Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’
Shake your move thang
If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times… Working out not only helps us burn calories, lose weight, stay fit, look good and even feel better (thanks to the endorphins), but a recent study reveals that people with early Alzheimer’s disease who had better fitness ratings had less atrophy in key brain areas associated with memory. This according to research first reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (AICD).
This study was the first time that MRI Brain Imaging was used to reveal the connection between cardio respiratory fitness and Alzheimer’s-related brain changes in the hippocampus (the part of the brain that’s important for memory and other functions). The hippocampus is reported to be one of the first areas of the brain to be hindered upon the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to the study mentioned above, ICAD also reported that home-based exercise programs lasting for 12-months actually helped with balance, help reduce falls and even help maintain independence among people challenged by dementia.
William Thies, PhD, Vice President of Medical and Scientific Relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, was quoted as saying “These studies reinforce the need for increased awareness and education about the importance of living a brain-healthy lifestyle, including staying physically active. Growing evidence shows that physical exercise does not have to be strenuous or require a major time commitment. It is most effective when done regularly, and in combination with a brain-healthy diet, mental activity and social interaction.”
If an exercise routine can bring benefits like these to people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, imagine what exercise can do for you – no matter what your current physical level is. You can always start somewhere.
Check with your doctor and devise an exercise routine that’s right for you, your age, your abilities – but don’t put it off any longer. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells that live for a few weeks or months, then die and are then replaced by new cells. The scientific and medical communities continue to prove through research that an active lifestyle can have an amazing affect on the body in regard to cell growth and renewal – as well as overall health.
Sure, finding time everyday to workout can prove to be difficult given our way-too-busy lifestyles. But when you consider the alternative, we really don’t have much choice other than to make the time to workout.
And a gym isn’t necessarily required. Summer’s here — making this a great time of year to get outdoors. Try going for a walk around the block this afternoon or even during your lunch break. Just one block. And tomorrow? Make it two blocks. And add on from there. Your health – now and in the future – depend on it.
Click to these links for helpful information to build upon
or add to your own exercise program:
10 fitness tips to help you get started with a workout program — and stick with it
Inspiration and then some
My beautiful friend Karen recently had the rug pulled out from under her, health-wise. And yet she rose to the occasion and has become am amazing inspiration for so many people — including myself. I am so moved by Karen’s journey (not to mention her courage), that I asked her to write a little about what she’s gone through, in hopes it might move and inspire some of you. I know Karen inspires me daily. No matter what we might be facing, there is hope. In fact, like Karen, we can become the hope. It’s all about taking the next step (no matter how small of a step it might seem to be).
And for those of us (including myself) who sometimes complain that we don’t feel like exercising, Karen’s commitment to fitness and to being her best self is incredibly motivating. Don’t believe me? Keep reading…
My Friend Karen’s Story in Her Own Words:
I am a runner, love to cycle on the road or better yet on the trails. I play tennis two to three times a week. I am an athlete and cant ‘t seem to get enough of the great outdoors. The running, biking and tennis came to a screeching halt December 24, 2014 (yes — Christmas Eve) when I was diagnosed with not one but two cancers — ovarian and uterine.
I had surgery that morning and stayed in the hospital for a few days until I went home to start my recovery. I began my journey by walking around the island in my kitchen, I could complete four laps before having to take a break. After a week of this I was ready to get outside, however living in Michigan in January can be cold — really cold.
We had record low temperatures this past winter but it wasn’t going to stop me, I layered up and was out the door going for my walk. I started by walking around the block and then around the block twice — three times. It was then I started putting the miles on and found myself walking for over an hour at a time in the bitter cold and snow. I then began my 18 week chemotherapy program the end of January. I also went out for my first run (okay — slow jog) since my surgery ten days after my first chemo and I was never so happy.
“I am a runner and I am running,” I would tell myself — “Chemo or not!”
Backing off from tennis for two months while my 12″ incision started its healing process, I decided to pick up come spinning classes at my club. These activities continued through my treatment, not every day, slower on some days than others, but on my good days I was out there doing something and having fun doing it. When I rang “The Bell” (see picture of this event) on May 28th in celebration of my last chemo treatment I felt like I was on the podium after a big race and I had just won 1st place.
I am the winner and I have won BIG! I am a SURVIVOR and ever so blessed to have the medical care, my husband, friends and family along with the mental and physical strength and drive to be where I am today. Today I celebrate and am so grateful to be cancer free for 7 months.
I have just returned from a three week trip to Moab, Utah, Fruita, Colorado, and Prescott, Arizona — where I was mountain biking on some of the best trails, running and getting back to the mountains and the great outdoors. Happy trails and may they always lead you on a wonderful journey.
Photos Source: Karen B. (Used with permission.)
Let the sunshine in (wisely!)
I know I’m normally blogging (blathering on?) about food and nutrition. But can we just take a moment, pre 4th of July weekend, to acknowledge that summer’s finally here? Of course, this can be a great time to get outdoors to add even more physical activity to your day. Not only will being outdoors add to your bottom line (or lack thereof) when it comes to your healthy life outlook, but it will also allow you to soak up some healthy Vitamin D in its natural form from the sun.
