health Articles

Interested in learning how and why you should become a healthy leader?  Scan the articles below.

A Lifestyle Change

Health Facts & Tips


"Living Well at Luther" Testimonials


A Fresh Start

What a Day that will be! No more cold nights—in fact, no more nights! The Day is coming—the timing is GOD's—when it will be continuous day. Every evening will be a fresh morning. What a Day that will be! Fresh flowing rivers out of Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea, half to the western sea, flowing year-round, summer and winter! –Zechariah 14:6-8 (The Message)

When we read this interpretation of Zechariah, we can see, feel and hear the fresh beginnings that come when we put our trust in God. It may be what we can hope for when we return home to God. It can also bring to us what life has to offer in Christ here today.

Challenge yourself with fresh starts.

  • Fresh Air. Daily, if not weekly, walk outside to breathe in the crisp, fresh air. Remember to take deep breaths throughout the day. It will help rid you of stale energy and bring renewal to your body and spirit.
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Buy the seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables that bring a promise of a more balanced physical health.
  • Fresh Water. Drink your daily requirement of eight glasses of fresh water.
  • Fresh mornings. Commit to getting the six to eight hours of sleep your body requires for renewal.
  • Fresh relationships. Freshen your relationship with someone you have not had time for during the past months, or even years. Ask them to coffee, send them a note or give them a hug.
  • Fresh minds. Go to a class you don’t need to take but want to. Read a book that you wouldn’t normally read.
  • Fresh earth. If you don’t recycle, make this the year to help the earth. Plant a tree. Write a congressperson about issues that help the environment.
  • Fresh spirit. Sit with God. Find a new devotional or attend a new Bible study. Walk a labyrinth. There are many ways to renew a relationship with God.

If committing to fresh starts is easy but hard to maintain, find a friend to guide and encourage you. We are given the gift of family through Christ. From Ephesians 3:13, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today.”

The Challenge of Change

II Corinthians 10:3-5. “Indeed we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards: for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

To take our negative thoughts captive is an important part of making changes.

It is very difficult to eliminate self-defeating behaviors if your thoughts say “you can’t stay on a diet” or “I’m too weak-willed to follow better habits.” Identify the negative thought and replace it with an attitude that is positive and hopeful. The good behavior then has a better chance to develop.

At the same time, establishing new habits and behaviors can lead to change. If you can implement a new behavior or activity for 21 days, it is more likely that the change will be lasting. For example, deciding to walk 20 minutes at least five times a week may inspire you to increase the time as the benefits of walking become apparent.

Another example is taking the time for breakfast; eating a bowl of cereal, half a bagel with peanut butter or a cup of yogurt may provide enough sustenance to carry you to lunch time without feeling hungry or craving refined carbohydrates for quick energy. The good results will ensure an enduring habit.

As baptized Christians, we are recipients of the greatest change; from children of the dark to children of the light, adopted by God himself. Daily we receive the additional assurance that the Holy Spirit will give us the necessary strength to follow His will. Let us rejoice in this daily change, yet remain firmly rooted in the love of God.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” –Anonymous

Nine Popular Myths About Body Image and Weight Training

1. Myth: Women who strength train using weights will develop large, bulging muscles.

Want the truth? Genetic and hormonal differences in females allow positive strength gains and benefits from strength training, while limiting potential muscle size and strength development. The result? You will look and feel toned.

2. Myth: You can spot-reduce fat loss.

Want the truth? It has been shown that exercise, even when localized, draws from almost all of the fat stores of the body. This means that when jogging, fat is being burned equally from both the upper and lower body, even though the lower body is doing most of the work.

3. Myth: You need to increase your protein if you lift weights.

Want the truth? Protein needs are usually met through a balanced diet. The body is only able to use limited amounts of protein; excess protein is used for energy, converted to fat or eliminated from the body through the excretory system.

4. Myth: For maximum definition or tone, the more repetitions the better.

Want the truth? To achieve definition (tone) one must strengthen or cause hypertrophy in the muscle in the specified area. To best accomplish this, the muscle must be exposed to overload—a heavier workload than usual. Overload is best achieved by finding a weight in which overload fatigue will occur in eight to twelve repetitions on a given exercise. For added benefits, one can perform multiple sets on an exercise with failure experienced on the final set. (Here, failure is a good thing!)

5. Myth: If you stop lifting, your muscles will turn to fat.

Want the truth? It is physiologically and chemically impossible to convert muscle to fat or fat to muscle. When a person stops exercising his/her muscles, they will begin to atrophy, or get smaller.

6. Myth: Strength training will cause a person to become muscle-bound and lose his/her joint flexibility.

Want the truth? A well-organized strength training program, which adheres to correct technique, will strengthen and tone without negatively affecting mobility and flexibility. In fact, these will be improved!

7. Myth: Cardiovascular exercise is the best and only way to burn fat.

Want the truth? Resting metabolic rate accounts for 60-75% of the total calories we expend every day. Ten percent of the calories we burn come from the breakdown of food consumption. Fifteen to thirty percent come from calories expended from activity.

Resting metabolism is determinant on levels of lean body mass, specifically the amount of muscle in the body. By increasing the amount of lean body mass (muscle) in the body, you can raise your resting metabolism and burn more fat while at rest.

