Jodi Helmer, who writes about health and wellness for publications like WebMD, AARP, Shape, Woman’s Day, Arthritis Today and Costco Connection among others shared that walking is great exercise. It burns calories, strengthens muscles and bones, improves balance, boosts mood and helps prevent health problems ranging from heart disease to Type 2 diabetes. But walking is about more than putting one foot in front of the other.
To reap all of the health benefits — and avoid injuries — it’s important to avoid making these four common walking mistakes:
1. SKIPPING THE WARMUP
Warmups aren’t just for marathoners and professional athletes. In fact, Kathy Kaehler, author, celebrity trainer and host of the “Fit and Sexy For Life” podcast, believes the more often you skip the warmup, the more likely you are to get injured.
For a proper warmup, Kaehler suggests walking at a comfortable pace for five minutes and then stopping to stretch all the major muscle groups from head to toe, including shoulder rolls, side stretches, hip circles, quad stretches and ankle rotations. Once your muscles are warm and stretched, proceed with your walk.
2. WALKING THE SAME ROUTE AT THE SAME SPEED
It’s OK to have a favorite walking route and a comfortable pace, but refusing to change things up could be bad for your body. “You want variation of terrain so your body can also have different muscular reactions and challenges with varied routes, inclines and steps,” says Ashley Borden, Los Angeles-based master trainer whose celebrity clients have included Reese Witherspoon and Mandy Moore.
To mix it up, Borden suggests incorporating intervals into your walk, switching speeds every block. A few times per week, try a different route. Adding variety to your workout will prevent burnout and keep you from hitting a plateau.
3. GOING TOO HARD, TOO SOON
When you start a new workout, even if it’s “only” a walk, it’s important to ease into it. “Your muscles need to be developed and strengthened for flexibility and endurance and that doesn’t happen the first week out,” says Kaehler. “You need to focus on progression rather than going all out right away.”
Doing too much too soon can leave you with sore muscles and, potentially, injuries. Instead, work up to faster speeds and longer distances.
4. IGNORING YOUR POSTURE
Taking pounding steps while staring at the ground might get you from point A to point B but poor walking posture takes its toll on your body. “Posture is so critical,” Kaehler says. “When your form is bad, you’ve got muscles doing jobs they are not qualified for and, over time, that creates muscle imbalance that leads to injuries.”
For the best walking posture, Borden suggests imagining a string lifting you from your breastbone toward the sky to keep the hunch out of your back; keep your eyes on the horizon, engage your glutes and abdominals and pump your arms.
Walking is a safe and effective workout if you take the time to prepare and avoid making these common mistakes.
Compared with the rest of the body, the brain expends an enormous amount of energy and requires ample fuel for that energy, especially during heavy-hitter exam time. A healthy human brain can process information as fast as 268 mph, can make trillions of connections to other cells and can think nearly 60,000 thoughts a day. These thoughts are being generated by the brain’s 100 billion neurons. Boy, the brain is busy.
Despite being engrossed by these facts, my boys still questioned whether healthy foods could in fact support their brainpower for exams. It worked wonders to refer them to research studies by neuroscientist, distinguished fellow and New York Times best-selling author Daniel G. Amen, who has worked with 135 active and retired NFL players. Amen put professional athletes on a special diet that included increased lean proteins and vegetables, regular exercise and adequate sleep, as well as nutritional supplements such as fish oil and vitamins. Within six months, the players showed significant increases in cognitive scores, blood flow to the brain, self-reported better moods, memory and motivation. Many athletes had 50 percent boosts in attention, information processing speed and accuracy on tests. Seems worth a try, boys.
The most important brain food is probably the omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy brains are about 60 percent structural fat, with omega-3 fatty acids and specifically DHA the most prevalent. These fats help reduce brain inflammation, build and repair cell membranes, aid with stress management, and have been shown to be fundamental to brain development in children (the reason there is so much DHA in breast milk and infant formula). The best sources of omega-3s and DHA are wild salmon, sardines, mackerel and fish oil supplements.
