A fitness coach with connections to the Amish has put together a list of four things the Amish do which she says make for a healthier life.
Sometimes these “learn from the Amish” pieces idealize the Amish and gloss over nuance, but I think each of these has a good basis.
You can read the full article by Valerie Orsoni here, but if you don’t have the time, I summarized her points below. Do you do any of these?
- Cutting down technology, especially media tech – Obviously, Amish restrict tech, and in particular a lot of the media technologies. This leads to reduced stress since you get less bad news exposure. You’re also more engaged with others around you.
- Eating local food – The author claims the locally grown foods and seasonal produce Amish eat are “supercharged in vitamins”. I don’t know about that, but I do notice I feel better when I eat fresh and simple foods. Buying locally also build bonds with people in your community.
- Active living – Amish are more active because they don’t drive everywhere or spend a lot of time plopped in front of the TV. The kids play the way kids used to in the 1950s, in other words outside and without a video game controller glued to the hand. Amish lives are just more active even though fewer of them farm.
- Slower living – Living “slower” lets you connect to nature and “smell the roses”. This also creates healthier relationships because you take time to visit people instead of doing everything by text message.
I can relate to #1 in particular. The author describes the sleep being “amazingly restful” without all that pre-bedtime internet checking and TV. I’ve noticed something similar when I hit the hay in an Amish home.
Any other “Amish health habits” you’d add?
“Health” of course can have a pretty broad definition. Physical, mental, emotional, and other meanings apply.
Image credit: Tim Parkinson/flickr
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Firstly, greetings from Sydney, Australia. Being a theologian, and a religious studies “nut”, I’m interested in all matters religious.
Quite a few years ago, a group of five Amish men were said to have flown from the east coast of the USA to Hobart Australia, via either Melbourne or Sydney, to assess Tasmania and look at the total re-location of their Amish community. How I know is because I was written to by the then Premier of Tasmania, Jim Bacon, and asked if I could find out from where in America they had come, because he wanted to offer them Business Migration. At the time, and indeed since them, I have not been able to find out from which Amish community they come, in spite of asking a lot of my contacts in the USA.
Is there anyone who reads this site that could let me know the community from which these five Amish me came, please?
Thank you for your help and interest.
Andrew D’A. E. Bush.
Wow !! Good look on finding out were those men came from
There are 2 plain settlements in Tasmania.
One is Anabaptist settlement on Bass Hwy
Dentention River 7321
Another Amish/Mennonite community is in Deloraine Tasmania
There is also a Amish/Mennonite Church in Gympie Qld as well as other plain churches in Australia such as Hutterites and Bruderhoff.
And there are those of us who live the plain Christian life but are far away from a plain church here in West Australia.
Hope this is a help to you. Julie Turner
You may want to contact this community who would most likely know something about this-Peter Hoover specifically but I would imagine these people would have been informed- hope it helps:
Great article, Erik, especially at this time of year when the rush of the season can make life hectic.
My husband and I do practice these things as much as we can, too. Keeping stress down, eating a simple fresh diet, being active, and taking the time to enjoy life helps me greatly in managing my lupus also. The really important things in life are easier to see and value when we’re doing these things–at least that is my experience.
We are also keeping you and your family in our prayers, Erik. Special memories of those we have lost seem to surface during the holidays, and can bring us both sadness and joy. May you and yours be filled with God’s peace and love… <3 Thank you for all the work you put into your posts–you and your commitment to your readers is such a blessing to me!
Margaret your prayers are much appreciated. I and my remaining family will be spending Christmas in Poland this year so that may help. You and our other readers here are certainly a wonderful blessing for me and help make this site what it is 🙂 And as you know having health issues can help you appreciate the important things, I’m glad to hear you are able to manage your condition.
4 Amish Health Habits
Writing things out by hand instead of computer/phone (email or text). Recent studies have shown that nothing beats writing by hand when it comes to memory retention and brain activity. letters, notes, journals, recipes, etc. that are hand written all work to help keep brains active. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/science/whats-lost-as-handwriting-fades.html?_r=0
So, get a pen pal, keep a hand written journal, etc. Just do it by hand and not by machine.
