Category Archives: Uncategorized

Keep It Up — Keep It Interesting

By Sherry Steinman

Many people who would otherwise benefit from regular exercise are turned off by it and/or quit because they find it dull. Two ways to work around this are to find your niche in terms of repeating an activity you enjoy, and, vary something about your routine often enough to keep it interesting and fun.

Whether your interests lie in walking, running, dancing, aerobics, bicycling, tennis (or pickle-ball – have you tried it?) weight training, or team sports, the trick to keeping it up is to keep it from getting boring.

How to do that? The options are as many as there are individuals, but here are a few to consider:

  • If you are doing a workout activity that has become very boring for you and you are doing it only because you know it is good for you, it’s time for a change. Do not continue to make it a grind! Change something – the place, the time of day, the music you use, or maybe you’re ready for an entirely different activity.For instance, more than thirty years ago when I began teaching aerobics, our classes didn’t use any music. Believe it or not, that was not unusual at the time! Over the years, music has become one of the most motivating and fun parts of the workout, and adds an extra fun dimension to exercise. Plus, it keeps your mind off how hard you are working.
  • If you enjoy walking, but are ready for something a little more challenging, you may be ready to add free weights (small hand-held barbells or wrist weights) to your walk. Simply adding 1-lb. weights to your routine will increase the work your heart is doing – the cardio effect. Or, you might change your walking pattern from mall-walking in the morning to talking a more uphill or hilly walk on the bike paths. Changes can be done every other workout at the outset to see how you like them.
  • If you are disciplined enough to do strength and cardio-vascular exercise on machines at home there may come a time where you are feeling stale about your workout plan. Short of buying different equipment – or, heaven forbid, quitting! – change the environment. If it’s in the basement and you have done nothing to your basement in years, maybe paint the room a cheerful color … add a plant or two … and some kind of music accompaniment whether or not it’s through earbuds or wall speakers. It should be rousing music that you like. And, beware! You may get into a rut with your fitness activity without even knowing it. One day it will sneak up on you, and you will decide to go eat a big stack of pancakes for breakfast and read the newspaper for your morning activity instead. Or you may drive past the YMCA after work and go to the Dairy Isle across the street instead! STOP! Don’t throw all your hard work away just because you’re momentarily bored. Mix in something new and keep it up! Preferably forever.                           –October 2017

If you are doing a workout activity that has become very boring for you and you are doing it only because you know it is good for you, it’s time for a change.

Do not continue to make it a grind!

Biking to Your Liking?

By Sherry Steinman

Biking always has been to my liking.  An excellent no-impact workout for the body, biking on a touring bike — not a stationary, indoor assembly — also promises untold adventure while you shape up your lower body and strengthen your cardio-vascular system.

The Basics

Your bike does not have to be fancy to do the job. Any model that is the right size for you and is in good working order will do.  A comfortable seat is a plus.  Even if you feel you have additional ‘rear padding’ of your own, think about getting a gel seat for a more comfortable ride. They’re available as wrap-overs, as well as replacement seats.

Don’t like those forward-bent racing bars? (Neither do I!) Have upright touring bars put on your bike, or adjust your current bars downward a bit.  You might feel more balanced.  And as for gears, at least a three-speed model would be nice, or a ten-speed if you’re serious.

Where to go is up to you.  In Licking County, we have wonderful bike trails which offer variety and safety.  So, if you do not live in a neighborhood that has paved roads or walks, treat yourself to a decent bike rack for your vehicle to carry your bike to the desired destination.

Warning:  I bought a cheap bike rack at first, and rode all the way to the trails with one eye glued to the rear view mirror, watching the bikes wobbling precariously.  Never wanting to do that again, I invested in a sturdy bike rack.  It was money well-spent.

Freedom

If you are like me, part of what’s great about riding a bike is the returning wonderful feeling of freedom which was yours when you rode as a youngster.  I didn’t care that I was getting exercise … an aerobic workout … or saving gas while running light errands.  No, just turning the corner past Mom and Dad’s view it was – wow! – freedom.

