Thursday, May 03, 2007

Book Review: High Performance Health

Author: James M. Rippe, M.D.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: not assigned yet

How do you define "good health?" Being disease free? Performing essential physical functions independently? Being physically fit or athletic? Maintaining a good weight? According to Dr, James Rippe, none of these notions completely captures what it means to be healthy. He suggests that a better way to achieve optimal health is to adopt a "values-based approach" that pays attention to physical factors, quality of life and spiritual well being.

In the book's first section, Diagnosis and Understanding, Rippe uses ten chapters to explain the seven basic strategies behind his values-based approach to high performance health. These are:

  • Physical activity
  • Weight control
  • Nutrition
  • Hydration
  • Rest
  • Positive Environment for Change
  • Appropriate Mind-Set

Rippe introduces readers to the basic concepts behind all of these strategies and directs them to numerous resources from which they can acquire additional information. Equally important, he explains the pitfalls of particular exercise and diet fads and addresses how to incorporate each strategy into an overall healthy lifestyle. Rippe strongly encourages his readers, particularly those who have been sedentary, to adopt walking programs for their initial exercise regimes. He also encourages his readers to keep journals for developing health plans, setting goals and tracking their progress. Rippe assists readers in starting their journals by providing brief assignments at the end of every chapter. By the time readers finish all of the exercises in the book, they will have discovered ways to make their journals uniquely personal and useful to themselves.

The second section of the book, Action Plan, consists of two chapters. The first of these outlines "ten steps for achieving high performance health:"

  • Assess health, set goals, track progress
  • Connect with your body and mind
  • Use active rest principles
  • Establish a "third place"
  • Fifteen minutes of solitude
  • Thirty minutes of physical activity
  • Discover spiritual age and live it
  • Eat to fuel performanc
  • Connect with others
  • Connect with your spirit

The concepts behind these steps are explained in the book's first section, then rearranged and summarized here. The book's final chapter is a brief summary of Rippe's personal story of striving for optimal, or, as he calls it, high performance, health.

High Performance Health is a clearly written book that does not intimidate readers with vast bulk or dense verbiage. It is a good introduction to the issues involved in developing healthy lifestyles. Although it can be scanned quickly, readers who are serious about improving their health will want to take time to do the assignments carefully and slowly incorporate the strategies into their lives. I highly recommend this book to them.

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