Take a Walk in the Park

Did you know Iowa has more than 70 state parks? Iowa State Parks celebrated their centennial in 2020. Didn’t make it to the celebration? That’s okay! The Iowa Department of Natural Resources still has “20 Walks in 2020” mapped routes, www.iowadnr.gov, to help you explore 20 of Iowa’s state parks. These routes are ideal for one or a small group or family.

Iowa By Trail is an app providing interactive maps for 2,000+ miles of Iowa trails. Users can fnd the closest trail to their current position. The app also provides other points of interest along the route, including museums, natural resources, and local restaurants.

What are you waiting for? Get out and walk or bike the trails this summer! You can also enjoy these other activities in Iowa parks:

  • Horseback riding
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Fishing

Sources: 20 Walks in 2020, iowadnr.gov; Iowa by Trail, inhf.org

July is National Watermelon Month!

“Watermelon—it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face!”—Enrico Caruso

watermelon

Watermelon is delightful, no doubt. It’s a sweet, low-calorie, fat-free food. Did you know watermelon is also a good source of vitamins A, B6, and C? Vitamin A promotes good eyesight. Vitamin B6 helps make antibodies and maintains blood sugar and nerve function. Vitamin C helps heal wounds.

Watermelon is a good source of potassium and magnesium, which aid in muscle and heart function. It’s 92% water, making it an excellent thirst quencher. Finally, watermelon is high in lycopene. Lycopene reduces blood pressure and cancer risk and maintains healthy skin.

Easy ways to enjoy watermelon:

  • Cut up bites of fresh watermelon.
  • Dip in yogurt.
  • Blend into a slushy or smoothie.
  • Freeze and enjoy as a fruit popsicle.

Source: Wide World of Watermelon—Registered Dietician Toolkit, www.watermelon.org

Walk Abouts

We have heard a lot about the benefits of walking, but sometimes it seems boring to walk the same route all the time. There are ways to make it more interesting for everyone. Examples include the following:

  • Research community history and explore it on a walk.
  • Have you wondered about an interesting house or building in your community? Check with your local public library; they may have information about community history.
  • Another idea is to listen to a podcast or an audiobook on your walk. There are many interesting podcasts—some are educational, inspiring, or entertaining. Audiobooks are also available through most public library apps, including Libby and Overdrive, as well as paid services.

Keep these safety tips in mind when walking:

  • Let someone know where you are going.
  • Take a cell phone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Take a walking buddy for companionship.
  • Keep the volume of your headphones at a reasonable level so you can hear others, cars, etc.

June Is Hunger Awareness Month

In 2019, more than 35 million people in the United States struggled with hunger. Hunger is the physical sensation of discomfort due to not getting enough food. Every community in the country has families who struggle with food insecurity. Food insecurity is the lack of money or other financial resources for food. The pandemic has only increased the number of people facing food insecurity and hunger.

Living with food insecurity and hunger affects our mental and physical health. For children, hunger makes it difficult to concentrate and learn at school. Long periods of food insecurity can negatively impact growth and development in children and accelerate aging in older adults. Food insecurity increases the risk of infectious disease, chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease, and anxiety and depression.

Ways you can help:

  • Donate—If you are able, donate money and/or healthy foods to your local food bank or food pantries. Check out options for healthy food pantry donations at https://bit.ly/38Gmmkv.
  • Host a Food Drive—Contact your local food pantry for information on how to start a food drive.
  • Volunteer—Food banks and pantries can always use extra help. Spending just a few hours once or twice a month volunteering will make you feel great, too.
  • Spread the Word—Many people are unaware of the resources available in their community or how they can fight hunger.

If you or someone you know needs help, these resources are available:

Iowa Food Assistance Hotline, 855-944-FOOD (3663), to speak with someone about the Food Assistance Application.
2-1-1 connects callers to resources such as food pantries and support for older adults and persons with disabilities (such as home health services).

Source: Feeding America, www.feedingamerica.org.

Need a Workout Partner? Check out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Physical Activity Videos.

