Category Archives: General Fitness

Keeping Cool

By Sherry Steinman

Break out the blender and clean out the cooler! It’s summertime. There are many things we can do to keep cool and avoid heat-related stress when temperatures and humidity are high.  We’ve probably all known people who have overdone the yard work, or overextended their walk on a hot day, and passed out or gotten sick.  People experience heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. As library employees, it’s a good idea to watch for certain signs that patrons may be exhibiting upon entering the library. Here are some ideas to keep one’s personal thermostat adjusted.

Cool and Cooler

Get in the habit of keeping a small cooler handy in the car, filled with ice and bottled water or packages of real fruit juice — water is best. Have it in the car with you when you head out to run errands, or spend any time at all on the road. It’s a fact that we (especially women) usually do a lot more running around than we originally planned once we get out and about to do errands!  Grocery shopping, a trip to the mall, dropping off books at the Library — and pretty soon you’ve gotten out of the car and into the heat six times in an hour!  How’s your body thermostat supposed to keep you comfortable with all that going on?  Plan your trips and pace yourself.

Bonus: By keeping the small cooler in the car you’ll save yourself money by not having to pull into a drive-thru for a cold drink.

If you get in the habit of keeping that little cooler handy, refill it with some fresh ice or an ice pack each day. Again, try to stay with the water and maybe some juice, not pop. The carbonation, sugars, and chemicals in soda pop don’t do your body any good in the heat. And, golfers beware! That golf cart cooler should hold something other than beer.  Regardless of the activity level, hot weather calls for increased water intake.

Young and Older

Both young children and older adults are more likely to suffer heat exhaustion, so if you’re a grandparent in charge of young children on a hot day, remember to pace yourself while you keep an eye on them. Offer frequent breaks if they’re playing outside. Break out that handy cooler, and offer fruit or a light snack along with the drinks. Bringing the kids inside for break-time is a good idea, too.  Kids love to press blender buttons, so supervise them as they spin chipped ice and fruit into a smoothie. They’ll love it!

More ideas for keeping cool, regardless of age, include wearing layers of light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and a brimmed hat or sun visor. Again, keep this stuff in the car so you have it when you’re on the run.

Safe and Safer

So you can be of help to someone who may be experiencing heat exhaustion, here are several symptoms to watch for.  This includes library patrons who may come in the door on a hot day and not realize they are at risk:

  • Very pale or grayish skin color
  • Heavy sweating
  • General weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fainting

Move the person to a cool or shaded area, and provide cool water. Remove a layer of clothing if possible and — very important — loosen any constricting clothing like a tight elastic waistband or belt. Heat stroke is potentially life-threatening, and is characterized by a body temperature of 103 or above. Symptoms include red, hot, dry skin, no sweating, rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, general confusion, and nausea or unconsciousness. People experiencing heat stroke need immediate medical attention including cooling them off by any means possible. Getting back to those foolhardy golfers you know, start packing that cooler for them! Take out the beer and put in the water and juice.

Perhaps their body temperatures will be lower than their golf scores next time around!

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?!

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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