8. Myth: You can achieve a cardiovascular and strength training workout at the same time by doing all exercises quickly.

Want the truth? When performing strength training exercises it is very important to go slowly through the complete range of motion of the involved joint. By doing this you get a more beneficial workout as well as decrease your chance for injury. As a general rule, you should perform the "push" phase of the lift for 2 seconds and the "return" phase of the lift for 4 seconds.

9. Myth: The best way to lose weight is through no carbohydrate diets or low carbohydrate diets.

Want the truth? The human body gets 60-70% of its energy for daily activities from carbohydrates, specifically complex carbohydrates. These particular diets force the body to burn ketones from stored fat and proteins instead of complex carbohydrates. There is little doubt weight loss is experienced in the short term, mostly due to loss of water weight as well as muscle mass.

These diets are often hard to stick to over a long period of time. Essential food groups and nutrients are ignored and when the diet is abandoned, weight is more easily regained. These diets typically contain very high levels of saturated fat and high cholesterol, which can lead to serious long-term health problems. The best advice for losing weight safely and maintaining it is to eat a healthy balanced diet and to make small, active and consistent lifestyle changes.

Am I at Risk for Diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious disease in which blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are above normal. Most people with diabetes have type 2, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes. At one time, type 2 diabetes was more common in people over 45. But now more young people—even children—have the disease because many are overweight or obese. About one-third of people with type 2 diabetes do not even know they have it. Diabetes can lead to problems such as heart disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney disease and nerve damage.

At-risk checklist

There are many factors that increase your risk for diabetes. If you have more than one check, talk with your health-care provider at your next visit.

  • I am 45 years of age or older.
  • I am overweight.
  • I have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes.
  • My family background is African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander.
  • I had diabetes while pregnant (called gestational diabetes) or gave birth to a baby weighing nine pounds or more.
  • I have been told that my glucose levels are higher than normal.
  • My blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or I have been told that I have high blood pressure.
  • My cholesterol (lipid) levels are not normal. My HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) is less than 35 or my triglyceride level is higher than 250.
  • I am fairly inactive. I am physically active fewer than three times a week.
  • I have been told that I have polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • I have been told that I have blood vessel problems affecting my heart, brain or legs.

What is prediabetes?

At least 54 million Americans over age 20 have prediabetes. Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they usually have "prediabetes." This means their blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diabetes. People with prediabetes are more likely to develop diabetes within 10 years and more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people with normal blood glucose levels.

Type 2 diabetes prevention at a glance:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is the No. 1 risk factor for diabetes.
  • Get more physical activity. Even without weight loss, physical activity helps keep blood glucose levels down.*
  • Increase the fiber in your diet. Eat fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds to boost fiber intake.
  • Reduce or quit smoking. Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day can increase your risk of developing diabetes.
  • Consider a screening test. Ask your health-care provider for a screening for diabetes if you have any risk factors.

* One study showed that overweight adults who lost a modest amount of weight and exercised regularly reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent over three years!

Find the Fiber

Fiber is one of those areas of nutrition that can be snuck into our diet and our health will be all the better for it. The average adult needs to eat 25-35 grams of fiber a day. The average adult eats half of that. What would happen if we paid more attention to our fiber intake? We could:

  • Decrease our risk of multiple cancers, including breast, prostate and colon.

  • Decrease our risk of heart disease and lower our blood pressure.

  • Decrease our risk for type 2 Diabetes and helps keep our blood sugars normal. The benefits are amazing.

How can we move into eating more fiber?

  • Find cereals with more than five grams of fiber per serving. If that is hard to do, alternate eating your favorite cereal.

  • Eat breads that have more that three grams of fiber per slice. Good choices are offered in your local grocery aisles.

  • Eat a piece of fruit at every meal. Most fruit has two to three grams of fiber per serving.

  • Add vegetables to your hot dishes or sauces.

  • Lowfat popcorn contains three grams of fiber per two-cup serving. Who only eats one serving?

It really isn’t hard to become a little wiser in the area of fiber. Eating more fiber today gives more tomorrows to eat those comfort foods.

Headaches? Head for Help!

Ninety percent of Americans get headaches. The good news is that diagnosis, treatment and prevention techniques have greatly improved. Here are some answers to common questions.

Q: What causes headaches?

A: It's not your brain that's aching; it has no pain receptors. The muscles, nerves, blood vessels and skin that run from your brain to your head and face cause the discomfort we call headache. The list of headache triggers is long and includes chemical imbalances, stress, sleep changes, certain foods and beverages, medications, environmental factors and more.

Q: What are the types of headaches?

  • Tension headaches are the most common. Symptoms include pain above the eyes or back of the head, a general feeling of pressure in the head and neck soreness.
  • Migraine headache symptoms include throbbing pain (often on one side of the head), nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are often debilitating.
  • Cluster headaches have symptoms similar to migraine headaches but occur several times in one day or several days in a row, then disappear for weeks or even months.

To learn more about these and other types of headaches, visit the NHF Web site.

Q: When should I see a doctor?

          A: See your doctor if your headache:

  • Lasts more than 24 hours or occurs two to three times a week.
  • Is accompanied by numbness, blurred vision, memory loss or dizziness.
  • Interferes with your daily life.
  • Gets stronger or more frequent.
  • Is accompanied by nausea, vomiting or drowsiness.
  • Is brought on by exercise.
  • Occurs after you hit your head.

