Moving About(Why We Need To Keep Moving)

My grandmother and many of her siblings lived to be old people.  Back then it was very common to work in the garden, work outside repairing the house, fences, painting, caring for livestock and generally doing many chores we do not do as much today in modern society.  I don’t know about you, but I have a guy that paints my house.  My grandfather did his own.  The point is that modern society has given us an easier path through life, but at the same time has made us all more sedentary.  Not everyone has a sedentary lifestyle or job (especially nurses who walk many miles per shift between tasks). Many people do though, and there is a remedy for it.  We have to put more movement back into our lives.  There is tons of research that describes the known health benefits of exercise.

Exercise, in the past, meant daily chores and work that brought people up out of their chairs, not that they spent much time in a chair, and moving about doing necessary tasks.  It generally did not mean going to the gym or jogging 3 miles, but it meant strenuous activity all the same.  My grandmother was still out in the yard, working in her garden, in her eighties.  She could be seen sweeping her porches, washing her windows, doing heavy housework, etc.  the list is endless.  She kept moving, day-to-day, stopping for a rest in the afternoon, and then was at it again.  Her mind was clear until her death at 95.  She was on no medications except Tylenol, for a “headache,” when her brother was in town.  Ha ha. He, by the way, lived to be 3 months shy of 100.  Ok, we don’t all have those kind of genes, but we can help ourselves out by moving about more.

We often have more focused exercise programs to follow today, but with that, or if you don’t have an exercise regimen that you follow, just adding more chores can be a good form of exercise.  Vacuuming my stairway sure gets me sweating, which is great.  I have taken up vacuuming twice per week instead of once.  It is mainly for the exercise, but also helps with the dog and cat hair that collects so quickly from my pets.  The house really needs it.  I just don’t like running, walking for long distances or going to the gym.  I do ski and I do play some golf, but honestly, my housework and yard work makes me sweat more and work harder.  My point is this, we just have to find ways to move our bodies more for better health and it can be in the form of many different activities.  If you have a job where you sit all day, then maybe it is time to consider ways to get up and move.  I don’t have to list them, but I will anyway:  walk the dog!, tend to your yard or garden, hike, go visit historical sites, or museums, walk the grounds, go to the mall and walk, vacuum more often, wash the windows, empty the cupboards and clean them, do some chores for your neighbors, I can go on… Don’t get stuck with the idea that exercise has to mean working out at a gym, running or playing a sport.  While this is great for some people, it does not work for everyone.  You have to do things that work for you.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise controls weight, combats health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, a number of cancers, arthritis and falls. It improves mood, boosts energy, improves your sex life, improves sleep and can be fun and social! 1  These seem like great reasons to get moving.  Yoga is a wonderful and gentle form of exercise if you start in a beginner class.  I go to yoga because I have seen and cared for many, many elderly patients who have suffered falls.  Years ago people died from complications of a broken hip!  That is not as common anymore, at least that has been my observation over the years.  People are not kept in bed anymore, they are up and learning to walk again with physical therapy.  It saves their lives by getting their lung fluid moving, blood flowing to the area and the rest of their organs and things are not as apt to slow down and cause deadly complications such as pneumonia.  The best way to avoid falls and fractures is to move and practice our balance.  Yoga provides this and also eases the pain of arthritis.  I will vouch for that!  It gently stretches out your muscles and joints so that they become more pliable and you begin to be stronger and more flexible.  I am interested in keeping my balance steady as I age.  That is why I started going to yoga.  I am not a regular, but I do keep going or practicing at home.  You should try it!

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to add more movement into each day!

Sherry Dumais, MBA, BSN, RN

References

1 Mayo Clinic Staff.  2016. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

 

Thinking About Eating Healthier? What Are The Benefits?

There are plenty of reasons to start eating a healthier diet.  One attractive reason is simply to feel better!  Drinking plenty of clean water and adding more fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet is a good way to start. Getting back to eating a healthy diet is really important if you want to maintain a normal weight and feel your best.  There are things we can all do to improve our diets, and while nobody is perfect all the time, we can at least strive to eat better as a general rule.

