Earth Day!

What can you do to celebrate Earth Day more than one day a year that includes your fitness and wellness goals? 

  • Walk or bike to work or errands.
  • Grow a garden or buy from local farmer’s markets. Local produce reduces transportation costs. It takes a lot of fossil fuel to transport strawberries across the country. Fresher food has more vitamins.
  • Turn off electric exercise equipment such as treadmills when not in use.
  • Stay hydrated with reusable bottles made from stainless steel, glass, or aluminum.
  • Conserve water using a dishpan in the sink and drip irrigation in the garden.
  • Running shoes that have seen better days can be recycled and made into surfaces for running tracks. 
  • Recycle old clothes. Textile recycling requires clothing be clean and dry. Almost 95% of discarded textiles can be recycled. Useable clothing is donated and the rest are shredded and turned into products like insulation. Yarn can be re-spun.
  • Donate that old MP3 player or phone for electronic recycling. The precious metals will be harvested to make new electronic equipment.

All the effort to accomplish these goals will get your pulse up and your muscles working. The extra bonus is doing something for the Earth.

~Happy Earth Day!


Ellen Lang, RN, MPH

Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.

Spring Cleaning.

Has it been a winter of hibernating? Maybe you ventured out for X-C skiing or snowshoeing but you are now anxious to enjoy the spring air and exercise outdoors. While it is still cold and raining it’s a good time to do a little spring-cleaning of your exercise clothing, shoes, and equipment. Those things don’t last forever.  

Clothing:
If your workout clothing is stained, smelly, and ripped, you won’t feel much like exercising. Relegate those outfits to the garden or recycling bin. (Check with your town for a clothing-recycling bin. My town has the bin at the dump).  Shoes can be recycled and ground-up to make school sport tracks.

Equipment:
If bicycling is your sport it’s time to take your bike to the shop for a spring tune-up unless you are talented enough to do the tune-up yourself. Its not just about changing the tires but making sure all the parts are functioning. If you tried a sport that just wasn’t for you, donate that equipment so someone starting the sport is able to take advantage of your collection. Then you will have more room to organize the equipment you have.

Pantry:
Did your meal plan slip during the winter? Check the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and clean out the junk food. Clean the refrigerator so the bins are ready to fill-up with fresh fruits and vegetables. Compost all that outdated food.

Sunscreen:
Is your sunscreen left over from that trip to Tahiti several years ago? Sunscreen expires. Toss out what’s there and get new bottles. You don’t want to start out the spring with sunburn. There no such thing as a good burn or a base burn. It all leads to skin damage. Who wants to be 50 and covered in wrinkles and aging spots?

Insect repellent:
Ticks are already on the move! Take precautions such as light clothing, socks pulled over trousers, long sleeves, and check your body when you come back inside from outdoor activities. Use insect repellent with tick repellent such as DEET. You can get tick bites even from walking on your lawn or working in the garden. Those little buggers are everywhere.

~Happy Spring!


Ellen Lang, RN, MPH

Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.

Walking: Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

Glorious Spring is here! Doesn’t the improved weather make you want to get right out there and start walking? But were you inert over the winter? The first step toward improving your fitness is turning off the TV and getting off the couch. The easiest way to begin your fitness regime is to start walking.

Hiking on KauaiWalking For Fitness

We are not talking about a stroll through the park, but walking for aerobic benefit. This involves working your muscles and increasing your heart and breathing rate. Walking may seem like a “no brainer”. You have been walking since you were a year old. But your body changes as you age, changing gait and balance. There is more to walking than just putting one foot in front of the other. Posture plays an important role. Hold your head up, look forward, pull back your shoulders, and suck in that gut. Think of a puppet string at the top of your head pulling you up taller. When you are all rounded over it hurts your neck and squishes your internal organs. And that’s not good for breathing or digestion. If you think you may fall, don’t look directly at your feet but look at a point about 3 to 4 feet in front of you. That way you can anticipate the cracks in the sidewalk or the rock in the middle of the path.

