Physical Fitness

Women and Physical Exercise

Physical Fitness, our bodies were designed to move. They were not designed to be stationary or lay idle for long periods.  Inactivity causes muscle wasting, heart, and respiratory issues, problems with our muscles and, bones, and other organs. Yet, the older we get, the less interest we have in exercise. Yet, this a the time we need movement the most.

There are many benefits to exercise for women over 40. “I like how I feel after exercise, but it’s the starting part that I have a problem with most days.” Does this sound familiar? It’s the story of my life. I start to work out and may even do it for some weeks and months, but I struggle with consistency. What is it that makes others love working out? How do I make time for it? The answer is simple. We make time for what we consider to be a priority in our lives.

The Importance of Exercise

Here are a few facts from womenshealth.gov,  but in a few words, to improve your health. Exercise to manage weight and take advantage of doing something healthy for yourself. Consider it a way of pampering yourself. However, there are also many health benefits to making physical activity a way of life.

There is strong evidence that regular exercise can lower your chances of the following diseases:

Heart Disease includes heart attacks and other blood or circulatory problems.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced. It can cause paralysis and brain injury.
High Blood Pressure is when the blood that pumps against the artery wall pumps hard for an extended period, damaging organs and leading to further health problems.
Unhealthy cholesterol levels cause clogging of the arteries.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body does not make enough insulin or use it effectively. This can lead to other diseases, such as kidney failure.
Metabolic Syndrome – WebMD defines Metabolic Syndrome not as a disease but as a group of risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol, and abdominal fat.
Colon cancer can be avoided with regular exercise.
Breast cancer – A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of all types of cancer.
Falls – No exercising leads to the breakdown of bones as we age, which can lead to injury in the event of falls.
Depression can look different as we age. One way to help ward off depression is to exercise. It can boost mood. Depression left untreated can lead to heart disease.

Hearing this should motivate us to exercise. But wait, let’s talk about a few more things.

What can happen if you don’t exercise and are out of shape and overweight?

Well, besides the things mentioned above, here are some additional health risks:

Breathing Problems – I know you’ve heard of sleep apnea. Muscle tone in our bodies decreases as we age, and extra weight and lack of exercise increase periods where breathing is stopped for multiple periods during the night.

Osteoarthritis – Brittle bones, lack of exercise, and extra weight are bad combinations if you are prone to osteoarthritis, which can be debilitating.

Gallbladder Disease – The gallbladder is a small sac under the liver that stores bile. It can become diseased. Exercise lowers the chances of getting gallbladder disease regardless of how much fat tissue you have.

Reflux Disease – Reflux is when the gastric solution or acidic fluid flows backward into your esophagus. This can lead to choking during the night and burning in the throat; you guessed it, regular exercise and limiting eating late at night help decrease the symptoms of reflux.

How much exercise should you get? 

There are many theories and views on how much is needed. Still, the public health guidelines recommend a minimum of two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking or gardening) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise (jogging, aerobic, and jump rope) weekly.

That isn’t a lot of time out of a week. It boils down to priority and time management. If you are looking to lose weight, you may have to increase your aerobic activity.

Type of Exercise

At one time, I thought cardio was the only important thing with exercise. I later learned from a trainer that I also needed to include strength training and flexibility through stretching in my fitness regimen. Weights are one way to increase strength but using your body weight is quite affordable and cost-free. I have frequent low back pain from scoliosis, but when I do stretching and strength training at home, I notice a big difference in the level of my discomfort.

Walking

By far, the most comfortable and cheapest form of exercise is walking. It’s free and takes little effort and preparation, but if done correctly will reap good results. It is also an excellent place to start for beginners.

The biggest question is, why aren’t you doing it if you know you should?   There are various reasons why many don’t, including lack of time, little or no motivation, no energy, and the demands of life.

Breaking Barriers

Here are a few suggestions to help eliminate excuses for not exercising:

Try daily exercises at home, such as walking, gardening, or videos.