Out of their sight I could at least contemplate doing something a little clandestine.  Back then I occasionally hit the Dairy Queen while on my bike.  It was no secret for long, as I continued to grow larger even though, as Mom mused, “Sherry rides her bike all the time.  I don’t know why she’s not trimming down.”

Hot fudge sundaes are not known to be trimming.

But, let’s return to biking while enjoying our adult years. If it’s been a while since you’ve ridden a bike, be sure you gradually increase the length of time or number of miles you ride your bike.

After one six-mile ride a few years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m in pretty good shape.” So, the next day, my son and I hit the bike trail and decided to go all the way to Johnstown from the Newark-Cherry Valley Road start-up (14.2 miles each way).  We were absolutely dragging when we got to Johnstown and it was a long way back.  Fortunately, that trail has a slight downward slope on the return trip.

More Tips for Trips

Another thing to remember is to take a water bottle with you, and use it. Your body’s metabolism is designed to work in a water-based environment, not a dry one. Similarly, take along a light, nutritious snack.  A small zip-lock bag filled with dried fruit and some nuts will do.  Aptly named, ‘trail mix’, it’s a good bet.

In any event, do not stop at the Dairy Queen!

Do wear a helmet, because your no-impact bike ride could easily become impact-interrupted.  Case in point: In the 1960’s, when we didn’t wear any protective gear to go biking, I returned one day from a fine ‘freedom’ ride through my neighborhood — the highlight of which was passing by the home of a boy I was interested in at the time.  As I returned home, walking my bike into our driveway, I announced to my Mom that I had broken something.  My forearm looked like a bridge.

Heading to the hospital in our old Buick Riviera, with a Life Magazine wrapped around my broken arm for support, I told my Mom that the last thing I remembered was that I waved to Dave and then fell. (Dave laughed and went into the house).

Protective gear followed some time after that … probably developed by another concerned parent.  So, if you plan on doing a lot of waving on your bike rides, better strap on a few pads! The main thing is to get out there – and enjoy a little adventure of your own along the way.

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.

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

Can Exercise Keep You Mentally Sharp?

As you get older, are you having more and more ”senior moments?” Although forgetfulness seems to come hand-in-hand with aging, could it be that that something as simple as exercise could help enhance your memory?

Exercise may be the best wonder drug of them all – maintaining not just your body, but your mind as well.

Scientists are finding that exercise actually may help prevent mental decline as we age. Regular exercise may enhance memory, planning and organization skills, as well as the ability to juggle mental tasks.

Researchers believe regular exercise – for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week – can help keep your brain sharp. Exercise improves how well the body can pump blood to the brain, helping it perform better. Scientists speculate that activity stimulates the growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in memory.

Another positive effect deals with lowering blood pressure. This is important to most adults, particularly as they age. In fact, most elderly people do have high blood pressure. Those with uncontrolled high blood pressure are more likely to have trouble thinking, remembering and learning.

Activity can also help with depression, a common problem among the elderly. Depression can affect memory and concentration. Exercise helps relieve feelings of depression by increasing blood flow and improving how the brain handles the chemicals that are responsible for mood.

You can’t beat exercise. Not only can it help your brain, it can also keep your muscles and joints strong – all important for helping prevent falls, dealing with arthritis, strengthening your heart, improving your energy levels, and warding off health problems such as diabetes and certain cancers. Even if you have lived a sedentary life up until now, you can still limber up to help keep your brain – and your body – in shape.

First, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise. Together, you can choose a routine that is safe for you.