Exercise mat and tennis shoes

The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website has new physical activity videos. These are a great way to learn some new exercises. They can even serve as your virtual workout partner. They allow you to explore several types of workouts.

Like any good workout partner, these videos will also supply you with motivational tips to keep you going!

Go to Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video-category/physical-activity/, to check them out.

High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Runner

Have you heard about HIIT workouts? High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) alternates bursts of high-intensity effort with short recovery periods. It improves overall fitness, heart health, and body fat. People of all fitness levels can try this type of training. You can use it in cycling, walking, swimming, and group exercise classes. Workouts are generally shorter. They also burn more calories in the two hours after the workout.

Visit the American College of Sports Medicine, www.acsm.org, for more information on finding an HIIT program that is right for you.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine Fitness Trends, www.acsm.org

Start Simple with MyPlate

The newly updated MyPlate website can help you put the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 into practice. To get started, go to MyPlate, www.myplate. gov. Find out if you are making every bite count by taking the MyPlate Quiz. You will receive the following free, personalized resources:

  1. Start Simple with MyPlate app will help you build healthier eating habits by setting goals. You can also sync your quiz results with the app.
  2. MyPlate Plan provides a personalized plan for what and how much to eat from each food group. Join challenges, track your progress, and earn badges to celebrate successes.
  3. MyPlate Kitchen puts your MyPlate plan into action using healthy, budget-friendly recipes.

Make Every Bite Count and Start Simple with MyPlate at MyPlate, www.myplate.gov.

Source: MyPlate, www.myplate.gov

Moving More = Better Health

Our bodies are built to move. There are many benefits to being active throughout the day. Moving your body for just 3–5 minutes every 30–60 minutes improves nearly every system in the body.

Studies show that moving for a few minutes every 30 minutes or so

  • Improves digestion,
  • Increases energy levels,
  • Enhances mood,
  • Promotes better blood flow,
  • Improves posture, and
  • Increases focus.

Get your body moving by taking a stroll away from your work area. Stretch muscles that feel tense. Shake your arms and legs or do simple exercises in your workspace. For example, you could do wall push-ups, repeatedly standing from your chair.

Print this useful infographic on desk exercises, bit.ly/36X4kte!

Source: Time to Move, hr.umich.edu/benefits-wellness/health-well-being/ mhealthy/faculty-staff-well-being/physical-activity/time-move.

Personalize Your Plate

Plate, fork, and knife on table

March is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” There is no one-size-fts-all when it comes to nutrition. Everyone is unique! Each of us has different tastes, traditions, and budgets.

Personalize your plate to make sure every bite counts by choosing “nutrient-dense” foods. Nutrient-dense foods are those that are high in nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, but not very high in calories. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests the following:

  1. Start with personal preferences. When choosing nutrient-dense foods, be sure to think about the healthy foods you and your family truly enjoy. If you and your family enjoy the food you eat, you will be more likely to retain your healthy eating habits over time.
  2. Celebrate your food traditions! For example, if your family traditionally enjoys eating spaghetti and meatballs, make the same dish using less sodium and saturated fat. Use low-sodium sauce. Use leaner beef or ground turkey for the meatballs. Choose whole grain pasta. With a few small changes, you can still enjoy any traditional dish.
  3. Consider your budget. Healthy eating can be budget friendly and delicious. The ISU Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, is a great source for easy, low-cost recipes.

Sources: Eat Right, bit.ly/3tHoP6T, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, bit.ly/3jw8NIv

Apps to Get You Back on Your Feet

Woman working at computer and looking at watch

If you sit more than 30 minutes at a time for more than six hours a day, you are at higher risk of death from all causes. Even an hour of physical activity daily cannot undo the damage caused by too much sitting.

You can lower your health risk by standing up for only a few minutes every half hour. One way to make sure you do this is to get a free reminder app for your laptop or smart phone. With a reminder app, you decide how often you want to take a break from work to stand, stretch, walk around, or do some aerobic or resistance exercises.

Visit Whole Family Living, www.wholefamilyliving.com/apps-to-helpyou-
move-more-at-work/, for a review of the many reminder apps available.

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/

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