Finding Fitness: 10 Ways to Fit In Exercise

The “E” word can make you cringe, but exercise is really necessary. Besides, it can be fun: Learn how to squeeze fitness into your busy day.

The benefits of regular exercise are unrivaled: Physical activity can help you lose weight and prevent a host of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Being fit also can help you stay mentally sharp.

While most people know they should exercise, you may not know where to start or how to fit it into a busy schedule. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread out over five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on each of three days a week.

“This is something we recommend to all Americans,” says Gerald Fletcher, MD, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and a spokesman for the AHA.

An ideal fitness routine also includes resistance or weight training to improve muscle strength and endurance. The ACSM and the AHA recommend that most adults engage in resistance training at least twice a week.

Finding Fitness: 10 Ways to Get in Exercise

Sometimes the problem isn’t motivation — it’s simply finding the time. But scheduling exercise isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are 10 ways to get you moving more often:

  1. Be less efficient. People typically try to think of ways to make daily tasks easier. But if we make them harder, we can get more exercise, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “Bring in the groceries from your car one bag at a time so you have to make several trips,” Merrill says. “Put the laundry away a few items at a time, rather than carrying it up in a basket.”
  2. Shun labor-saving devices. Wash the car by hand rather than taking it to the car wash. “It takes about an hour and a half to do a good job, and in the meantime you’ve gotten great exercise,” Merrill says. Use a push mower rather than a riding mower to groom your lawn.
  3. Going somewhere? Take the long way. Walking up or down a few flights of stairs each day can be good for your heart. Avoid elevators and escalators whenever possible. If you ride the bus or subway to work, get off a stop before your office and walk the extra distance. When you go to the mall or the grocery store, park furthest from the entrance, not as close to it as you can, and you’ll get a few extra minutes of walking — one of the best exercises there is, Dr. Fletcher says. “Walking is great because anyone can do it and you don’t need any special equipment other than a properly fitting pair of sneakers.”
  4. Be a morning person. Studies show that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to stick with it. As Merrill explains, “Are you going to feel like exercising at the end of a hard day? Probably not. If you do your workout in the morning, you’re not only more likely to do it, but you’ll also set a positive tone for the day.”
  5. Ink the deal. Whether morning, afternoon, or evening, pick the time that is most convenient for you to exercise and write it down in your daily planner. Keep your exercise routine as you would keep any appointment.
  6. Watch your step. Investing in a good pedometer can help you stay motivated. “If you have a pedometer attached to your waist and you can see how many steps you’ve taken, you’ll see it doesn’t take long to walk 5,000 steps and you will be inspired,” Merrill says. And building up to 10,000 steps a day won’t seem like such a daunting a task.
  7. Hire the right help. While weight training is important, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of injuring yourself or not being effective, Merrill says. It’s best to get instructions from a personal trainer at the gym. You also can buy a weight-training DVD and follow along in your living room.
  8. Keep records. Grab a diary or logbook, and every day that you exercise, write down what you did and for how long. Your records will make it easy for you to see what you’ve accomplished and make you more accountable. Blank pages? You’d be ashamed.
  9. Phone a friend. Find someone who likes the same activity that you do — walking in the neighborhood, riding bikes, playing tennis — and make a date to do it together. “Exercising with a friend or in a group can be very motivating,” Fletcher says. “You are likely to walk longer or bike greater distances if you’re talking to a friend along the way. The time will go by faster.” Don’t have a buddy who is available? Grab an MP3 player and listen to your favorite music or an audio book while exercising.
  10. Do what you like. Whatever exercise you choose, be sure it’s one that you enjoy. You’re more likely to stick with it if it’s something you have fun doing rather than something you see as a chore, Fletcher says.

If you can’t fit 30 minutes a day into your schedule, get more exercise simply by being less efficient with your chores and adding a little extra walking distance everywhere you go. However, if you pick an activity you like, finding time for fitness will become effortless and the rewards enormous.

