A Walk a Day Could Keep the Doctor Away

As Jody mentioned in her earlier blogs this month, February is focused around heart health. I like to focus on the habits I can do every day that help keep my heart healthy. Eating well and staying active are at the top of the list for me. 

Last week Jody touched on strength training and the importance of weight bearing activity to help strengthen muscles. Another easy way to exercise your heart and body is to go for a walk. Did you know that walking is the single most popular adult exercise in the country? Walking can be a great way to increase your heart rate while exercising your heart and lungs. 

The goal is to aim for 30-minutes of exercise 5 days a week. When I am running short on time, I will break my walk into short, brisk segments to get to that 30-minute goal. A few ways that I tend to break up my daily walk are to park further away from my destination when I am out running errands and to take short walks during my breaks. 

When I was pregnant, I gave myself a goal to walk for 30 minutes every day. I not only wanted to have a healthy pregnancy, but walking helped alleviate stress and gave me an energy boost- this was crucial in those last few months! Once my daughter was born, walking was the only tried and true way that I could soothe her. Having an October baby in Iowa took some flexibility on my part because it got cold outside fast. If the weather was too cold to take her outside, I would head to our local mall to get in my daily walk. Some of my fondest memories from childhood were going on walks with my mom. I hope that my daughter will cherish these daily walks as she gets older and begins to establish her own healthy habits.  

Check out the handout, walk your way to fitness, under the ‘move’ tab on our website that highlights helpful tips on what to wear for your walk and how to turn your basic daily stroll into a heart healthy workout.

Cheers to getting outside and strengthening your heart!

Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso is a Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. As a new mom she is always on the lookout for easy, healthy recipes to prepare for her family.

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Strength Training: It does a body good

Last week I shared a sample plan on how to include our at-home workouts into your weekly exercise plan. This week I want to share some more information and tips on strength training. It is recommended to do muscle strengthening activity at least 2 days per week. Strength training is important for everyone. As we age, if we don’t use our muscles, they get weaker and we are less able to do normal daily activities.

I find that most often, people are comfortable doing physical activities that strengthen their heart and lungs such as walking, running, biking, or swimming. And they are less comfortable doing activities that strengthen their muscles such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and core exercises. Often this is because they aren’t sure how to properly perform these exercises. That is where following our Beginner Strength Training video is helpful. 

Good form is very important when strength training to prevent injury. Here are some tips to keep in mind when strength training.

  • Keep your core tight by pulling your belly button in toward your back. This helps to support your low back while being active.
  • Exhale during the difficult part of the exercise. For example, when doing an overhead press, exhale when you push the weight over your head. Inhale as you lower the weights back down. 
  • Choose a weight that allows you to complete the full range of motion for each exercise. For example, if you cannot raise your arms up to shoulder height for front shoulder raises, choose a lighter weight. 

As your fitness level improves, increase the difficulty of the At-home Beginner Strength Training workout by increasing the amount of weight you use or repeat the set of exercises 2-3 times.
For additional strength training exercises, check out the American Council on Exercise website.

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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A Happy, Healthy Heart

February is American Heart month. It’s a time to focus on habits that can help us live heart healthy lives. This is important because heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the US. 

One habit that makes your heart happy is being active. Any opportunity to move is good for your heart, such as taking the stairs or playing with your kids. It’s also important to include some planned physical activity in to your week to increase your heart rate and strengthen your muscles. 

Last year we added some at-home workout videos to the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website that can help you increase your activity. Below is a sample calendar for how to incorporate them into your weekly workout plan

Sample week

Day 1 Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
At-home workoutBeginner Strength Training30 minute walkRest or stretchingAt-home workoutCardio IntervalAt-home workout Beginner Strength TrainingRest or stretching30 minutewalk

Here are some key points to keep in mind.

  • Exercise Safely – Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise plan.
  • Consistency-The most important key to success is consistency. The recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week is a goal. However, it is better to be active for a short amount of time on a regular basis than not do anything because of limited time or energy. 
  • Variety-Variety in your workouts and in the intensity of the workouts throughout the week helps prevent boredom. It also allows you to move your body in different ways to strengthen different muscle groups. 
  • Rest days-It is important to include rest days throughout the week. This allows your body time to recover and get stronger. Rest days may also include some gentle stretching. Listen to your body and, if needed, add an extra rest day.
  • Fuel your activity-In order to have the energy and strength to be active, it is important to fuel your body. Use the MyPlate Plan to determine how much you need to eat from each food group. 

