Summer Swimming

by Sherry Steinman

Do you enjoy swimming? When was the last time you participated? I mean really swam – not walking in water. The water-walking women who wear makeup and perfect hair at the Heath Water Park (a.k.a. Heath Pool) and walk in the water during the ‘adult swim’ breaks are not swimming! They are attending a swimming pool and walking. While water-walking is good exercise, it’s just not as good as swimming.

What I mean by swimming is the ‘dive-in and get your hair wet, all-over no-impact body workout’ that is to be fully enjoyed during the warm days of summer at an outdoor pool. Licking County is blessed to have several nice pools, and even a lake! People of all ages, it’s time to take part in the enjoyment.

Dad, Miss Biddle, and the Butterfly

Many senior citizens enjoy the great workout that swimming offers. When my Dad was 71 years old he came to visit us from Chicago one summer and was delighted to learn about Lake Hudson in Granville. While not as grand as Lake Michigan, Lake Hudson is a very nice natural outdoor recreational area with a body of water.  Dad dove right in and got his hair wet.  He still knew how to swim – and still had hair!  I warmly remember him exiting the water at Lake Hudson, dripping wet and smiling.  He shook himself off like a golden retriever – drops of water flying everywhere.

Most people who enjoy swimming remember how they first learned the sport. I recall learning mostly on my own and was not very good at it until my freshman year at Riverside-Brookfield High School, outside Chicago. My P.E. instructor, Miss Biddle, showed us several strokes beyond the usual crawl.  Turned out that I could do the sidestroke very well!  She even said I looked graceful – and that was hard to do since we had those awful shapeless old cloth Speedos to wear and I was none too slim at the time.  I enjoyed picking up the new strokes, along with some confidence.  But, as for the butterfly stroke, I was definitely a moth!

Mobilize and Energize

Swimming is especially good exercise for people who have certain mobility challenges. Water is kind to the skeleton, and the natural buoyancy offers respite from the stress of gravity.  Watch individuals who have arthritis when they get into the water.  Initially tentative, they are soon gliding along like children, smiling and splashing.  For them, water walking is a great start to enjoying freer movement and broader range of motion than otherwise possible.

So, whether or not you care to join the water-walking women at the Heath Water Park, or the splashing kids at the YMCA outdoor pool, or take a dip in Lake Hudson, do get out and get swimming this summer! If I’m there, I’ll be the one with the wet, flat hair, still trying to learn the butterfly.  I’ll definitely NOT be wearing a Speedo!

Watch individuals who have arthritis when they get into the water.  Initially tentative, they are soon gliding along like children, smiling and splashing.

Heed Before You Weed!

FitNotes

By Sherry Steinman

In the world of Health and Fitness, referring to gardening as good exercise may seem to be a stretch – and it is. And you should!  Stretch, that is, before you garden.  And afterward.

Groundwork

What we’re talking about here is laying the groundwork to prepare your body for the gardening season so you don’t totally stiffen-up after a long stint of crouching and digging. A little stiffness will be natural, but we’re striving for less discomfort.

Remember last season? You went outside to pull a few weeds and maybe loosen up some dirt after spring breezes whispered it was time … and the next day you felt like one of those gnarled roots you ran across and flung in the trash.  Let’s avoid that this year.

First, you will garden approximately four times longer than you intended to. It’s a given — especially if the season is young and the novelty is still there.  So, don’t think that warming up and stretching your muscles is foolish for a “15-minute gardening project.”  There is no such thing.

You know you will be out there at least an hour!

Stretching your arms and legs, as well as loosening up the waistline area and lower back region takes only a few minutes. It should be done slowly.  Long, slow stretches – no bouncing.  Hold the furthest comfortable stretch in each direction, and repeat the moves at least twice through.  For the neck and shoulders, rotate gently – shoulders 360-degrees each way, and neck 180-degrees front only, no neck-to spine.

Proper Rotation and Planning

As you rotate those petunias and impatiens, also rotate your body position. Not too long in one spot, on one knee, or using only one wrist.  Wear a watch that you can peek at under those gardening gloves (yes, wear those, too!) or you may not realize how long you’ve been bent over the same way until it’s too late.  Try not to sit, kneel, or lean in the same way for more than fifteen minutes at a time.

Next, be realistic. You will need at least twice as many tools and other gardening ‘stuff’ than you think you will.

“I’ll just bring this shovel and a basket for the pullings,” I remember saying to myself last spring. Ha! Don’t try to make this work for you.  A shovel is not designed to do everything — and yesterday’s newspaper is not a good knee cushion.