Melissa it’s funny, when I try to take notes or write anything by hand now it almost feels awkward and tiring, and my already-not-too-good penmanship has gone off a cliff. I guess it is just a matter of doing it a lot less and those muscles or coordination getting worse–I suppose it’s a trade-off for all the time I spend pecking a keyboard now.
Using my AA nickname I’m going to quote my cousin’s wife at my cousin’s [her brother-in-law] wedding a couple of weekends ago “SHOM, you are too thin!” and I shrug not wanting to argue with a registered nurse, but considering that I used to weigh 230 and shrank to 160 or less by now, I feel I’m doing okay, for me it was a lot of walking and smaller portion sizes. I however did not change the amount of time in front of a screen though, even if I wish I had.
I respect this list and I do think the points raised are good, I would advocate all of them.
Shom nice work on dropping 70 pounds. That’s impressive, takes discipline sustained over an extended time.
In high school, I was on the wrestling team. We had to diet to make weight and keep it off for about 3-4 months of each year (before a match, we’d also sweat off the water weight to knock off the last few pounds). That was pretty miserable, especially since it was my teenage years (14-17) when my growing bones were screaming for calories. I got well-acquainted with rice cakes. Not too fond of them today. In hindsight, seems pretty unhealthy for kids at that age.
Great post. This is another reminder of what we forget as we get more and more tangled in the weeds of life. Reduce complexity, eat simply, live actively, & slow down. Emphasis for me.
I don’t prioritize eating locally but am trying to eat less processed food, and I think that is a simple change that helps with health and how I feel day-to-day. It’s nice to read reminders of these “obvious” things sometimes.
I agree that this is a good list to have, and I think it has merit as it all makes sense! I know when were off camping and disconnect from technology and are more active, etc, we do feel a lot better. Now to apply it more so at home!
The majority of Amish that I know stay calm, they talk softly, having grown up without loud noises like vacuum cleaners, TVs, etc They accept what trials life gives them and are always thankful for what they have. The younger generation, however, have been introduced to too much of the English World and technology and are getting, in my opinion, too much like what we want to get away from.
Interesting observations Nita. Of course not all Amish are soft-spoken, but I’ve probably met more soft-spoken people among the Amish than any other group. A calm demeanor may very well come from having to absorb less of the disruptive noise of modern living.
I’m wondering if another good “health habits’ might be the Amish practice of having a daily time of devotions. From what I’ve read, many Amish have both morning and evening devotions. I’ve read literature on the general topic of good health habits (for the public as a whole, not soley Amish) and often in the list of suggestions is to practice some form of prayer and meditation.
It seems like in our society, many of us just rush into the day doing various tasks as soon as we wake up, and at the end of the day are busy until the time we go to bed, with no time allotted for
a time when we sit down, be quiet and have some form of prayer/meditation/devotions.
Another comment is an informal observation. As I go to visit my Amish friends, sometimes one or two other non-Amish ride along in interest to learn more about Amish life. As we return home, several people have commented on what good skin tone the Amish people have. As I think about it, I think Amish people may have less wrinkles and other signs of stress shown in their faces. And certainly I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Amish person sunbathing or going to town to go to a tanning salon.
I totally agree with you regarding the daily devotions and meditation.. When I started to meditate years ago, my life changed dramatically.. The stresses of every day life disappeared and I was calm, always..
Though I dont meditate these days in a traditional way, I still do daily meditation and prayer.. someone told me today that all they have to do is hear my voice and it immediately calms them down… I thought it quite the compliment.
As to the skin of Amish.. I think it must depend upon the individuals as it does with anyone.. I see many Amish consuming way way too much sugar and having horrible skin.. Im fully convinced that sugar is a HUGE factor to bad skin..
