You may have come across the term “empty calories” a few times in today’s health-conscious world. Empty calories refers to calories derived from food containing no nutrients such as; cupcakes, added sugar, and soft drinks. Everyone requires a variety of essential nutrients. Maintaining the balance between nutrient-rich food intake and physical activity can be difficult so avoiding these particular foods can be beneficial to your body depending on your lifestyle. Active individuals who engage in rigorous exercise/activity need food energy as fuel, which can be supplied by empty calories in addition to foods with essential nutrients. Less active individuals and those who are eating less or drastically altering their diet may suffer malnutrition if they eat food supplying empty calories but not enough nutrients. Keeping a healthy variety in your diet is key!
We have heard it before; “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!”. Frequent and consistent physical exercise amplifies the immune system and helps prevent certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, insomnia, and obesity. The majority of the benefits from exercise are achieved with around 3500 metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes per week. For example, climbing stairs 10 minutes, vacuuming 15 minutes, gardening 20 minutes, running 20 minutes, and walking or bicycling for transportation 25 minutes on a daily basis would togetherachieve about 3000 MET minutes a week.*
Not only does a healthy dose of exercise apply to the muscles in your arms and legs, it also applies to your brain. Studies have shown exercise helps promote positive self-esteem, improve mental health, and promote steady digestion. Reading on a daily basis provides a constant mental exercise to continuously improve your mental status. In addition to reading, we suggest you download a “brain game”. There are a multitude of Mental Game apps available on smart devices that are designed to put your mind on a unique “obstacle course” to exercise and grow mental capabilities.
Drinking water helps maintain the balance of body fluids. Water helps keep your body well hydrated, which essential because almost every cell in the body needs water to function properly. Most of your body is composed of water, about 60%. When there is less water in the body, there is a drop of blood volume which causes the heart to work harder to pump oxygenated blood out in the bloodstream, and other major organs also work less efficiently. Thus, drinking adequate water can help your body function better.
Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. Overall dehydration makes your dries skin and gives a wrinkled appearance. Here are a few more suggestions to keeping well hydrated through your busy day:
- Start each meal with a glass of water
- Fill your meals with fruits and vegetables. Their high water content will add to your hydration. Approximatley 20% of our fluid intake comes from foods.
- Keep water bottles handy in your car, at your desk, or in your bag. Having a water bottle around at all times reminds you to keep hydrated.
A variety of studies have been conducted over the world on the effects green tea has on the human body. Many have discovered health benefits such as lowering your risk of Type II Diabetes and cardiovascular, improved brain function, and increases in fat burning to assist in weight loss. Green tea contains bioactive compounds that reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells from damage. The catechizes in green tea have other biological effects as well. Studies show that they can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, potentially lowering your risk of infections. Drinking 3 cups of green tea is another great way to be mindful of your body’s well being.
As your body ages, muscles can become tighter and range of motions in the joints can be minimized. Stretching helps improve flexibility and range of motion. A lack of flexibility can cause movement to become slower and less fluid, making an individual more susceptible to muscle strains or other soft tissue injuries. This can put a damper on active lifestyles and even hinder day-to-day, normal motions. Whether you do a daily strentch int he comfort of your own home or join a yoga class, it’s important to incorporate a daily stretch routine to your life. The gentle movements of tai chi, yoga or pilates are wonderful options if you enjoy a more social setting.
This exercise consists of starting your morning with writing 5 things that you are grateful for in life down. Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals. So whether it’s your grandchildren’s laughter, a favorite wine, or even your favorite golf club jot down 5 things you enjoy. Life is about living it to the fullest. This exercise has acted as a positive reminder as to why you work so hard to achieve a healthy state for your body.
What was considered a hippy-dippy practice, is coming into its own as a stress-reduction technique for even the most type-A kind of people. Mingyur Rinpoche explains that mediation is often misunderstood and is very basic. Mediation simply consists of giving the “monkey” in your mind something to focus on. When meditating, you instruct the “monkey” to focus your breathing. In and out. In and out. Simple as that. Many studies has indicated the stress reduction could be the key to meditation’s beneficial effect on health. University of Wisconsin study saw increased electrical activity in regions of the left frontal lobe, an area that tends to be more active in optimistic people, after eight weeks of training in meditation. More studies have shown improvement for fibromyalgia and psoriasis in those who meditate.
Laughter is a therapeutic ally in healing and is a valuable resource in preventive medicine and mental, emotional, and social benefits. Diffuses stress enhances problem-solving skills, exercises alternate perspectives, elevates moods. Improves cooperation and empathy between people. It is a significant element to communication and relationships. It has even been known to provide a natural defense agains illness. Laughter is considered a form of low-impact cardiovascular exercise. It jogs our internal organs and is particularly important for people who lead a sedentary life, seniors as well as bedridden or wheelchair-bound individuals.
Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and much more! Its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Research indicates that people who get less sleep—six or fewer hours a night—have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more. When it comes to our health stress and sleep are nearly one and the same—and both can affect cardiovascular health. Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation).
Walking 10,000 steps a day is not an official recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, the agency recommends adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, such as brisk walking. To meet the CDC’s recommendation, you need to walk about 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day, Tudor-Locke said. It’s easy on the joints and it’s easy to do. Especially surrounded by the beautiful Southern Utah scenery. It also lowers the risk of blood clots, since the calf acts as a venous pump, contracting and pumping blood from the feet and legs back to the heart, reducing the load on the heart. So what are you waiting for? Strap on those sneakers and strut your way to a lighter mood and a deeper sleep.
Don’t forget to clock 8 hours of sleep. You’ve got a busy, enjoyable day ahead of you.
* Kyu, Hmwe H; Bachman, Victoria F; Alexander, Lily T; Mumford, John Everett; Afshin, Ashkan; Estep, Kara; Veerman, J Lennert; Delwiche, Kristen; Iannarone, Marissa L; Moyer, Madeline L; Cercy, Kelly; Vos, Theo; Murray, Christopher J L; Forouzanfar, Mohammad H (9 August 2016). “Physical activity and risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and ischemic stroke events: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013”. BMJ: i3857. doi:10.1136/bmj.i3857.