Use the Move Your Way Activity Planner to start planning your weekly routine to build a healthy and happy heart!

woman stretching
Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Play Your Way One Hour a Day

Last week we talked about the new physical activity recommendations for adults. Today we’ll focus on the kiddos (age 6-17).

We know that kids who are active have stronger bones and muscles, a healthier heart and lungs and tend to have lower body fat. Physical activity helps children become healthier adults.

But adulthood may seem like a long way off. What about now? Physical activity can help your child feel energized, self-confident and happy. It helps them pay attention in school and sleep better too!

So how much physical activity does your child need? The new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans give us some helpful recommendations.

  • Be active for 60 minutes or more every day. (Tip: Break up the minutes throughout the day.)
  • Spend most of that time doing moderate-intensity activities, like riding a bike or scooter (non-motorized), playing catch or walking briskly.
  • Include vigorous-intensity activities at least three days a week, like running and chasing games (tag or flag football), jumping rope, or sports like soccer, basketball and swimming.
  • Mix in activities that strengthen muscles and bones, such as climbing and playing on monkey bars, running and jumping.

Children with physical disabilities can adapt activities to meet the guidelines their own way. Most importantly, physical activity should be fun for your child. They should do what they enjoy and try a variety of activities.

At the Iowa Department of Public Health we encourage children to be physical activity with a campaign called Play Your Way. One Hour A Day. Check out the video of two kids doing what they love at idph.iowa.gov/inn/play-your-way.

Suzy Wilson, RDN, LDN Community Health Consultant Iowa Department of Public Health

Boost your Muscles Bones and Brain

Being physically active is one of the most important things Americans can do to improve their health. Being active is so good for you. It gets the blood pumping, from your heart to all your muscles, bones and brain. As a result, it prevents a whole host of chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. It is good for our mental health and helps with healthy aging as well.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans released in 2018 refined how much physical activity we need. Adults need 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity for general health benefits. Moderate intensity physical activity is anything that gets your heart beating faster. The good news is small bursts of activity add up all week long, and they have an activity planner to help you think through when you can find time for activity!

The activity planner helps you choose activity you want to do and see how it can all add up to 150 minutes. It can also help you set weekly goals, get personalized tips and stay motivated.

Let us know how you’re incorporating activity into your day by chatting with us on Facebook (@Spend Smart. Eat Smart.) or Twitter (@SpendEatSmart).

Sarah Taylor Watts, MPA, PAPHS Physical Activity Coordinator Iowa Department of Public Health

How much water should you drink?

Written by Kathryn Standing

Student Assistant, ISU Dietetics

 

Welcome to Iowa in August! It’s hot! This time of year, we always go to the Iowa State Fair.

It is easy to over-do it on treats, but I can never resist sharing some funnel cake and lemonade with my family. It can get really hot walking around in the sun. I always make sure we have plenty of sunscreen and water. The recommendation is to drink close to 12 cups of water per day for women and 16 for men. When eating a balanced diet, 20% of you water comes from your food. This means women should drink 9 cups per day and men should drink 12. You need to drink more water when you’re doing activities outside in hot temperatures- such as walking around the Iowa State Fair. You should also try to drink extra in the winter (when there is less moisture in the air), during illness and during exercise.

Try to drink water every 15-20 min when exercising, don’t wait until you are thirsty! When you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. If working really hard or doing exercise lasting more than a couple hours, sports drinks could be helpful to replace water and electrolytes. If you are just doing moderate exercise, sports drinks are not necessary.

Other beverages count toward your daily requirement as well. If not drinking water, drink unsweetened drinks such as 100% fruit juice and milk. Coffee and unsweetened tea count too, though caffeine is mildly dehydrating and should be enjoyed in moderation. Best bet is to stick to water as much as possible. It is a good habit to carry a water bottle when you’re on the go and drink a glass with every meal.

Staying Active when the Temperatures Drop

Taking a long walk and playing in the park on a beautiful day are pretty enjoyable ways to be active. The sad truth is that here in Iowa, we have several months out of each year when the weather outside is less than ideal. Lately, we have had days when the temperature doesn’t even reach zero degrees, brrrr! The frigid weather combined with fewer hours of sunlight can lead to all of us feeling an energy slump.

Despite this, adults need 150 minutes of physical activity per week for good health. So how do you make it work if you do not want to invest in a gym membership and it is so unpleasant outside? You can get moving indoors with very little equipment and still raise your heart rate and work your muscles. Here are some ideas for indoor workouts.