I absolutely agree with you, Melissa, about actually hand-writing letters—and especially about having a pen pal! I’ve had one since I was in 8th grade and she was in 7th, back in 1966. We’re still writing (occasionally email, but not much at all!). I can’t imagine not writing to her—she’s become like a sister to me, though we’ve never met. I’d know her handwriting anywhere!
Also, taking notes (at work, viewing webinars, at meetings…) is something I have to do in order to retain any decent memory of it all—the two (writing by hand while listening to speech) just go together. Back when I went to school, the teacher (nuns in my case) would regularly say sentences that we had to then write down. I’m sure they knew then that there was a “memory retention/handwriting” connection. It’s always worked for me, especially over the last few years as I worked toward (and got, 2 1/2 years ago) an LTA certificate…just before turning 60.)
I enjoy weekends more if I lay off the email as much as possible. My husband will email me from his man cave upstairs while I’m in the kitchen downstairs, instead of simply TALKING to me! It’s infuriating! I’ve told him not to do it on weekends, as I often skip over looking at my email because it’s too much like being at work! It makes for a more restful, relaxing weekend.
When I had my most recent surgery in Sept., I was told it would be a long recovery (rotator cuff). During the 6 weeks I was off work, I tried, every day, to spend at least a half hour of praying/meditating out on my patio (while the weather was still warm). I’d imagine my torn/repaired ligaments “mending”. Yes, I’m still going to physical therapy,, but both my therapist and doctor have told me my recovery has been “outstanding” for someone my age/condition (62/diabetic). I attribute most of it to those positive actions—prayer & meditation.
The Amish are “wise in their ways,” simply put. (No pun intended.)
You’re the 3rd person I see suggesting prayer and meditation here Alice Mary, along with Al and Kim. I already try to do one of those, but maybe I could give the meditation bit a try. It sometimes seems it would be nice to have an easy trick to clear my head like I clear my browser cache 🙂
Inquiry of Andrew D'A.E. Bush
I have no special knowledge of an inquiry by 5 Amish men looking for a place to settle in Australia. But Mr. Bush may want to read an article entitled “Amish ‘cousins’ fight for right to stay in Australia” by Alex Mitchell on March 6, 2005 published in The Sun-Herald. The article is about a Bruderhof community. The article can be found at:
What may have happened after this article was written could affect how any Amish related group might view their potential of settling in an part of Australia. I would suggest that any group be careful. Perhaps the Honorable Jim Bacon of Tasmania can be very helpful as well as Mr. Bush.
My 2 cents...
Well I encourage one and all to buy organic where you can. Do buy locally if that is feasible. The horrible chemicals they use to kill bgs and weeds also affect us. In my county Organic took over like crazy. It just needed the right venue and it took off!
I take my night time Xanax and have been using Melatonin. I find on an empty tummy I’m ready for bed in about an hour. I try NOT watch anything like 24 (although I confess to LOVE Jack Bauer!)because it just amps the adrenaline. Then sleep totally escapes me.
I’ve been working out with a trainer for the last year or so. I ADORE my trainer. She helps me set goals, achieve them. She doesn’t go by No Pain No Gain. We work hard on balance, endurance and lots more balance! When I’m working out regularly I find I do sleep better.
Interesting mix Margaret, I see two of your habits relate to sleep. What a world of difference my attitude can have when I’m running on a full tank of sleep vs. slogging through a day on not enough. I find exercise is pretty important for my getting a good night’s sleep, perhaps most important (that and a good pair of earplugs).
Since I started using computer about 25 years ago, I find I can think much better when I am typing. If I try to hand write something in rough, I end up scratching it out until I give up in frustration. I would much rather fill out a fillable form on line than print it and fill it out by hand.
Osiah is this because you can get the words out faster when typing? I find that’s the case when I write vs. type. It just takes less time to punch a key vs. form the corresponding letter with a pen.
4 health giving habits..