  • Get at least 30 minutes of activity – most or all days of the week – that makes you breathe harder. You can break up those 30 minutes throughout your day by taking a 10- or 15-minute walk in the morning, another at lunch and a third in the evening. To tell if you aren’t working hard enough, give yourself the “talk test.” If you can talk without any effort, you aren’t working out hard enough. If you can’t talk at all, you are pushing too hard.
  • Don’t neglect your muscles. If you don’t use them, you’ll lose them. Strong muscles help you with numerous everyday tasks such as grocery-carrying and having the ability to get out of your chair on your own.
  • Work on your balance. Stand on one foot, then the other. If you’re able, try not to hold onto anything for support. Stand up from sitting in a chair without using your hands or arms. Every now and then, walk heel-to-toe.
  • Be sure to stretch as part of a well rounded routine of strength and conditioning exercises. This can help prevent back pain and helps you remain limber. Never stretch so far that it hurts.

 

 

 

© UnitedHealthcare

Eating Well On the Road

Map out a healthy-food plan before leaving on vacation, nutritionist advises

Don’t let the road to a summer vacation put you on a crash course with an unhealthy, fast-food diet.

‘Nowadays, you can eat a healthy, balanced, calorie-appropriate meal no matter where you travel,’ Duke University’s Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director of the North Carolina school’s diet and fitness center, said in a news release.

To eat better on the road, Politi suggests:

  • Take healthy snacks with you. Stock a cooler with cheese, pre-cut vegetables, yogurt and other good foods to munch on while in transit. Pack a bag with individual portions of low-fat popcorn, trail mix, energy bars, nuts or dried fruit.
  • Drink more water. Avoid the sugar of soda and other soft drinks that add empty calories. Don’t think that diet sodas and artificial sweeteners are any better because some studies find they may actually increase appetite. If you crave a sweet drink, try a little low-fat chocolate milk.
  • Pick healthy menu items. Opt for lighter fare like salads, grilled sandwiches and wraps when possible, an option easier to do now that many restaurants either post or can provide their food’s nutritional information. If you must indulge, choose small portions or share larger ones to help limit intake.
  • Eat a good breakfast. Always start a travel day with a healthy meal to help balance out what may come later. If your overnight hotel room has a refrigerator, load it the night before with cereal, low-fat milk, yogurt and fruit so you can start the day right.

 

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about choosing healthy fast foods.

Preventing Heat-related Illness: When the Heat is Too Hot to Handle

Kids and the elderly are at highest risk for heat related illnesses.

How hot is it? It’s so hot that your antiperspirant is on strike. Your clothes stick to you. The air conditioner and water cooler are your best friends.

With hot summer weather, you probably feel lethargic and sweaty, but still cope. Yet, when a heat wave hits, it’s harder to cool off.

Overheating is a serious danger, and soaring temperatures take their toll.

Who’s at risk?
Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness. Young and old are at the greatest risk. This includes infants and children up to 4 years of age and people 65 years of age and older. Also at risk are those who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications.

The bottom line is this: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures or problems with your your body’s cooling system raises your risk for a heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

How our natural cooling system works
Normally, heat escapes through the skin as sweat is evaporated (perspiration). This helps cool the skin, and more importantly, the body core. But in humid weather, sweating doesn’t work as well. The air around you is already warm and heavy with humidity. It can’t absorb extra heat and sweat from your body. So your body warms up. When your body can’t compensate for the heat, you may suffer a heat-related illness.

Tips to stay cool in extreme heat

  • Take it easy. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Stay indoors. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of direct sunlight. Try to go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours. Open windows at night.
  • Dress light and loose. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect the sun’s energy. Natural fibers like cotton may help you feel more comfortable.
  • Hydrate. Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine and sugar. Make sure your pets get plenty of fresh water as well.
  • Eat light but often. Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
  • Check the heat index chart. Knowing the temperature alone is not enough. The heat index gives you the temperature of what it “feels like” by taking into account both temperature and humidity.
  • Ease into it. If you are not accustomed to warm weather, let your body acclimatize to the new environment over several days.
  • Take a cool bath or shower. This will help cool your body.

 

 

© UnitedHealthcare