Helping Baby Boomers get fit … get well … and live longer!

Drive Yourself to Move More

  • 21st March 2011 |
  • Author: Iris

Healthy Monday Tip

This week put the breaks on your usual routine and rev up your fitness goals by avoiding your car. Move it this Monday by walking, biking, skateboarding or taking public transportation. Less time driving means more time for activity!

With the rising gas prices, parking the car and covering some ground using other modes of transportation has become much more appealing. Walking and biking are my favorite exercises and my most enjoyable ways of traveling short distances. Besides, walking and biking are the best ways to gain some exercise, lose some body fat and ease our minds.

When you’re walking, bicycling, or skateboarding for fitness, your clothing, shoes and posture are very important. Comfortable, breathable, and appropriate clothing for your climate are basic essentials. You don’t have to splurge on the latest designer jogging suit or active-wear — an old t-shirt will do just fine. Just make sure you have enough clean, fresh clothing every day.

Selecting the right walking or running shoes is very important. You want to choose the best shoe for your feet. Having ample support and comfort over the long haul is what I look for in a sneaker. With all the latest technology and fashion trends, there are an overwhelming number of sneakers from which to select. But I would recommend you look for a shoe designed for either walking or long-distance running. Both types of shoes will have the support and comfort you need.   If you plan to purchase your shoes online, I would strongly suggest that you go in and get fitted so you can get a feel for the shoe. You can then purchase the shoes from a local store or purchase them online if you can get better pricing.

Walking

Walking outside on a nice, sunny day does wonders for my spirit and frame of mind and is an excellent way to get fit.  I find it to be very relaxing and energizing. Taking long walks clears my mind and allows me to think more clearly. I also get wonderful ideas and resolve a lot of issues while I’m on my long walks. So, when I take my walks, I wear my favorite walking shoes, I usually bring along a bottle of water, a little flip notepad with a pen, and my mobile phone.

Bicycling

With the rising gas prices, bikes are becoming more popular. Many cities are becoming more street friendly to two-wheeled travelers. A lot of cities are putting more money and time into developing a great network of bike trails. Riding a bike is a great way to explore your city or town and get some great exercise. However, be very careful while bicycling around on the streets and out in traffic.

Skateboarding

For those of you who grew up skateboarding, getting back on one may be a breeze! However, for a baby boomer like me, I think I’ll stick to walking and bicycling. Skateboarding can render a great workout because it really commands the use of the total body. Being comfortable with moving the skateboard along and knowing how to maneuver it in tricky situations is a key factor in enjoying the ride. Also, having the right gear, a good quality skateboard and practicing safety is vitally important. So, do your homework and get the necessary equipment and gear in place before you shove off!

Hopping on Public Transportation

Taking the bus is not as difficult as it may seem. As a matter of fact, when I used to ride the bus to work, I found it to be very relaxing — a definite de-stressor! It gave me time to read and just have some quiet time. Having a schedule of the times and routes is the key to enjoying the ride on public transportation. If you can schedule your trips during off-peak hours, you will find your ride so much more enjoyable — less noise and less over-crowding. Pull out a good book, magazine, newspaper or your iPod and have a wonderful ride.

Parking the car and using other means of getting from Point A to Point B has its benefits. You will definitely save money on gasoline. You will also help improve the environment and cut down on all those auto emissions and pollutants. Burning belly fat is also a very good benefit of walking, bicycling or skateboarding our way around instead of driving. Another great benefit derived from parking the car is bringing more calmness into your life and decreasing stress. Driving in traffic, especially rush-hour traffic, greatly increases stress in our lives. Stepping away from the car and stepping into some walking shoes is a great way to get fit, burn belly fat, and decrease the level of stress in our lives.

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Tip: Before you rush into an unhealthy food choice, ask yourself: are you truly hungry? You may just be bored, sad, stressed or lonely. Evaluating your emotions and eating mindfully can drastically cut unnecessary calories.

I’m an emotional eater. When I’m under stress, I eat. I have a long list of foods I crave when I’m under stress, like chips, soda, cookies and chocolate candy. The more I worry, the more I eat. The more I eat, the more weight I gain because the foods I choose to eat are not the healthiest foods.

