Geocaching—A treasure hunt around the corner

Geocaching device on a rock

Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt. It takes people to places they otherwise may have never gone. It’s a low-cost way for the whole family to stay active. You can enjoy outdoor adventures year-round. In fact, winter can be the best time to geocache—no bugs and fewer people!

To get started, set up a free account at Geocaching (geocaching.com/play). Download the app to your smartphone or purchase a GPS unit. In the app, you will see a map of all the caches. You can either choose to search for caches near you or browse for other locations you want to explore.

What you will find may be a very small pill container or a larger plastic container. Some will be harder to find than others, but they are never buried. Inside will be a log to sign. There might also be “swag” like geodes, stickers, patches, pins, marbles, keychains, lanyards, and geocoins. Visit geocaching.com for success tips and discover what is hiding near you!

Home Gym Ideas

Workout equipment

Can’t go to the gym? Make your own at home, using these suggestions.

  1. Make your own weights. Use canned goods or fill recycled milk jugs with water or sand.
  2. Make your own resistance bands using old nylons or tights.
  3. Walk up and down your stairs to replace the step machine workout. Play some music to keep you going. Increase the workout by adding a new song each time.
  4. A jump rope is a great option for cardio workouts at home. It’s more affordable than a treadmill or exercise bike.
  5. Use free smart phone apps or computer programs to plan or track your workouts.
  6. Use an exercise ball instead of bench and exercise equipment. Use the ball to do crunches, push-ups, chest presses, and more.
  7. Need a yoga mat? Use a towel during stretching, yoga, or core exercises. It also prevents your hands and feet from sliding during exercises.

Sources:
Medline Plus, medlineplus.gov; Eat Smart, Move More, eatsmartmovemoreva.org

Pulse Flour: A Healthy Baking Alternative

Not all four is grain. “Pulse fours” are becoming more mainstream as plant-based diets gain popularity. These fours provide a good source of protein along with other nutrients. They are also gluten free. Pulse fours are made from pulses or the edible seeds of legumes, including dry beans, chickpeas,
lentils, lupin (lupini) beans, and multiple varieties of peas.

You can buy chickpea four plain or blended with other glutenfree fours. A 1/4-cup serving of chickpea four contains 120 kilocalories, 21 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fber, 1.5 grams fat, and 5 grams protein. Key nutrients include folate, copper, and manganese. This four has a fne texture. The nutty, mild favor works well for sweet products.

Lentil four is the most nutrient-dense pulse four. You can combine it with other fours, such as almond or brown rice, in sweet and savory recipes. A 1/4-cup serving of lentil four contains 170 kilocalories, 29 grams carbohydrate, 14.5 grams fber, 0.5 grams fat, and 12 grams protein. Key nutrients include folate, iron, manganese, and potassium.

Green pea four has a mild, almost sweet favor. It is slightly lower in calories than other fours. A 1/4-cup serving of green pea four contains 100 kilocalories, 18 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fber, 0 grams fat, and 8 grams protein. Key nutrients include folate, iron, thiamin, and zinc. Be aware that this four will turn baked goods green!

Lupin four is another good source of plant-based protein. A 1/4-cup serving of lupin four contains 110 kilocalories, 12 grams carbohydrate, 11 grams fber, 2.5 grams fat, and 11 grams protein. This four also promotes the “good gut bugs.” Individuals with peanut or soy allergies should be cautious about consuming items prepared with lupin four. This four should be blended with other fours to offset the bitter favor.

Source: The Ultimate Guide to Pulse Flours, www.todaysdietitian.com

Activity—A Natural Mood Booster!

When the sun shines less in fall and winter, that can depress our mood. Regular physical activity lifts our spirits by releasing feel-good endorphins. Aim for 30 minutes of activity three to fve days a week. You can engage in three 10-minute bouts of activity a day, if 30 minutes all at once is daunting. Try these ideas for indoor physical activity during the cold and icy months:

  • Turn on the radio and dance.
  • March in place while watching your favorite TV show.
  • Set an alarm to walk around your house or office every hour during the day.
  • Climb stairs.
  • Use workout videos.
    • Explore streaming channels to find those that are free.
    • Borrow an exercise video from your local library.
    • Visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, for free physical activity videos.

Lunch and Learn!

Working and homeschooling at home this fall? The structure of school and work can help limit our eating to designated meal times. When we’re all at home all day, though, we may graze on less-than-healthy choices. What to do?

  • Involve the whole family in planning meals and menus. Family members can suggest weekly menu items, including something new. The ISU Extension and Outreach Spend Smart. Eat Smart. (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/) website has planning tips and a Five Day Meal Planning Worksheet (tinyurl.com/yyhaf3w2).
  • Get the family involved in preparation and cooking. They may be more inclined to help if the menu was their suggestion. Children will learn colors, shapes, reading, math, and science as they cook, without realizing they are “learning.”
  • Prep meals in advance. View this video to learn how to Cook Now, Enjoy Later (vimeo.com/419747928).
  • Make snack bins in your fridge and on your kitchen table for both perishable and nonperishable snacks.
    – Nonrefrigerated Snacks: peanut butter; washed fresh fruit such as pears or bananas; individual bags of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, whole-grain crackers, or trail mix; individual applesauce or fruit cups; or Apple Cinnamon Bread (see featured recipe).
    – Refrigerated Snacks: low-fat yogurt; precut vegetables and fruits such as apples, carrots, and celery; or high-protein foods such as cottage cheese, cheese sticks, hummus, or hard-cooked eggs.
  • Keep sweet and salty snacks out of sight.
  • Everyone “starving” right before a meal? Set cut-up raw vegetables out while the meal is being prepared. Watch Veg Out! (vimeo.com/419742344) for more on vegetables.
  • Remember you don’t have to be perfect at this. Do your best as a family and have fun.

Sources:
Adapted from American Institute for Cancer Research (aicr.org).
For more snack ideas see the ISU Extension and Outreach publication Snacks for Healthy Kids (store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/4605).

Take A Hike

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.

Looking for an Iowa hiking destination?

Grab your hiking books and enjoy being active on Iowa’s trails.

Source: Stanford News, (news.stanford.edu/2015/06/30/hiking-mental-health-063015/)

Setting SMART Physical Activity Goals

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.

building blocks
  • 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.

Source: WebMD, www.webmd.com/

Stay Active Without Breaking the Bank

There are several ways to exercise and stay active. Many people think they must spend a lot of money on exercise programs or special equipment. Here are some ways to get active without spending money.

  • Check out the physical activity videos on the Spend Smart Eat Smart website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video-category/physicalactivity.
  • Walk more. Aim for 30 minutes daily.
  • Play with your kids or pets. Keeping up with their unlimited energy is a good workout.
  • Clean your house, wash the car or mow the lawn.
  • Use free local workouts. Check your community calendar for free or reduced priced classes.
  • Dance! One can burn lots of calories in a short period of time.

Physical activity is vital to overall health. Get active and start feeling better today.

Sources: Health.gov, health.gov

Sleep for Overall Health

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.

Sources:
CDC, cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html
Health.gov, health.gov
Healthy children, healthychildren.org
Eat right, www.eatright.org

Refresh Yourself with Water for Summer Exercise

Water bottle

The human body is 60% water. Our cells need water to:

  • Remove waste,
  • 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)
  • Milk
  • Fruit
  • Nonstarchy vegetables
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • 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.

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