Gifts for the New Year
Posted: December 3, 2012
With the holiday hoopla surrounding us, you may think the gift-giving will soon be over. To have a really successful new year, why not give yourself and your family the best gift of all- good health? Listed below are some guaranteed ways to improve and maintain good health:
The gift of time
It may seem we have little precious time to think, unwind, and exercise. Review your schedule, and say no to any unnecessary time stealers. Take a long view, and see where your high priorities are. You will find your days and weeks less rushed and stressed if you only accept activities that meet your values.
The gift of physical fitness
If you value good health, spend 30 –60 minutes most days with your family or friends moving more. If this amount of time seems like a lot to you, consider the amount of time spent sitting each day. To reduce weight, work up to 270 minutes per week. Easy examples are: walking together while unwinding at the end of the evening, kicking or throwing a ball, or chasing a Frisbee flyer; they all count to improve health. Indoors or out, get another person involved, and you will both be more apt to continue. Besides, 2 or more heads will have more ideas for fun! Work up to these levels below to burn more calories and increase your fitness, reduce stress and sleep better too:
Levels of Physical Activity
Active - using 250-350 calories per hour: Walking fast, bowling, downhill skiing, golfing, easy bicycling, kickball, hopscotch
Very Active - using 350 or more calories per hour: Jumping rope, fast dancing, running, cross-country skiing, swimming, playing tennis or a hard game of basketball, bicycling hard, volleyball, roller skating
One of the great paradoxes of physical activity is stamina. Many people state they are too tired to exercise. However, research shows that when we begin to move more, we have more energy, since our muscles are becoming stronger, especially our heart muscle. If you haven't been very active before, or have health concerns, check with your physician or health care provider to assure a safe way for you to begin.
The gift of healthy food choices
Sometimes it seems overwhelming at the variety of foods available everywhere you turn. With more than 60% of our meals eaten outside the home, the large portions and energy dense foods make it very easy to quickly gain pounds.
One good way to make better food choices is to stock up on lower energy dense foods that do fill you up. These foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains (especially cooked), beans, and low-fat dairy. Because they all contain good sources of water and fiber (both have zero calories), they won’t leave you feeling hungry later when consumed with a balance of other food groups. You will be less likely to overeat, and save calories over time. For the best nutrition, vary your colors of fruits and vegetables-dark green, orange, as well as legumes like most beans, lentils, and chick peas, with other red, yellow and purple vegetables. This rainbow of colors provide the beneficial antioxidants for prevention of heart disease, diabetes, and many forms of cancer, and may reduce arthritis risk as well. United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate calls for 2 cups of fruit, and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables for a 2000 calorie diet per day. Or, to make it even easier to remember, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Let the gift giving truly begin!