Emotional eating has nothing to do with dieting or changing your eating habits but it has everything to do with gaining control over your emotions. To determine if there are stressors negatively impacting your eating habits, ask yourself the following questions:

Are you dealing with some unresolved issues in your life?

Have you recently been under any stress at work or at home?

Has anything traumatic happened in your life in the past year, like a death, job loss or break up?

Are you more emotional or sad due to hormonal changes or certain medications?

Do you suffer from hormonal changes every month where you find that you are more emotional or sad?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may be an emotional eater. You may find yourself eating when you are not really hungry. Boredom, feelings of sadness, anxiety, and being under stress are triggers that can cause us to overeat. When these stressors or emotions kick in, you may find yourself reaching for some “comfort” food.

Here are some of the “comfort” foods I reach for when I’m under stress:

* High-fat foods like French fries, fried foods, and chips

* High-carb foods like macaroni-n-cheese, mashed potatoes and bread

* Sugary foods like ice cream, donuts, cookies, and chocolate candy

Do you find yourself reaching for any of these foods when you’re under stress, bored or sad? Are you gaining weight as a result of consuming more fat than you are burning off through exercise?

We must eat in order to live. We get the nutrients our body needs from our food. However, we must be able to control the type of foods and the amount of food we consume in order to not exceed our daily recommended caloric intake.

We can lose weight faster than ever when we are able to manage our emotions. It all starts with knowing if we’re eating because we’re bored, sad, lonely, stressed out, or hungry.

Our emotions and our state of mind play a big role in whether or not we will overeat. Getting this emotional eating under control is of utmost importance if we ever expect to gain control of our weight and lose the excess pounds.

Some of us will readily identify these behaviors and put forth the effort to effectively overcome our emotional eating by eliminating the bad foods from our fridge and cupboards. Some of us may need counseling in order to identify the emotions that are causing us to overeat.

We may need to seek counseling to help us identify the emotions causing us to overeat. A counselor might suggest things like visualization, practicing problem solving skills, relaxation techniques and family support. Visualization helps you to see your problems in a realistic way and not blown out of proportion. You will also learn to see food as nutrition for the body and not an emotional crutch.

We can also enlist the help of our family in helping us gain more control over our eating habits. If we share with them our triggers for stress, for instance, they can be on the lookout for those triggers and help us make healthy food choices. They can also exercise with us and be our accountability partner.

Eating a proper diet full of healthy foods, along with exercise, will increase our immunity, blood flow and circulation, and stimulate positive thinking. Practicing yoga will also enhance the body/mind connection so we don’t eat when we are not hungry.

Finding new ways to solve your problems and deal with stress will push food out of the equation. You’ll feel good about finding solutions which will replace the dependence on food. You’ll also look good when you lose the weight and your confidence level will shoot through the roof!

If you’ve found ways to successfully overcome emotional eating, please share them with us. There are also related blog posts you will find here with helpful tips and information.
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Stress is Nothing to Worry About

  • 7th March 2011 |
  • Author: Iris

In our normal day-to-day life, we deal with various levels of stress.  Much of our stress is subtle, like driving in traffic or waiting in a long line at our favorite restaurant.  A lot of routine actions generate a lot of subtle stress that sneaks up on us as we go about our business.

Our stress level can get kicked up a notch or two when we are at work.  Having a heavy workload, conflicting priorities, challenging deadlines, difficult co-workers, unpleasant work environments and a multitude of other work-related stressors, can really rob us of our creativity, reduce our performance, and zap us of our energy.  We find ourselves in the midst of a downward spiral feeling overwhelmed, under-appreciated, and deeply depressed.

There is one simple technique you can use to drastically decrease the level of stress in your life.  You use this technique every day but you probably never think about it.   We can eliminate stress in our lives by simply “breathing” all our worries away!

Very few of us realize the importance of utilizing good breathing techniques.   We take breathing for granted.    As a result, we feel the ill-effects of having stress in our lives.  Studies have shown that improper breathing can lead to many stress-related ailments, whether physical, mental or emotional.  Heart disease and high blood pressure are both stress-induced illnesses.  Studies have shown that deep breathing can decreased heart disease and lower blood pressure.

Apart from the health benefits, deep breathing also calms and clears the mind and results in a much better feeling of well-being. It also helps to restore creativity, stimulates memory, and increases vitality.