 

Copyright © 2017 Everyday Health Media, LLC

The Health Benefits of Water

We all need water to survive, but how exactly does it help?

Did you know that your body weight is approximately 60 percent water? Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.

Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints

Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body’s temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.

Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste

Adequate water intake enables your body to excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation. The kidneys and liver use it to help flush out waste, as do your intestines. Water can also keep you from getting constipated by softening your stools and helping move the food you’ve eaten through your intestinal tract. However, it should be noted that there is no evidence to prove that increasing your fluid intake will cure constipation.

Water Aids in Digestion

Digestion starts with saliva, the basis of which is water. Digestion relies on enzymes that are found in saliva to help break down food and liquid and to dissolve minerals and other nutrients. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. Water is also necessary to help you digest soluble fiber. With the help of water, this fiber dissolves easily and benefits your bowel health by making well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass.

Water Prevents You From Becoming Dehydrated

Your body loses fluids when you engage in vigorous exercise, sweat in high heat, or come down with a fever or contract an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. If you’re losing fluids for any of these reasons, it’s important to increase your fluid intake so that you can restore your body’s natural hydration levels. Your doctor may also recommend that you drink more fluids to help treat other health conditions, like bladder infections and urinary tract stones. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you may want to consult with your physician about your fluid intake because your body will be using more fluids than usual, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

How Much Water Do You Need?

There’s no hard and fast rule, and many individuals meet their daily hydration needs by simply drinking water when they’re thirsty, according to a report on nutrient recommendations from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In fact, most people who are in good physical health get enough fluids by drinking water and other beverages when they’re thirsty, and also by drinking a beverage with each of their meals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you’re not sure about your hydration level, look at your urine. If it’s clear, you’re in good shape. If it’s dark, you’re probably dehydrated.

Copyright © 2017 Everyday Health Media, LLC

Multivitamins: Should You Take One?

Food is the best source of most nutrients, but a multivitamin can help provide what your diet doesn’t. Find out what to look for in a daily multivitamin.

Our bodies need many different vitamins and minerals to function properly.

Vitamins and minerals also offer us protection against a host of ailments, including heart disease and some cancers, such as colon and cervical cancer.

The good news is that we can get most of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need daily by choosing the right foods and eating a wide variety of them.

Still, many people take a multivitamin daily as an insurance policy — just to be sure they are getting all the vitamins and minerals that their bodies require.

“A multivitamin is a good idea for the trace elements,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill.

“You want a multivitamin for all those little things at the bottom of the ingredients list. The ones at the top of the list are familiar and the ones we can’t avoid if we’re eating enriched foods. It’s the trace elements at the bottom that are the ones often missing.”

Trace elements include chromium, folic acid, potassium, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc.

Daily Vitamin: Our Needs Change With Age

Vitamin supplements can be particularly important during certain stages of our lives, Dr. Novey says. For example, women in their childbearing years can benefit from folic acid, which decreases the risk of some birth defects. A pregnant woman needs a multivitamin, starting in the first trimester, to ensure that the baby receives proper nutrition. Active and older women can benefit from increased calcium, which can help prevent bone loss and fractures. Vegetarians also can benefit from taking extra calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D.

Does it matter what time of day you take a multivitamin? Not really, says Stephen Bickston, MD, AGAF, professor of internal medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond. However, he says, some people find it helpful to take vitamins at the same time every day. If it becomes part of their routine, they are less likely to forget. Also, he says, some people feel that if they take their vitamin with food, it is less likely to cause stomach upset. “I often recommend that people take a chewable vitamin,” Dr. Bickston says, “because they seem to be well tolerated, even in people who have serious digestive conditions, which is what I deal with in my practice.”

Daily Vitamin: Tips for Shopping for the Right Multivitamin

Do you need to buy brand name vitamins? Novey says vitamins are like any other consumer product: “You get what you pay for.” He suggests shopping for vitamins in health food or natural food stores. Read the label and make sure its expiration date is at least a few months away. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s advice on how much to take — or the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) — is often written as “% DV” for percentage of daily value on the label. However, be careful because the DVs on the label may not take into consideration the different requirements for age and gender as RDAs do.

