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.
Use workout videos.
Explore streaming channels to find those that are free.
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.”
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.
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.
Whether you are back to school or work, packing a meal can have some amazing benefits! Packed meals may be lower in calories and provide more essential nutrients, such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Packing meals also saves money. It is important to remember lunch-box food safety when packing your meal. Follow these tips to prevent being ill when eating on the go.
Keep cold food below 40°F and hot food above 140°F.
Use an insulated lunch box. Some food is safe without a cold source, like whole fruits and vegetables, canned meat and fish, and peanut butter.
For perishable foods, keep foods cold by including at least two cold sources. Use two frozen gel packs or combine a frozen gel pack with a frozen juice box, fruit cup, or frozen bottled water. Place cold sources on top and bottom of perishable food items, including lunch meats, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and milk.
Clean your lunch box or bag regularly to avoid bacteria growing on the sides.
Lunch provides the midday boost that you and your child need for afternoon brainpower. Packing lunch with your child is also a great way to stay connected. What if your child is a choosy eater? This can be a sign your child is searching for more independence. Your child might benefit from packing their own lunch, while you have the opportunity to serve as a model for good nutrition behaviors. Use the five main food groups for you and your child to pack your lunch.
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.
Salad is a popular summer dish. However, it is also linked with foodborne illness. There are ways to prepare salad safely so that friends and family do not get sick. Salad food safety tips include the following:
Wash your hands! Always wash hands before and after preparing any salad ingredient.
Don’t rewash lettuce that is already prewashed in the package. This can introduce contaminants that were already eliminated.
Use a different knife and cutting board for each ingredient. If you intend to keep salad ingredients separate for people to make their own, you won’t have contaminated all ingredients.
Keep salads cold in a refrigerator, in a cooler, or over ice. Don’t leave out at room temperature for more than two hours. Warmer temperatures (40–140 degrees) can cause bacteria to grow on food and promote illness.
Make sure salad is served with a utensil and not bare hands. Hands carry viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. It is best to use clean and sanitized salad tongs or forks.
Visit Produce Basics (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/produce-basics) for tips on how to select, store, and wash many types of salad ingredients.