The act of breathing correctly is much more than inhaling and exhaling air.  It’s a conscious effort to move larger amounts of air through your body so every cell of your body will benefit from the added oxygen. You can easily curb stress by taking a few minutes for yourself this week.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step away from the situation, refocus your thoughts and devote time to deep, meditative breathing.    Breathing correctly is very important to our overall health and mental well-being.   It’s our body’s best weapon to use against stress. There is no need to worry about stress when you can literally breathe it out of your life.
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Get on the Ball

  • 1st March 2011 |
  • Author: Iris

The exercise or fitness ball is a great way to get a good workout!  Including the exercise ball as a fitness tool in your workout routine will be a great way to build variety and build muscles. This fitness ball is non-impacting and renders varying levels of intensity.

The following exercises are will give you a good workout that will strengthen, tone and shape your upper and lower body. As with all exercises, be sure to check with your doctor before you decide to incorporate the exercise ball into your routines, especially if you are plagued by chronic back pain.

Crunch

     

  • Sit on ball and slowly move feet forward until lower back is resting on ball.  Place hands on ball while getting into position for balance.
  • Let head hang down toward the floor and stretch abs.
  • Place hands behind head loosely, being careful to not pull on your neck.
  • Exhale … slowly curl torso forward rolling shoulder toward hips.
  • Keep head and neck aligned with spine.
  • Hold crunch for 1 count.
  • Inhale … slowly return to starting position.
  • Be sure to allow abs to fully extend until you feel a stretch between repetitions.

Crunch with Obliques

     

  • Sit on ball and slowly move feet forward until lower back is resting on ball.
  • Let head hang down toward floor and stretch abs
  • Place hands behind head loosely, do not pull on neck.
  • Exhale … slowly curl torso up, twisting shoulders to the right (left elbox should point up toward ceiling).
  • Inhale … slowly lower torso back to starting position and repeat on opposite side.
  • Keep lower back pressed into ball and elbows pointing out to the sides during exercise.

 

Squat and Rock

     

  • Sit on ball and slowly move feet forward until entire back is resting on ball.  Place hands on ball while getting into position for balance.
  • Roll forward into a squat position keeping lower back pressed into ball.
  • Hold squat for 5 – 10 seconds.
  • Slowly roll back until buttocks are on the ball and shoulders are off the back of the ball.

Pelvic Tilt

     

  • Sit on ball and slowly move feet forward until shoulder and upper back are on the ball.  Place hands on ball while getting into position, for balance.
  • Cross hands over chest and slowly lift hips and pelvis until body is flat.
  • Hold 5 – 10 seconds.
  • Relax and repeat.

Prone Walk-out

     

  • Lay with shins on ball and hands shoulder width apart on floor.
  • Raise upper body until body is perpendicular with floor, keeping back flat.
  • Slowly walk hands backward until hips are on ball, keeping legs elevated and body in a line.
  • Slowly walk hands forward again until shins are on the ball.

Back Extension

     

  • Lay with stomach and hips supported by all.
  • Hang your head and shoulder down toward floor.
  • Keep legs straight balancing on toes.  Place hands behind back.
  • Keeping lower body and ball stable, exhale and slowly raise torso toward ceiling.
  • Squeeze lower back and glutes at top of movement.
  • Inhale … slowly lower torso back to starting position.
  • Hang for one count and repeat.
  • To increase intesity, place hands behind head.

Basic Bridge

     

  • Lie on back and place feet and calves on top of ball, feet close together.
  • Place arms out to sides for stability.
  • Lift hips off floor until body is in a line, legs straight.
  • Squeeze with abs, glutes, and lower body to hold position for 5 – 10 seconds.
  • Slowly lower hips for 1 count and repeat.
  • To increase intensity and challenge stability, place arms across chest.

Wide-Stance Bridge

     

  • Lie on back and place feet and calves on ball.
  • Separate feet so they are slightly on side of ball, toes pointed out.
  • Squeeze ball with heels.
  • Place arms out to sides for stability.
  • Lift hips off floor until body is in a line, legs straight.
  • Squeeze with abs, inner thighs, and glutes to hold position for 5 – 10 seconds.
  • Slowly lower hips for 1 count and repeat.
  • To increase intensity and challenge stability, place arms across chest.