Wear a device that counts how many steps you are taking per day. I use the Fitbit Inspire and significantly increase my movement during the day. I give myself personal challenges.

Have an accountability partner or an exercise buddy.

Hire a personal trainer.

Participate in group fitness activities.

Everyone needs exercise. It is one of the best ways to prevent illness, improve health, and slow aging.

 

 

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The Benefits of Accountability Partners

Accountability Partners

Have you ever wondered why so many people are unsuccessful in exercising and changing bad habits? Maybe it’s due to the absence of one crucial ingredient many need but doesn’t necessarily utilize; it’s an accountability partner. Without accountability, some of us will not do things necessary for good health. Sure, we all know we need to exercise; it’s just a matter of doing it.

I currently have some friends who hold me accountable for exercise, drinking water, and eating correctly. We check in once a week and give our weight gains or losses. In addition to this, we also encourage each other during the week to drink more water and eat healthy foods. At other times we post pictures of our meals as suggestions for others to try. We also have water consumption and exercise challenges.

 

Two are Better than One
A text in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Now here are some of the benefits of an accountability partner.

Motivation 
If I become slack in my exercise or health management, then I have someone to say, “Hey, you can’t quit now. Get up and keep trying.” Sometimes we may get tired of motivating ourselves, and that’s when an accountability partner steps in. When you run out of gas and feel like giving up, your accountability partner is there to motivate you not to give up. You may hear them say things such as, “That was just 15 push-ups. Give me ten more. Hey, keep going. You can do it. Don’t stop!”


Encouragement
There is nothing like an encouraging text, email, or note from time to time from someone who is in your corner when it comes to health. “Hey, it looks like you’ve lost a few pounds.” (they notice) “I found a recipe you may like. Try it and tell me what you think.” “You drank eight glasses of water today? You go, girl!” Are you exercising for 20 minutes? “You drank eight glasses of water today? Way to go!” “You’re exercising 20 minutes? Maybe you can go for 30 minutes.” Have you had your mammogram or physical this year? Accountability partners give gentle reminders and suggestions.

Success
workplaces and groups incorporate accountability into their health plans by putting systems to keep employees healthy.

They offer discounts or free gym memberships, online health education, weight loss programs, or free health monitoring devices such as the Fitbit. Check with your place of employment to see if they offer any of these programs. 

Exercise buddies can be husbands, sisters, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. You can even find online partners and groups. There is a website called www.sparkpeople.com that has plenty of free resources for losing weight and staying healthy. They also have accountability partners/groups, recipes, exercise videos, and a wealth of other information. If being consistent is difficult for you to get an accountability partner. Remember, two is better than ONE!

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7 Ways to Fight Acid Reflux

7 Ways to Fight Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux Attacks

You suddenly wake up in the middle of the night with severe burning in your throat, the sensation of choking, and the regurgitation of your last meal in your mouth. Not only that, you feel like your throat is on fire. Some people describe these symptoms as heartburn, burning in the stomach, feelings of fullness, and nausea.

This scenario started happening to me regularly. The last few episodes were frightening because I realized that I could have choked (aspirated) in my sleep if I had not awakened, and it could have been fatal. I knew I needed to do something, and it needed to be quick. What is the best way to solve this acid reflux problem?

What Didn’t Work

The first idea was not a good one. I started staying up at least three hours after eating to make sure some of the food settled. Sometimes this worked, and sometimes it didn’t.   Keeping later night hours was a poor decision because I had to go to bed late, and it didn’t deal with the underlying issue.

I also knew that it wasn’t healthy to go to bed late. My original plan did not address the problem. The following are a few tips to deal with acid reflux. I’ve used most of them.

Home Remedies for Acid Reflux 

Don’t eat after 5 or 6 p.m.

Eating before bedtime becomes the most natural solution to the problem of reflux during the night. When I ate after 6 p.m., I frequently had acid reflux. I now try to eat no later than 6 p.m., preferably by 5 p.m.

