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4 Advantages You Can Steal from a Morning Person

The routine of a morning person illustrates that the advantages you gain by not hitting the snooze button far outweigh the extra hours of sleep. Read more

Standing up against the need to be a couch potato

For the past three years, I have been trying to lose the same five pounds.

I’ll lose a couple pounds, feel like I’m doing really well, and then celebrate by going out for ice cream. I know I need to get back to the gym, beat the scale and (more importantly) develop good exercise habits, but I’m just not motivated.

According to R.J. Shephard’s article, “Aging and Exercise,” in the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, I am in good company: It is difficult to motivate the vast majority of older adults to exercise regularly. But after doing some research, I’ve discovered ways to get recommitted.

Weigh yourself daily. In a study at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, of 3,026 dieting adults, those who weighed themselves more frequently lost more weight over two years or regained fewer pounds. That makes sense to me. I got frustrated at not losing the pounds, so I quit weighing myself to avoid having a bad day. I need to force myself to look at those numbers.

Stick a model on your fridge. Seriously, this works. But you have to choose people based on your motivational style. In a series of three studies, Penelope Lockwood and colleagues discovered that some people are motivated by success and others are motivated by failure. So, if you’re motivated to succeed, put a slim model on your fridge. If you’re motivated to avoid failure, put an example of a failed dieter where you can see it. I’m not sure which strategy works best for me, so I’m going to pin up Gisele Bundchen and a close-up of my cellulite.

Get rid of the candy jar. Why, oh why, do I keep filling up my candy jar with my favorite chocolate treats? A Wall Street Journal article reported that in a four-week study of 40 secretaries, when candy was visible in a clear, covered dish, participants ate 2.5 pieces of chocolate on top of the 3.1 candies they would have eaten had the chocolates been in an opaque container. Moving the dish closer, so the subjects could reach the candy while at their desks, added another 2.1 candies a day to their intake. I keep the candy jar handy to increase the esprit de corps at work, but I am sabotaging myself in the process.

If all else fails, imagine yourself as a weightlifter. Believe it or not, there is something to visualization – even when it comes to exercise. Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared “people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads.” He found that the group of participants who conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (13.5 percent) as those who went to the gym (30 percent). So, if I can’t get to the gym, it helps to know that mental practices are almost as effective as true physical practice and that doing both is more effective than either alone.

Now that I am recommitting myself to exercising, I have a few things to do: get back on the scale, pin up some motivating pictures, get rid of my office candy jar and imagine myself thin and fit. Now, I need an exercise partner.

This article was originally published in the OCRegister.com. It has been republished here with permission.

5 reasons walking every day will change your life

What makes you feel good, look good, and only requires a pair of tennis shoes? Walking. We know exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle, but finding motivation to get active before or after a long day can be tough. This is why walking is a great option. It may be a less intense form of exercise, but walking offers so many health benefits, from improved mental health to chronic disease prevention. Read on to see why taking a few minutes out of your day to walk could be the best thing for your body.

Improved mental health

Whether you walk outside in the fresh air or on a treadmill while listening to your favorite tunes, walking is proven to improve mental health. A study from the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that people suffering from depression who regularly walked 30-45 minutes for three months showed signs of improvement when their medication didn’t cure their symptoms. Walking can give you energy, decrease anxiety and stress, improve your ability to focus, and give you a break from your to-do list.

Healthier Heart

Walking has been shown to improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as prevent diabetes—all of which can contribute to heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends walking at a brisk pace for at least thirty minutes each day to receive these heart benefits. If you’re not quite in shape enough to do this, the American Heart Association suggests setting a fitness goal for walking a few minutes at a time and increasing this time as you get more in shape.

Prevent Dementia

Dementia is a growing concern among adults, but exercise is one of the best and proven ways to prevent it. According to a review of Archives of Medical Research, exercising regularly can decrease your chances of dementia by 50 percent. Walking not only helps your current health but can also keep disorders like dementia under at bay.

Improved bones and muscles

Walking also helps strengthen your bones and decrease arthritis symptoms. It can reduce fractures and symptoms of osteoporosis by preventing the loss of bone mass. Muscles and joints also benefit from walking, as the movement helps distribute pressure and nutrients for a healthier range of motion and increased strength.

“Walking is one of the best aerobic activities a senior can do,” said Mark Walker, director of therapy at Orem Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing. “We encourage everybody to do at least 20 to 30 minutes of walking activities per day. Walk to the mailbox, walk down the aisles of the grocery store, or go to the rec center. Walking would be a great addition to a daily routine.”

Weight loss

Maintain a healthy weight by walking regularly. It’s a great way to burn extra calories and lose weight over time. Due to it being a low-intensity and social exercise, you’re more likely to be consistent with making time for it versus other more extreme workouts.

So, whether it’s your heart or your mind that you’re looking to strengthen, consider taking a daily walk. Your body will be thanking you for years to come.

This article was originally published by Orange County Register. It has been republished here with permission.