Don’t Be a Couch Potato!

Exercise at Home in Your Spare Time

There are some people that get such a good feeling from running that they will run whether it’s sunny, snowy, or rainy. However, when it’s too cold or you don’t feel safe running when it’s dark, you need an indoor workout that you feel good about.

That’s where having a treadmill comes in handy, but you may have to do your research to find a model with which you’re happy. Don’t be afraid to try out different models in your sporting goods store. This is an important purchase so take your time and ask questions if you need to.

Here are six pros and cons of exercising on a treadmill:

You Control How Long You Exercise

You can start and stop your workout any time you want. It’s also a good time to catch up on your favorite television shows. As a bonus, some newer treadmills have their own television. What could be better than that?

No Dress Code

Another advantage of running on a treadmill is you can dress in whatever you like rather than putting on a jogging suit and running shoes.

If you want to exercise without shoes or socks, practice walking on a softer surface first. Good examples are around your yard or in a local park.

Helps Build Muscle / Good Cardio Workout

It gives you a great cardio workout and your doctor has probably nagged you about getting more exercise. Exercising on a treadmill can help lower blood pressure and strengthen your heart. You may feel so good that you’ll make this part of a daily routine.

You may lose weight and build more muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, and the slimmer you look.

No Socialization

If you have been used to working out at the gym with all the other members, exercising at home can get very lonely. Maybe you’re the type that likes an exercise buddy, but unless you have more than one treadmill, your friends are not likely to join in.

Knee Pain

If you have knee pain, check with your doctor first before you start exercising on your treadmill. If you set the treadmill at a low speed you may bounce up and down more than you would on a flat surface outside. The slow motion can also increase the impact on your heel and knees.

Safety Issues

A treadmill workout is confined to a small area, so it’s easier to over-, under- or side-step and fall off the belt during a run. Most treadmills have rails that you can hang on to, and this is especially important when you’re raising or lowering your speed level.

You can’t put a price on your health. Taking care of yourself will allow you to participate in all that life has to offer.

My Knees Are Killing Me!

5 Helpful Tips To Deal with Osteoarthritis

 

You have to love menopause. One year I have an aching back, then an aching neck, and now I have a pair of aching knees. Welcome to the world of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is often referred to as degenerative joint disease, and affects approximately 27 million people, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

I have always been an active walker and usually logged 10,000 steps a day on a regular basis. I use a Cho-Pat strap to hold my patella in place, but that’s not working as well now. So I am looking into combining the walking with something like biking or shadow boxing.

I found an interesting article that details how eating the right foods may also help knee pain and I would always rather eat delicious food than down a multitude of pills. Here are five helpful tips to deal with osteoarthritis:

Lose Extra Pounds

A recent study was conducted with people who were overweight or obese and suffered from knee osteoarthritis. For each pound lost, there was a four-pound reduction in knee joint stress.

It would be nice if you could eat chocolate cake with a gooey frosting to help you lose weight. Unfortunately, it’s sticking to the basics of less food and more exercise. Eat smaller portions, limit sugary treats, and drink water instead of soda or juice.

Replace Fats with Olive Oil

There is a compound in olive oil called oleocanthal that may help prevent inflammation.

Olive oil can usually be used in recipes that call for butter or vegetable oil, or as a delicious addition to spaghetti sauce. Do as the Italians do and use it as a dip for crusty French bread.

Eat More Fish

It’s always nice when you’re trying to eat healthier, to eat something that actually tastes good. Tuna and salmon are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help lubricate stiff joints in the morning, so it’s easier for you to start your day. Other fish that are rich in Omega-3 acids are herring, mackerel, and sardines.

Boost Vitamin C Intake

Vitamin C helps build healthy collagen and connective tissue. Strawberries, oranges, and grapefruit are all good sources of Vitamin C. On the vegetable side, broccoli, cabbage, and kale can be cooked alone, added to a stir-fry, or tossed in a salad.

Ask you doctor if you need to take a Vitamin C supplement.

 

 

Taking Care of Your Health in Menopause

4 Changes to Make for Better Bone Health

 

I‘ve always been interested in good health, but when I took a bone density test, I was given a diagnosis of osteopenia. Osteopenia occurs when your bones are weaker than normal, but not to the point of having osteoporosis, when bones are more likely to fracture.

A woman in menopause has enough problems with hot flashes, depression, weight gain, and dry skin without having bone health added to the mix.

Here are four changes you can make for better bone health:

Eat Calcium-Rich Foods

Foods that are rich in calcium usually include some of your favorite foods. In the main dish department, cook dried beans such as pinto, navy, or kidney beans. Dairy products such as low-fat or non-fat milk can be used in cooking or poured over your morning breakfast cereal. I have developed a taste for Greek yogurt, which is also a good source of calcium.