Get a heavy foam pad and the rest of the tools you’ll need, and put everything within easy reach. Maybe in a handy basket, or wheelbarrow to move along with you.  Before you’re done there will be several tools and baskets filled with pullings strewn all about.  But so what?  You planned it that way.

Water and Loving Care

The watering here is for you.  Especially if it’s hot out, be sure to have a bottle of cool water near your gardening area.  Drink it!  If it’s not hot outside and you’re in the shade, you still might find the water handy to sip on and to rinse something clean, or liven up a planting.

Now that you’re about done with your hour of gardening (OK, you can see it’s been at least two hours) aren’t you glad you stretched? Do it again. After you are done, and after all those tools are cleaned and put away, be sure you do the same stretches again at least once through, including the neck and shoulder rotations.

Also, wind your wrists in a ‘figure eight’ pattern a few times and wiggle and flex your fingers. You will be glad for this the next morning.  Also, a little loving care with some good hand and body lotion following a nice bath or shower should work wonders.  Soon you’ll be back out there again, leaving  your neighbors to wonder, “How can he/she do all that gardening and not complain about aches and pains?”

Don’t tell. Just say something cryptic like, “Heed before you weed.”

They’ll probably leave you alone after that!

Springing Forward

FitNotes

By Sherry Steinman

Now that we have sprung forward with our clocks, it’s time to spring forward with our bodies and minds for our own healthier ‘personal spring.’ We know that one of the ways we can all enjoy healthier lifestyles is to find ways to reduce stress.

But, have you heard that sometimes the best way to do so, and put things in perspective, is to forget yourself a little and remember someone else.

This concept has some great momentum going for it, and there are many more examples than the ones provided below, but here are …

25 ways to de-stress someone else:

  1. Lend an
  2. Hold a hand
  3. Give a hug
  4. Warm a heart
  5. Pat a back
  6. Dry an eye
  7. Ease a pain
  8. Forgive a wrong
  9. Pay a debt
  10. Tell a joke
  11. See only the good
  12. Smile
  13. Give a gift
  14. Return a book
  15. Phone a friend
  16. Write a letter
  17. Welcome a stranger
  18. Mend a quarrel
  19. Boost a cause
  20. Pay a compliment
  21. Remember a birthday
  22. Say, “I love you”

I’ll bet you can think of three more! Spring forward with a positive outlook, and see if it can become contagious.

Body Image & Self Esteem

FitNotes

By Sherry Steinman

There is nothing like the confidence and sense of well-being that follows a vigorous workout or fast-paced walk. By exercising regularly we not only shed pounds and develop muscles, but our bodies become more fun to live in again – more responsive, more flexible, stronger.

Psychological benefits are clear, as well. How one feels physically is certainly a big part of one’s self-esteem and self-image. It is generally said that, “When you think you look good, you feel good.” However, it is also true that just because a person is in shape doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t feel obsessed with looking better.  It’s easy to be continually dissatisfied with appearance because it is one of the major ways we’re judged by others.

Self-esteem and body image are linked, but one should not be exclusively dependent upon the other.

Obsession’s Toll

Women especially link body image to self-esteem, and are more likely to take up fad diets or short-term diets of all kinds as a remedy to their perceived weight problem. Putting it bluntly, fad diets are destructive and they don’t work. They stress your body for a short time, during which your body tries mightily to hold on to what you are trying to take away. In the process, these diets almost always:

  • Eliminate some fat but also consume a measure of muscle;
  • Lower metabolism;
  • Offer inadequate nutrients in imbalanced combinations;
  • Tax the entire body, making some dieters subject to dire consequences such as heart problems;
  • Ensure that the dieter gains fat more quickly once the diet has ended.

Paying the Toll

Becoming obsessed about your weight is also detrimental to your psychological health because you:

  • Internalize the standards of what others think is attractive;
  • Emphasize how you look over how you feel;
  • Are kept in a vicious cycle of weight loss followed by unavoidable weight gain once you are off the diet;
  • Perpetuate negative emotions like disgust, frustration, or even anger.

The Long-Term Approach

So, what’s the answer to maintaining a healthy body image and self-esteem? Are you meant to go through life feeling that you are a hopelessly out-of-shape, underachieving slob? Absolutely not! Starting today, take an objective assessment of yourself from the inside out. Then, do the same with that exterior view. Now, build on the positives and don’t let yourself be sidetracked.Ladies, from the inside – are you musically talented and thoughtful? Do you have great legs but a thick waist? Are you beautiful but overweight? Do you have a great sense of humor? Accentuate your positives, and work on the weight gradually.