Exercise balls are awesome tools to use to target specific trouble spots.  As you move through these exercises, you will feel it in your chest and core muscles.  There are so many ways you can use the ball to get fit and strengthen those core muscles for a total body workout.  In upcoming weeks, we will be testing and posting some more fitness ball exercises we think you will enjoy and find very beneficial.

So, get on the ball and get moving toward a healthier and fitter you.  If you already have a fitness ball and you exercise with it regularly, please share some of your favorite exercises with us in the comment section below.  If you do not have an exercise ball yet, you can get one here..

Take Five for Fitness

  • 28th February 2011 |
  • Author: Iris

Depending on where you live in the world and what your weather conditions are, there are days when the weather is not conducive to getting outdoors to exercise.

Taking five-minute breaks every 2 hours will squeeze more exercises into your daily schedule.  Those 5-minute exercise routines will also give you a firmer and toner body.  You can exercise and get great results right from your work desk, whether at home or at the office.

The only thing you need for these basic exercises is an exercise ball (also called a stability or core ball) and a desire to exercise more!  The exercise ball is a fun, safe way to tone your abs, butt, back, and legs.

Here are a few exercises you can do at your desk to get fit, get trimmed and get back into the swing of things:

  • sit up straight on your ball to work your core muscles
  • do lunges
  • do squats
  • do crunches on the exercise ball

The exercise ball is an excellent tool to have in your fitness toolbox.  Tightening those abs and the muscles supporting your back will really help relieve back pain.  It is also a very good for improving your posture.  There are tons of exercises you can do with this ball and you will find that they’re all fun!

Performing these exercises for only 5 minutes every couple of hours will help you get fit a whole lot faster than waiting around until everything aligns up perfectly in the universe to allow you to go jogging or make a trip to the local gym. Get an exercise ball and start tightening those abs and strengthening those muscles today.

You can check out a variety of exercise balls here.  Grab one today and have some fun!.

Never be Fruitless!

  • 21st February 2011 |
  • Author: Iris

Make healthy eating easy by keeping the foods you need close at hand. Keep a bowl of fruit on your counter at home, stash nuts or dried fruit in your desk or keep pre-washed and cut carrots, celery and broccoli crowns in your fridge for a quick snack.

Fruits are good sources for nutrients that help to enhance our immune system and strengthen our body.  The amount of fruit you need to eat depends on age, sex, and level of physical activity.  Recommended daily amounts for women and men over 40 are 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

Here are 10 fruits to add to your shopping list:

  1. Apples
  2. Apricots
  3. Bananas
  4. Blackberries
  5. Blueberries
  6. Cantaloupe
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapefruit
  9. Grapes (purple)
  10. Kiwi

These fruits are small but they carry a big punch in terms of their nutritional value. If you want to get fit and well faster, you definitely need to include all of them in your healthy dietary plan.

In upcoming articles, I will be dissecting each of these fruits and will give you information on the nutritional and health benefits you get when you eat them. I’m sure you will be surprised to learn just how powerful they are. Please check back often so you won’t miss these informative articles that will be full of little known facts..

Fat in the Front Means Pain in the Back

  • 19th February 2011 |
  • Author: Iris

Are you carrying around extra weight in your belly?  If so, your back is going to suffer!  Getting rid of excess weight is so important if you are suffering from chronic back pain.  This is not simply a cosmetic issue – it’s a health issue.

The spine is not designed to carry weight in excess of our natural, lean body weight.  As we put on extra pounds, the spine becomes more compressed and distorted, resulting in back pain. 

Distortion and compression of the spine also affects the sciatic nerve.  Compression or “pinching” of the sciatic nerve can cause excruciating pain in the back, hips and legs.  As a matter of fact, this is one of the main reasons people who are overweight tend to have problems with their lower back, either due to the distortion of the spinal column or sciatica.

If you’ve been carrying around a lot of belly fat and having low back pain, there is only one thing you can do to end the pain . . . lose weight.  When you lose those extra pounds you’ve been carrying around, you will take the pressure off your spine and sciatic nerve.

Of course, losing weight is not something you can do overnight.  You must put forth some effort and be committed. However, the benefits of losing weight far outweigh the inconvenience you may experience from the effort.