Before you see the doctor, keep a headache diary and bring it to the appointment. You can find an example at

Q: What can I do to prevent headaches?

A: Learn to avoid headache triggers and make healthy lifestyle choices. To prevent or reduce the frequency of headaches, choose to exercise, eat right, limit caffeine, control stress and get enough sleep. For information on headache triggers, review the NHF Complete Headache Chart.

Q: What about headache treatments?

A: Treatments listed in The Complete Headache Chart include self-help techniques, medications and alternative therapy. Visit the Mayo Clinic Web site for more information on alternative therapies.

Health Screening and Immunization Guide

Tests that should be done for Early Cancer Detection

Test Sex Age Frequency
Sigmoidoscopy M & F 50 & over every 3-5 yrs
Stool sample for blood M & F 50 & over every yr
Digital rectal exam M & F 40 & over every yr
Prostate Exam M 50 & over every yr
Pap exam F 18 & over every yr

(After 3 consecutive normal exams, it may be doe less frequently at the discretion of the health are provider.)

Pelvic exam F 18-40
Over 40
every 1-3 yrs
every yr
Breast Self exam F 20 & over monthly
Clinical breast exam F 20-40
over 40
every 3 yr
every yr
Mammography F 40-49
50 & 0ver
every 1-2 yrs
every yr

Health Counseling & cancer check-up

M & F 20-40
over 40
every 3 years
every year
Additional Preventative Health Exams
Lipids M & F 45-75 every 5 yrs
Vision/glaucoma test M & F over 40 every 2-5 yrs if no eye disease
Dental exam /cleaning M & F   every 6 months


Immunizations When
DTP, Polio, MMR, Hib, healthy child shots 2 months - 6 years
Flu shot every year
Pneumoccal once at age 65
Tetanus-Diptheria every 10 yrs
Hepatitis A, series of 2 shots when there is risk of exposure
Hepatitis B, series of 3 shots when there is risk of exposure

 Spiritual Health Month

“You are not made for the Sabbath; the Sabbath is made for you” –Mark 2:27

October is Spiritual Health Month. One would think that if you are attending seminary you must be taking care of the Spirit. I would be interested in hearing the response from the campus to the question “Do you take time each day to hear that 'still small voice?'" Demands of life, including work, school, family and friends overcome the call to stop and listen.

Spiritual Health is the center of who we are. This area of health touches every other area of health. Not tending to that connectedness has been shown to increase the incidence of disease processes, as well as deplete the soul.

How do we tend to our Spiritual Health? It can be simple and easy:

  • Sit quietly in your favorite space, only noticing your breathing as it slows down. Do this for five minutes, and you will be surprised how you want more.
  • Sit with one passage of Scripture that speaks to you. Read it, reflect on it, read it out loud and journal on how you feel it belongs to you. Or just sit still.
  • Walk a Prayer Labyrinth.
  • Seek out a Spiritual Direction group.
  • Go to Chapel and only experience, and not critique.
  • Take daily Sabbath time.
  • Take a walk. Walk slowly, without a purpose but to “listen.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Autumn brings about change with the colors and the temperature. It is a reminder of the ebb and flow of life. We appreciate every moment of beauty that nature gives us, knowing that the starkness of winter will soon arrive.

Autumn also brings the awareness of a disease that is too often diagnosed with women. It is also not a diagnosis unknown to men.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Take some time to review what it means to be proactive in you breast health. This includes knowing your risk factors, knowing what constitutes good breast health habits (including diet, exercise, breast exams and mammograms).

Below are some great websites to help in your endeavor to be a more informed you.

What is a Labyrinth?

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol found across many cultures around the world. Labyrinths are often confused with mazes, but are very different.

Mazes are stressful and made to confuse, with dead ends and many turns. The labyrinth is a path that requires a simple focus to follow the path that is only underfoot. The path brings about meditation and relaxation.

Labyrinths predate Christianity. The earliest Christian labyrinth goes all the way back to 324 A.D. It is believed that the one adaptation of labyrinths in the Christian church was a site of pilgrimage. Early Christians took a vow to visit the Holy City at some point in their lives. As the Crusades became a problem in the Middle ages, the Labyrinth became a symbol of walking to Jerusalem.

Today 21st Century pilgrims are rediscovering the labyrinth as a tool for spiritual journey.

There is a process when walking a labyrinth. As we journey to the center of the Labyrinth we experience the letting go of daily concerns. When reaching the center we are open to the presence of God. On the walk out of the labyrinth we are strengthened by God to go back out into our world.

Luther Seminary has been blessed with a gift to have our own canvas labyrinth. It is a traditional seven circuit labyrinth. The labyrinth will be used during special events and may be used by the community for special events.

Painting the Luther Seminary labyrinth

Who Needs Sleep?

"Without enough sleep, we all become tall 2-year-olds."

–JoJo Jensen, "Dirt Farmer Wisdom"

How much sleep are you getting, and how much do you need?

If you're getting seven hours or less of sleep a night, you may be one of the 50-70 million Americans who are sleep deprived. The recommended range is seven to nine hours, and getting even one hour less per night can lead to a "sleep debt." The resulting sleepiness can affect your mood and ability to function, increase the risk of illness and accidents, and have serious health consequences. Researchers also report that quality of sleep is just as important as quantity.