Men, are you creative and computer-savvy but soft in the upper body due to a desk job? Concentrate on your creativity and then start picking up some free weights. Use them! Are you balding but beautiful? Your perception of how much hair you have is probably much harsher than the reality! In fact, your window on reality is a reflection of how you see yourself.There’s nothing like the confidence and sense of well-being that follows the long-term approach to fitness. Commit to it and it will become a healthy habit.

Starting today, take an objective assessment of yourself from the inside out. Then, do the same with that exterior view. Now, build on the positives and don’t let yourself be sidetracked.

Dissolved Resolve?

FitNotes

by Sherry Steinman

So, you’re about six weeks into your 2017 fitness plan. It’s time to assess how you’re doing … or maybe, IF you’re doing!

Are you getting some kind of regular exercise for at least 30 minutes three times each week? If not, remember that even 15 minutes of activity at two different times on the same day is almost as good as 30 consecutive minutes.  That could be 15 minutes of brisk walking in the morning and in the evening, or 15 minutes on a bike (stationary or touring) morning and evening – or whatever works for you.

Bad Company

That’s the key. If it doesn’t really work for you by now, you probably will not stick with it much longer.  Soon you’ll be in bad company with other New Year’s resolvers who are left with the dilemma of ‘dissolved resolve.’ You don’t want to be in bad company, do you?

To turn this around, take a look at what’s not working. Maybe you don’t enjoy exercising alone, or you want a moderate aerobic workout but don’t like the idea of exercising with a DVD in your living room. (The Licking County Library system has lots of good ones, though!) Joining a class at a fitness club or YMCA can seem daunting.  Will everyone in class be 20 years old wearing little thong leotards and thinking you’re too old to be there?

Generally, no. First of all you’ll find a lot of great workout wear that doesn’t reveal much under big loose tops and stretchy pants. Secondly, younger people usually think highly of older ones who are doing something to keep physically fit, and they can be quite welcoming. Third, there are several classes targeted especially to older enthusiasts, some of which are available at your local library.

Here is something else to consider. As part of your fitness plan, you might consider giving yourself a mental boost by getting rid of old clothes that never make you feel good when you wear them.  Keep only things that fit well NOW (not someday) and that you know make you look as good as you can NOW.  Tight or ill-fitting clothes are bad company too.

Good Shoes

By all means, if you are doing any kind of fitness activity that requires using your feet, wear shoes that fit well and still have good support and shape to them. This is easy to ignore!  Here I am, an aerobics instructor for decades, and one day I was wondering why my feet hurt for two days in a row and I hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary.

I took a good look at my aerobics shoes and realized that they were about as worn down and mis-shapen as the ones I had relegated to the role of ‘yardwork shoes’ a year or so ago.  These were now to be their successors.  I just hadn’t paid any attention to them for a while (like more than six months!)

Be sure to lace up your shoes properly, keeping the laces pulled firmly from the toes to the bow, and be sure to wear good, thick socks too, Or, two thin pairs will do.  The idea is to keep your foot firmly in place within the shoe, and keep the moisture away from your skin.  Good shoes, good socks.  Your feet will feel nice and springy even if you are just casually walking.

For today, remember: Don’t get into bad company … wear good shoes, especially when you are more active. Energized? How about getting up now and doing something?!

In a Slump?

by Sherry Steinman

It’s quite likely that many of you at this moment are in a slump. I’m referring to the posture kind of slump – we’ll have to deal with any social or financial slumps in another column!

Since slumping is unhealthy, unattractive, and nearly unavoidable at least once in a while, here’s a little information to help set you on the straight and tall path.

Think Tall

Whether you’re on your feet working all day or facing a computer monitor several hours per day, standing and sitting with upright yet relaxed posture is a choice you make – or fail to make – every minute of your life. Body Alert! Right now, as I am typing this, I inadvertently have slumped back down from my original square-shouldered position just minutes a go! It’s so easy to do.

Whether consciously controlled or not, your sitting position creates its own momentum. If gravity gets a grip on your tilted head or drooping shoulders, your whole body starts to feel like a slow wave moving downhill. A little innocent slouching gradually becomes slumping, and the unhealthy posture takes over your body.

How you sit and stand has major consequences for the health of your spine and back. It makes scientific sense when you realize that slouching or hunching over in your chair creates ten to fifteen times as much pressure on your lower back than as does sitting up straight!  Why?  Because the architecture for your back was designed with optimal posture alignment in mind.  The engineering goes woefully out of whack when it’s not in correct alignment from the top down.

