Hiking is great for physical health. It also improves mental health! It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. According to a Stanford study, walking for 90 minutes in nature, instead of an urban setting, decreases activity in the brain linked to depression.
With fall approaching, the new schedule for school and work has likely changed your routine. However, that doesn’t mean your exercise routine has to go. To keep yourself accountable, set a SMART goal for fall.
Specific—This is the “what” of your goal, describing exactly what you’re going to do and where. For example, “I will walk outside more often.”
Measurable—How can you measure your goal each day, month, or year? Add specific units and numbers to your goal. “I will walk outside 30 minutes a day.”
Attainable—Is this goal attainable for you? Think about your current fitness level and the competing demands on your time.
Relevant—Is this goal meaningful and beneficial to you?
Time-bound—What is the time frame of your goal? How many days a week, and for how long? For example, “In the month of September, I will walk outside for at least 20 minutes at least three days a week.” At the end of your time frame, you can evaluate your success and make a new SMART goal.
Lack of sleep is common, especially these days. Many Americans sacrifice sleep to get all their tasks done on any given day. In fact, 35% of Americans do not meet the recommended hours of sleep.
Adults need 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Youth need 8 to 12 hours of sleep. Research has shown that sleep is just as important as good nutrition and exercise habits to keep your mind and body healthy.
Getting enough sleep can help lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes, maintain a healthy weight, think more clearly, and perform better in school and at work. Sleep may be related to body weight in youth of all ages. Inadequate sleep may interfere with hormone levels, which stimulate youth to eat more snacks and larger meals. A tired child is also more prone to sit on the couch rather than play outside.
Use these tips to get longer, better sleep.
Go to bed at the same time every night. Set and enforce regular bedtimes.
Keep phones, laptops and TVs out of the bedroom.
Avoid texting, watching TV, playing video games, or using a computer at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Do not eat in bed.
Create a calming nighttime routine for yourself and your kids– reading, listening to music, or talking about the day.
Good sleep is critical to your health, so make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
The human body is 60% water. Our cells need water to:
Control body temperature,
Lubricate and cushion joints, and
Protect sensitive tissues.
Water is vital to regulate body temperature during exercise in the summer heat. Lack of water can lead to extreme thirst, fatigue, and dizziness. Dehydration is particularly dangerous for young children and older adults.
How much water do we need to be drinking? Adults should get 9–14 cups of fluid a day. Generally, if your urine is pale or colorless, you are getting enough.
Remember, you can also drink and eat other things besides water to get the fluid you need.
100% juice (no more than 1 cup a day)
Sports drinks (if sweating a lot)
For more about your water needs, visit Mayo Clinic, mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256.
Put bananas, yogurt, and greens in the blender. Blend until smooth.
Add berries to blender. Blend until smooth.
Add milk to blender. Blend until smooth.
Serve immediately or freeze in individual servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 90 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 20g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 1g sugar, 4g protein This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu
In the summer, eating several small healthy snacks throughout the day is often more comfortable than having bigger meals. Choose nutritious snacks that give you energy as well as help you with focus and memory. Healthy snacking especially benefits these three groups of people:
Older adults tend to prefer to eat light meals or snacks instead of bigger breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals. Choosing nutritious snacks helps maintain their ability to live independently. Snacks high in protein and antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, help the immune system to recover from illness and aids in wound healing.
Children need the calories and nutrients from snacks to get energy for summertime play and sports. Snacks nourish their growing bodies and minds. In the fall, snacks will help kids feel full so they can focus on academics. Read Snacks for Healthy Kids, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/4605, for more information.
Pregnant women have varied appetites, depending on the woman and stage of pregnancy. Snacks can provide quick, easy nutrition for both mother and baby. Smaller snacks rather than larger meals may help reduce the nausea or heartburn some women have during pregnancy.
Here are some easy, healthy snacks:
Fruits and vegetables
Whole-grain crackers and cereal
Low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt
Hard-boiled eggs, unsalted nuts or peanuts
Want a cool summer snack? Enjoy a smoothie!
Do you know a child who needs healthy food this summer?
Check out the Summer Food Service Program meal sites in Iowa, educateiowa.gov/pk-12/nutrition-programs/summer-food-service-program#Summer_Meal_Sites. 211, www.unitedwaydm.org/211, is a one-stop source of information for people looking for help. This phone and online referral service can help people find food, housing, clothing, and much more.
Since the spring, gyms, recreation centers, and playgrounds have closed or operated in limited capacity, due to the need for social distancing. However, we can still be physically active while staying safe.
Walking, running, and biking with people in your household can be fun. Find a little-used trail in your neighborhood, an open park, or even a rural area and go exploring!
Avoid crowded parks and recreational areas. Consider canoeing or kayaking in an uncrowded waterway.
Try a workout video. On days when the weather is not right for being outdoors, visit free online videos that encourage physical activity. Visit the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. webpage, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video-category/physical-activity, for ideas.
Men’s Health Month helps raise awareness about early detection and treatment of preventable disease among men and boys. Women tend to outlive men by almost five years. One reason for this is that women are more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. Routine health monitoring can help reduce the risk of men’s deaths at an earlier age. Men are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, and stroke than women. Healthy changes in diet and exercise habits can lower men’s risks for these conditions. Follow these tips to live longer and healthier:
Seek regular medical care to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Get 2 1/2 total hours of physical activity a week, including strengthening exercise on two days a week.
Follow a MyPlate-friendly meal plan. Everyone, regardless of gender, needs to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein foods, and low-fat dairy. In general, men need more calories and protein than women.
Limit drinks with added sugar, such as soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks. Those can add many extra calories.
When something harmful or irritating affects our body, the body responds with inflammation. There are two types of inflammation—acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is short-lived inflammation. An example of this would be when you cut a finger or stub a toe. You see and feel the signs of acute inflammation in your body, and tissues become red, swollen, and painful. It is part of the body’s natural healing response to injury or infection.
Chronic inflammation occurs over time. It is a low level of inflammation occurring inside the body and is not visible. Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of serious chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and dementia. It can be caused by smoking, stress, excessive abdominal fat, and alcohol intake, as well as some foods.
To fight chronic inflammation, eat a variety of foods full of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds produced by plants to help protect our cells. Foods with these compounds include whole grains, beans, nuts, colorful fruits and vegetables, plant oils, and cold-water fish like albacore tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Tea, onions, and spices such as turmeric and ginger also have compounds with anti-inflammatory effects.
Anti-inflammatory foods are most effective when you are also at a healthy weight. If you are overweight, a 5–10 percent reduction in weight can also reduce inflammation.
On the other hand, some foods—including processed meats, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages—have been linked with increased inflammation. Saturated fat and trans fat are specific components of food that may trigger inflammation. The key to a healthy diet is variety and moderation with all food!