To promote health and well-being, healthy adults should get 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity weekly. Although spring is around the corner, it still may not be warm enough to get moving outside. Get moving in the comfort of your home with Spend Smart. Eat Smart.® physical activity videos. You can access these at Spend Smart. Eat Smart., https://bit.ly/3ol6oE6.
Does just thinking about getting more exercise stress you out? It may help you to remember that once you do start a physical activity regularly, you will be melting your stress away.
“Exercise produces a relaxation response that serves as a positive distraction,” says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. Getting enough physical activity can counteract the effects of stress. It strengthens your immune system. It helps ward off fatigue and illnesses. A 20-minute walk may energize you more than an afternoon nap!
Source: WebMD.com, www.webmd.com
Too much stress is bad for your mental and physical health. Stress is your body’s reaction to real or perceived threats. This “fight or fight” response releases chemicals that affect many areas of your physical health, including your immune system.
Chronic stress can lead to the following:
- Frequent muscle aches, headaches, or changes in sleep habits
- Greater frequency of colds and fu
- Increased sadness, anxiety, anger, or irritability
- Reduced concentration and forgetfulness
- Overeating or loss of appetite
The good news is that there are ways you can help lower chronic stress like eating well, moving more, and getting enough sleep. If you believe you are suffering from stress symptoms, check out one of these free publications from the ISU Extension Store, store.extension.iastate.edu, to help you cope. If you think you may need counseling to help you cope with your stress, contact the Iowa Concern Hotline, www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/, at 1-800-447-1985.
In the last two years, Americans have become more interested in “functional foods” to boost their immune systems. Unfortunately, there is no one magic food that will make you invincible to colds, flu, and COVID. Over the long run, though, two eating habits can cut your risk of catching contagious illnesses.
Limit foods high in sugar, salt, and/or saturated fat. Too much of these can keep your white blood cells from
working as well as they should. Drink water, unsweetened tea, or milk more often instead of pop. Snack on fruits or
vegetables; choose baked chips over regular; enjoy whole grain granola bars over cookies. Eat baked or grilled meats
instead of fried.
Aim for at least 4–5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables are the main source of the vitamins
and minerals you need to resist illnesses. For example, the tomatoes and kale in this month’s soup recipe give you lots
of the antioxidant vitamins A and C. The lentils are rich in zinc, which is also important to immune health.
Interested in finding out more about foods and health habits that strengthen your immune system? Visit Today’s Dietitian, www.todaysdietitian.com, to read an excerpt from The Family Immunity Cookbook.
Today’s Dietitian, www.todaysdietitian.com
We all can use encouragement at times, even some celebration when we meet a goal. Cheering on a friend or family member who wants to be more physically active is a wonderful way to show your support. Be open and listen—congratulate first steps and celebrate progress along the way. Help it happen—take a walk or explore new activities together. Don’t push too hard and DO keep it positive.
Source: How to Encourage Someone Toward Physical Fitness, nextavenue.org
Potatoes are a staple in many households. While potatoes may have a bad reputation, they’re versatile (baked, mashed, fried, boiled) and nutrient rich. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium.
Keeping an eye on your blood sugar? You can still enjoy potatoes. Compared to many vegetables, potatoes may raise blood sugar quickly. However, the effect on your blood sugar is influenced by the type of potato and cooking method. For example, a white potato can increase blood sugar more quickly than a sweet potato, while a boiled russet potato raises blood sugar more slowly than a baked russet potato.
It’s also important to look at your entire meal versus just one food. When you enjoy potatoes with foods higher in protein and healthy fat, the potato is digested more slowly, which slows the rise of blood sugar.
FUN FACT: Don’t store potatoes with apples. Apples and many other fruits produce ethylene gas, which promotes sprouting.
What Potatoes Have the Highest Glycemic Index?, nutritionletter.tufts.edu
7 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Potatoes, healthline.com
Produce Basics – Potatoes, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/produce-basics/
Current physical activity guidelines recommend strength training, which helps to prevent or reverse sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the decline of skeletal muscle tissue, or muscle mass, as we age. Doing strength exercises at least twice a week keeps your muscles strong, so that you can do everyday activities such as lifting groceries and rising from a chair.
Visit the National Institute on Aging Go4Life exercise videos, bit.ly/3ocqDmy, on YouTube for strength-training exercises, 7 tips for a safe and successful strength-training program, bit.ly/3GNZQ8p, or download the Prevent Sarcopenia handout, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/14826.
If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi (tie-chee). Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements. Practicing tai chi helps to improve balance and stability in older people and in those with Parkinson’s disease. It reduces back pain and improves quality of life in people with heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.
Although you can rent or buy videos and books about tai chi, consider seeking guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor to gain the full benefits and learn proper techniques. To find a class near you, contact local fitness centers, health clubs, and senior centers.
Feeling tired, slow, and sluggish? People often don’t feel their best when they are not getting enough physical activity. But how much is enough? Experts say, for most of us, at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week promotes health and well-being. For the best results, aim for a combination of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and flexibility activities each week.
Ideally, we need 150 minutes of aerobic activities weekly. Aerobic activities increase your breathing and heart rate and improve heart and lung fitness. Jogging, brisk walking, biking, and swimming are examples.
Muscle-strengthening activities build and maintain both muscles and bones. Lifting weights, using a resistance band, or doing weight-bearing activities such as push-ups, squats, or yoga are all examples. Aim to do these twice weekly, in addition to your aerobic activity.
Flexibility activities help joints to move through their full range of motion. You should enjoy stretching exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi two to three times weekly.
Source: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/physical-activity/.
In the fall, we crave warm, hearty foods like cheesy casseroles and hearty soups. Often, though, these “comfort foods” are high in fat, sodium, and calories.
The next time you make your favorite “comfort foods,” try these tips to make them healthier and even more enjoyable:
- Add extra vegetables of all types—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables—without added sauces, fats, or salt. Double the vegetables in a soup or casserole recipe to add extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Switch up your grains, making at least half of your grains whole grain. Like rice? Try replacing white rice with brown rice in your recipe. This month’s recipe uses brown rice.
- Choose reduced-fat dairy foods, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, in casseroles and cream soups. Reduced-fat cheeses, for example, have less fat but just as much favor and melt just like full-fat cheese.
- Use lean protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products. Cooking on a budget? Canned meats are just as nutritious, cheaper, and easier to use in casseroles.
Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, bit.ly/3kf72S4.