A balanced regular exercise routine is important for our overall health and completing regular daily activities.
Physical fitness isn’t just about being a weightlifter, marathon runner, or having a bikini body. Good physical health is important for your overall health and mindset. Being purposefully active regularly has everyday benefits. For example, a fall can have serious consequences. According to the CDC, one out of five falls results in an injury. So, making sure we do regular balance and strength exercises can help prevent serious injury if we are to fall.
The minimum exercise guidelines for an adult (ages 18-64) are 150 minutes of moderate activity a week and 2 days of strength activities. That looks like, five 30-min brisk walks and two strength videos on YouTube. For 65 and older, the guideline is the same and in addition, add balance activities. That looks like, a 1-hour long yoga class and two 45-min brisk walks.
There are four types of exercises we should do every week: balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance.
Balance exercises are important for carrying out everyday activities. This movement will help prevent falls or more serious injuries.
Flexibility exercises have benefits like injury prevention, less pain, improved posture, a better mindset, increased strength, and overall better ability to move.
Endurance exercise is what we often think of when we hear “exercise”- aerobic activity. Something to get your blood flowing. It is good for your heart and makes everyday activities easier (like going up stairs).
Strength exercises also make everyday activities easier and can protect from injury and reduce fall risk. Building strength builds muscle which improves balance.
Each exercise session doesn’t need to focus on one type- often different types are combined. Like Yoga combines flexibility, balance, and strength.
Where to start: Doing a little homework is important and checking with your doctor to make sure you are physically ready. Check out your local gym or YMCA and schedule a session with a trainer. Ask your favorite health coach for advice on how to get started. Getting some tips from a professional makes it more fun, tailored to you, and prevents injury.
Start slowly, and try different things until you find what works for you and what you like. If you don’t like a type of exercise even though your neighbor raves about it, don’t do it! The more you enjoy it, the more regularly you’ll do it.
Eat a healthy diet and avoid heavy meals late at night.
No nightcaps! Alcohol disturbs a good night’s sleep.
Watch caffeine intake. Especially later in the day and evening.
Go to bed earlier. Don’t start the next episode of your favorite show.
Keep big projects and work for the morning. Starting big projects or doing work close to bedtime will keep you from relaxing into a restful sleep. Even though the house is quiet, and it seems like a good time to get things done it’s better to get to bed. Then try the opposite to get that to-do list tackled, wake up early you’ll find your brain is fresher and more alert.
Tomorrow’s to-dos-keep a notepad by your bed and if something is keeping you up jot it down instead of losing sleep over it.
Go to bed at the same time each night. No matter what day of the week it is!
Set the bedroom up for sleep. Keep it dark, and cool, and consider removing the TV and devices.
No iPhones at bedtime!
Clear stuffy noses. A stuffy nose will make breathing during the night more difficult which will lead to insufficient oxygen intake. Open-mouth breathing is not restful. Take allergy medicines, use an air purifier or take a warm shower to clear your airways.
Be aware of snoring or irregular breathing at night. Those are common signs of sleep disorders and should be addressed with your doctor.
Listen to sleep sounds or white noise. These will help a busy mind calm. There are many apps with sleep sounds.
When we think about health measurements, we hear BMI a lot. What exactly is it and is it an accurate way to measure our health?
What is BMI:
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It’s a calculation of height divided by weight in pounds, times 703 that Doctor’s offices often use. There are many BMI calculators online to check your own without having to do the math! See the chart below for the ranges to determine where you fall.
What you should know:
BMI is a starting block for understanding your overall health. BMI does leave out some important factors.
When understanding fat, it is important to understand the two types of fats that the body carries. There is visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat that sits right under our skin-think cellulite. It’s stubborn to get rid of but doesn’t bother our bodies. Visceral fat on the other hand is different. Found in the abdominal cavity around the organs, visceral fat is more dangerous because it secretes waste that can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease. But with a healthy diet and exercise, visceral fat is easier to lose than subcutaneous fat.
What does this have to do with BMI? When we only look at BMI it does not consider what type of fat is in our body. This can leave us with an incomplete picture. You may have a low BMI but carry excess weight in the belly area. This is where another simpler way to measure your health comes into play. Waist circumference. Simply put, it’s measuring your waist. For women, it should be less than 35 inches, and for men, it should be less than 40.
One other point about BMI, on the flip side of abdominal fat, is muscle. For very active, muscular individuals BMI may not be as accurate because muscle weighs more than fat. So, another reason to check that waist circumference.
Here is the health coach take away: Understand what your BMI is and measure your waist. Use those numbers together as a place to start to get a clear picture of your overall health. The closer you are to “normal” BMI ranges and waist circumference the less likely you are to develop serious chronic health issues.
Our busy and hectic lives keep us constantly on the move through a stressful world. Regular stress reduction is a key part of living a healthy whole life. Meditation is one tool we can use to help us manage and move better through our busy lives.
Why do we need to work on stress reduction? Sure, we like to relax and unwind with a glass of wine or watching mindless tv. Those activities, while enjoyable, do not lower the impact of stress on the body. It is important to do planned regular stress reduction to help relieve our nervous system. Chronic stress can cause issues with the endocrine system, cardiovascular health, digestion, sexual/reproductive system, and immune system. Regular meditation can improve mood, concentration, sleep, pain, blood pressure and much more.
