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By Stephen Sinatra, M.D.

With the advent of managed care and the proliferation of HMO's and other bureaucratic agencies controlling health care, the days of moderate to long hospital stays are well over. Let's face it, hospital care is just too expensive! And since hospitals only involve acute crisis care medicine, much needed intensive education, counseling, alternative methods and other anti-aging strategies are simply not experienced. Hospital duration of care is just too short to provide those experiences. What I envision in the next several years is a shift of emphasis to the preventative/alternative health care offered at many of the sophisticated health spas throughout the country. Instead of taking vacations or traveling to exotic areas, I recommend checking into a health spa for a week or two to experience the complementary healing modalities provided by skilled alternative health care professionals. Let me explain.

Several years ago, I lectured at Canyon Ranch in Arizona. During the week-long experience, I lost 5 pounds while "nurturing" my body. I even had a private consultation with Dr. Andrew Weil concerning my "asthma". I had a very positive experience and learned some alternative therapies in the healing process as well. Fortunately, back home on the East Coast, I found Gurney's Inn, a seaside spa resort in Montauk, Long Island. It was at Gurney's that I wrote two of my books, Lose to Win and Optimum Health. Gurney's Inn is, indeed, a flaming jewel in the Northeast. The spa experience at Gurney's can certainly change your life. The programs are designed to educate, rejuvenate, and nurture Gurney's Inn's guests.

I feel confident in experiencing alternative therapies at these "anti-aging" centers like Gurney's. There is a professional team including an exercise physiologist, a nutritionist, a registered nurse/biofeedback therapist, certified exercise instructors, personal trainers, Yoga instructors, and a multitude of licensed massage therapists. Together this well trained team of professionals assist their clients to achieve their personal goals. In addition to a healthy menu of low fat, high fiber cuisine, the guests can attend nutritional seminars offering information in weight loss and other healthy approaches to eating.

One of the best advantages of a spa is that the guests not only eat properly, exercise and relax, but also learn alternative methods for healing both the mind and the body. Many of us need to get started under professional guidance with the benefit of experiential sessions. For me, my Canyon Ranch experience several years ago reemphasized and supported my interest in complementary healing techniques. Like Canyon Ranch on the West Coast, Gurney's Inn on the East Coast offers a gamut of exercise classes including aerobics, stretching, aquatic exercise, Yoga, Tai Chi, hiking and daily beach walks to the dunes. To meet the varying needs and activity levels of their many guests, Gurney's offers these classes at different proficiencies. Remember, aerobic exercise can safely strengthen the cardiovascular, skeletal and muscular systems, increase metabolism, boost immunity, and burn calories. Yoga, Tai Chi and aquatics can help improve range of motion, flexibility and strength without straining muscles or joints. Therefore, these modalities are well suited for those with cardiac limitations as well as those with arthritis and musculoskeletal problems. In addition, both Gurney's Inn and Canyon Ranch Spas offer acupuncture and biofeedback therapy to their guests.

I have facilitated several "Healing the Heart" conferences at Gurney's Inn over the last decade. Why? Because not only is Gurney's Inn in my "back yard", it is one of the best ocean front therapeutic spas in the country. Perched on the edge of the Atlantic Coast, Gurney's location incorporates the healing properties of the sea. One of the therapeutic modalities I believe to be an anti-aging strategy, is their seaweed wraps.

The seaweed therapy, a pure micronized seaweed constituted in a mineral-rich gel is applied to the body as a wrap with Argilite Mud. Not only does this process help to promote balance and healing in the body, but it also relieves many symptoms of arthritis, autoimmune dysfunction and stress. Gurney's, like Canyon Ranch and Connecticut's Norwich Inn also offers Swedish massage, reflexology, Shiatsu, polarity therapy and deep tissue massage. I believe these major touch therapies to be useful in healing the heart, lowering blood pressure and bolstering our immunity.

These Health Spas and their professional staffs provide learning experiences in relaxation training and behavior modification. When you engage in a total spa experience, you nurture your body from these physical, biochemical and psychological points of view. The fundamental key is to experience these mind/body-oriented therapies and then take the knowledge home. The wisdom gained may save your life. Instead of taking a vacation (some can be stressful), why not just "escape"? A week at a spa is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your guests!

May/June 1996

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