I agree with all of them.. and I live by all except the technology.. 🙂 Im definitely hooked into the Universe with my cell phone & computer.. Im not on the phone all the time and most of the time Im not.. but I have it if I need it and check in to FB at breaks & lunch if Im not having a good conversation with someone. 😉
I do buy local and I buy local organic.. from Amish farmers mostly.. and from my mostly Amish farmers CSA group. I also buy local beef *and the occasional chicken, and would love to branch out & buy more local grass-fed/pastured chicken & pork. I probably will eventually..
I also only buy local honey & maple syrup… Several gallons a year of each..
I dont live as actively as I used to.. I live in town now but when I still lived in the country I definitely was much more active. I still garden but not as much as I did in the past.. I used to exercise a lot but suffered some severe muscle issues & knee injuries that make it very difficult for me to exercise like that now. Im hoping to get back into yoga & weight lifting.. that would help a lot.
Slower living… This we do.. We dont live fast or hard any longer.. we both did when we were younger even though I never did live terribly fast and hard… I was country born & raised.. and most folks from the country tend to live a slower calmer lifestyle.
Thanks for sharing your condensed article with us Eric. As a retired pastor I am well aware of wanting to return to the 1950s. That was the church’s hey day. The problem is we want things to be that way but we do not want to do what it takes to have that life. Like give up technology, fast food, our “toys” and selfish ways. I said us because I am one of them. Also I would love to be more active. I grew up and live in a tourist town in Florida. As a Teenager I walked everywhere, beach, shopping, school, etc. Now I am even closer to those things but safety is a big issue. I would love to find a pen pal in Pinecraft, Fl. who would share how they over come some of these issues. And also to just write to. I am slowly moving away from the TV, computer is the hard one. I would add to that healthy list of things they do – strong family connections and selfless service to others.
I think you nailed it Debbie. The things about the Amish that outsiders tend to admire often come with an attached sacrifice that we are not always able or willing to make. Thanks for your thoughts on this.
I would expect that any Amish person of Amish faith or industry would be eating for dinner what I am. Popcorn and a bottle of a fairly local cola.
As I am not Amish, but am lazy after work, the laziest thing I had was in a bag and I live near enough to a “variety store” that sells the beverage (non-alcoholic of course, it is a cola).
I know better, but laziness wins out sometimes.
“I would expect that NO Amish person of Amish faith or industry would be eating for dinner what I am. Popcorn and a bottle of a fairly local cola.”
I looked at that strange for a minute too, “my bad”
5th Positive Amish Habit
If an Amish person had made this list, there’s a good chance that would have been #1 MaryAnn.
Those are excellent "Healthy Habits"
A couple of weeks ago I was standing in the check-out lane at an Old Order Mennonite owned general store. The Amish woman behind me asked about my bottle of peppermint oil and proceded to tell me about the benefits it gave. I asked her what else she did that was healthy and she reached into her cart and pulled out a medium size brown glass bottle of “Cod Liver Oil”. “At this time of year, about once a week I line every one up and each gets a spoonful”. I do remember my Mom doing the same thing in 1950’s and 60’s. I also remember that I hated it. Now days people take Omega-3 fish oil capsules and I am now connecting the dots that is just CLO from the old days. I’m also wondering if she uses the same spoon for everyone. That might negate the benefits of the oil.
Same spoon for everyone might actually build up the immune system 🙂
Scary but true. The Old Order community that I visit there probably eat way too much processed meats. They seem to love cold cut subs and they probably consume too much sugar. I guess the key is everything in balance. I have noticed that canning jars at auctions bring premium prices there while here in my home area you can buy a box full for fifty cents. Recently learned to can produce like my Mom did and right now I have almost 200 jars of goodies that I will enjoy this winter/spring. I buy boxes of produce at farm stands that ususally are full of “seconds” of tomatoes, corn, green beens, cucumbers and fruits. They usually sell for 2.00 a box and can easily fill 6-8 quart jars. And folks, believe me, it’s wonderful to open a jar on a cold snowy winter day and consume MY food.