It's not a waste of time.

"Sleep is absolutely essential." According to Dr. Mark Mahowald, medical director of the sleep center at the Hennepin County Medical Center, lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and substance abuse. Sleep is your body's time to heal, repair cells, realign your body and help regulate your stress hormones and insulin levels.

Why aren't you sleeping?

To help answer this question and find out if your sleepiness is a serious problem, fill out the National Sleep Foundation's Sleepiness Diary. Go to and enter the words "sleepiness diary" in the search box. You'll also find information on sleep disorders, which are surprisingly common. Insomnia, snoring and sleep apnea are just a few of the more than 80 recognized sleep disorders.

What you do today affects how you sleep tonight.

Consider some of these proven strategies linked to better sleep.

  • Get into a sleep routine. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. (Yes, even on weekends!)
  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days. Exercise helps in part because it reduces stress. In one recent study, exercisers fell asleep in half the time and slept more soundly.
  • Don't mess with your circadian rhythm. Cycles of light and dark impact your sleep. Try to get at least 20 minutes of bright light during the day. Take your exercise outdoors, and you'll get the benefits of both.
  • Turn off the television and computer. Better yet, move these "sleep stealers" out of the bedroom. Give yourself the gift of enough time for sleep.

For a comprehensive guide to healthy sleep, visit the National Institutes of Health Web site at

Wiggle While You Work or Study... What a NEAT Idea!

Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, strongly believes in the power of NEAT. NEAT is an acronym for "Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis," which is a fancy term for exercise accumulated as part of your daily routine. Levine and his colleagues conducted a study and found that lean people spend a daily average of 150 fewer minutes sitting than obese ones do. That adds up to 350 extra calories burned every day, which translates into a weight loss of more than 35 pounds in a year! Try incorporating into your day some of these ways to "wiggle while you work," and you just might not need to set aside as much time for your planned exercise sessions.

Here's how a typical NEAT-friendly day at the office or at school might go, according to Levine and other fitness experts:

  • Walk or bike to the seminary if you can. If you take public transportation, get off one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way. These options have the added benefit of saving you money on gas too! If you drive to work, consider a quick walk around the block before getting in your car; then, of course, park as far away from the entry of your building as you can.
  • Once in your building, take the stairs (if applicable) to get to your floor.
  • During break times, stretch, climb stairs, or take a walk around the block, or at least try to get your coffee from the machine farthest away from your desk. Use the restroom farthest away too.
  • During your lunch time, sit down to have lunch. For the rest of the time, take a quick walk around the neighborhood.
  • Instead of sending e-mail or interoffice mail to colleagues, visit them in person. Not only does it get you moving, but it also cuts down on e-mail miscommunication.
  • Instead of meeting a colleague to talk over coffee, take a walk.

Source: US News and World Report. For more ideas on how to incorporate movement into your daily routine, check out the Web sites and

Winter Exercise in Minnesota - Cool!

Our Bodies are Made to Move

We improve our moods, look and feel great, and reduce the effect of stress when we take care of ourselves. Moving our bodies helps us stand tall, breathe more easily and manage our energy. When we stay static, we become exhausted, undermine our work/life balance and increase our risk of disease. Keys to staying motivated include finding activities you like to do, upping the fun factor and adding variety.

Go Out and Play

Winter is a great time to add variety to your activities. Get the benefits of being out in the fresh air and sunlight when you can, and warm up to winter with active snow fun.

  • Go sledding. Find the tallest hill that you can safely sled down. The hills around the seminary are great for some quick thrills. The walk up the hill can burn a lot of calories and every time you reach the top, you get the reward of flying down the hill.
  • Try cross country skiing at one of the Three Rivers Parks. For information on trails, ski rentals and even one-on-one lessons, go to:
  • Do some ice skating. Find a local outdoor rink and do some high energy ice skating.
  • Bring your skating to the next level with hockey. Get the family together or find a group willing to play a few days a week. You'll have a blast and burn those calories.
  • Walk it out. Keep up the pace and wear appropriate clothing in order to be safe. Walking up the hill from the seminary apartments is great exercise.
  • Give snowshoeing a try. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Visit the Three Rivers Parks Web site (see above) for information and snowshoe rental.

Indoor Options

  • Dance! Turn up the music on your radio or MP3 player and dance your heart out!
  • Go in-line skating at the Metrodome. For information on hours and skate rental, go to
  • Join a neighborhood gym or local YWCA/YMCA. Some have trial memberships or monthly plans. Find a YWCA/YMCA near you by visiting or Most YWCA/YMCA locations provide sliding fee scales for low income.
  • Combine exercise with TV. Jog in place, do curl-ups or use an exercise band while watching TV.
  • Buy a new fitness video for your home. It is good to change it up sometimes. Invite a friend to exercise with you.
  • Use God's Gym. Our own seminary gym in Stub has great exercise equipment. Student fitness trainers can be hired through Healthy Leaders to get acquainted with the equipment and establish a routine. Contact Karen Treat at for information.
  • Take dance lessons. Learn to samba, salsa, line dance, two-step or swing. Go to the Tapestry Folkdance Center's website at
  • Combine mall walking with running errands. Spend 20-30 minutes walking briskly before loading yourself up with packages.