• Protein builds new and repairs damaged tissue in our bodies and brains. Amino acids (parts of proteins) ignite certain neurotransmitters in the brain. For instance, eating the amino acid tyrosine, found in salmon, eggs, turkey and red meat, helps the body produce norepinephrine and dopamine, which promote brain alertness and activity. Other brain-boosting proteins include avocados, chicken, beans, and raw nuts and seeds.
• Antioxidants found in fresh foods such as blueberries, carrots and leafy greens strengthen the blood vessel walls in the brain. There are 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the brain, so that is no small job. Vitamin C, found in citrus and green vegetables, is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the brain and helps control spikes in cortisol, leading to more stable energy levels.
• B vitamins are essential for blood and nerve health, which are important for the brain. These vitamins also provide long-lasting energy needed for exam time. Feed on spinach, avocados, beans and nuts.
• Water keeps the blood viscous and moving, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Knowing that three soda cans’ worth of blood travels through the brain every minute, it seems right to keep it moving.
• The brain is vulnerable to oxidative damage from free radicals that are released in our modern-day world and also created when our body breaks down certain foods.
• Caffeine and sugar can make it harder for a child to focus and increases stress levels.
• Trans fats and hydrogenated oils have been shown to contribute to diminished cognitive function.
Oh, and let’s not forget breakfast. If you want to increase your chances of focusing during exams, don’t even think about skipping breakfast. Test scores of children who miss breakfast are generally worse than those who eat a well-balanced meal. Children who eat breakfast show better academic performance, longer attention spans and reduced hyperactivity in class.
Even though the secret to success and good grades is not as simple as baked salmon, it clearly can’t hurt to enter exam time with a well-fed brain. So our grocery cart this month will include plenty of that brain-boosting salmon, plus leafy greens, blueberries, eggs and avocados, and we will be putting a premium on healthy breakfasts. Perhaps I’ll start sounding a little smarter this month, too.
• Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a nutrition education company, and co-author of “Super Food Cards,” a collection of healthful recipes and advice.
You add whole flaxseeds to your breakfast
Flaxseeds are filled with omega-3 fats, fiber and lignans (antioxidants), which all benefit heart health. But whole flaxseeds may pass through the intestines undigested, which means you’ll miss out on the health benefits inside the seed.
Buy ground flaxseeds instead, or put them in a coffee or spice grinder.
You blend a nutritious smoothie, but it’s a calorie bomb
It’s easy to toss a combination of superfoods into a blender. Blueberries, cashew butter, chia, kale, bananas and coconut milk sound like a dreamy breakfast elixir, but these concoctions can quickly become calorie bombs.
Keep smoothies in the 300-calorie range by serving smaller portions (about 8-12 ounces), using more vegetables than fruit, and by going easy on the high-calorie nuts and seeds.
You take your supplements with coffee
Caffeine from coffee can hinder your body’s ability to absorb some of the vitamins and minerals in your supplements, including calcium, iron, B-vitamins and vitamin D.
And it’s not just coffee — beverages such as tea and cola contain caffeine, too. Enjoy your coffee about an hour before taking your supplements, and swallow pills with water instead.
You use regular canned beans for your meatless meals
Beans are an amazing source of fiber and protein, but canned varieties may have close to 1,000 mg of sodium per cup — that’s two-thirds of what you need in an entire day!
Look for cans that say “no-salt-added” or “low-sodium.” If you can’t find them, drain and rinse your canned beans, which will eliminate about 40 percent of the sodium.
To cut back on sugar, you cut out fruit
The top source of sugar in the American diet is sweetened beverages, not fruit. Sugary soft drinks have no beneficial nutrients, while fruit has fiber, vitamins and protective antioxidants.
Plus, we don’t tend to overeat fruit, but do tend to drink too much soda. Consider how much easier it is to down a 20-ounce soda, as opposed to eating six bananas at one time. Both pack 16 teaspoons of sugar.
