Monday, May 15, 2017

Walking Has Benefits

Achieving 10,000 steps per day is a standard goal of many in today’s society.  This goal has become part of most fitness tracking devices that you can set and try to achieve on a daily basis!  These fitness devices will motivate you and even give you achievement awards.  While this can be a great marketing ploy, daily walking has many benefits that you may not be aware of.  You don’t need to sign up for every 5K or run a marathon to get the health improvements that you are looking for.  A daily walk will do.

Walking is something most of us do every day.  Regardless of your level of physical activity, adding walking into your schedule has many significant short term and long-term health benefits.  Walking between 7500 and 10,000 steps per day is a key to fitness.  The following are some of the benefits of adding walking into your daily routine:

-        Helps to Lose/Manage Weight
-        Increases Life Span
-        Reduces Dementia and Boosts Your Memory
-        Improves Sleep
-        Reduces Stress
-        Decreases Hypertension/Reduces Risk of High Blood Pressure
-        Tones Muscles
-        Easy on the Joints
-        Strengthens Your Heart
-        Strengthens Your Bones
-        Reduces Depression and Improves Your Mood

As you can see, there are many benefits to a regular walking routine.  Ensure you make it an enjoyable part of your day that you look forward to.  Take a walk in a scenic area, beach, park, forest or anywhere that makes you happy.  Make it a habit and add it into your daily schedule when you don’t feel rushed.  Finding a friend to go can make it more entertaining unless you want the time to relax and think.  Using a fitness tracker or pedometer will help track your steps, distance and time.  Ensure you have good shoes that fit well and are comfortable.  Your legs and feet will thank you!  Don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.  Overall, walking will help improve the quality of your life!  Walk on!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Exercising With Arthritis

Exercise is important for everyone to include in their daily schedule, even those with arthritis.  Research shows that those with arthritis can take part in safe regular exercise.  People with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from moderate intensity, weight-bearing activity.  Those with osteoarthritis can benefit in programs that combine strengthening and aerobic exercise.  Exercising with arthritis will help to reduce symptoms, improve joint motion and function, enhance coordination and balance, and control body weight.  There are three types of exercise that makes up all exercise programs that can have positive effects on reducing arthritis-related pain and disability.  These include flexibility, strengthening, and aerobic exercises.

Flexibility exercises contribute to reduced risk of injuries, better posture and improved function.  Range of motion (ROM) and stretching exercises help to maintain or improve the flexibility in affected joints and surrounding muscles.  You can perform ROM exercises multiple times a day, every day.  There are benefits to performing the ROM in the morning and night.  If you perform ROM exercises at night, you will wake up with less joint stiffness.  If you perform ROM exercises in the morning, it will help thin the fluid and get the joints moving.  You can do these ROM exercises 3-5 days a week, 5-10 times a day for 15-30 seconds for each exercise.  Suggested programs are Yoga and Tai Chi. 

Strengthening exercises work the muscles much harder.  The more strength training you do, the stronger your muscles get, providing better joint support and reducing loading stress through the painful joint.  Muscle strength also helps reduce bone loss related to inactivity.  You can strength train 2-3 days a week at 8-10 repetitions for each exercise.  For older individuals, you can strength train 10-15 repetitions for each exercise with less resistance.  You want to ensure that the strength exercise challenges you without increasing your joint pain.  Suggested exercises include using hand held weights, elastic bands or weight machines.  Continue increasing the weight or resistance to continue improving.

Aerobic exercise improves your cardiorespiratory function by improving the heart, lung and muscle function.  Aerobic exercise also helps control weight, mood, sleep and overall health.  It is recommended to do aerobic exercise 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week over the course of a few days.  Those with more pain should exercise in several intervals in shorter sessions rather than long sessions.  Suggested exercises are walking, aerobic dancing, aquatic exercise, bicycling, stationary bikes, treadmills or elliptical trainer.  Daily activities can fall under aerobic exercise too; just increase the intensity level.

Like all other programs, consult your doctor to determine which program works best for you.  Find a time of day/week that works best in your schedule and make it a routine.  Go to a gym, a pool, take a class, do a DVD in the comfort of your own home or go outside.  It is important to listen to your body and be aware of any changes in your arthritis symptoms.  You may need to change up your routine based on how you feel.  Happy Exercising!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Transitioning from Treadmill Running to Outdoor Running

Now that spring is here, it is time to take your running outside!  It is important to make a slow transition from running inside on a treadmill to running outside on the pavement.  There are many things to consider and to prepare for that will help in preventing injury.

