I am a little fellow,
Though I’m always up to date.
The days I hold within my hand are only twenty-eight;
But I just save my moments up,
And count them o’er and o’er,
Till in four years I’ve saved enough to make up one day more.
~Pauline Frances Camp, “February,” 1906

No matter our health habits, our workout schedules, our genetics, and our attitudes, there is a health factor that none of us can outrun, manipulate, or bend.
Sure, that might sound like the start to a dad joke, but the answer is true.
And that answer is time.

There are ways we can enhance the time we have on this planet, by growing in our spiritual walks, taking care of our physical bodies, and nurturing our relationships at home, work, and church. But that doesn’t mean that we have control of time or frankly, that we can even begin to understand it.

Which makes a year like this year, a year with a Leap Year, all the more interesting. This year, we have an extra day added to February, so instead of the standard 28 days in February, we have a February 29th. It happens every four years, this extra day in February, and it occurs because it takes us just a hair longer to get all the way around the sun than just 365 days.

We mark our time in today’s world off of what is known as the Gregorian calendar. We’ve been running off of this calendar since 1582 because it corrected a little math error that turned into a big math error from the previous Julian calendar. That little math error? The Julian calendar figured that the average solar year, meaning how long it takes our planet to make it all the way around the sun, was 365.25 days. To accommodate for this, the Julian calendar stuffed extra ‘leap’ days into how it was organized. So far, so good.

But over time, the Julian calendar had too many leap days. It threw everything off, as it kept bumping dates into further seasons. That’s because of that little math error. As it turns out, the solar year is 365.2425 days, and that little difference between .25 and .2425 makes for a big difference as the years march on. The difference between a ¼ cup of sugar and .2425 cup of sugar in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe might not even be detectable, but over the clip of centuries, that extra splash of a day under the Julian calendar was its own kind of Y2K meltdown.

So in 1582, the Gregorian calendar was adopted, and a leap year every four years was put into place.

The longer history of the calendar, how we came up with ways to categorize and organize and mark and put math to our days is complex, fascinating, and can make your brain feel a little overwhelmed and tired. After all, calendaring is an attempt to capture something which can’t be contained…time.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

Check out these interesting facts about Leap Year:

  • Here in the U.S., about 187,000 babies are born on February 29th during a leap year.1 People with a leap-year birthday sometimes find it challenging to prove their age on contracts and other legal documents.
  • People born on February 29th are known as Leaplings.
  • Some couples choose a leap day for their wedding to make it more unique.
  • There is a tradition in Ireland and a law passed in Scotland in 1288 that makes it legal for women to propose to men on a leap day, known as Bachelor’s Day.2

Researchers don’t see much effect on our health and circadian rhythms based on the extra day of a Leap Year, although it does build in an extra day until the ‘official’ start of spring. But there is an opportunity built into the idea of a leap day that can influence how you think about your time.

Part of the appeal of Leap Year is the idea that you get an extra day, a day that only shows up every four years, a day that you can’t say in 2025, “On this day last year…” We can know that we as humans came up with a calendar that created that idea, but it still shows that our perception of time and what we accept about our perceptions of time matters deeply.

A recent study showed that if someone perceived the time from which they received an injury or surgery as moving faster, the actual healing of their wound or recovery was faster.3 Another study reported in the New York Times shows that our heartbeat, the cadence by which that muscle in our chest ticks out the day, impacts our experience of time.4 And where in time you emotionally choose to live, in the past, in your present day, or in a far-off future, also affects your physical and emotional health.5

What does all this mean for taking care of your physical and emotional health? Your time matters. What you do with your time matters. Being present in the day you have today and keeping a positive outlook for tomorrow are key elements in living a healthy life. If you struggle with being caught in difficult challenges from your past, or if you find yourself focused, anxious, and worried about possible future events, talk with your health provider to get your time back on track. If you’re an Altrua HealthShare Member on certain memberships, you have access to pooled office visits, which you can use for meeting with your primary care physician to discuss your concerts. There are also memberships with Altrua HealthShare that include access to LifeWorks, a counseling service that includes both in-person sessions and telecounseling options. Call your Member Services Representative (1.888.743.4075) to review your membership and its features.

If you’re not currently a Member of Altrua HealthShare and would like more information about a membership can help you by sharing in your eligible medical needs, you can check out the affordability and flexibility of Altua HealthShare by going here or by reaching out to a Member Services Representative (1.888.743.4075). We know your time and your health are important, and we want to help you make it count, body, mind, and spirit.

“…encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”…
Hebrews 3:13

1 https://www.popsugar.com/family/leap-day-birth-odds-47269485

2 https://www.gretnagreen.com/why-marry-on-leap-day-at-gretna-green-scotland-a1117

3 https://www.ormanager.com/briefs/how-time-perception-impacts-healing/#:~:text=When%20it%20comes%20to%20healing,much%20time%20had%20actually%20elapsed.

4 https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/14/health/heart-brain-time.html

5 https://www.seldakoydemir.com/resources/how-you-perceive-the-time-can-influence-your-life