December 12, 2023

Six Activities to “Live Long and Well”: Learn Them During Your Next Stay at Madrone Springs Ranch


Madrone Springs Ranch is a place to enjoy active elements of play, while also being able to recharge your physical and emotional batteries in a rejuvenating environment.

Hi! We're Bobby & Gail

We strive to be healthy.  We also want to live longer and feel vigorous during our later years.  Achieving these goals, unfortunately won’t happen by simply adding supplements to our diet.  Or, taking a magic pill that has not yet been invented.  However, there are six science-based activities which can get you much closer to those desired goals.  Rigorous clinical studies (references available on request) have shown that these activities can reduce the risk of heart disease, cognitive decline, likelihood of cancer, and overall mortality.  First, let’s understand each in turn.  Second, let’s see how a visit to Madrone Springs Ranch would be a perfect way to learn and practice them.

A. Understanding the six activities

1. Exercise provides the most measurable benefits

Of all the activities that we might do, exercise provides the most benefits.  Exercise improves stamina and balance, reducing the likelihood of falls.  Exercise also has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cognitive decline, and increase longevity.  But, exercise is more than just getting 30’ of walking each day.  A proper program includes four components:

  • Aerobic-150’/week of moderately vigorous activity.  Brisk walking, riding a bike, hiking trails, or playing pickleball will meet this requirement.  At this intensity level, your heart rate might be 60-70% of maximum.  You should be able to talk, but not in long sentences.
  • Strength training only requires perhaps 20’ once or twice weekly, but is extremely important.  After age 30, we lose 1-2% of our muscle mass each year.  A good strength program can minimize that deterioration and core strength helps prevent falls.  
  • Anaerobic activities are bursts of all out speed either running, biking, swimming, or riding a Peloton bike.  These speed bursts need only last 1-4’ and just several are needed per week.  Anaerobic efforts will allow you to run after a child approaching a street or walk briskly up stairs with a package.
  • Balance and flexibility are additional exercise activities.  These can be done with yoga or done separately.  Avoiding injury or falls depends upon these elements.

2. Sleep cures many ills

Americans used to get almost eight hours of sleep each night.  That has fallen to less than 6.9 hours on average.  In scientific studies, seven or more hours of sleep has demonstrable improvements in overall mortality and reductions in dementia risk.  It helps retain memories and solidify new skills.

Here are a few tips to improve your sleep:

  • Get exercise during the day and sunlight in the morning
  • Go to sleep in a cool room at roughly the same time each evening
  • Avoid caffeine after your morning coffee, and avoid alcohol when possible.  Alcohol interferes greatly with the quality and quantity of sleep
  • Eat an early dinner as a full stomach does not help
  • Minimize electronic distractions an hour or so before bedtime
  • Stop drinking fluids a few hours before bedtime if you awake and need to use the bathroom

3. Mind/body work helps both the mind and the body

Meditation, breathing exercises, or meditative yoga all calm the mind.  In addition, they change your brain chemistry and lower the stress hormone, cortisol which affects your whole body.  Even a walk in nature can provide these benefits.

4. Eat healthy and maintain a good weight

Maintaining a good weight provides a myriad of benefits from having more energy, reducing the risk of diabetes, the likelihood of heart disease, or developing cancer.  Despite what you may hear over and over, no diet works “best.”   All diets work…until they don’t.  Low fat vs keto vs intermittent fasting vs. avoiding carbohydrates-they all can help us lose weight if we reduce caloric intake.  The timing and mix of foods has no magic element to it.  Shop the “outside” perimeter of the market to find the healthiest, minimally processed options.  Processed foods provide large amounts of calories in small portions—so they tend to promote weight gain.

5. Expose yourself to heat and cold

Heat exposure (e.g., sauna) has been used for hundreds of years.  More recently, scientists have studied their benefits and found reductions in both cognitive decline and cardiovascular mortality. Exposure to cold (e.g., cold plunges or cold showers) have also been around for a long time.  Scientific study of brief cold exposure has only recently begun.  We know that it raises dopamine levels (the “happy” hormone) for many hours although we don’t yet know the long-term potential benefits of this activity.

6. Social relationships matter

In a major 70-year, longitudinal study, Harvard scientists studied adult aging.  They found the best predictor of being alive and functioning well in your seventies and beyond was the presence in your fifties of having several strong friendships.  Over time, we lose friends, and it becomes more difficult to make strong new ones.  It is worth the effort as it may provide even more benefits than the above discussed activities!

B. A visit to Madrone Springs Ranch can reinforce all of these activities

We often feel that time moves too quickly, not enabling us to do for ourselves what health requires.  Spend a few days at Madrone Springs Ranch and have the time, facilities, and guidance to begin a journey to improved health.  The Ranch has plenty of opportunities to exercise with hiking, swimming, and a variety of options in the exercise studio. Take a sauna and a cold plunge in the Lodge.  Enjoy the yoga studio and have a class or relax with a massage.  Have “fresh, healthy, comfort foods” prepared for you to further your relaxation.  Enjoy one another and nurture your family relationships and friendships.  Getting a good night’s sleep will be inevitable after a full day of nature activities and the quiet of the private surroundings.

You can “Live Long and Well”, or at least increase the likelihood of it.  Scientific evidence supports the six activities discussed above.  Give yourself the opportunities to learn, practice, and take these elements back to your daily lives.  You and your health deserve it!

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