Choose fruit and skip the soda.
You trust claims like ‘low-fat’ and ‘sugar-free’
For many years, we’ve relied on label claims that tell us what our food doesn’t contain — fat, sugar, gluten. It’s more important to look at what the food does contain.
Ultra-processed foods may be fat-free or sugar-free, but also loaded with preservatives or refined ingredients. Read ingredient lists and choose foods that are as close to nature as possible.
You drink almond milk for calcium but don’t shake the carton first
Milk alternatives made from soy, almonds, cashews, rice, etc. are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. But the added nutrients don’t stay in the liquid very well, and tend to sink to the bottom of the container.
If you drink without shaking first, you can’t reap the benefits of the added vitamins and minerals. Shake well before serving.
You skip the dressing on salad
Vegetables contain fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K, and a host of antioxidants that require fat to be absorbed.
If you skip the oil and vinegar, you miss out on key nutrients from the salad. Serve your greens with oil-based dressing, nuts, seeds or avocado to dramatically boost your body’s ability to soak up the veggies’ beneficial nutrients.
You miss out on probiotics by buying the wrong type of yogurt
Yogurt is fermented milk, and fermented foods contain probiotics. So, logic would dictate that all yogurts are probiotic-rich, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
If yogurt has been heated or pasteurized, probiotics are destroyed and may not be added back in. Look for the words “live active cultures,” or check ingredient lists for names of specific probiotics (lactobacillus acidophilus, L bulgaricus, etc.) to ensure you’re getting these beneficial bacteria, which aid digestion and support the immune system.
You refuel with sports drinks
Sports drinks are meant to replace fluid and electrolytes that are lost when you sweat excessively, and are suitable after endurance sports like a soccer game or marathon.
But the extra sugar and salt in sports drinks are not needed for casual exercise with minimal perspiration. After a stroll, hydrating with water is the best choice.
Your choice of sunglasses can have a bigger impact on your eye health than you might realize.
Eye specialists are warning not to use poor quality UV sunglasses because they may harm your eyes and create long-term vision defects, The Nation reports.
Professor Dr Khalid Wahid says that sunglasses are a form of protective eyewear meant to prevent bright and high energy light from damaging or discomforting the eyes.
But, if you’re wearing a cheap pair that do not have polarization, UVA and UVB filters, it may result in eye irritation, tears, visual distortion, headaches, and blurred vision.
“Wearing full dark sunglasses will increase pressure on eyes and as a result the pupil opens up by half mm to 5 mm to catch the proper vision and which also allows dangerous UVA and UVB light rays into eyes which may damage them,” Dr. Wahid said.
Patrick B. Massey M. D. shares that one might imagine that if someone were sticking needles in your body that your blood pressure would go up. But, a recent study on the effects of acupuncture and high blood pressure demonstrated that the exact opposite can happen.
Indeed, acupuncture needles placed in the right points on the body can significantly lower blood pressure and these results persist over time.
Acupuncture is a very old medical therapy and has been a part of traditional Oriental medicine for thousands of years. It involves the placement of small, very thin needles into specific points throughout the body.
Specific locations of these acupuncture points have been well described for many different illnesses. In traditional Oriental medicine all illness is the result of improper energy flow. There is either not enough energy, too much energy or the energy isn’t moving. It is stagnating.
Inserting needles at various acupuncture points and leaving them there for a period of time stimulates the proper flow of energy. Where the energy is flowing well, illness cannot exist. Read more
Wendy Myers, CHHC, a certified holistic health and nutrition coach and founder of Liveto110.com says that everyone knows that we need water to survive. In fact, our bodies are made up of around 60% water.
But yet despite us all knowing how important drinking water is, many people still don’t know exactly how much they should be consuming on a daily basis.
The fact is, we are constantly losing water from our bodies through sweat and urine. This needs to be replaced.
Getting the right amount of water also offers a number of scientifically proven health benefits, from bringing oxygen and nutrients to cells, regulating body temperature and boosting metabolism.
