Chronic Conditions? Stay Active

Being active is helpful for people with chronic health conditions. It can help people with arthritis by making their joints less stiff and reducing bone loss for those with osteoporosis. And if you have diabetes, it can even help lower blood-sugar levels.

Due to your health condition, you may be unable to do 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity five days a week or muscle-strengthening exercise at least twice a week. Try your best to stay active by doing what you can. The key is to keep moving.

Do you enjoy walking? Check out the Walk with Ease program, www.walkwitheaseisu.org. The program was developed by the Arthritis Foundation for people over 60 with arthritis. Those with other chronic conditions will find it helpful also.

Talk with your healthcare professional before starting a new exercise. They can help you select a safe activity and identify necessary changes or precautions.

Women walking

Sources: Exercise and Chronic Disease: Get the Facts, www.mayoclinic.org

Smartphone Apps and Fitness Trackers May Be Helpful Ways to Increase Physical Activity

If you are looking for ways to be more active, you may want to consider using an app or fitness tracker.

  • Look at different apps and decide if there is one best suited for the activity you enjoy. Consider asking a friend to join you in using the same app.
  • If you are competitive, a physical activity app might be effective at getting you moving and staying on track. Many apps include exercise role-playing games that use competition and exercise challenges to encourage and motivate users.
  • Social support can have a positive impact on increasing physical activity levels. Sharing your activity on social media platforms and receiving feedback from friends and followers can be encouraging.
Man with yoga mat

Forbes Health shares the following 2023 Best Apps:

  • Best Free App: Nike Training Club
  • Best Live Classes: FitOn
  • Best for Working Out Solo: GymShark Training
  • Best Personalized Training Plans: Adidas Training
  • Best for Modifications: Workout for Women
  • Best HIIT Workouts Freeletics: HIIT Fitness Coach
  • Best for Daily Challenges: 30 Day Fitness at Home
  • Best for Strength Training: Jefit
  • Best for Quick Workouts: Daily Workouts—Home Trainer

Source: British Medical Journal, www.bmj.com/company/

February Is American Heart Month

Meter on wrist showing heart rate

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One out of every four deaths each year is caused by heart disease. Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is severely reduced or blocked. Men are more likely to develop heart disease after age 45. Women have a higher risk after age 55 or following menopause.

Consider the following steps you can take to help protect your heart.

  1. Know your numbers: High blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight can increase your risk of heart disease. Talk to your provider about ways to improve your numbers.
  2. Stop smoking: To quit, contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  3. Model your plate using the DASH Eating Plan, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan: Choose more plant foods including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Eat lean dairy and proteins including fish, skinless poultry, and beans. Use heart healthy fats such as canola and olive or vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Limit sodium, sugar-sweetened drinks, and desserts.
  4. Physical activity: Set a goal of at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Sitting less can help control weight, decrease stress, and improve sleep quality.
  5. Prioritize sleep: Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep a night.
  6. For more information, download the resource 28 Days Toward a Healthy Heart, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/resources/28-days-towards-healthy-heart.

Sources: NHLBI, go.iastate.edu/MAGKP8

Win with Workplace Wellness

One way to improve our overall health is to be physically active on a regular basis. It is crucial for healthy aging, reduces risk of chronic diseases, improves mental health, and strengthens bones and muscles. Most Americans who work full-time are spending at least eight hours a day at their worksite, and most of that time is spent at a computer or desk. Here are five tips for increasing physical activity during the workday:

  • Take short 3- to 5-minute breaks every hour to get up and walk around your worksite.
  • Find your favorite exercise video from Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, before or after lunch.
  • Invest in a standing desk or “treadmill desk” to increase standing or walking throughout the day.
  • Try stretches while sitting at your desk—such as chair squats, arm and elbow stretches, sit up and stretches, and overhead presses.
  • Find a colleague to walk with during your lunch hour. This can improve social and physical well-being.

Sources:
CDC, www.cdc.gov
New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, njaes.rutgers.edu
Harvard Health Publishing, www.health.harvard.edu

What Is Intuitive Eating?

