Walk more, be healthier

Technology has made a lot of things easier. If you need to buy something, order it online. If you need to get somewhere, just drive your car.

What this also means is that Americans are walking and moving less. This is one of many factors leading to the ever-increasing waistlines in our country. And even if you haven’t been gaining weight, moving less can contribute to heart disease and other health issues.

If you want to add some more activity into your daily schedule, walking is one of the easiest things to do.If you want to add some more activity into your daily schedule, walking is one of the easiest things to do. As the American Heart Association points out, it’s easy, safe, and absolutely free! If walking 30 minutes a day seems daunting, set smaller goals and work toward that 30 minutes gradually. Find a way that motivates you, whether it’s in the morning on your own, walking with a friend on your lunch break, or taking the dog on a walk every night.

If you have questions about starting a walking program, talk to your physical therapist. She can create a walking program to help you get moving. Use our locator to find a Physiquality therapist in your neighborhood.

Walking after meals is particularly beneficial, says Libbie Chen. A physical therapist at Coury and Buehler Physical Therapy (a Physiquality member in California), Libbie explains that a postprandial walk can boost your metabolism and encourage digestion by increasing the rate at which food moves through your stomach. This can lower your blood sugars and triglicerides, leading to a healthier heart and weight loss.

The Mayo Clinic has some tips that can maximize your daily walk.

  • Keep your focus forward and your head up, rather than looking at the ground.
  • Relax your upper body and avoid stiffening your back, but be sure to keep your back straight rather than hunched over or arched backward. (This should also activate your ab muscles, which will help strengthen them.)
  • Walk smoothly, making sure to place each foot from heel to toe.
  • Don’t jump to your fastest pace – warm up by walking slowly at the beginning, and cool down by slowing your pace as you wrap up your walk.

There are plenty of ways to add variety to your walking routine.One of the best things about walking for exercise is that there are plenty of ways to add variety to your routine or to increase the level of exertion, notes Polar, a Physiquality partner vendor. Choosing a walking route that includes hills will challenge your legs and stamina; choosing one with a beautiful view may help you extend the walk and stick to it.

You can also up the ante by adding some variety to your walk. If you walk in the park and there are benches, Polar suggests doing tricep dips or step-ups to add resistance. Or simply quicken your pace for 30 seconds, then slow down to your regular pace for two minutes. If you have a heart rate or calorie monitor like those from Polar, or a pedometer, you can use those to set goals for calories burned or steps taken, increasing your goals every two weeks to improve your fitness.

 

Libbie Chen, PT, DPT Libbie Chen, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at Coury and Buehler Physical Therapy, a Physiquality member with six locations in Orange County, California. A basketball player, she is fascinated by the intricacies of the human body and enjoys the art and science of physical therapy and its effects of helping others. She believes that the combination of providing individualized therapy, patient education, and communication are essentials to improving functional outcome and quality of life.
Polar Polar is the innovator in heart rate monitoring, activity and sleep tracking, and GPS sports training solutions for elite athletes, coaches and active fitness enthusiasts. For over 40 years, Polar has helped athletes understand, track and improve their performance. Polar’s award-winning product range includes pioneering sports wearables that work elegantly with Polar training apps and cloud services.Headquartered in Finland, Polar is a privately held company that operates in more than 80 countries. Polar products are sold through over 35,000 retailers globally. For more information on Polar, a Physiquality partner, please visit polar.com.

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Cycling for better health

How are those resolutions coming? Are you cooking more at home? Have you seen your dentist (or at least made an appointment for your annual cleaning)?

If you’re looking for a way to increase your activity, cycling or bike riding is a great way to be active.

Anna Dark, the Fitness Director of the Take Charge Fitness Program (a wellness facility run by Physiquality member Clinton Physical Therapy Center in Tennessee), says that cycling has many health benefits. Cycling is an aerobic activity, which is great for your heart and circulation. Going for regular bike rides also increases muscle strength and flexibility, while also improving joint mobility and bone strength.

Cycling offers mental and emotional benefits that help you cope with stress.Like most exercise, cycling offers mental and emotional benefits that help individuals cope with stress, even when you’re on a stationary bike. “And cycling is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, which in itself can help individuals feel better emotionally!” Anna adds.

If you’re serious about committing to regular bike riding, Anna recommends going to the local bike store to choose the proper bike. Consult with the staff about the type of bike that might be best for you, a road bike, mountain bike or a hybrid, based on where you’re planning to ride. And, adds Anna, they will make sure that your bicycle is properly fitted to your body.

