Stay Active

St Peter’s Hospital offers a variety of Community Education classes to help those interested strengthen their muscles and get themselves into shape. For more information, visit the links to the right or contact the Wellness Center at 444-2128.

A little exercise goes along way. Not only does exercise help you lose weight, but it can strengthen bones and muscles, increase cardiovascular ability, lessen depression, help manage stress, develop muscle, and also release mood elevating endorphins into the blood stream.

There are many ways to increase your activity throughout the day here are some simple tips you can do to burn a calorie here and there.

Take the Stairs
Although this may seem like an inconvenience, the vertical motion involved in ascending stairs burns more calories than just walking on a flat surface.

Walk
Just walk. Dedicating 10-20 minutes a day to walking is one of the easiest ways to keep in shape. Walking also helps blood flow and assists in stress release.

Stretch
Stretch and hold for about 20 seconds. Another low impact way to keep active is to find a stretch routine that works for you. Whether you would like a 5 minute in the morning touch your toes stretch, or you prefer the structure of yoga and pilates. Stretching is an easy way to get the blood flowing and engage muscles you normally would not engage during the day.

Get a Grip!
Athletic stores sell an assortment of hand grips, a reasonable priced device to help increase and maintain your grip strength. If you would rather not spend the money lay a piece of newspaper out flat.  Take the corner in your fingers, and begin rolling the newspaper up into the palm of your hand using your fingers to pull the newspaper in. A few pages a day makes a big difference.

Grip strength is an important tool for holding onto things, such as children who have a habit of running anywhere they can. A strong grip strength helps ward off carpel tunnel syndrome, and can reduce the risk of arthritis. 

Be Active – in the Morning!
Talk to one of those cheerful “morning people” – and they’ll tell you how great it feels to get up and get going early in the day. Whether you do 5 minutes or 45 minutes of activity in the morning, the benefits can make a big difference in you whole day.

Why be active in the morning?

  • Energize your body for the busy day ahead.
  • Focus your brain for tasks at work or school.
  • Flex your muscles for all-day strength.
  • Stretch your body and your mind for new challenges.

What activities fit best into the morning?

Any physical activity can fit into the morning hours. If you go outside when it is still dark, just make sure to put safety at the top of your fitness list – with reflective clothing and shoes. In terms of physical activity, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

  • Stretching Activities: Slow and gentle stretches, like yoga, are a wonderful way to warm up your muscles, tendons and ligaments.
  • Balance Activities: Try a Tai Chi tape or one of the new exercise balls to improve your balance – and make a healthy mind-body connection.
  • Fun Activities: For a new outlook on life, start your day with something that makes you smile – like a salsa dance video or a splashy water aerobics class.

How can I fit fitness into my morning?

  • Get up 5 to 10 minutes early: If you’re not a morning person, start small and set the alarm just a little earlier. Remember, you don’t have to get all your activity at one time. Even 10-minutes “sparks” of fitness can get you onto a fast track to health.
  • Get clothes, shoes and equipment ready the night before: Take a few minutes before bedtime to get yourself organized for an early walk or trip to the gym. It’s one more way to make physical activity a normal part of you morning routine.
  • Get together with friends or family: Making a commitment to someone else can motivate you when sleeping in seems tempting. Walking kids to school is a triple fitness play – activity for you, activity for them and quality family time too!

 

For more articles like this visit the Montana Dietetic Association’s website.

 

Earth's Easiest Exercise

Walking can add years to your life and life to your years. And it couldn't be easier. You don't need to join a health club, wear special equipment or go into training to reap the rewards:

The Conditioner
Walking conditions your heart and lungs and raises your body's ability to use oxygen more efficiently. Fact: In one study, women who walked briskly (3-4 miles per hour) at least three hours a week cut their risk of heart attack and stroke by more than half.

The Protector
Walking helps beat other health problems, too. It reduces your risk of some forms of cancer and osteoporosis. It fights the battle of the bulge, taking off fat and building muscle. Walking can even help people with diabetes reduce or eliminate their need for medication.

The Joint Saver Walking can burn about as many calories per mile as jogging does. But it delivers only about a quarter of the jolt, so it's much easier on your joints and muscles.

The De-Stressor Walking's easy on your mind, too, since it lessens stress and lightens depression. Beginning walkers usually report that they feel better, sleep better and their mental outlook improves.

The Winner Best of all, walking has the lowest dropout rate of any form of exercise. So you're more likely to stick with it and get all these benefits and more, like better digestion, improved regularity and lower blood pressure.

There's Nothing To It
Just put on a sturdy, comfortable pair of shoes and go. Smart moves: Walk to the store for the Sunday paper ... park a few blocks from work or get off the bus or train one stop early and walk from there ... use stairs instead of elevators or escalators ... on bad weather days walk in a mall or on a gym treadmill.

How fast should you go? That's easy too. Just use the "talk test." Move at a steady clip that makes your heart beast faster and causes you to breathe more deeply - but doesn't leave you too breathless to carry on a conversation. You'll do yourself a world of good.

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