Take Calcium Supplements

It is hard to eat enough calcium-rich foods for optimum bone health, especially if you’re watching your calories.  Your doctor may recommend taking a calcium supplement. For a woman in menopause who might not be producing as much stomach acid, calcium citrate may be more easily absorbed.

Increase Vitamin D Levels

One of the best sources of Vitamin D is sunlight.  Now, with all the emphasis on making sure you apply sunscreen every 20 minutes when you’re outside, you don’t get those beneficial rays that could increase your Vitamin D.

A Vitamin D3 supplement promotes calcium absorption and bone mineralization. Your doctor will advise which dosage requirement will work best for you. I take 1000 IUs a day, but if your levels are lower, you may need to take more until your bone density increases.

Strength Training

Any exercise is beneficial but when you’re working on better bone health, you need to do some strength training. When I first heard about strength training for women, I had a picture in my mind of standing in the gym lifting weights. You can lift weights, but not everyone can pony up the big bucks for a gym membership, and there are exercises you can do at home that are just as beneficial.

Start out slowly, and if you have physical limitations such as joint replacement, bad knees, or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor first.

Since I have been following these tips, my last bone density test showed my bone mass had increased.

I Screwed Up My Diet Again

4 Ways I'm Taking Back Control

 

Well I screwed up my diet again.  Too many trips to the buffet, fried chicken, ice cream, and cookies from the Farmer’s Market that are so good they’ll knock your socks off.

So I was getting dressed for church in my one good pair of black pants and I couldn’t even button them around my expanding waistline. What was I going to do? I thought about going into hiding and changing my name so people wouldn’t know it was me, or wearing them unbuttoned with a long slimming top.

I’m not making excuses, even though I would like to, but every other pair of pants that I owned in the same size still fit. I might have drawn the pants up in a hot dryer and maybe that is why they were tight.

So I did a little research to see if I was the only one on the planet that was overeating, and it turns out I have a lot of company. That made me feel better, and now I am on the diet straight and narrow again.

Here are four ways to get back on track after you screw up your diet:

Banish All or Nothing Thinking

Too often when you fall off the diet wagon, there is a tendency to throw in the towel on your diet. Since you ate the fried chicken with all the trimmings, you might as well have a big piece of chocolate cake to top it off. If you feel like you have to give in to your favorite food, sit down and enjoy it, and then get back on track with something healthy like a fruit salad or Greek Yogurt.

Don’t Think of It As Cheating

When you hear the word “cheating,” more often than not something delicious with a lot of calories comes to mind. Give yourself permission to eat some of your favorite foods, and work them into your daily calorie count.

Remember How Good Your Body Feels

It’s important to remember why you’re eating a healthy diet. Sure, it’s fun to give in and eat high-calorie foods, but you often end up with indigestion and a bloated stomach. You’ll be happy to return to healthy foods that are good for your body, make you feel energetic, and help you maintain a normal weight.

Get Some Exercise

Yes, you ingested way too many calories, but there is nothing you can do about that now. If you have a gym membership, lift some weights, ride a stationary bike, or take a fitness class. Schedule an appointment with a personal trainer, who can help you set up some fitness goals to work towards.

Gym memberships can cost an arm and a leg, so if you’re budget-challenged, take a walk, go for a run, hit the trampoline with the kids, or put on some music and perfect your dance moves.

 

 

 

 

No Time to Exercise?

You Can Even Do This Workout on Vacation!

It’s not always easy to make time to exercise. You’re too tired, you need to pick up the kids, make dinner, and finish any leftover housework that didn’t get done. Working out at the gym means you have to put your workout clothes on, fight rush hour traffic, and you may have to wait for someone to finish their workout routine before you can get started.

This is where resistance bands can be a real life saver. Resistance bands are made of strong, thin rubber and some have handles at each end to grab onto. Instead of having to sweat it out at the gym, resistance bands can be used at home, so you can fit in your workout at your convenience.

Here are five benefits of using resistance bands:

More Economical

Have you priced a gym membership lately?  It can eat up a good portion of your paycheck. You can purchase resistance bands at your local sporting goods store for under $10.00. There is usually the option to buy the bands in a set, which usually includes a DVD you can exercise with.

Different Levels of Resistance

Resistance bands are color coded and there are four levels of resistance. If you’re just starting out you may want to start with the lowest resistance band and once you start making progress, you can up the intensity.

Can Be Used for a Solo Workout

If you’re running or walking, it’s often more fun to do it with a buddy, but you can do a solo workout with resistance bands at home or on vacation. Take advantage of nice weather and exercise in the fresh air.