Multivitamins can be beneficial, but doctors warn not to be suckered by “mega” vitamins. The amount of vitamins in a standard multi is generally what you need for health benefits. Rarely do people need more than the RDA of any vitamin. When it comes to vitamins, the too-much-of-a-good-thing rule can apply, Bickston says.

Daily Vitamin: Ensuring Good Health

Clearly, eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats and poultry, and low-fat dairy products is the best way to get your daily dose of vitamins and nutrients to keep your body functioning properly and to ward off illnesses. But taking a multivitamin daily is a good backup plan, and an easy way to fill in any gaps in your diet.

What You Can Do to Maintain Your Health from familydoctor.org

A lot of factors play a role in staying healthy. In turn, good health can decrease your risk of developing certain conditions. These include heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and injuries. Learn what you can do to maintain your and your family’s health.

Path to improved health

Eat healthy.

What you eat is closely linked to your health. Balanced nutrition has many benefits. By making healthier food choices, you can prevent or treat some conditions. These include heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. A healthy diet can help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol, as well.

Get regular exercise.

Exercise can help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer. It can help treat depression, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. People who exercise also get injured less often. Routine exercise can make you feel better and keep your weight under control. Try to be active for 30 to 60 minutes about 5 times a week. Remember, any amount of exercise is better than none.

Lose weight if you’re overweight.

Many Americans are overweight. Carrying too much weight increases your risk for several health conditions. These include:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • some cancers
  • gallbladder disease.

Being overweight also can lead to weight-related injuries. A common problem is arthritis in the weight-bearing joints, such as your spine, hips, or knees. There are several things you can try to help you lose weight and keep it off.

Protect your skin.

Sun exposure is linked to skin cancer. This is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It’s best to limit your time spent in the sun. Be sure to wear protective clothing and hats when you are outside. Use sunscreen year-round on exposed skin, like your face and hands. It protects your skin and helps prevent skin cancer. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. It should be at least an SPF 15. Do not sunbathe or use tanning booths.

Practice safe sex.

Safe sex is good for your emotional and physical health. The safest form of sex is between 2 people who only have sex with each other. Use protection to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms are the most effective form of prevention. Talk to your doctor if you need to be tested for STDs.

Don’t smoke or use tobacco.

Smoking and tobacco use are harmful habits. They can cause heart disease and mouth, throat, or lung cancer. They also are leading factors of emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The sooner you quit, the better.

Limit how much alcohol you drink.

Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day. Women should have no more than 1 drink a day. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Too much alcohol can damage your liver. It can cause some cancers, such as throat, liver, or pancreas cancer. Alcohol abuse also contributes to deaths from car wrecks, murders, and suicides.

Things to consider

In addition to the factors listed above, you should make time for whole body health. Visit your doctors for regular checkups. This includes your primary doctor, as well as your dentist and eye doctor. Let your health benefits and preventive care services work for you. Make sure you know what your health insurance plan involves. Preventive care can detect disease or prevent illness before they start. This includes certain doctor visits and screenings.

You need to make time for breast health. Breast cancer is a leading cause of death for women. Men can get breast cancer, too. Talk to your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms. You may need to start screening early if you have risk factors, such as family history. One way to detect breast cancer is to do a monthly self-exam.

Women should get routine pap smears, as well. Women ages 21 to 65 should get tested every 3 years. This may differ if you have certain conditions or have had your cervix removed.

Ask your doctor about other cancer screenings. Adults should get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor may want to check for other types of cancer. This will depend on your risk factors and family history.

Keep a list of current medicines you take. You also should stay up to date on shots, including getting an annual flu shot. Adults need a Td booster every 10 years. Your doctor may substitute it with Tdap. This also protects against whooping cough (pertussis). Women who are pregnant need the Tdap vaccine. People who are in close contact with babies should get it, as well.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How many calories should I eat and how often should I exercise to maintain my current weight?
  • Should I have a yearly physical exam?
  • What types of preventive care does my insurance cover?
  • When should I start getting screened for certain cancers and conditions?