But whatever your outdoor activity, make sure you remember the sunscreen. The FDA recommends that we apply SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 at the very least. But that rule doesn’t apply to everyone. My personal dermatologist says we should be wearing an SPF level of 30 to 40 even for daily activities. Thus, you’re encouraged to take your own “sun history” into account.
If you rarely burn and tan easily, SPF 15 is might be right for you. But if you are very pale (like moi), have numerous freckles and/or red hair, then you should use a much higher level of SPF. If you’re not sure which level of SPF you should be using, make a quick call to your doctor or dermatologist to get their professional opinion. After all, the skin you save may be your own.
And no matter which level of SPF you’re using, this same rule applies to us all: Reapply the sunblock every 2 hours (moreso if you’re sweating or just getting out of the pool or ocean).
To find out which SPF level is right for you, click here
For more information on the FDA Guidelines regarding SPF levels, click here
Photo Source: WeeklySauce
Strut your stuff
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it 1,000 times: “I don’t have time to exercise.” But enough about my first words every morning when the alarm rings at around 4:30am.
I joke, of course. People that know me will tell you I’m a little obsessive about exercise. After all, I used to be one of those people who could never find time to do it – or who used every excuse in the world not to do it. But suffice it to say, there is no excuse. And even if you have no excess weight to lose, you’ve still got to get moving on a daily basis. And I don’t mean to and from the refrigerator.
Thanks to walking, there really is no excuse to not be exercising. It’s the great common denominator that can be done by the youngest of the young and the oldest of the old. No gym required. And yes, a large part of my exercise regime while shedding 250 pounds included walking. Slow at first. A little faster in the middle. And power walking by the end of my weight loss journey (as well as today). It’s this kind of step-by-step attitude that got me to my goal – and it can get you to yours.
The best news is that walking can be done virtually anywhere: around your neighborhood, on a treadmill at the gym (or in your garage), or even at the local mall when the weather outside is frightful. No membership fees required to join the walking club. And along with everything you’ll gain, you’ll also lose – assuming you’re walking the correct way.
Now don’t roll your eyes or – heaven forbid – stop reading this blog entry. It really is easy to commit yourself to a walking program. Along with a comfortable and supportive pair of sneakers, you also need clothes you can comfortably sweat in. Add an iPod with your favorite fast-paced songs and you’re ready to go.
Start out with a few stretches if you’d like. Or begin and end with a slower, more leisurely walking pace. You do want to ease your body into and out of the aerobic walking activity. But in the middle? You want to feel like you’re working – and working hard. This is about increasing your heart’s health while also making you’re figure look oh-so-fine. (And yes, I will be the judge of that!)
Remember when walking that posture is key. This means always standing upright, shoulders back, belly in. In fact, you should be consciously holding your stomach in (as if you’re doing a crunch) during the entire walk. And yeah, I know this is going to make the walk more difficult. But that’s the point. You want to make the walk mean something – which requires working from your core (a ‘core’ element of all successful exercise).
Along with sucking in your gut, you want to pump your arms, back and forth, in opposition to your leg movement. Make sure your feet come into full contact with the ground and lift off accordingly. No twisted ankles, if you please. You also want to maintain a fast pace that makes you feel like you’re working out. That being said, you never want to be fully out of breath or unable to carry on a conversation. But you do want to feel the burn. Or, at the very least, the pace. In other words, you want someone who sees you walking to wonder if you’re a new military recruit. (And the answer, by the way, is ‘yes you are – a recruit dedicated to a happier and healthier life.’)
When walking the blocks (of your neighborhood) make sure you keep an eye on traffic and keep the iPod volume at a level in which you could hear a ‘honk’ from a car (or, if you’re lucky enough, a flattering whistle). You want your legs walking and arms pumping for a continues period, which, yes, means looking like a dope as you wait for the light to change to cross the street. But please, be one of ‘those people’ who stands at the crosswalk stepping in place. Who cares what other people think? You’re going to be a model, damnit. Or, at the very least, a model citizen.
Walking with friends (furry or otherwise) can slow you down a bit. Sure, walking and talking can be fun. But don’t let dishing the gossip or stopping for Fido to mark a tree slow you down. As much as I love walking with my puppy around town, those are usually ‘bonus walks’ for me, because my pooch likes to sniff just about everything, which slows down my pace greatly. So make sure you designate the difference between a dog walk, social walk or exercise-intentioned walk.
The key to successful walking is to get your heart rate up for a sustained period of time – at least 20 minutes and hopefully longer as your walking endurance increases to 30, 45 or even 60 minutes a day. Yes, a day. Don’t let the government’s physical activity guidelines fool you. We are a sedentary society that needs to get up off our butts and MOVE. And walking is a great way to do that on a daily basis.
Besides losing excess weight and feeling great (I just made a poem!), walking’s benefits are many. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the so-called “bad” cholesterol), raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” stuff), lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of or even help manage Type 2 Diabetes, manage weight, improve mood and help us to stay strong and fit. Who needs more reasons to walk than these? Other than that putting on your skinny jeans won’t require a Hail Mary or pair of pliers to zip them up.
You do not change your physique, your inner health and your life by phoning it in. This is why I get up around 4:30am every morning. I’m at the gym by 5am and finished working out around 6:30am, 7 days a week. Do I hate when the alarm rings? Hell yes I do. Do I love how I feel after my workout? Abso-friggin-lutely. I promise you will, too – once you making working out (walking out!) a priority in your life.