions in five second intervals.

Always remember the role sleep plays in good health. Sleep protects physical and mental health. It is involved in healing and in the repair of the heart and blood vessels, and it helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make people feel hungry or full. Strong growth and development and the immune system require appropriate sleep, and everyone functions more efficiently and safely with proper rest. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, adults aged 18 years or older need a recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a day. Balancing the activity and rest in life paves the road to optimizing health.

Written by Guest House Staff Writer

“How Much Sleep is Enough?”