Get Started
Get Started

Health & Exercise Forum

Healthy Mind, Body, Spirit - The Best New Year’s Resolution!

Jan 4, 2010

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumGuest Contributor: Y. Barry Kurtzer, MD

Happy Holidays! It is at this time of year that we celebrate life with great hope and faith. People of many faiths take time to reflect, respect, and resolve. Christians celebrate Christmas, the miraculous birth of Christ, the Son of God, and the Messiah. Jews celebrate Chanukah, the miraculous festival of lights, when one night’s oil provided enough light and safety for 8 nights. Both major faiths promote healthy lifestyles for the mind, body and spirit. These faiths are grounded in hope, faith, love and peace. It is no surprise that studies have repeatedly found that people of faith outlive those without!

In previous years, I have invited guest authors such as University of Scranton President, Fr. Scott Pilarz, S.J., Ph.D., and Scranton Preparatory School President, Fr. Herbert Keller, S.J., to share their thoughts on this topic. This year, I have the pleasure of sharing the expertise of Y. Barry Kurtzer, MD with you. Dr. Kurtzer is undoubtedly an expert on the healthy mind, body and spirit as he has the distinction of being both a Rabbi and Medical Doctor. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on this topic for our enlightenment:

“The Talmud (a book of Jewish law) states that preserving one’s life is considered by Scripture as preserving an entire world. Along these lines, it is understood that it is an axiom of Jewish law that preservation of life is a value of the highest order. When life is endangered, most commandments are disregarded. There are many other examples in the Torah (Bible) proving clearly that one must be very careful to take care of his health. The Bible tells us that one must build a fence around one’s roof t prevent tragedy. This is obviously and imperative to take aggressive remedial action against health hazards. Secondly, in the Shulchan Aruch (a book of Jewish law) we are clearly told that when an epidemic strikes, one is obligated to leave town. The present day equivalent for previous century’s epidemics would certainly be improvement of one’s health to escape disease. We find that a father is obligated to teach his children to swim to avoid potential future tragedy by drowning.

Maimonides, one of the great early codifiers of Jewish law and himself a physician, makes a very strong statement. The body’s health and perfection is one of the ways of serving God because it is impossible to understand and know God at all when ill; therefore, man must avoid that which destroys the body and conduct himself in ways which strengthen and restore the health of the body. Maimonides elaborates further by giving us a list of recommendations for diet, sleep and exercise.

Lastly, we are told in Genesis that man is created in God’s image. There is a story told of a king who went for a walk in his garden and saw a worker cleaning a statue of the king himself. When he asked the man “why are you doing this? He said, “The statue represents the king and it has to look its best.” So too, we, by taking care of our bodies that are created in God’s image, certainly are following God’s will.”

In 2010, in an effort to improve the health of your mind, body and spirit, I offer the following;

10 Tips for Winter Health

  1. Make Time To Reflect: Use the quiet of winter to be reflective, set goals and be grateful. Meditate and pray.
  2. Find Ways to Reduce Stress: Start the New Year off with realistic expectations. Exercise to reduce stress.
  3. Get Ample Sleep: Sleep is necessary for homeostasis, mental and physical health and balance.
  4. Practice Relaxation: Learn some new relaxation techniques: pray, meditate, exercise and breathe deeply.
  5. Eat Healthy: Avoid white breads and foods high in sugar and fat. Eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  6. Take Vitamins: Multivitamins, antioxidants, Vitamin A, E, C, D. Women over 35 should discuss taking Calcium with Vitamin D with their physicians.
  7. Find Balance – do not overindulge: Practice portion control when eating and drinking.
  8. Give To Others! Service to others and charity for the needy are very therapeutic and good for the soul!
  9. Make Time For Fun! All work and no play can be unhealthy. Hang out with those who make you laugh, sing, and run in the rain!
  10. Make Time For Love! There is nothing that gives life more meaning than to love and be loved. Invest time in relationships of value – family, friends and lovers.

Guest Contributor: Y. Barry Kurtzer, MD, Rabbi and Medical Doctor specialized in the practice of Internal Medicine in Scranton, PA.

Source: (Elson M. Haas, MD)

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an affiliated faculty member at the University of Scranton, PT Dept.