Woman in kitchen peeling vegetables

Intuitive Eating is an evidence-based, mind and body health approach. The ten principles of Intuitive Eating cultivate or remove barriers to body awareness. It’s a process of listening and responding to your body to meet physical and psychological needs.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:

  • Reject the Diet Mentality
  • Honor Your Hunger
  • Make Peace with Food
  • Challenge the Food Police
  • Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  • Feel Your Fullness
  • Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
  • Respect Your Body
  • Movement—Feel the Difference
  • Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition

You are the expert of your own body. Use Intuitive Eating as an empowerment tool. You are the only one who knows what hunger, fullness, and satisfaction feel like! Check out this article that provides real-life examples of each principle, go.iastate.edu/MUBDLM.

Source: Intuitive Eating Pros, www.intuitiveeating.org/

Find Your Movement Motivation

Walking on path

Starting a physical activity routine and sticking to it can be challenging. Finding the motivation to stay active is key.

Most results of exercise are not instantaneous, so set realistic goals. Start small and gradually increase to 30 minutes of exercise five days per week. People keep exercising because they have found something they enjoy. If exercise feels like a chore, it can hold you back from accomplishing your exercise goals.

People who are physically active tend to live longer, healthier lives. Research shows moderate physical activity—such as 30 minutes a day of brisk walking—significantly contributes to longevity. Always consult with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

Source:
American College of Sports Medicine, go.iastate.edu/M4SDGB

November Is National Diabetes Month

Girl testing blood sugar

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects more than 37 million U.S. adults. In the last 20 years the number of adults diagnosed has more than doubled, and one in five of all adults with diabetes do not know they have it.

Most of the food we eat is converted into glucose (sugar). Glucose is used as energy to fuel our bodies, including our muscles and brains. Too much glucose in our blood causes damage to our eyes, nerves, kidneys, and hearts. Insulin is a hormone that allows our body to use glucose for energy.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when a person’s body does not use insulin well. More than 90% of people with diabetes have type 2, which develops over many years. You can manage symptoms or prevent type 2 diabetes by being physically active, eating nutritious food, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Type 1 diabetes is when a person’s body does not make enough insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin to manage their blood glucose.

Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about diabetes or visit the CDC Diabetes website, www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics, for more information.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov
Iowa Public Health, go.iastate.edu/QC72N8

Workout Videos to Keep You Motivated!

Online workout videos give you the flexibility to choose what you do and when you do it. A variety of physical activity options can help you get out of a rut and be active in the comfort of your own home.

For free, easy-to-use videos, go to
Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video-category/physical-activity/. Workout options include cardio, stretching, and strength training. Low impact and chair workouts are also included.

Being physically active improves your mood, helps manage weight, reduces risk of disease, improves brain health, and strengthens bones and muscles. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov/physicalactivity/
Spend Smart. Eat Smart., go.iastate.edu/Q6EUYK

Plan Your Move

The health benefits of regular physical activity are well known, but many of us do not make it a part of our daily routine. Are you active for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week, or 150 minutes a week? Do you engage in muscle strengthening activity 2 days each week? If not, check out these tips:

  • Keep track! Schedule time on your calendar for at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days each week. Find activities you enjoy like taking a walk outside or going for a swim.
  • Ask for a partner to join you. Enjoy time with friends and family when you are active. Find an exercise partner to support you and hold you accountable.
  • Join a fitness class. Joining a class can help you stick with it.
  • Find activities you can do all year. Find an indoor place to walk like the grocery store or Walmart or watch an online exercise video when it isn’t nice outside.
Two people walking

Resources to Help You Move More

Getting regular exercise and physical activity benefits everyone, including those with Parkinson’s disease. Being physically active can improve your mood, help you focus, reduce stress, and improve sleep. Adults need a mix of aerobic (such as walking or biking) and muscle-strengthening activity to stay healthy. Aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week and muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days per week. Move Your Way®, health.gov/moveyourway, provides tools and resources to make your personalized activity plan.

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