Wishing You A Great Holiday Season. The holidays can be stressful and filled with too many things to do, but one of the best antidotes remains regular exercise – aerobic or resistance. Take breaks, or a walk or stretch. While you’re stretching – another way to relax – throw in some deep breathing and meditation for even more relaxation benefits. Just 5 minutes can help. Studies show when you slow the breathing, the heart rate and release of stress hormones goes down. The mind body connection is alive and well despite possibly being unaware of it.
Now for those folks who stand all day…and are too tired to get to the gym. It’s useful to keep in mind that you don’t have to get the recommended 30 minutes a day, all at one time. Ten to fifteen minutes at a time throughout the day is fine as long as you can get the heart rate elevated. Do a little before work (park further away – do a lap around the building?), at lunch – walk to the sandwich place, and quick jog around the neighborhood before dinner. This advice actually applies to those who sit all day, but have jam packed schedules.
So, what do we propose for our nurse anesthetist friend or anybody who is on their feet 10 hours a day? Here are some tips to lessen the wear and tear on the body.
1) Get the best shoes for your foot & arch type. Go to a specialty shoe shop and get fitted properly. Try the shoes for a lengthy amount of time in the store. Yes, you’ll likely pay more for this service, but you can always find the additional pairs later. Get cushioning insoles or quality orthotics if needed. As we age, we do seem to need these more. REI gives advice on how to choose a shoe here
2) Learn to change body positions – don’t always stand on the same foot. Sit when there’s an opportunity. If standing at a computer or equipment station, use a foot rest if available. Did you know that fitness pros can tell by your posture which hip you lean on? Your body habits are creating muscle imbalances that show up as tightness on one side of the torso, a hip that skews to one side, or a shoulder or head tilt. Try standing on the other foot. Try a tandem (forward/back) stance. If appropriate, drop onto one knee (good for primary grade teachers).
3) Take stretch breaks – in particular do some stretches that counteract the standing position. Hamstring, quad, chest/shoulder, and back stretches can all be done standing. A handout with be posted soon on www.fitness-spark.biz.
4) Be very aware of your posture. Good neutral posture will help with joint functioning, breathing and muscle strain. What is good neutral posture? This is when the following bony landmarks are all lined up – ear, shoulder joint, last rib, hips, knees & ankles. The pelvic girdle is also close to neutral.
5) Take deep breathing breaks. Deep exhalations help stretch the lats (on your back & sides) and quads (front of the thighs) as the diaphragm pushes on those muscles to help you maintain ideal posture.
What About Organized Exercise? at home or at the gym for those who stand a lot. We will address that topic in our New Year’s post. Spending 30-60 minutes “working out” may be the last thing you feel like doing after a long day, but exercise scientists have devised ways that minimize the time commitment while maximizing the benefits to your body.
Teachers, nurses, medical workers & all those who stand a lot – let’s hear from you! What do you do to take care of your body during the day? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before we close, here’s another recipe. I made several batches of these this year for clients and friends, and got good feedback.
No Sugar Oatmeal Cookies
2 c. rolled oats
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 c. applesauce
½ c raisins (I used craisins)
¼ c. almond milk
1 t. vanilla
1 t. ground cinnamon
Mash the bananas & stir in the oats, applesauce, raisins, almond milk (I’ve used soy, or omitted this), and cinnamon till evenly mixed. Drop by spoonsful onto a baking sheet. Bake in oven preheated to 350°, for 15-20 minutes or edges are just brown. These will be soft and are best eaten in a couple of days. (I also added 1/2c. mini chocolate chips - for the antioxidants J ).
My 2015 wish for all of you: Good health first of all. Love – with family & friends close by. Knowledge - on how to choose a nutritious diet. And how your body works and what your exercise needs are – whether aerobic, resistance or flexibility. Peace of mind, wellbeing, and the ingenuity to accomplish the above. A very Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you all.