  Are You S.A.D.?

I began playing a Christmas CD in my car the second week in November. My children were in an uproar. Another reason to think their mother was weird.

I love this time of year. I am lucky to have had a life of heartwarming Christmas memories. The same is not true for everyone.

There are many who have family problems that make family gatherings stressful. Some have recently lost a loved one making memories painful and living the present difficult. Some don’t have families to celebrate with. Budgets are tight and spending wears on our peace of mind. Christmas is not the season to be jolly.

Situations that make the Holy season of Christmas a burden require tender care. You can’t pretend to be happy. It is a time to reach out to another, ask for what you need to get through the holidays. Give yourself some grace. Keep in your heart that the birth of the Christ child is the promise of life abundant on earth and in heaven.

December is National Seasonal Depression Awareness Month. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is different from the holiday blues. This disorder may begin in September and often goes through April. The symptoms are related to the changing of the season and the shortening of the daylight hours.

Symptoms include increased sadness, feeling of anxiousness, feeling sluggish, increased irritability, changes in appetite and sleeping for irregular long periods of time. The symptoms affect the quality of life.

One common treatment for SAD involves the use of artificial light to simulate sunlight. This treatment is called Bright Light Therapy (BLT) and involves sitting directly in front of a light box every day. The amount of time a person needs to spend by a light box varies greatly among individuals and changes as the season progresses. It is not uncommon to combine BLT with psychotherapy and medications. Because there are many causes of depression, it is important to consult with a health care provider or mental health professional before seeking treatment.

For more information, visit this website on Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This is a wonderful season. For those of us who can, 'tis the season of giving. For the others, it may be a season of asking.

God bless us, every one.
Karen Treat, Parish Nurse

Healthy Holidays

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28

December is here and the holidays bring a sense of urgency and chaos. As you look ahead at the month, keep in mind some of these helpful strategies to keep the tension down and the wonder of Advent on top.

  • Be realistic. Keep the traditions that work. Make new traditions as life demands.
  • Set aside expectations. Try to accept family members and friends as they are. Chances are they are feeling the effects of holiday stress too.
  • Stick to a budget. Before you go shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend on gifts and other items. Give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.
  • Learn to say "no." Believe it or not, people will understand if you can't do certain projects or activities. If you say "yes" only to what you really want to do, you'll avoid feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
  • Remember healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a dietary free-for-all. Continue to get plenty of sleep and schedule time for physical activity.
  • Take a breather. Pray and breathe. While you may not have time every day for a silent night, make some time for yourself. Spend just 15 minutes alone without distractions. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that clears your mind, slows your breathing and restores your calm.
  • Acknowledge your feelings. You don't have to force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
  • Seek support. If you feel isolated or down, seek out family members and friends. Attend worship for spiritual renewal. Ask for help at holiday gatherings. You don't have to go it alone.
  • Seek professional help if you need it. If you find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to daily routine for several weeks, talk to your doctor or mental health professional. You may have clinical depression.

For more information on depression and the holidays, visit-

Talk Turkey this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, you and your family have an opportunity to talk turkey.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona once declared Thanksgiving Day to be National Family History Day. As you gather around the table to share stories and memories:

  • Take the opportunity to also share information about health, wellness and healing.
  • Discuss your family health history.
  • Provide your family members with information that will help identify hereditary risk factors that may impact their future well-being.

Talking turkey is about passing on the faith. "We are reminded of our blessings—a home, food, clothing, employment, freedom, health, faith, a forgiving God and those we love—in this season of Thanksgiving," said ELCA wellness coordinator Tammy Devine. "As you gather around the table with family members, talk turkey! Share memories, tell stories and collect information about your family's health history. Your family history provides you valuable information about your health risks. As you seek to live well, take time to listen to the valuable stories that are shared that could redirect your plans, goals and your lifestyle!"

To help guide you through your family health history conversation, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services web site at for a copy of a tool called My Health Portrait. The tool will help organize your information into a printout you can discuss with your doctor.

Talking turkey can help save your life!

First Finishers!

Sarah Anderson, M.Div.

How do you feel you benefitted from completing "Living Well at Luther"?

I am more intentional about being balanced in many different areas of my life. Also, I am more aware of the areas which are first to be neglected when I use the "I'm really busy" phrase and the areas which come more easily.

How do you look at health and well-being differently after looking and working through the Luther Seminary Wholeness Wheel?

I realize that striving for balance is not a natural tendency of mine and some areas require more effort than others. However, it seems that the effort is worthwhile as I have noticed positive changes in some of my habits and ways of thinking.

Would you recommend other future church leaders to look at their well-being more holistically?

Most definitely! I believe this because I see a holistic lifestyle leading to sustainable ways of living which ultimately impacts a person's ability to be a servant.

Karin Cravin, M.Div.

How do you feel you benefitted from completing "Living Well at Luther"?

One of the benefits of the program is the attention it draws to looking at health in a more integrated way: finances, spiritual, relational, intellectual, etc. It is easy to live from our strengths as well as as adapt to the pressures of a hectic lifestyle. So I appreciate any tool that helps me imagine and assess how I use my time in a more generative way that enables me to explore, discover, and even reaffirm aspects of my life. Perhaps this tool can help us keep more faithfully the radical discipline of Sabbath as suggested by Walter Bruggemann during Convocation!