Improving Strength and Endurance

Are you walking already and nothing seems to improve? Shaking up your routine will make a big difference in your quest to be stronger. Changing your route around can challenge your muscles to work harder. If you walk the same loop each day, it can be as easy as walking in the opposite direction. If you also bike, alternate days of walking and biking. Once a week do a longer walk than your usual 2 to 3 miles. As you get stronger try some “intervals”. Walk quickly for a few telephone pole lengths. Picking up the pace will help you to get stronger over time. It’s also a good way to start running, if that is your goal. Start with walking and then add jogging a few telephone pole intervals. Finally you are able to take off running with Chariots of Fire playing in your mind.

Safety

A caution about distracted walking. I’ve notice more and more individuals walking while read texts, surfing the net, talking on the phone, or have headphones with music so loud you can hear it 20 feet away. Distracted walking is a health hazard! If you can’t hear or see the car coming as you cross the road, you won’t realize danger is approaching. And it’s not just about safety. Enjoy your walk. Concentrate on your breathing, pace, and where you are stepping. Decompress and gain relaxation as well as fitness from walking. Listen to the sounds of the birds or children playing. There is nothing more infections than the laugh and giggle of a child.

 


Ellen Lang, RN, MPH

Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.

New Year’s Resolutions

Did you start the New Year with the best of intentions only have it all fall apart by the end of January or earlier? Whether you start the New Year with plans to revamp your life or you use another date to set goals, such as your birthday or anniversary, here are a few tips to help you stick with your goals.

1. Set manageable goals

Break goals down into manage increments. Deciding to lose 50 pounds is a daunting task. That may be your ultimate goal or your healthcare provider’s goal for you but broken down into five pound increments is much more doable, Achieving some weight loss brings motivation to keep going. Success is it own reward. After the first five pound loss you will be more eager to press ahead. After ten pounds you start to notice changes in how your clothing fits. Waist bands may not be quite so binding, shirts not so tight. Your body begins to feel better. Breathing is easier and knee pain may diminish. It’s easier to get out of the car or off the couch. So tackle those pounds one pound at a time. Increase weight did not go on over night and so give all the changes you are making time to work.

2. Work with a fitness partner

Sharing your goals with another person will not only make you accountable but can provide needed support and encouragement. Your partner might be a friend, family member, or work place associate. Look for someone with like-minded goals or someone who has succeeded in the same areas. If your goals are to increase your walking distance to 3-5 miles, teaming up with an ultra marathoner might not be the best match. Look for someone who values your opinion in his or her quest to get fit. Check in with your partner often. If you don’t feel like walking they will drag you along. If they are discouraged you can cheer them up. And take your partner grocery shopping, so you avoid the ice cream isle!

3. Utilize the latest technology

Why not take advantage of what is available to help you keep on track with your goals. I remember writing everything down that I ate. And then getting out calorie-counter books to look each food item up and record the calories and nutrients. Then I would discover in the evening that I had way exceeded my calorie goal. It was so time consuming I would last about a week. With the advent of electronic diet diaries all of the nutrients are calculated for you. It remembers what you have eaten before and you can check it during the day so you don’t over eat. You can set goals for carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Most of the programs for smart phones are free.

Along with the diet is an electronic exercise tracker. Steps, miles, and sleep are tracked. Many of them rely on technology to step count so you don’t have to set it up like old pedometers and be out on the driveway measuring your stride length.

With all of the planning in place you are now ready to embark on your journey to wellness.


Ellen Lang, RN, MPH

Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.

Protect Your Feet

Kayak-BahamasSpring is here and summer is not far away. Everyone will be out in summer clothing to beat the heat, including footwear. Flip-flops may be cool but they provide virtually no support for your feet. As I attend events like harvest fairs and amusement parks I can’t believe how many people spend the day in flip-flops. Those cute little strappy sandals with rhinestones on the toe thong may look dazzling with your tan, but the tissue-paper thin strip of leather on the bottom is not protecting your feet at all. So before you step in the horse poop, chose your footwear wisely for a day of fun. If you are going to wear flip flips regardless of your chance to contract some kind toe fungus (I am a nurse after all), at least purchase ortho-type flip-flops with heel cups and arch supports. Save the 99¢ pair for the pool.