You must have the proper equipment for bicycling.Anyone new to cycling must have the proper safety equipment if they will be riding outside, as they’ll be sharing the streets with cars, pedestrians and other bicyclists, reminds Anna. Your bike should be fully equipped with safety features like reflectors and flags in order to be visible, especially at night. Check the air in your tires regularly in order to keep them fully inflated. And make sure that you have the appropriate gear to protect yourself, including a helmet, reflective vest and gloves.

When you’re going out on the road, says Anna, be sure to choose a route that you’re familiar with. This will give you confidence while riding, making the ride less stressful. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings, especially other motorists and traffic. And make sure to use hand signals to let others know where you’re going.

Lastly, have fun! Cycling allows you to enjoy the scenic route while bettering your health. And that’s something to celebrate.

5 resolutions to make for 2017

We all get into bad habits in our life, in one way or another. Perhaps you don’t talk to your grandmother enough. Or you eat too much fast food. Or you stopped working out. Setting resolutions for the new year is a good way to try to work on these bad habits.

There are many habits that can be damaging to your health, but here are five resolutions you can make for the new year to improve your health.

  1. Evaluate your eating habits.

Evaluate your eating habits.Have you been skipping breakfast? Snacking constantly instead of sitting down to dinner? Picking up food on the go instead of cooking at home? These are all habits that can cause us to gain weight and damage our health. Take a look at the latest guidelines recommended by the Department of Agriculture and Health to compare to your eating habits.

If you feel that a complete overhaul is too challenging, change one habit at a time, like making sure to eat breakfast, even if it’s a smoothie or a cup of yogurt. Or pledging to not buy any afternoon snacks for the pantry. Or cooking at least one healthy, sit-down dinner per week; you can always find a recipe that will make leftovers to cover your family for another dinner or two.

  1. Calculate how much television you watch.

A study published last year found that watching more than three hours of television a day correlates with lower levels of mental acuity. Other studies have found that extended hours in front of screens can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure. And if you’re watching with your kids, it’s been shown that children who watch more television at a younger age develop language more slowly and have more problems connecting socially with their peers. If you want to escape into another world, consider picking up a book.

A study found that reading stimulates the brain over time — the excitement you feel when sympathizing with a character lingers for days. Samantha Olson at Medical Daily notes, “Researchers believe this prolonged and measurable brain boost, which was found in the region associated with language and sensory motor skills, could improve brain connectivity over time. It brings using books as an escape to a whole new level.”

Of course, both reading and television are sedentary activities, which leads us to resolution number three:

  1. Increase your daily activity.

Increase your daily activity.We all know the benefits of activity: Being more activereduces our risk for a variety of diseases, keeps our weight lower and makes us feel better. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, or 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

It might sound like a lot, but they do point out that if you went to see a movie, it would take the same amount of time. And you don’t need to do it all at once; even 10 minutes at a time is better than nothing. If you’re trying to start a new habit, find a friend to do it with you — it’s been shown that if you schedule a class or walk with a friend, you’re much more likely to stick with it. And you get the added benefit of social activity, which improves your mental health. It’s a win-win!

If you’re anxious about starting to work out after a long drought or injury, consult with your physical therapist. A PT can do a wellness evaluation to determine if you’d need to adapt any physical activity, and some even offer fitness programs within their own clinics. Look for a Physiquality member near you with our clinic locator.

  1. Take care of your teeth.

The American Dental Association recommends visiting the dentist for a cleaning and check-up at least once a year, if not twice. You should brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily in between those appointments.

So you’re brushing your teeth and flossing regularly. You don’t have any pain. Why should you go for a check-up? Because dentists can catch problems before they turn into something painful, both as physical pain and economic pain. Look at it this way: Filling a cavity is much less expensive than a root canal.

  1. Get more sleep.

Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night, but many people don’t get nearly that much. A lack of sleepcan affect your mental and physical health. It is associated with increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and system-wide inflammation. Lack of sleep can also affect our immune system, our cognitive abilities (i.e., our mental capacity), and our mood and mental health. By getting a good night’s rest, your body can recuperate from a hard day’s work, giving you more energy to get up and get going in the morning.

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The pros and cons of working out with your partner

The pros and cons of working out with your partner

There are many benefits to working out with another person: Motivation. Accountability. Group support. Combining exercise with a social activity. But should you work out with your significant other?

Sharing a common activity with your partner has been shown to lead to better relationships. This doesn’t have to be a physical activity, but playing sports together, or taking a dance class together, can improve your relationship. And if you’re learning together, it can help increase your confidence in both the activity and your relationship.

Running with a partner can help keep you accountable.Randy Gustafson, a physical therapist and the owner and clinical director of Mesa Physical Therapy (a Physiquality member in San Diego, California), points out that working out with a partner can keep you accountable and improve results for both people. (And sometimes that partner isn’t even human — research has shown that people with dogs and those that use virtual partners are often more active than those who work out solo.) But research shows this correlation is strengthened within a relationship: A 2013 study found that “when partners care about fitness — their own and their partner’s — it becomes easier to achieve fitness goals. … Average-weight husbands who care about fitness engage in more physical activity when their wives offer more supportive health-related comments.”