How do you look at health and well-being differently after looking and working through the Luther Seminary Wholeness Wheel?

I appreciate that this tool is supported by the administration and that other students are also seeking and cultivating life-giving awareness in how they live from the fullness of their created identity.

Fit Faculty: Taking Time for Wellness
Paul Westermeyer

Prof. Paul Westermeyer rides a bike back and forth to school whenever possible. Exercise is important to our lives, Paul says, "because we have bodies which, like the whole creation, we are called to steward." Paul finds that being active daily affects his physical and spiritual well-being, as well as his relationships.

Fit Faculty: Taking Time for Wellness
Sarah Henrich

What type of exercise do you do on a regular basis?

Generally I alternate days. I either walk three miles in a mall or around the little lake in Roseville's Central Park, or I use the YMCA treadmills for a 25-minute run and the weight room for about 20 minutes. This is for six days during the week, most weeks.

Why is exercise important to your life?

Exercise is really important to me for a couple of reasons:

  1. I come from a family with a tendency toward high cholesterol. Exercise is one way I try to keep it down.
  2. I really like to travel and hike. Exercise is one way I stay fit enough to enjoy both those activities.
  3. I need a place in my life to free up my brain and let ideas flow. Walking is one place where that moving into a more creative zone really happens for me.

What part of your life is most impacted by your being active daily?

(i.e. relationships, more patient; physical, blood pressure more controlled; spiritual, time for listening to God.)

So, all parts of my life are impacted by exercise. I’m a little more creative in relationships and activities and a lot healthier in body as well. This mind-body-spirit reality is totally interwoven.

Look Who's Moving!

Meta Herrick, M.Div.

  1. What do you do to remain physically active?

    I live by Lake Nokomis, so I'm excited about the warm weather—a chance to walk and run outside for a few months. Now that the weather is warm, it's time to get out my tennis racquet and golf clubs! I also lift weights several times a week.
  2. Why do you feel it is important to stay active on a frequent basis?

    When I am getting exercise consistently, my appetite is more regular and conducive to meal times. I sleep better and have more energy the next day.
  3. Was there anyone who modeled to you what it meant to be an active person?

    My mom taught physical education and health and my dad works in healthcare, so I guess it runs in the family. Luckily, they've also modeled the importance of realistic goals and having fun when it comes to diet and exercise. I've never felt like I HAVE to work out. I think that has a lot to do with the way I was raised.
  4. If you could give words of encouragement to another thinking of becoming active what would you say?

    I think a little bit of exercise more often is better than a marathon workout every blue moon. Even if I only have time to lift weights for 20 minutes, a quick trip down to the God's Gym four times a week is more beneficial than just one that lasts two hours.

    Being active doesn't require all the right gear, coordination or a gym membership. Sign up for a run/walk with friends and go at your own pace. Make use of community parks in your area. Join a summer rec. team. If it's social, frequent and fun it's more likely to stick as a healthy habit!

Matthew Poock, M.Div.

  1. What do you do to remain physically active?

    I have a regular rotation of physical activity to allow for comprehensive fitness, muscle rest and variety. I balance strength training/weight lifting with cardio activities such as running, swimming and biking. I also enjoy playing tennis, racquetball and the occasional game of basketball.
  2. Why do you feel it is important to stay active on a frequent basis?

    Such activity increases my health physically, mentally and spiritually. It helps me to relieve stress, socialize, meditate, reflect, breathe and enjoy life. I'm more myself when I am exercising. It's part of ministry, caring for myself so that I may care for others.
  3. Was there anyone who modeled to you what it meant to be an active person?

    The person who best modeled physical activity to me was actually a pastor. His dedication to exercise enhanced his ministry by increasing his energy and his vitality. He truly used exercise for and as ministry.
  4. If you could give words of encouragement to another thinking of becoming active what would you say?

    It is said that you reap what you sow. You, and those around you, will reap the benefits of your physical activity.

Laure Schwartz, CLI associate

Part of who I am is defined by my running. I have been a runner since I was 17 years old. Being a runner at 44 years old is not that much different except that I run "smarter" now. I run one marathon per year and several shorter races in between. I also train with weights and have found that I run injury-free because of the benefits. Women especially need to be doing weight bearing exercises to keep our bones strong.

I am consistent with running and weight training throughout the year, no matter what the weather. People ask on really cold days, "You don't run in this, do you?" I say, sure! Running is a gift to myself each day. I feel more centered and stronger mentally and physically. I can think through issues and find resolutions that don't seem to come when I'm not taking the time to run. I get at the "heart issues" of relationships, circumstances or problems while out for a long run. I believe that my spiritual person is very connected to my physical person.

Don Lewis, vice-president for administration and finance

  1. What do you do to remain physically active?

    In addition to doing a lot of walking I try to do a more vigorous exercise program three to four times per week. This typically includes a stationary bike ride or elliptical trainer for a total of 20 minutes, and a set of weight lifting that works my legs, upper chest, upper arms and forearms, and finally as many sit ups as I can do plus one more.
  2. Why do you feel it is important to stay active on a frequent basis?