Can Work the Whole Body

I remember when I went to the gym, I used one machine to exercise my legs, and worked with weights to build up my arm muscles. It’s a lot easier to use your resistance bands to work the entire body at once. The best part is that you’ll also reach your fitness goals a lot quicker.

Shake Up Your Routine

You may have a favorite exercise such as biking, walking, or running, that is keeping you in shape, but over time, the body gets used to a routine and you may find yourself making minimal progress. Use your resistance bands in combination with your favorite exercise, or just do the resistance bands every other day.

Is Your Arthritis Pain Making You Miserable?

It Only Takes Ten Minutes a Day to Feel Better!

 

When you suffer from arthritis, it can feel like every area of your body hurts. You may feel like just curling up on the couch with a heating pad, or binge watching your favorite television shows. Pain can make it difficult to clean the house, get dressed, or chase after your kids.

That’s why starting an exercise program is so important. It’s often less painful to keep your joints in a bent position. This may work temporarily, but if it becomes a habit, you may experience permanent loss of mobility. According to Doreen M. Stiskal, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at Seton Hall University, “exercise eases inflammation, improves energy, and promotes the flow of pain-relieving chemicals like endorphins.”

Range of motion exercises gently stretch the muscles as far as they will comfortably go, and with each passing day, your joints feel less painful. Warm up with these exercises before you engage in any physical activity.

Start slowly and aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. You can also break it down into three ten-minute sessions. If you aren’t comfortable working out at the gym, try an exercise CD at home such as the Arthritis Foundation’s “Take Control with Exercise.”

Give yourself credit for small changes such as taking the stairs, parking further away from your destination, or walking 20 minutes without a break.

Invest in a comfortable pair of shoes with arch supports. A walking or running store can ensure you get a proper fit. When you’re trying on shoes, wear your workout socks, and walk around in them for at least ten minutes.

Since you’re just starting out, check out indoor malls, gyms, or the YWCA that have an indoor walking track. You can exercise without too many interruptions, and you won’t have to worry about being outside during bad weather.

Don’t forget to do some resistance training. It may seem like lifting weights will be more painful, but that is not the case. A physical therapist or personal trainer can show you the proper form, and match the weights you lift with your current strength level.

 

 

 

5 Tips to Minimize Bone Loss in Menopause

It's Never Too Early to Start!

You lose more bone mass in menopause because your body is producing less estrogen. This increases your risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis.

You don’t have to suffer in silence. Making wise choices, changing some bad habits, and consulting with your doctor can minimize bone loss, and improve your quality of life.

Here are five tips to minimize bone loss in menopause:

Enjoy the Sunshine

The conventional wisdom is that you shouldn’t go out in the sun without sunscreen. However, enjoying the sun for 15-20 minutes a few times a week, allows you to soak up Vitamin D3. This feel-good vitamin not only helps you build bone mass, it also brightens your mood.

Quit Smoking

Smoking may relax you, but it reduces the amount of calcium in your bones, and interferes with Vitamin D production. There are many over the counter products to help you quit smoking, or you can  join a smoking cessation group.

Weight Bearing Exercise

Walking, jogging, or strength training helps keep bones strong. If you have arthritis or osteoporosis, ask your doctor which exercises would be appropriate for you. If you’re a member of a gym, many personal trainers will give you at least a complimentary session, so take advantage of that.

Foods High in Calcium

Fish with bones such as salmon, sardines, or whitebait, are rich in calcium, and can be served as a main dish, added to a casserole, or used as a tasty protein over salad greens. Other good sources of calcium include almonds, broccoli, collard greens, dried figs, soy milk, and fortified tofu.

Calcium Supplements

It may not be possible to get all the calcium you need from your diet. Unless you take hormone therapy, you need between 1000-1500 mg a day. Take two to three times a day, because the body only absorbs about 500mg at a time.

 

Is Keeping Up With Exercise Driving You Crazy?

5 Benefits of Wearing a Fitbit Flex

 

Staying fit is a priority at any age, but especially in the menopause years it’s easy to slack off on exercise and the next thing you know you’re piling on the pounds.

That’s why I am saving up my money to buy a Fitbit Flex. If you’re not familiar with the Fitbit Flex, it is a solid basic bracelet that you wear on your wrist. You program in your fitness goals, and the Fitbit keeps track of your progress.

It’s designed to be worn 24 hours a day, and even has a vibrating alarm that will tell you when it is time to get up and start your day.

Here are five benefits of wearing a Fitbit Flex:

It’s Waterproof:

When you drive to the gym to swim laps, you don’t have to worry about taking off the Fitbit Flex and possibly losing it. I like the fact that you can shower with it on and it just keeps on working.