Resources

American Cancer Society, Stay Healthy

National Institute on Aging, Health and Aging

Filling and Healthy Breakfast Ideas from time.com

Feeling meh about your usual a.m. meal? We get it. Mornings can be hectic, and it’s a lot easier to hit repeat and grab a cereal bar rather than take the time to think of something more inspiring.

But you owe it to your taste buds to make a switch. A delicious, healthy breakfast will keep you excited and fulfilled, and that ensures that you’ll actually have that morning meal. You’ve heard it a million times before, but eating breakfast on the regular really does set your energy level for the day and get you closer to your wellness and fitness goals. Steal some inspiration from the ideas below, designed for every breakfast dilemma.

RELATED: 12 Breakfast Recipes You Can Eat for Dinner

If you love a carby breakfast

Cereal, oats and other carb-loaded options can be healthy, and the fuel you score from complex carbs gives you a steady energy boost. But they tend to be low in protein, says nutritionist Lauren Harris-Pincus, author of the Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. “It’s incredibly important to consume enough protein at breakfast to maintain muscle mass and metabolism as we age,” she says. Protein also fills you up, so your appetite doesn’t kick in until lunchtime—another win.

Her suggestion: whisk three tablespoons of whey or plant-based protein powder into milk, then top with cereal and fresh fruit. You can do the same for oatmeal by whisking a few tablespoons of protein powder into ¼ cup of milk and mixing it into cooked oatmeal. The more protein and flavor you pack in there, the more fulfilled your stomach—and your taste buds—will be. Don’t be afraid to experiment, say by adding chocolate protein powder or more exotic fruits.

If you’re not really a breakfast person

Does the thought of a plate stacked with pancakes and sausage in the morning makes you want to gag? Go ahead and have a little bite instead. “Your body is low on energy, and your muscles are breaking down protein,” explains registered dietitian Kathy Siegel, a nutrition communication consultant in the New York City area.

Siegel’s idea is to head to the cottage cheese aisle of the store and pick up a pack of portable half-cup servings. Each contains 13 grams of protein, which helps keep you full and boost muscle synthesis and repair, she says. Top it off with hemp seeds. Three tablespoons of the nutty-tasting seed contain three grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein, as well as minerals iron, zinc and magnesium. Add sliced cherry tomatoes and basil if you want something even more savory.

RELATED: Good Morning, Gorgeous: How to Look Incredibly Well-Rested

If you’re looking to lose weight

First, chug a big glass of H20, says Los Angeles–based registered dietitian Ilana Muhlstein. Not only is water energizing, but it can also help you feel fuller and make more sensible decisions around food, she says. Then, go for a combo of fiber (for sustained energy) and protein (for satiety), which will help you stay on track toward your goals, she says.

A great idea is a veggie egg scramble made with two eggs and veggies of choice (throw in whatever leftover or soon-to-go-bad veggies you have on hand, like kale and mushrooms or peppers and onions). Then, serve it with a big handful of berries. Both raspberries and blackberries contain eight grams of fiber and 60 or so calories per cup, which meets nearly one-third of your daily fiber needs. The sweetness of the berries will satiate your sweet tooth, too.

If you only have five minutes before running out the door

The smoothie does it again. “You can pack in tons of nutrients into an easily digestible breakfast,” says registered dietitian Keri Glassman. It takes five minutes to throw together, but if you don’t have that time in the morning, blend it the night before, put it into a travel cup, grab, and hit the road.

Glassman suggests getting your greens in via a morning smoothie. A powerful one to go with is broccoli rabe, because it offers two grams of fiber per cup, along with antioxidants like eyesight-preserving lutein and 100% of your daily vitamin K, which keeps bones strong. She recommends blending almond milk, almond butter, banana, dates, broccoli rabe, oats, hemp seeds and vanilla.