Since you are already experiencing back pain, you must take things slowly.  Consulting with your physician should be at the top of your “To Do” list when it comes to designing a weight loss and exercise plan that will work for you.  Losing weight naturally, a little bit at a time, through diet and exercise is a very good way to go.  Start exercising slowly and do stretches before and after your exercises.  Focusing on strengthening your core body muscles will help decrease the low back pain you are experiencing by giving your back better support and alignment.

Within a couple of weeks, you should notice a difference in the way you feel if you’ve been consistent with your healthy eating plan and exercise routine.  Within a month or so, you should see a physical difference – less belly fat and less back pain..

Have Fun and Get Fit on Valentine’s Day

  • 14th February 2011 |
  • Author: Iris

Today is Valentine’s Day!!!!

Instead of a lavish dinner and chocolates, woo your sweetheart with an action-packed date. Take a romantic walk or a nice bike ride.  You can also spend the evening practicing your ice skating or go out dancing.   You can get in some exercise doing the things you love!
And, if by chance you have don’t have a “special” someone in your life now . . . grab a friend!   You can still have a lot of fun and get fit on Valentine’s Day!.

February is Healthy Heart Month!

  • 7th February 2011 |
  • Author: Iris

Act Now and Never Miss a Beat

Everyday actions like moving more, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress and cutting smoking have a big impact on your heart!   February is Heart Month, so take steps to reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure..

Do you remember this song … “The hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone is connected to the knee bone, the knee bone is connected to the ankle bone . . . .”????

Well, if your lower back starts hurting for no apparent reason, your feet may be the origin of your back pain.  There are several major causes of foot injuries or conditions that may lead to pain in the back:

  • Structural Abnormalities
  • Footwear
  • Wear and Tear

Structural Abnormalities
Hallux rigidus is a disorder of the joint located at the base of the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint, and with time it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe.  ‘Hallux” refers to the big toe, while “rigidus” indicates that the toe is rigid and cannot move. Hallux rigidus is actually a form of degenerative arthritis.  Many patients confuse hallux rigidus with a bunion, which affects the same joint, but they are very different conditions requiring different treatment.

Structural abnormalities of the foot, i.e., hallux rigidus, can lead to osteoarthritis in the big toe joint.  This type of foot problem can be inherited or develop due to overuse of the joint.  People engaged in jobs or activities that increase the stress on the big toe where they often stoop or squat, are prime candidates for hallux rigidus.  Inflammatory diseases such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis may also cause it, as well as fallen arches or excessive pronation or rolling in of the ankles.

Footwear
Women are very susceptible to this type of back pain.  High heels and pointed-toe shoes are a major cause of injury to women’s feet and ankles.  That’s why the majority of foot and ankle patients are women.  High heels can cause ligaments in the foot and ankle to be torn or stretched, causing sprains and chronic ankle issues.  High heels also thrust the foot forward or crowd the toes in the shoe, impacting the foot.  Painful bunions, hammertoes, and corns can develop or worsen as a result.

High heels also force women to stand and walk unnaturally, affecting the alignment of the ankles, knees, hips and lower back.   When you injure your foot or your big toe joint hurts, you change your gait to minimize the pain.   Changing your gait or the way you walk can also affect or change the way the bones of all the other leg joints move.  The ankle, the knee, the hip and the lower back are affected.  When ligaments, cartilage and tendons in these joints are stressed, they can wear down and arthritis can set in.

Ill-fitting athletic shoes that don’t support the arch of the foot and provide the proper cushioning can lead to foot and ankle problems.  Plantar fasciitis is a condition that develops when the arch support and heel cushioning are inadequate.  Painful blisters on the feet can also develop and become infected, causing more serious issues.

Wear and Tear
Sports-related injuries to the legs, ankles and feet may also lead to back pain.  Jogging or sports that involve a lot of running like tennis, football, baseball, and basketball put a lot of wear and tear on the feet, ankles, legs, and hips.  Playing through pain is never a wise thing to do.  These injuries, left untreated, may lead to back pain and other debilitating conditions.

The development of back pain as a result of a foot or ankle injury is no laughing matter.  Contact a foot specialist or orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible to seek a proper diagnosis and prompt treatment.  In order to minimize risk, wear proper fitting footwear appropriate for the activity or exercise.

When your feet or ankles are painful, don’t ignore them!  Contact a foot specialist or orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.  Your back will thank you for it..

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