I have to admit that there is no way that I am going to give up cake in my life, but I rarely eat it and I do not have dessert as a general rule.  I grew up in a home where dessert was only for special occasions.  This seems like a practical rule of thumb and it came right out of my mother’s book of practicality.  OK, she didn’t have a book, but she believed, as her mother did, that desserts were for special occasions like birthdays and holidays.  Think about it for a minute.  Adopting a rule like that is a way to slow down on the sweets, without giving them up forever, right?  When I married my husband, he thought he had to have something sweet after every meal to signal that the meal was over.  ?? what ??  Anyway, one day he said there was nothing he could do to get rid of his “love handles.” I told him to think about all the extra calories he’d give up per year if he just eating those packaged cookies after every meal.  He gave it up!  It was a good move and anyone can do something just as simple as a first step toward healthier eating.

People have really suffered, in many ways, since the advent of fast food, drive thru coffee and donut shops and the convenience of it all.  It has contributed to the rise in obesity, diabetes and everything that goes hand in hand with these conditions.  I have seen severe diabetics, in the hospital, have family members deliver coffee drinks loaded with sugar and fat (cream) to them that they bought at coffee shops located right inside the hospital!  If this isn’t some kind of a money-making racket, that goes against the hospital mission, I don’t know what is!  The patients are often on tightly monitored insulin regimens, as part of their treatment, healing and regulation of their diabetes.  Then, in comes the coffee and donuts from well meaning loved ones and, oops, everything that has been done for the patient is quickly undone.  Diabetes is a serious and deadly disease that many people don’t seem to take seriously.  Maybe because it is so common today?

There are so many good reasons to eat a healthy diet and here are just a few:

  1. Avoid obesity and all of the other conditions that can go hand in hand with it.  An article in the Clinical Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism warns that being overweight predisposes us to diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, heart disease and some forms of cancer. 1
  2. Feeling our best each day. Consider that the foods we eat each day affect us more than we realize. That is according to an article in the Harvard Business Review that gives an analogy comparing fuel for our bodies (food) to the fuel we put in our cars (gasoline). “With fuel, you can reliably expect the same performance from your car no matter what brand of unleaded you put in your tank. Food is different. Imagine a world where filling up at Mobil meant avoiding all traffic and using BP meant driving no faster than 20 miles an hour. Would you then be so cavalier about where you purchased your gas? Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon. “2 More fruits and vegetables in our diet will give us the best performance and keep us feeling more energized and alert as well as helping our bodies to function better.  We all know that eating more salads helps us with elimination that in turn makes our insides feel better.  Think of a fatty meal that gives you heartburn and indigestion after about an hour.  That derailment during an important business meeting after lunch may not seem so out there after all.
  3. Looking our best. By eating better quality food and drinking plenty of water our outward appearance will benefit.  You may have noticed that being overweight causes some people to look much older.  According to Lawrence Gibson, M.D., research on the best foods for healthy skin is limited.  Still, antioxidant rich foods seem to have a protective effect for the skin.  Some skin friendly foods are:  carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, , green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, blueberries, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, salmon, mackerel and other Omega 3 rich foods.  On  the other hand, there are foods that seem associated with skin damage such as highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. 3

Buying and preparing meals with fresh ingredients, at least part of the week, is a good start toward eating better.  Drinking plenty of clean water, plain tea or coffee without sugar and cream is one way to avoid putting many extra calories into your body.  Coffee with a little milk is a better choice than all of the high calorie drinks served up at the coffee shops on every street corner.  Avoiding soda and other sugary drinks will have the same effect, including less damage to your teeth and all the misery and expense that entails.  I think that, with the way health care is in this country presently, we had all better get “a lot better” at taking care of ourselves in order to avoid getting sick!   It is far too expensive!  Wouldn’t you agree?

Sherry Dumais, MBA, BSN, RN

References

1 George A. Bray.   Medical Consequences of Obesity.  01 June 2004 The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. (2004) 89 (6): 2583-2589.

2 Ron Friedman. 2014.  https://hbr.org/2014/10/what-you-eat-affects-your-productivity

3 Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D., 2014.  What Are The Best Foods For Healthy Skin? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/healthy-skin/faq-20058184