If you’re working out at the gym, working out with your partner can help to make your time there more effective, for a couple of reasons. Having someone to spot you on the weights and to watch your form can ensure that your technique is correct. And trainers — and our own experts — will tell you that rest is essential to building muscle, even during your workout. Taking turns on equipment or with free weights will build periods of rest into your regimen, improving your pace and making your workout more efficient.

Randy notes that when you exercise, you release endorphins, which makes you happier and can improve your relationships and mood. And Psychology Today adds that exercise induces the symptoms of physiological arousal — sweaty hands, a racing pulse, shortness of breath. These symptoms mirror, in many ways, the thrill of romantic attraction, and might lead to more private activities when you get home from the gym.

If your fitness personalities clash, it will be difficult to find activities that please both people.Not all couples are compatible for couples workouts. If your fitness personalities clash — one into intense, sweat-dripping workouts, while the other prefers low-impact yoga or Pilates — it will be difficult to find activities that please both people. And if an agreement to work out isn’t working out, it can lead to nagging or more negative encounters than positive feedback.

The number one danger? Competition. If one of the people is highly driven to succeed on the court or in the gym, it could easily lead to pulled muscles and sore feelings. It’s probably better for those individuals to go their separate ways, in the fitness realm, at least. Maybe it’s better to join a fitness program, like the exercise and nutrition program offered at Mesa Physical Therapy. Or perhaps it’s time to get a dog.

 

Working out while baby is sleeping

Any parent will tell you that taking care of young children can wear you out. They need constant care and attention, their schedule shifts from day to day and week to week, and their mood swings will definitely affect their parents’ demeanor.

While many moms (and dads) skip exercise because it’s too challenging to work into their schedule, as we’ve mentioned before, exercise can help parents lose excess weight, minimize depression and feel better.

“Finding time to exercise is one of the biggest challenges for parents,” says Rachelle Hill (a physical therapist at Moreau Physical Therapy in Louisiana), “along with finding the energy to get going.” She recommends setting goals to help you stick to a routine. Whether the goal is losing weight, improving your health, or getting rid of back pain, she advises posting goals in highly visible areas, like the bathroom mirror or the front of the refrigerator, so they are hard to miss.

As little ones settle into a sleep routine, parents can work out while they rest. To make the most of the time you have, says Rachelle, consider these options when building your regimen:

Challenge your core strength and balance to become a stronger parent.
  • Challenge your core strength and balance.
  • Exercises that involve your arms and legs at the same time will help work multiple body parts in a short period of time.
  • Utilizing a circuit training format will help keep your heart rate up and burn more calories than just performing isolated muscle movements.
  • Add challenges like plyometrics and interval training to increase your workout.

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Encouraging kids to make healthy decisions

If you’re a parent, this probably sounds familiar: You’ve worked to make a healthy meal for your son (or daughter), but he’d rather have a cereal bar. Or snack foods. Or nothing. So how do you encourage him to eat healthy food and make responsible choices when eating?

Nutrition and fitness expert Anna Dark encourages parents and caregivers to be patient and positive. She says, “The goal is to get them to adopt the healthier choices because it is GOOD for THEM and ultimately will form a good habit that will take them into their adulthood!” After earning her degree in nutrition, Anna became the Fitness Director at the Take Charge Fitness Program at Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality member in Clinton, Tennessee.

Avoid comparisons to other children.Anna recommends avoiding comparisons to other kids, orshaming them by saying they are “fat;” this is especially true for girls, who have plenty of societal pressure to look a certain way. Such negative reinforcement will only lead children to associate eating better with punishment, rather than health.

Use your child’s hero as a positive way to get a child to eat better or to become more active, suggests Anna. For example, she says, “If your child’s hero is an athlete like Kobe Bryant, you could say, ‘Did you know that Kobe Bryant eats raw vegetables so he can be fast?’” Read More

Celebrating Family Health and Fitness Day

Americans young and old have been gaining weight and slowing down. A report on physical activity and health from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office in the late 1990s found that “nearly half of young people aged 12-21 are not vigorously active on a regular basis” and that more than 60% of adults aren’t as active as they should be.

(A more recent study in 2010 didn’t show any improvement, finding that only 15% of high school students achieve the recommendations set by the CDC for physical activity.)

These findings led to the creation of Family Health and Fitness Day on September 28, a celebration marking its 17th year in 2013 that celebrates activity for the whole family.

Why is this something Americans should commemorate?  Read More