Charcoal Capsules

One thing that helped was Nature’s Way Charcoal.   Taking two capsules immediately after waking from a choking attack quickly cuts the acid. I keep them on my bedside table for emergencies, but I don’t need them if I refrain from eating after 5 or 6 p.m.   If by chance, I eat after 6, I take two capsules before I go to bed because nine times out of ten, I will get reflux. 

Foods to Eliminate

You should eliminate Fried food should be eliminated. You should also omit other foods if you eat caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, and oily foods.

Eat Almonds

I now try to eat Almonds daily; they are more Alkaline and balance out the acid in the stomach. Side note: I also used Almonds to help lower my cholesterol. It worked!

Eat Apples

Apples help neutralize the acid in the stomach.

Eat a light meal for supper.

I eliminated heavy foods for my last meal of the day and tried to stick with lighter meals.

Take Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

A tablespoon of  Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water can also cut down on stomach acid.

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Understanding Cholesterol

Understanding Cholesterol

Many people are confused about cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  Women need to be careful and monitor these levels because heart disease is rising in this population.  Some say they do not understand how to read the lipid panel when getting test results.

Lipid Panel

Doctors will usually order a panel called the “Lipid Profile.” This panel includes Total Cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.  Although I understood “Total Cholesterol,” I was a little confused about the LDL and HDL levels so, here is a breakdown of the panel.  I hope this brings some clarity to you as well.

What is Cholesterol?  

Cholesterol is a type of fat in the blood.  Our bodies need some fat, but if there is too much in the blood, it can lead to sickness and disease.  Having too much cholesterol can clog and narrow the blood vessels and lead to health problems.

Total Cholesterol  
This cholesterol measures the total amount of cholesterol in your body, including LDL and HDL.  This number should be less than 200.

LDL
This cholesterol level should be low.  Many refer to it as the bad cholesterol.  If this cholesterol is high, it leads to heart disease, causing clogged arteries.  It is best if this number is less than 100.

HDLButter

HDL helps remove the bad cholesterol from the body, and many call this good cholesterol.  Normal levels should be 60 or higher.  HDL levels less than 40 put you at dangerous risk for heart disease.

Triglycerides
Triglycerides are fats. It increases the risk of heart disease.  These types of fats come from fatty foods.  Triglyceride levels should be less than 150.

Why You Should Be Concerned
Over and over again in medical literature, diet and health books, the news, and many other media outlets, certain key aspects seem to be prevalent in many diseases, and the same is true for heart disease.  If we address the following things,  we can significantly reduce our chances of getting many health diseases.

Exercise

Lack of exercise increases the reis of heart disease.  Even though some realize this, they go day in and day out without exercising.  Physical activity must become a way of life.  Look at it this way: you must eat to live and be physically active to live.   Exercise is free medicine for the body.   

Increasing Good Cholesterol

Want to increase your HDL (good) cholesterol?  Then start exercising.  When I did my yearly physical at work, my triglycerides and cholesterol levels were pretty good, but my HDL was too low.   In my exit interview, the evaluator instructed me to increase this level by exercising regularly and that if I didn’t change anything, my results would remain the same.

Diet

You can lower your cholesterol by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables rich in fiber.  There is also fiber in whole grains, nuts, and beans.  If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, the National Academy of Sciences states that women take at least 25 grams of total fiber per day.  Stay away from refined sugar,  white bread, and pasta and try whole grains and natural sugars instead.

Fats

Saturated fats that come from animal products are significant contributors to high cholesterol and should be used sparingly or eliminated.  Labels that contain the words “partially hydrogenated” and choose an alternative product.  On the other hand, some foods that are considered healthy fats are avocados, ground flaxseed, olives, walnuts, almonds, and chia seeds.

Home Food Substitute Suggestions
1.  Substitute for oil – Applesauce
2.  Substitute for eggs – Eggbeaters, ground flaxseed, or the slimy film of boiled flax seed.
3.  Substitute for sugar – Dried fruit such as dates, frozen bananas, Agave Nectar, honey, Turbinado sugar, raw cane sugar, and Stevia.

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