In addition, when you’re slumped in your seat, your breathing is restricted and your circulation is impeded. Not to mention what happens to your digestion and related elimination processes!  It’s all rather disturbing, so you may as well concentrate on sitting and standing tall until it becomes your habit.

Five Second Head Lift

Great posture begins with your head and neck position, which strongly affects the placement of our shoulders, chest, neck, and back. Body Alert! I just noticed my shoulders have rounded and I have almost started slumping again!

OK — back to the spine. At the crest of your spine is a small muscle called the rectus capitus anterior. It flexes and rotates your head and is an often-overlooked key to maintaining good neck positioning and, therefore, good overall posture – since everything’s connected.

One of the simplest ways to tone this muscle is with a gentle ‘head nod’ exercise. Start in a comfortable sitting or standing position and place your hands on the base of your skull just behind and above your earlobes. Let your neck lengthen, gently extending upward, as if it’s being lifted by an imaginary cord attached to the top of your head. With your neck in this slightly-elevated position, nod your head as if in agreement and bring your forehead a little forward with your chin slightly tucked in. Repeat this nodding motion a few times each day to strengthen this area.

TIP: Use a pillow behind your lower back in your chair or car. See if it helps to support your improved posture all the way up your back.

Now you’re on your way to a stronger back and better posture. The rest of your body will thank you!

Sleep: Part of the Fitness Equation

Is it possible to sleep your way to fitness?

No.

Now, that was a short article, wasn’t it?

Of course sleep is an important part of the overall fitness equation, and it works right in there with exercise; eating healthfully; and, drinking plenty of water. Not to mention the usual reminders about not smoking; not doing drugs; and, not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

So, how does sleep fit in? Like a comfy pillow! Sleep works to refresh your body and mind, and keep the two in balance.

Open 24 Hours?

In our fast-paced society, we often feel we are missing something if we don’t stay up that extra hour to watch a TV program, finish a book, fold the laundry, and so on. It is tempting to cheat on sleep occasionally, but to make it a habit eventually wreaks havoc on your brain and body.

Your body is not a carry-out shop! Make sure it is not open 24 hours a day.

Sleep is a necessary part of the natural rhythm of life. Through sleep, the body and brain recharge, and in fact, your brain does a little housecleaning – shoring up connections, and retreating from the demands of waking life. Although some people may be able to fudge along on less sleep than average, they still need their personal quota – at least seven hours is recommended for a fairly active adult.

A person’s individual pattern of sleep may be disrupted temporarily for a variety of reasons. Stress, illness, and a change in work schedule are three common reasons. Such disruptions can cause a short-term or long-term sleep disorder that throws your body and brain out of synch.

Sleep Disorders

Almost everyone can have a sleep disorder at one time or another. This can range from common snoring to more significant disorders. It has been said that the effects of chronic sleepiness on life quality are as great as conditions such as arthritis and seizures!

One expert on sleep disorders states that we are, “Awash in a sea of ignorance about the importance of sleep.” It has been shown that sleep loss impacts every facet of today’s workplace – from attendance, to productivity, to quality. And since we have learned that lack of sleep leads to cognitive short-circuiting and poor judgement, it is clear that a sleep-deprived employee is unfit for a day of work.

Common sleep disorders include sleep apnea (extended breathing during sleep), insomnia (difficulty falling asleep even when tired) and narcolepsy (opposite of insomnia, it is the inability to stay awake). Those who are unable to follow a regular sleep schedule are most affected by these conditions.

Restless Legs and Mental Health

Other sleep-robbing possibilities include teeth-grinding , sleep-walking, and jet lag. They all take their toll on healthy sleep patterns, as does one of the most descriptively-named sleep disorders, “restless legs syndrome.”

It seems that when one has this problem, the person has trouble sleeping well because they constantly feel the need to move their legs. It is largely involuntary for many. As a result, their sleep quality is poor, and sufferers feel tired during waking hours. (This would also be a problem for anyone sleeping in the same bed!)

Lack of sleep affects people in many ways, ranging from mild irritability to clinical depression. In fact, mental health and sleep are closely related.  Professional treatment for sleep disorders is increasingly available, and there is a growing body of knowledge on the subject.  The need for treatment must first be recognized, and then a host of life variables can be investigated.

The library has many books and other resources on the subject of sleep!

Tips and Tricks

Just how much sleep is necessary for good health? Some people can get by nicely with five or six hours nightly, while others need ten. The average requirement is seven to eight hours, according to the experts.

Some say that if you need an alarm clock to wake you, you’re not finished sleeping. It’s just as if you were pulled away from the table before you were finished eating.  Very unsatisfying!

