Here are my top ten ways to stay fit and healthy for 2012:
10. Eat more fruits and veggies for every meal-yes, this is super important. Besides being a recommendation by the USDA and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, fruits and veggies have lots of vitamins, antioxidants, nutrients and fiber with very little fat and sugar. Remember to “make half of your plate fruits and veggies.”
9. Exercise for at least 60 minutes a day. Okay, I know you are saying to yourself, “unrealistic,” but this is really important, not only for kids but for adults too. Exercise provides many healthy benefits including weight control and it has been firmly established that those adults that exercise on a regular basis are a healthier group of adults and can maintain their good health as they age. For kids, they too need 60 minutes a day-including recess and other physical activity. For some adults, 90 minutes is needed. Walking is included and remember the 10,000 steps a day theory-that will equal approximately 5 miles-so get yourself a pedometer and get going!
8. Drink lots of water and forget the sugar and salt loaded, supplement loaded energy drinks. Many of the energy drinks that are available today are meant for use by athletes that are involved with vigorous training. If you fit into that category, then maybe you can benefit from a supplement loaded fluid replacement. For everyone else, the supplements, salt and sugar are too much. Water and natural fruits are a much better choice. And please never mix energy/supplement drinks with alcohol under any circumstance. Bad idea!
7. Use 2% milk and low fat dairy products. The whole milk products have too much fat. The skim milk products basically only have sugar and water. So choose the 2% varieties. Milk provides calcium and is important in children’s growth. Don’t forget the yogurt and cheese products as well-keep them all low fat.
6. Choose more whole grains. Whole grains provide the vitamins, fiber and proteins that are removed from the refined products. Try whole grain pizza crust, whole grain pastas, rice and breads-they are really delicious!
5. Get a flu shot. The seasonal flu is already presenting itself and peak season will be between February and April. The recommendations for vaccination now cover virtually everyone (from age 6 months of age up)-and there are both a nasal spray and injections available everywhere that will cover the three most common influenza viruses: influenza B, influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2). Contact your medical provider as soon as possible.
4. Try adding more olive oil and fish to your diet. Olive oils and fish are made up of unsaturated fatty acids (Monounsaturated or MUFA and Polyunsaturated or PUFA) and these MUFA’s and PUFA’s may help lower the risk of heart disease, may help lower your cholesterol, may help control your blood sugar (which is a good benefit if you have diabetes), have a beneficial effect on ulcers and stomach conditions, can reduce blood pressure, may help in asthma and arthritis, may even prevent colon cancer, may slow the aging process and moisturize the skin. Lots of benefits that saturated fats like butter and red meats can’t match!!
3. Wash your hands frequently. Howard Hughes really wasn’t so crazy after all. Yes he was an extreme Germ-a-phobe, but as we all know, viruses and germs are transmitted so easily. Some viruses and bacteria can remain on a surface for up to two weeks. One study found that our cell phones have a high rate of fecal material on them. What? Yes, that’s correct. Think twice before you put someone else’s cell phone up to your ear (disgusting!). Washing your hands after touching door knobs, restaurant menus, and most strange surfaces can cut down on your germ exposure. And parents make sure your children are frequent hand washers too-think of all the surfaces they touch–yes OMG.
2. Go and get a check up by your health care provider, NOW! What are you waiting for? It’s important for everyone to get an annual physical exam. Kids and adults both need exams yearly. Medical exams are necessary to check your blood pressure-which can be a silent killer. Many people are walking around right now, this very moment with high blood pressure and if left elevated and unchecked can result in a major heart problem-heart attack and or a stroke. Blood pressure can be treated successfully and will be life saving! Men over the age of 40 need a special blood test to check the prostate gland called a PSA. Women, starting at age 40 (according to the American Cancer Society) need a breast exam called a mammogram, and both men and women after the age of 50 need a check of their colon called a colonoscopy. The annual exam will also check your cholesterol-which is a measure of your blood fats. This can tell the doctor if you are accumulating too much blood fat-which is also a risk of causing a heart problem. Bottom line-go and get a checkup-your family will be proud of you and it could save your life!
1. There is a tie for the number one spot: A. Don’t forget to laugh, B. get a pet, and C. don’t watch too much violence on the TV or the internet! Okay, we all know that laughter is good medicine. Many studies have shown that laughter helps relaxation, increases endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemical), improves and strengthens the immune system, increases your energy levels, decreases stress effects on the body and may even lessen a pain issue. Laughing also may be protective of your heart. Having a pet can also aid in relaxation and stress relief. It also builds confidence and responsibility and lessens fears for children. Caring for the daily and general needs of an animal/pet is an incredible experience for kids and allows them to understand the feeling of having a life to take care of other than their own. As for violence on television and the internet, the amounts are increasing. Video game sales of violent software have skyrocketed into the mega-billions. Is it any wonder why our kids are not sleeping well, why there is more teen depression and violent behaviors? In 1977, attorney Ellis Rubin used a television defense- for his 15 year old client accused of murder of an 83 year old female neighbor-suggesting that his client couldn’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality due to an obsession with watching a popular TV crime show called Kojak. Everyone thought that defense to be strange and unrealistic. Now, it’s probably more relevant than ever. Violence is becoming a natural part of our techno-world. But it doesn’t have to be! Don’t make it a part of yours or your child’s.
Now these are just some of my ideas. I put them in a decreasing order just for fun but they are all important and could all be number one. I would like to know some of your healthy tips. Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will publish the most interesting, effective and unique tips in an upcoming column. As my predecessor used to say, stay fit and healthy the Nerdel way-have a wonderful Nerdel New Year!