    It is very easy to be a couch potato or an office potato, and for many years I supported this lifestyle. However, in the short time that I have be doing this program I have discovered I have more energy, I feel great, I am eating healthier, my cholesterol has dropped, and I have actually started to look forward to the workouts. Now if it helped me sleep at night I would be all set. I have also incorporated my iPod into the workouts. And instead of listening to music I have downloaded books—so my workout time is also story time.
  3. Was there anyone who modeled to you what it meant to be an active person?

    It all started with Dr. David Lose stating how important it had become to him to be exercising and indicating that this might be something that should be important to me as well; this was followed by discovering others in Northwestern Hall who wished to be more active and exercise more. Thus we started a sticker club—for every day that we would work out we received a sticker that was placed on our calendar. The calendar is to be displayed in a public area and thus open for praise, ridicule and encouragement. We have had fun with this. We have not determined if there should be a reward for the most monthly stickers—a big jelly donut perhaps—but maybe this idea will get started too. The club currently has just three participants but others are welcome!
  4. If you could give words of encouragement to another thinking of becoming active what would you say?

    Just start something—power walking, biking or anything. And never be embarrassed about exercising.

What a Saint does for Sabbath

Questions given to President Richard Bliese:

As a church leader, how do you take personal daily Sabbath?

“With my new role at Luther, the Transition team has taken an interest in care of my body and soul. I am held accountable to take daily time for myself. I feel very supported by having this team keeping an interest in my well-being. My Sabbath time has been, and is, taking a devotional time in the early morning and evening. I also believe chapel is an important time of daily Sabbath. It should really be a time all on campus take for personal Sabbath. It is really a gift.”

What happens if your day goes without a personal Sabbath?

“It doesn’t. I almost never miss taking time for devotions. There may be a day when an early meeting makes it so I can’t do the morning devotions. Those days I have to say I feel a bit off. Sabbath time is important to my daily rhythm.”



Emotional Well-Being


"He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in paths of righteousness." –Psalm 23:2-3

The academic season begins. Anticipation of what is ahead and wondering how you can do it all sets in the forefront of our minds. To be the psalmist and imagining lying in green pastures seems a bit out of the question.

Taking a piece of Scripture and praying with it has become a regular practice for me.
What if we all sat with this Scripture?

Close your eyes. Now imagine lying on a field of soft, cool grass, with the sun warming your skin. Now imagine hearing the sound of a light breeze brushing through the trees, you hear a duck gently landing on a nearby lake. Moments stand still, and you have nowhere to go. There isn’t any shopping, working, writing, reading, planning to do. Fear leaves you. You feel peace, it is quiet and you can feel God stirring somewhere close.

What happens to your body when you are there, lying beside quiet waters? It is likely your heart rate slows down, blood pressure lowers and muscles relax. Your body gets the time for the nourishment and restoration it has needed while you where busy trying to keep up.

Stress is a risk factor to many ailments and disease processes. There is definitely a correlation to emotional and mental stress and its effect on physical health. Realistically we can’t always take our level of life stress away.

Deep breathing has been found to help relieve the body and it reaction to daily stress. Deep breathing on occasion throughout the day can lower blood pressure and heart rate. Deep breathing—sitting in a relaxed state, taking in a breath on the count of four and breathing out on the count of five—is found to bring abundant gifts.

Today, one time, close your eyes. Breathe in the lying down in green pastures, and breathe out the restoration of your soul. Repeat the slow breath three times in a sitting.

Today, try the breathing exercise once, tomorrow try it twice, and who knows, maybe by the next day you will try it three times.

Thanks be to God.

Physical Well-Being

"But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." –Isaiah 40:31

One of the hardest areas to bring balance in our well-being is physical. Even when the body is the vehicle with which we do all the other areas of our wellness wheel. It is the area that is filled with landmines and pitfalls.

How do we move 30 minutes five to seven times a week as recommended by our doctor when we are carrying a full load of classes, with seven deadlines this week? How do we eat a heart healthy diet when we are exposed to food rich in sugar and fat at every turn? How come we keep choosing caffeine and sugar when our bodies are really asking for water?

Caring for our bodies is pretty overwhelming. Experts over and over again state to make life changes, you have to make changes small, measurable, easy to do and success friendly. Start by moving two minutes more each day for a week. Walk around the building once at a class break. It is easy, measurable and guaranteed success.

Add one piece of fruit to your diet one day a week. It is easy, measurable and guaranteed success.

This week, pour yourself a glass of water with each meal, drink it before the soda. It is easy, measurable and guaranteed success. Change can be easy. As you succeed, you will look forward to the next step to wellness.

Finally, as you spend your time with God in prayer each morning, plan how you will care for your body that day. It is good to share your desires with the One you love. There is strength in numbers, especially if the number includes God.

Intellectual Well-Being

"For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is the shield to those that walk blamelessly." –Proverbs 2: 6-7

This is an area of well-being that is pretty much covered for those at seminary or working at an academic institution. It almost seems silly to bring up. Intellectual well-being means to gain knowledge on a regular basis. Luther Seminary definitely gives a vast amount of knowledge in the area of theology and pastoral care.

Luther also offers knowledge in the care of self. Are you willing to increase your knowledge on what it means to be a balanced and healthy church leader? This is an area of wisdom that brings a fruitful result of the other areas of well-being.

