Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

As the New Year begins and resolutions are made, there is usually one about getting(or staying) healthy for the upcoming year. As physical therapists, people are always asking Amber and me what we do to stay healthy and fit. Do we spend all day in the gym working out(me definitely not, Amber maybe)? What does a healthy day look like? Remembering that I like to look at the broader scope, we will take it a step further and ask: what does a healthy week look like?

While the specifics vary from person to person, there are some aspects of health that should be considered on a daily basis:

• Prevention:

         o Probably the most important aspect of living a healthy life(and one often overlooked by many endurance athletes) is to thwart preventable diseases or injuries. Getting recommended screening, immunizations, wearing seat belts, recognizing injuries early before they require treatment, etc all play a huge role in staying healthy.

• Eat 3 well-balanced meals:

            o According to the Harvard school of Public Health half your plate should be colorful vegetables. A quarter of your plate: whole grains. A healthy source of protein, such as fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, can make up the rest. To quench your thirst drink a cup of water or a similar drink with little to no sugar added.

Aerobic Exercise: 15-20 minutes of vigorous or 25-30 minutes moderate aerobic exercise

            o The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150-180 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise to combat cardiovascular diseases and improve quality of life. We certainly get that a week but the key, as I've mentioned before, is moderation and balancing it with everything else in your life.

          o Remember: If starting a new program, always contact your doctor first for approval and find an aerobic exercise you like since you’ll be more apt to continue doing it.

• Brush and floss your teeth.

            o The American Dental Association recommends twice daily brushings and once daily flossing to prevent decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

• Sleep 7-9 hours.

          o Sufficient sleep has been recognized to help with chronic disease prevention and health promotion.

           o The Center for Disease Control recommends going to bed at the same time each night, and rising at the same time each morning. Additionally it recommends sleeping in a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.

Other activities don’t need to be performed daily but should be done a few times a week and include:

Strengthen your core and joint stabilizers 3-4 days per week.

• Challenge your balance

            o Whether it is tai chi, yoga, Pilate's or something else, improving your balance has been shown to help decrease falls and strengthen muscles.

Challenge your mind

          o Just as your muscles need exercise, so does your brain. The Franklin Institute states that with most age-related losses in memory or motor skills it is a result of inactivity and/or a lack of mental exercise and stimulation. As we say in therapy all the time: Either use it or lose it.

While this list of recommendations may not be comprehensive, it is a good starting spot for most individuals to start the New Year on the right foot. If you would like more information or are interested in receiving one-on-one guidance, please contact your health care provider.

Happy New Year!

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