So, what is meditation? Meditation is a practice of focused consciousness or thought. During meditation, you clear your mind and let the world around you come and go without thinking about it. Meditation dates back thousands of years. There are many types of meditation. Some commonly known types are guided meditation, mantra meditation and mindfulness meditation. Tai Chi and yoga are examples of physical meditation. Prayer, reading poems or sacred text are also considered to be meditation.
Meditation can be done anywhere. A fancy meditation room and a ton of time are not needed to get benefits from meditation. You literally can do it anywhere. Once during a stressful doctor’s visit, I did some breathing work (with the help of the Headspace app) while waiting on the doctor to come back into the exam room. It immediately calmed me and lowered my anxiety in a stressful moment.
Somewhere along the way with high protein diets and low sugar lifestyles, fruit has become something we have grown to be afraid of. I’ve had people tell me how they won’t touch a banana anymore because it has too much sugar. But fruit is not an enemy and should be a part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Fruits contain great amounts of fiber, vitamins that are hard to get in a regular diet (Vitamin C, folate, and potassium), plant compounds and antioxidants. Not to mention they are a convenient, satisfying food that is low calorie. A daily serving of fruit is 2- 2 ½ cups.
Eating fruit regularly can help with conditions like cholesterol, high blood pressure, digestive/ gut issues, help prevent certain cancers and heart disease. And there is even research on fruit preventing obesity because overall it causes people to eat less over time due to its “high satiety” factors. Think about when you have that banana for a snack. It keeps you full for a longer period.
Fruit is a real, whole food that contains fructose (naturally occurring sugar). Some fruits have more fructose than others. Lower fructose fruits: bananas, blueberries, and strawberries. Higher fructose fruits: watermelon, apples, and grapes. For one to get harmful amount of fructose they’d have to eat a lot. Fruit is a “self-limiting” food because it is hard to eat too much. How many apples could you sit down and eat? I know my jaw gets tired after one!
Fruits are loaded with fiber and water and “chewing resistance”. That means it takes a while to eat them in turn, longer to digest. The sugar in fruit won’t hit your system as fast, unlike drinking sugary drinks (and alcohol) that hit your system, particularly your liver, quickly causing issues over time. In small, slow amounts, the body can process it easily and not feel that sugar spike.
When it comes to fruit, be cautious with juices and dried fruit. Fruit juice is high in sugar and low in fiber. Dried fruits are high in fiber but usually also high sugar. Watch the portion sizes of both juices and dried fruit, a little is ok.
Lastly, smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to get your daily servings of fruit (and vegetables). They are convenient and a great option. To keep a smoothie on the healthier-low sugar side, watch a few things: read all the labels for frozen fruit, there could be added sugar. Use small amounts (or none) of fruit juice or mix 50/50 with water. If using yogurt, make sure it is no/low sugar. Smoothies made at home are the best choice because you can watch exactly what goes into them. Just because there is a “Smoothie” on the menu does not mean it is a healthy option. One commercially prepared smoothie on a menu of a popular lunch place has 50g of sugar!! Read nutritional labels when it comes to fruit.
Next time you are at the grocery, be sure to include a few fruits in your shopping. You’ll be happy to have them back in your life.
Smoothies are a really easy way to get a lot of nutrients quickly and put your body back into balance. Smoothies can be satisfying and filling when made with a variety of good quality ingredients. Dr. Sears calls smoothies the “Sipping Solution” because fill in where diets are lacking nutrients, feeling too full or not full enough, and help blood sugar spikes. Plus, smoothies are a covenient meal on the go that will keep you from running through a drive thru!
For a filling and tasty smoothie, the key is finding a good mix of ingredients and not just have one without the other.
5 things to include in a smoothie:
Healthy low or no sugar fluid– nut milks, low sugar juice, coconut water
Healthy fats– avocado, nut butter, flaxseed, or chia
Healthy proteins– plain Greek yogurt, nut butter, protein powder
Healthy fruits AND greens
Flavors and nutrients-cinnamon, wheat germ, shredded coconut, ginger, lemon,
Bonus: For added fiber- oats (put them in the blender first and grind until fine), date, figs
Tips for making a smoothie like the juice shop:
Get a good blender- it doesn’t need to be $500 but one that has some power (I have a Breville that works great and is not too big).
Stock up on organic frozen fruit (with NO added sugar- check the label)
Use UNSWEETEND liquid- like a nut milk. Using juice? Mix 50/50 water.
Plan to use more liquid than you think. I use about 1 cup of liquid in my smoothies. Add a little more as necessary to get the desired consistency.
Ice- Using frozen fruit, don’t add ice. No frozen fruit, use just a little ice. Too much ice can make consistency too watery. Want to keep it cold while you drink, add one or two ice cubes AFTER you make the smoothie.
Try a various protein powders, they are all different. Often you can get a small packet to try before committing to a large container.
Last words of advice… GET CREATIVE. Try out different ingredients. Get your family involved. Everyone can benefit from a nutrient packed smoothie.
My Favorite Smoothie: Nutty Fruit Smoothie
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup water
1 tablespoon almond or peanut butter
1 tablespoon flax seed
½- 1 cup blueberries
1 cup of spinach
Blend until smooth (my blender has a smoothie button and it’s perfect!).
Pour into cute, insulated travel cup and tackle the day!