13 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise

bike1By Sophia Breene

Many people hit the gym or pound the pavement to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle, and of course, get a rockin’ bod, but working out has above-the-neck benefits, too. For the past decade or so, scientists have pondered how exercising can boost brain function. Regardless of age or fitness level (yup, this includes everyone from mall-walkers to marathoners), studies show that making time for exercise provides some serious mental benefits. Get inspired to exercise by reading up on these unexpected ways that working out can benefit mental health, relationships and lead to a healthier and happier life overall.

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1. Reduce Stress
Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. Win-win!

2. Boost Happy Chemicals
Slogging through a few miles on the ‘mill can be tough, but it’s worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, docs recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety (or those who are just feeling blue) pencil in plenty of gym time. In some cases, ex

ercise can be just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression. Don’t worry if you’re not exactly the gym rat type — getting a happy buzz from working out for just 30 minutes a few times a week can instantly boost overall mood.

3. Improve Self-Confidence
Hop on the treadmill to look (and more importantly, feel) like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth. How’s that for feeling the (self) love?

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Breakfast Helps Students Bring Their A-Game to the Classroom

Dairy Food wbDairy Makes Sense shared that when parents scurry to buy school supplies and new shoes and clothes so our kids can start the school year prepared, they sometimes might miss something critical to preparation, and that something is breakfast. A daily morning meal, eaten at home or at school, can prepare students for not only a successful start to the school year, but a successful start to every school day.

Research shows that kids who eat breakfast score higher on tests, as well as have better attendance and behavior in the classroom. Not to mention, breakfast-eaters have improved overall nutrition since kids who skip breakfast rarely make up for missed nutrients later in the day.

To help students bring their A-game to the classroom, remember to make breakfast a back-to-school to-do for your family. Here are some ideas for simple, kid-friendly breakfasts:

Milk cereal for all its worth: For its taste and nutritional value, milk and cereal is one of the greatest breakfast pairings of all time. Instead of one type of whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal, offer kids a mixture of several types. Also, try hot cereals such as oatmeal, and be sure to prepare them with fat-free or low-fat milk instead of water.

Tip: Top any cereal and milk combo with fresh fruit to add even more flavor and nutrients.

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Get Moving!

ch3The “A Year of Being Well”  Newsletters shared that some people dread the thought of physical activity even though adults need at least 30 minutes each day and kids ages 6 and older need at least 60 minutes. Reasons for lacking enough physical activity vary. Perhaps being active seems tough because you’re not in shape or you have trouble finding time in the day? Whatever your reasons, there are affordable ways to keep moving that can fit into your busy schedule. It’s important for families to understand that small, easy steps can significantly increase your family’s prospects for healthier lives.

Explore new ideas to get your kids moving more. Doing things as a family will help you ensure you’re all getting the amount of physical activity you need. Play ball or tag. Ride bikes. Take a Walk to Be Well. Physical activity doesn’t have to be something you dread. Find an activity you like and do it every day!

Healthy lesson plan for back to school

DuPage County children are heading back to school and the DuPage County Health Department offers some tips that will make 3495411871-1this school year healthy and happy for all children.

According to the Health Department, the following guidelines can help parents prevent the spread of illnesses in classrooms:

  • Make sure your children are up to date on their immunizations and sports physicals, and receive an annual flu shot.
  • Make sure your children have plenty of rest and a nutritious diet to help them fight germs.
  • Make sure your children are dressed properly if they are involved in outdoor activities at recess or gym.
  • Notify the school if your child has been diagnosed with an infectious condition such as strep throat, chickenpox, scarlet fever, or pertussis.
  • Teach your children the proper way to wash their hands. Make sure they use soap and water, rub their hands for at least 20 seconds, and thoroughly rinse and dry their hands.
  • Teach children the importance of covering their coughs and sneezes.
  • Keep your child home if he or she is ill. One sick child can spread germs to all of his or her classmates.
  • Keep your child home if he or she has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, has nausea or vomiting, has a sore throat with fever, has a persistent cough (dry or productive), has diarrhea (three or more episodes in 24 hours), has a rash, or has symptoms that prevent him or her from participating in school such as fatigue or lack of appetite, headaches, body aches, earache or sore throat.

Ideas On How To Lose Those
Last Five Pounds

stepping_on_the_scalePOPSUGAR, Inc. offered this article on weight loss by Jenny Sugar for its viewers on August 10th:

In the beginning of a weight-loss journey, pounds melt away like ice cream on a hot Summer’s day. But as you get closer to your goal, it’s not unusual to hit a plateau. Here’s how to keep those pounds dropping and keep the weight off for good.

Beef Up Your Workouts

If you’ve been steadily working out and following the same schedule, your body has probably grown accustomed to the routine. Rattle your body’s chain a little and kick up the intensity of your workouts to further challenge your muscles. Work out longer or harder, increase the size weights you’re lifting, do more reps of strength-training moves and vary the order, or try doing two workouts in one day.

Go For Fiber

Since your metabolism is already working pretty efficiently, eat fibrous foods that take longer to digest so your body has to expend more energy to break them down. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and legumes are where it’s at, but focus on these foods with the highest amounts of fiber. Continue reading

Balance Weight Center Presents
Nutrition Session on October 4th.


Click on the graphic above to download the informational flyer.

Registration and a participation fee  is required for this event. It will be held at the Balance Weight Loss Center located at 2525 Ogden Avenue. Downers Grove, IL 60515, Phone: 630-929-3009, Web: www.balanceweightcenter.com

Parent Education Session

  • Food demonstration

Learn about:

  • Energy balance
  • Portion size
  • Maintaining healthy weight

Kid Education Session

  • Hands on activities
  • Nutrition Education
  • Kids make a healthy snack.

Gripe Water and Colic

baby-colicYoshinao Dipl ABT (NCCAOM) and Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Intern at National University of Health Science shared the following information with me recently and I thought our visitors might also find it interesting. Yoshinao wrote: A young mother asked me if commercial gripe water formula were any good. She was giving her 1 month old son a commercially prepared gripe water for his excessive crying and constipation and wanted to know if it would work. Gripe water is an herbal based liquid given to babies for teething, colic and intestinal pain. Some contain bicarbonate and sugar. Today’s commercial formulations omit the alcohol of the original formulas and are available over the counter. Many of the products claim their product is recommended by pediatricians for various reasons but studies suggest that there is no evidence that commercial gripe water formula’s work. Just be aware of what it is that you are giving your baby. Should one choose to use a commercial preparation look at the amount and source of the sugar and sodium on the label, they should be relatively low or not at all. Sugar given at such a young age might contribute to obesity or dental problems later in life.
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