  • Over the year, take part in the free opportunities that Luther offers in self-care.
  • Take part in the 21-day challenge that is offered once annually (usually in the spring).
  • Attend the forums on Clergy and Depression in the fall and Clergy Self-Care in the spring.
  • Attend the Boundaries workshops with the perspective that it is knowledge that may save your ministry and life.
  • Be aware of the nutritional information of the foods you eat.
  • Look at the Healthy Leaders web page on Inside Luther.
  • Meet your parish nurse.
  • Know what doctors and hospitals you may use before you need to.
  • Look at the Wholeness Wheel and think about where you are in each area of well-being.

It's Who You Know and Who Knows You

Your Relationships Affect Your Health

Three recent studies have shown that people in our lives affect our health:

First, a study of more than 12,000 people over 20 years found that research participants were 57 percent more likely to become obese when he or she had a friend who became obese. Luckily, the same effect was seen in reverse when a friend lost weight.

Second, in the case of smoking, when one spouse quit, the other was 67 percent less likely to smoke. This rate was 36 percent with a close friend, 34 percent with a coworker in a small firm and 25 percent with a sibling. Your behavior makes a difference for you and for the people in your life.

Third, like health habits, happiness also seems to spread through social networks. A recent study showed that people's happiness could benefit not only their friends, but their friends' friends and their friends' friends' friends.

How to Strengthen the Ties that Keep You Healthy and Happy

  • Slow down, unschedule and unwind. Modern life can be hectic. If possible, say "no" to what you can and "yes" to offers of help. Be more selective in your TV and screen time.
  • Invest your time with friends and family. Make it a regular habit to keep up your social network with in-person and other contact. Prioritize sharing meals. The community meals are a great way to get started.
  • Seek opportunities to share a laugh. Laughter reduces stress and helps people bond.
  • Attend to the spiritual side of life. Studies have found that people who attend weekly religious services reduce their risk of death by 20 to 30 percent. Daily chapel will do you some good. Meditation is another option with proven health benefits. Whatever it looks like for you, feed your soul.

Building New Connections that Help You Shine

  • Join in! Join a sports club at Murray Junior High or Schola Cantorum choir. Find an interesting book club or knitting circle. Taking part will likely give you a sense of belonging and widen your social network
  • Spend time with friends and family members who have habits you are trying to adopt. Finding a buddy or mentor might be just the help you need. One study showed that people with no company, human or pet, were 30 percent less likely to walk for exercise than those with company.
  • Enjoy people. As you enjoy your life, you will cultivate friends wherever you go. Research shows that all "very happy" people are also highly social.

Living Well at Luther

Jesus said, "I came to bring life, life abundant." –John 10:10


This is a Scripture used by parish nurses. It gives the foundation that Christ did not just want for us to believe in the wondrous world to come, but that he wanted for us to have abundance here on earth as well.

The ELCA Board of Pensions, the provider of benefits for ELCA church leaders, has come up with striking statistics regarding our leaders: 71 percent report poor nutritional intake, 69 percent report they are overweight, 64 percent report a risk of high blood pressure, 63 percent have mental heath concerns and 35 percent are at risk for insufficient physical activity. These statistics are the result of a Health Risk Assessment done by the leaders through the Mayo Clinic.

This sad reality illuminates the need for this seminary community to take a leap of faith. Within our faith community we need to care for our whole being. We need to learn how to live well now, so we are deeply rooted in wellness before we move into the churches.

The program is "Healthy Leaders—Living Well at Luther." The Seminary has adapted the ELCA Wholeness Wheel to our community needs. The Wheel includes the interconnectedness of our physical, emotional, social, intellectual, financial, vocational and spiritual well-being.

"Living Well at Luther" provides opportunity for students to take part in activities that encourage well-being. After taking part in activities in all areas of wellness over the next months, students will receive a $100 gift certificate from the bookstore. This program gives encouragement and provides incentive.

Christ wanted for us to live a life of abundance. Take the Leap of Faith. Be a Healthy Leader and Live Well at Luther.

Spiritual Well-Being

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." –Philippians 4:5-7

I love the phrase “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.” I want to feel that depth of peace.

What can I do to attain such incredible calmness? It is pretty clear. Pray. Give thanks. And give it all away to the Lord. Then I will feel the peace.

Prayer is ritual. It is the movement from being busy with life, to slowing down and being aware of God. Prayer can happen anywhere. It can happen at the stoplight, at a baseball game and at the kitchen table. But I think the peace Paul is talking about happens when we really stop to pray.

The practice of prayer can be neglected with church leaders and seminarians. The ministry is demanding. It requires countless hours to care for others, countless hours for sermon prep, countless hours to read and write papers. Nurturing the relationship with God can second to the rest of the day.

There are many ways to take care of the soul while attending seminary.

  • Attend chapel daily. If that is difficult, plan out what days would work, and make that as part of your schedule.
  • Walk the Prayer Labyrinth when it is up on campus. It is scheduled for the second Tuesday and the fourth Wednesday of every month.
  • Form a small group for spiritual direction. A spiritual director is offered free of charge for students and spouses through the office of Student Services.
  • Learn a new form of prayer practice, such as Lectio Devina, Centering Prayer or Examen.
  • Start a prayer journal. Journaling is a wonderful way to chronicle your life at Luther.

Blessings to you as you grow in knowledge of the Lord and with the Lord.