Counts Daily Steps

You are probably on the go a good part of the day, and the Fitbit app keeps track of how many steps you’re taking on a daily basis. If you have set a goal of 10,000 steps a day, when you reach your goal, Fitbit awards you a fancy badge. It’s kind of like an extra pat on the back.

Tracks Water Intake

Use the Fitbit Flex app to monitor how much water you’re drinking. You even get a reminder if you’re not drinking enough fluid. What is really cool is that it takes the total water intake and calculates the average ounces a week.

Monitors Food Intake

You may have used apps before to calculate your food intake, but the Fitbit Flex app has a chart that shows you how many calories you’ve taken in vs. how many calories you’ve burned off. Follow the meal shortcuts so you don’t have to stand over a hot stove all day.

Tracks Sleep Patterns

The Fitbit app tracks your sleep so you can see how well you slept, and the times you were awake and restless. You’re going to be more productive if you’re well rested, so you can identify the things that are keeping you awake, and take action to eliminate them.

 

 

 

Don’t Turn Your Vacation into a Diet Disaster

5 Ways to Vacation in Style Without Breaking the Calorie Bank!

 

Who doesn’t love to go on vacation? New sights to see, people to have fun with, and just a complete rest from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Get some neat souvenirs to take back, but you don’t want to bring back extra pounds that may be hard to take off.

Here are five ways to vacation in style without breaking the calorie bank:

Pack Healthy Snacks

You’ll probably be eating a lot of meals out, so having healthy snacks on hand will help keep calories in check. Fill small Ziploc bags with fresh fruit, trail mix, or protein bars.  Once it’s time for dinner, you won’t be so hungry that you inhale the bread basket or order a three-course meal.

Bring Workout Equipment

Many hotels have a gym or swimming pool, so take advantage of that if possible. If not, bring an exercise DVD or a jump rope and exercise in your room. If it is a hip-hop DVD, you can close the blinds and really get crazy.

Stick to Light Drinks

Part of the fun of being on vacation is sitting and sipping one of those fancy umbrella drinks with the rest of your friends. Unfortunately, those cute drinks can add up to 500 calories, so stick with lighter options such as a Bloody Mary, white wine spritzer, or champagne.

Balance Sweets and Treats

I’m not into self-denial, and if I am at a special lunch or dinner, I don’t want to eat an apple while everyone else is having apple pie. However, I try to balance things out by doing more exercise, or eating a smaller helping.

Exercise as a Family

Kids are notorious for being bored on vacation, so a family activity such as bicycle riding should be fun for everyone. There are lots of nice bicycle trails, or if you don’t mind spending some extra money, rent Segway-powered scooters.

Throwing a football around outside allows kids to work off that nervous energy, and it doesn’t cost anything. Throw a few passes over their heads so they have to run and retrieve the ball.

 

 

 

Stiff Neck Making You Grouchy?

5 tips to Reduce Chronic Neck Pain in Menopause

Nothing makes me crankier than a stiff neck, and once it comes on, it’s awfully hard to get rid of. When I go out to any social occasion, I tuck a good supply of Tylenol™ or Ibuprofen™ in my purse.

I’ve been doing some research on the whole problem and was pleasantly surprised that there are steps I can take on my own that not only help the pain, but keep my neck in the best condition possible.

Here are five tips to reduce chronic neck pain in menopause:

Put Your Computer at Eye Level

Sit down at your computer and close your eyes. When you open them, you should be looking directly in the middle of your computer screen. If that is not the case, you will need to raise the height of the monitor.

Laptops are a little trickier, since you usually have to gaze downward to see the screen. An easy fix is to hook it up to a separate monitor.

Use a Backpack

It is a natural tendency to stuff everything you’ll need for the day in your purse or briefcase, and the weight is usually all on one side of the body. Use a backpack and the weight will be more evenly distributed across your shoulders.

Sleep on Your Back

If you sleep on your back, your spine will be more comfortable. To take even more pressure off your neck, place a pillow under each arm.

Try an Orthopedic Pillow

You want to sleep on a pillow that keeps your cervical spine in alignment, and an orthopedic pillow has a deeper depression where your head lies, giving extra support to the neck.

If you must sleep on your side, try the Biosense 2-1 Shoulder Pillow. This lightweight memory foam has a special cut-out for the shoulders, and keeps your head, neck, and shoulders in proper alignment while you sleep.

Do Stretching/Strengthening Exercises

As you go about your daily routine, make time to do some neck exercises. Stretching the neck preserves your range of motion, and helps relieve stiffness.

Strengthening exercises will help maintain improved posture, and prevent future flare-ups. These exercises should be done every other day so the muscles have time to repair themselves.