Several years ago, on my way home from a Penn State game, I was astonished by the sight of many young men driving bicycles, circa 1950 models, along the side of the road. It was Saturday evening, and I was driving near the town of Mifflinburg, located on Pennsylvania's Northern Tier. The boys were simply dressed, and many wore straw hats. It turns out that it was a Saturday night, "Date Night" for the Amish.
Most of the Amish, who migrated to Pennsylvania from Germany and Switzerland in the early 18th century, speak English, but more traditional members speak Pennsylvania Dutch, a German dialect. Amish must follow traditional church rules, which cover most aspects of day-to-day living, including prohibitions or limitations on the use of power-line electricity, telephones, and automobiles, as well as regulations on clothing. Most Amish do not buy commercial insurance or health insurance, and they do not collect social security.
In certain parts of Pennsylvania it is not uncommon to encounter Amish horse and buggies on a daily basis, or Amish bicycles on a Saturday night.
Recently, I read an article in the publication, LA Healthy Living, entitled, "Why the Amish Don't Get Sick: Things You Can Learn From Them."
Statistically, the Amish are much healthier than most Americans. They have virtually no cancer, no autism, and they rarely get sick. When they do, they promptly pay their hospital bills...in cash.
The article states that the Amish refuse vaccinations. Controversial studies link certain vaccinations to the spike in our autism rate.
Amish grow and preserve all their food. They farm organically, and consume a variety of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. They raise their own animals and eat no processed foods. ADHD, food allergies, or asthma are almost non-existent in Amish society.
Despite a high fat diet, Amish have low obesity rates. America's obesity rate stands at around 31%. For the Amish, it is 3%. They eat plenty of butter, meat, and raw dairy foods. Their animals are grass fed, and steroid free. They have low rates of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
Amish are not obese, because they do something many Americans do less and less of these days: They move their bodies on a daily basis! They don't drive cars or use any mechanical devices. They live like folks lived in frontier America. Men average about 18,000 steps a day; while women average about 14,000.Their lives are labor intensive. Quite simply: physical activity keeps the Amish physically fit.
The Amish live stress-free, non-competitive lives. They are not isolated, rather they possess a strong sense of community. We all know that stress, in our society, is a modern killer.
Few of us, including this writer, are willing to trade in our automobiles and our big screen televisions for a horse and buggy, but adopting some of the Amish practices could benefit all of us.