- Ease into it and your body will thank you.  
- Run shorter distances at first to prevent shin splints and to allow your body to adjust to the new conditions.  
- Going downhill can be rough on your quads and knees so taking a hill slow at first is recommended.  
- Try heading into the wind first to get the hard part out of the way.  You will burn more calories and increase your endurance while you are battling the wind, so there is a benefit!  
- Mapping your run can also help you steer clear of the hills and ensure you don’t overdo it.  
- Finding comfortable shoes is very important in preventing blistering.  
- You want your shoes to fit perfect; not too tight and not too loose.  
- Keep your feet as dry as possible by using wicking socks.  Or, you can sprinkle foot powder or spray antiperspirant on your bare feet to prevent blisters.  If you are prone to blisters, tape that part of your foot with sport tape. 
- Make sure you have some type of ID on you in the event of an accident.  
- Let someone know what time you are leaving and where you are going.  
- Make sure you are aware of your surroundings.  
- Always wear sunblock because the rays can come right through the clouds and you could be left with a painful burn. 
 - Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated but if you are working out for long periods of time, drink a sports drink to replenish your carbohydrates and electrolytes.  
- It is recommended to drink 16-32 ounces of water before you run outside and take plenty with you.  - If it is sunny, you can wear fabrics that are sunscreen treated that prevent the sun from getting through to your skin.  
- You can also wear sunglasses to help prevent the UV rays from causing eye problems.  
- Running in the heat can take a toll on your body, so try running during the coolest part of the day.   
- You can also get acclimated to the heat in a few weeks of running outside in hot temperatures if running at different times is not an option.  Just ensure you give your body enough time to adapt; you don’t want to overheat!

It is very important to take it slow when transitioning from indoor treadmill running to outdoor pavement running.   Following these recommendations will help in preventing injury.  It is time to get out and enjoy the fresh air!  Happy running!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Exercising With Children

While there are still many children who remain physically active, there are more and more children that rather surf the Internet or play video games than be involved in physical activity.  Ensuring children have enough physical activities throughout the day is very important to their growth and development.   Exercise benefits children’s physical health, motor skills and mental health in many ways:

* It will develop muscle strength that will assist in preventing injuries.
* It will improve their heart and lung capacities that will help them function more efficiently.  This will benefit in day-to-day activities and in controlling blood pressure. 
* It will assist in keeping their bones strong, which will aid in preventing osteoporosis later on in life. 
* It will decrease body fat and assist in maintaining a steady, healthy weight. 
* It will help children expend energy, which helps with weight control. 
* It can help reduce the risk for Type II Diabetes. 
*Their self-esteem appears to rise and they gain confidence, feeling comfortable in their own shoes. 
*It helps reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety due to the physical activity alternating the brains chemistry and increasing the levels of serotonin. 
*It increases concentration and alertness by releasing endorphins that act on the brain to improve mental focus and cognitive skills. 
*It helps boost their energy levels by stimulating their circulation and blood flow that deliver oxygen and nutrients to their tissues. 
*It controls mood swings and improves feelings of happiness! It 
is mental stimulation that gives children the sense that they have achieved something.

            In order to achieve results, it is suggested that children take part in some type of physical activity at least 60 minutes every day according to the American Heart Association.  Unlike adults, they do not need to follow a specific exercise program to achieve these results.  Running, jumping, climbing, playing on the playground, shooting hoops, kicking a soccer ball, riding bikes, etc. are all examples of activities that are sufficient to meet their needs.  Going to the pool is another great option that is fun for everyone and can be a great aerobic exercise.  They should take part in activities that interest them. Activities at a local YMCA or after school sports can be a fun option.  As a parent or leader, you can take part in their physical activity and be a role model.  Ask them what they like to do and get the entire family involved.  Let them pick the activity; this makes them feel special!  Make sure they have access to active toys like balls, jump ropes, bikes, etc.  Making the activity fun and playing as a family will trump the Internet and video games and the child will receive the exercise they need.

            Teaching children a healthy active lifestyle will benefit them well into the future.  It is important to be involved and ensure they have the resources available to be physically active.  Making it fun and not too much like a lesson is key with children.  If they are doing something they enjoy and are not forced to do it, they are likely not to quit.  Regular physical activity is very important for children as their growth, development and mental health depends on it.  Exercise on!

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read herein.