  • Schedule walking dates with friends. Walking is great exercise and doing it with a friend helps with accountability. You can walk at the mall or use an indoor walking workout video. There are many free walking videos available to stream online.
  • The CDC has created a series of videos featuring muscle-strengthening exercises that you can do at home.
  • Make the chores you have to do part of your fitness routine. Why not put on some music while you clean the house to speed up your pace and raise your heart rate?
  • If you have little ones at your house, include them in the fun with these ideas for indoor active games to play with children.

If you choose to exercise outdoors during the winter months, make sure you do so safely. The American Heart Association has some helpful recommendations for being active in cold weather.

Share how you stay active during the winter on Twitter (@SpendEatSmart) or Facebook (Spend Smart. Eat Smart.)

Enjoy these activities while we count down the days until Spring!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Did you say hop like a frog?

 

School will soon be out for winter break and the kids will be home for a couple of weeks. Schedules might be busy with holiday activities for a few days but then you might need something to keep the kids active. If there’s snow, sledding and building a snowman are always fun. However, if you need some indoor activities, here are a few to try.

1. Speed-read
Choose a book with a word that will be repeated often (“green,” for instance, if you’re
reading Green Eggs and Ham) and have your child stand up or sit down each time she hears it.

2. Animal charades
Write the names of various animals on slips of paper and drop them into a bowl. Take turns choosing a slip and acting out the animal until someone guesses correctly. Try it with no sounds
for an added challenge.

3. Animal Races
Use the slips of paper to decide on the moves for a race. For example, the first time down and back, the kids need to hop like a frog. Then run on all fours like a dog. And finish by crawling on the ground like a lizard!

4. Catch with a catch
Have each player toss a beach ball into the air and try to touch his nose or high-five the other players before the balls drop. Make the challenges harder as you go along.

5. Dance Party
Turn on the music and have a dance party. Or start and stop the music, having the kids freeze when the music stops.

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Be Active Your Way Every Day

You might be wondering why this blog is titled Be Active Your Way Every Day. What does that have to do with eating healthy on a budget? Well, being active might not affect your grocery budget but it is important to your health! Being active helps you sleep better, feel better and have more energy.  Who doesn’t want all of those things?

Here are the current recommendations for physical activity:

  • Adults should get at least 2 ½ hours of aerobic physical activity each week. This type of activity works your heart and lungs such as walking, running, or swimming.
  • If you break up the 2 ½ hours over the week, this means being active for 30 minutes 5 days of the week.
  • When your schedule is busy or you are just starting to be more physically active, do it in small segments of 10 minutes or so. To get in your 30 minutes of activity for the day you could walk for 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes in the evening.
  • It is also recommended to do strength and flexibility training 2-3 times a week. This could be lifting weights, stretching, or doing exercises like squats and push-ups.
  • Children need to get 60 minutes or more of active play every day.

There are many ways to be active such as biking, gardening, dancing, and playing outside. If you like to track your activity, consider using the SuperTracker from choosemyplate.gov. It’s free!

When it comes to being active, the important thing is to find something you enjoy doing that moves your body!

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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A Healthier Me in 2016

It’s that time of year again when we tend to look at how we can live just a little bit healthier in the new year. For me, this means making more time for exercise throughout my day. I do alright with getting my workouts in, but I spend most of my day at a desk and I would like to work in some breaks to get my body moving throughout the day. Our bodies are not meant to be in a sitting position all day, it can damage our posture and even affect breathing. Being active for just ten minutes can help boost mental focus and increase energy.

I plan to use a strategy called SMART goals to make this happen. A goal is SMART if it is:

Specific – It identifies a specific action that will take place.

Measurable – it’s easily measured, I can tell when I’ve done it.

Achievable – it can be accomplished with my current resources.

Realistic – though the goal will stretch me, it is possible for me to do it.

Timely – the goal includes a specific timeline for accomplishing it.

So here’s my goal!

I will walk briskly for at least ten minutes three times per week while I’m at work. I will walk in the halls of our building when it is cold and snowy and outside once the weather gets nicer.

I’ve taken some steps to increase my likelihood of success:

  • I have comfy shoes at the office.
  • I have told my colleagues about my goal so they can keep me honest.
  • I have a chart to track my progress and help me remember to work in my walks.

This month’s blog posts are all about setting goals for the new year. Share your goals with us on Facebook! Sometimes letting just one other person know your goal can help you stay accountable.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2016!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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