As our knowledge of sleep increases, and treatment for disorders improves, today’s unsatisfied sleepers will have a better promise of sweet dreams. A few reminders to improve your chances of enjoying quality sleep follow:

  • Get up at the same time every day;
  • Go to bed only when sleepy;
  • Exercise regularly;
  • Maintain a regular schedule;
  • Avoid caffeine within four hours of bedtime;
  • Create a restful sleep area (no TV in the area is a good start);
  • Think of something pleasant (do not try to solve all your problems when your eyes close!)

Sweet dreams.

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It’s Only Fitting

It’s only fitting when it’s not tight. That’s right. If you were less active this past year than planned, you may find that – seemingly overnight – your pants are tight and your shirts don’t button right.  Don’t sigh and surrender – put up a fight!

As a new year begins, think back to how last year’s fitness plans may have gone awry, and what new things you can try.  Did you vow to swim laps several times a week at the YMCA pool, but ended up only paddling around a few times a month? Did you buy a new bike rack and gear, and then drive right by the bike trails on the way to the ice cream stand? And about that walking plan … how long did that last? Let’s take steps now to see that it happens in 2017.

Glide and Button

It’s only fitting to re-evaluate today what you can do to glide back into those pants and easily button up those shirts again, come spring. Last year may have been a little too long on Chocolate Surprise and a little short on exercise.  If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone.  Take action!  Call a similarly well-meaning friend, and get started on a new plan of action together.

Winter classes at local fitness centers all over Licking County are gearing up now for winter sessions, and featuring New Year packages – just to lure you into fitness. Be lured!  Call and ask for a tour, and see which place fits your fitness objectives.  Then, spend some money on yourself and pledge to make it a worthwhile investment.

If you’re not into the fitness center concept, check out a small class at a church or school. Some of these are good, but be sure to ask if the instructor has fitness training certification, and if not – keep looking!  Untrained instructors may, unknowingly, do more harm than good.  The key is to find something or someone to help motivate you to get your choice of exercise regularly.

How Often? What Kind?

Regularly is at least three times per week, and it doesn’t have to be all the same thing. In fact, it’s good to mix it up a bit. Two long walks and one basic strength workout at home or in an organized class setting will do for starters. There are also many gadgets and programs that can track your steps and your calorie burn/ exertion rate – some of which are available on SmartPhone apps.

Consider ‘interval training’ as an option. It might sound kind of intimidating, but the concept really isn’t.  Interval training simply means that you vary the levels of activity and intensity within a workout to accommodate aerobic and strength activities, working harder off and on.

As always, before beginning any new activity, check with your health care professional and be sure you have a physical check-up if you are older than 50 years old and haven’t had one for more than two years. In addition, there are many good fitness resources including books and DVDs to be found at the local public library. After all, it’s only fitting to do this right if you’re going to do it at all!

You are going to do it, now aren’t you?”

-Sherry Steinman

 

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100 Wellness Achievement Points Earned!

Congratulations to the following for earning 100 wellness achievement points within the past month by participating in the wellness program!!!

Linda Wilkins

Rhonda Adams

Doug Stout

To see points, go to the “My Points” tab, enter the password “wellness” and click on the document, “wellness- points”

Once you earn 100 points, you can keep accumulating them for prizes in higher categories or use in the 100 points category.

 

Americans Are Urged to Cut Sugar Intake

Experts recommend far fewer teaspoons a day than average person now consumes

Most American women should not consume more than 100 calories of added sugar a day, while men should limit their intake to no more than 150 calories, according to a new recommendation from the American Heart Association.

‘Added sugar’ refers to sugars added to foods during processing, during cooking or when a food is consumed.

The recommendation works out to about six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and about nine teaspoons for men. In the United States, people take in more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar (355 calories) on average, each day, according to the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Excess intake of added sugars has been linked to numerous health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The Heart Association said that soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the major source of added sugar in Americans’ diets. Its new recommendations are in a scientific statement issued Aug. 24.

One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about eight teaspoons of sugar and 130 calories, noted the statement’s lead author, Rachel K. Johnson, associate provost and a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

‘Sugar has no nutritional value other than to provide calories,’ Johnson said in a news release from the Heart Association. ‘Consuming foods and beverages with excessive amounts of added sugars displaces more nutritious foods and beverages for many people.’

The statement, published in the Aug. 24 issue of Circulation, also recommends that added sugars should account for no more than half of a person’s daily discretionary calorie allowance.

People should eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry and fish, the association says.

 

 

 

© UnitedHealthcare