“The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”

This famous statement comes from Lao Tzu, the Chinese poet and philosopher who founded Taoism.

I recently met a group of West Virginia University students who began with a single step. But now they are learning to run – inspiring!

These young people represent WELLWVU, a student organization that promotes health and wellness tips and activities for the campus. Peer-to-peer mentoring, coaching, and experiences facilitate a healthy environment.

Their themes surround the concept of wellness – eat well, chill well, move well, love well, and sleep well. The students are articulate and are incorporating the tips they are teaching others into their own lives.

Their favorite tips include eat well – add veggies to smoothies (kale is their favorite); sleep well – go to bed in a dark, cool room and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night; and chill well – relax and breathe deeply around stressful situations.

Why is this important?

Habits you develop early in life are important to building your foundation. In a previous post, I introduced the idea that perhaps the burden of disease we see in adults is related to acceleration of biological aging in our population. In this paradigm, the food you eat, the sleep you get, the resilience you build, and the exercise you do determine how old you are biologically. Increased biological age is a predisposition for a variety of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and dementia.

Not only does the product of genetics x behavior x resilience determine your age, but it is clear that your health directly impacts the lifespan of your children and your grandchildren. Wow!

So, sharing a meal and seeing these amazing young people who are committed to helping others makes me confident that our university and state are in good hands.

Be Well. Go First. Climb High.