SHOES

Don’t scrimp on footwear. This is one area to spend your hard earned dollars. You can get discounts at various websites once you find the shoe that really fits your activities. Get shoes that match your foot type and activity, be it walking, hiking, or running. If you have the advantage of a real shoe store in your neighborhood, get your foot measured. You may find your feet are longer and/or wider than what you thought, leading to agonizing foot pain at the end of the day. If your favorite running shoes have been around since the 1980s, put those in the recycling bin. Depending on your mileage and activities you may need a new pair annually or much more often if you are training for the Boston marathon. The various types of gel and foam used in the soles do compress over time.

SOCKS

You may thing this is a no brainer. Just pop on down to your local retail store and buy the $1.95 pack of 30 pairs, but socks are also activity specific. If you have discovered that your feet are longer and wider (comes with aging) you need larger socks. You may want thin socks when you are doing cycle cross biking but walking requires thick padded socks. Some versions even come with gentle arch support.

FOOTCARE

Keep those toenails trimmed and lotion on heels so they won’t crack.  If you exercise a great deal you may need to attend to athletes’ foot. Soak your feet in Epsom salts and soften the callous (no surgery please! Leave that to the professionals). Be preemptive. Use foot powder or antifungal creams. Better to treat that early before burning, peeling skin occurs. If you have plantar fasciitis or other painful foot conditions you may need inserts or professionally made orthotics.

Take care of your feet. You don’t want to age with burning, searing pain or have arthritis so bad you can hardly walk. Once you get your feet in order you will feel so much better at the end of the day.


Ellen Lang, RN, MPH

Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.

Painful Joints

Have you been increasing your exercise over the past few months? Perhaps you set new goals and are working toward new personal best times or distances. In the mean time is your body now sabotaging you? Do your knees and legs fail to move forward each time you get up from a chair? After long car rides are your hips in a permanently flexed position? Ah, the joys of aging! Sounds like osteoarthritis is creeping into your joints. Before you jog off to get a total knee replacement, here are a few things to try.

RICE

After exercising the old advice of rest, ice, compression, and elevation can always make sore joints feel better. Ice can work just as well as anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. Even if the injury/arthritis is long term, ice can reduce swelling after each exercise period. After 24 to 48 hours you can start using gentle heat. This will improve blood flow into the area and carry away debris from the inflammation.

EXERCISE

It may hurt to exercise but you need to get moving! Start walking short distances even if it is down to the mailbox or end of your driveway. Next day do two trips to the mailbox. Over a relatively short period of time you will start to get stronger and have more endurance. In just a few weeks after starting a strength training program you will already notice its easier to get up off the couch or get out of the car. Next expand your walk to once around your neighborhood or housing complex. Don’t worry about the number of steps on your exercise tracker like FitBit ®, just make sure that number is increasing.

STRETCHING

Stretching is just as important as strength training and cardiovascular exercise. Your knees may be hurting because of cartilage loss. The joint space narrows, increasing the pain as the bones begin to rub together. Stretching your hamstrings (the muscles on the back of your upper leg) can increase the joint space, thus your knees become more comfortable when bending. Stretching can be as formal as a yoga class or stretching on your living room rug. If you think you don’t have time to stretch, incorporate it into your day. Make a trip to the bathroom and stretch your back. Sore from cooking? Stretch your calf muscles. Stooped over your desk for hours? Reach up to the doorframe and stretch your back.

Severe pain, locking of a joint, or inability to bear weight requires a trip to your healthcare practitioner. If you are new to exercise, in time you will learn to differentiate between muscle soreness and joint pain. Sharp muscle pain may indicate injury.                                       ~Ellen Lang, RN, MPH

 Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.


Ellen Lang, RN, MPH

Advice is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Contact your healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise program or diet plan.