The general school of thought when it comes to how much water is an optimal amount to drink daily settles on around 2 liters. However, there are some scientists that think we are continuously nearing dehydration and therefore should be constantly drinking water even when we don’t feel thirsty.
The truth is, like most things in life, how much water each person needs daily is a personal trait that depends on a number of factors. Around eight glasses a day is a rough guide, although some will need more, some less.
But why should we drink so much and what kind of water is best to drink? How much water should you drink? Let’s find out.
Water Could Improve Brain Function and Give you More Energy
One study found that women who lost 1.36% of fluid after exercising noticed a negative effect on their mood and their ability to concentrate, as well as increasing headaches (source)
Further studies show that dehydration levels as low as 2% cause impaired brain function (source).
Even 1% reduction in body weight due to loss of water is fairly significant, but can easily happen during intense exercise or high heat.
Drinking More Water Could Help Boost Weight Loss
Many people believe that drinking extra water to accelerate weight loss is simply an old wives’ tale. However, scientific research actually backs this theory.
Several studies have shown that drinking 500 ml of water can boost your metabolism by up to 30% for a short period of time (source).
Research also shows that drinking more water (especially up to 30 minutes before meals) could suppress your appetite. The end result is that you eat less, thus losing more weight (source).
In fact, one study showed that those who drank 500 ml of water before meals lost a whopping 44% more weight over a 12 week period than those who didn’t (source)
Drinking Enough Water Can Help Relieve a Number of Health Problems.
Several everyday health issues can have their symptoms relieved simply by getting enough H2O.
Research has shown that by increasing your water intake you could improve the symptoms of constipation (source), reduce your risk of kidney stones (source) and even reduce your risk of certain types of cancer like bladder (source) and colorectal (source).
Types of Water
Pure water is a type of “whole food.”
Like other whole foods, when it is tampered with, water loses most of its precious healing properties.
Water is tampered with any time one adds anything to it, filters it using anything except carbon, spins it, alkalizes it, and so on.
All of these manipulations tend to ruin it, rendering it less healthy and hydrating. To clarify, I’ve listed some different types of water which you may come across below.
This is the only type of water you should drink. It’s okay if you drink other water occasionally, but try to make spring water the majority.
Spring water has been filtered by the earth in ways we do not completely understand. This method works better than any invented means of purifying water.
Another advantage is that it contains a wide variety of trace minerals that the human body desperately needs. Ideally, drink only spring water from remote places on earth as it will be relatively free from pollutants.
I like Ice Age water from a remote Glacier in Canada for its mineral profile. I love Hawaiian waters that run through mineral-rich volcanic rock (Hawaii is one of the most remote places on earth). Other spring water examples include Evian, Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water, Volvic, and Poland brands.
This is spring water. Artesian water comes from a well that has been dug in the earth. When the well is created, the internal pressure from the hole causes the water to burst forth spontaneously from the well like a fountain.
Artesian water comes from a well that taps a confined aquifer – a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand in which the water level is above the top of the aquifer. Examples include the Fiji brand water.
This method involves passing water at high pressure through a plastic membrane with tiny holes in it. This is a common filtration method in many bottled waters as it produces very pure water.
It is used in almost all home and commercial “drinking water” machines such as those in water stores, supermarkets and health food stores. It is also used industrially in bottling plants for soda pop, soups, juices, beer and many other drinks. I bought a reverse osmosis alkaline water system for $1100 before I had done my research.
Excited about my new purchase, I drank 10 glasses of water a day. I drank more and more, drinking ten glasses of water a day for weeks. But I was still thirsty! I never felt satiated. Sadly reverse osmosis water does not hydrate as well as spring water. I can certainly attest to this.
Since then, I have only drunk spring water and feel fully hydrated after 8 glasses a day. Reverse osmosis, sadly, is terrible for drinking. It does not matter if someone has added minerals back to it. These things cannot undo the damage to the water that occurs due to passing it through the plastic membrane. Examples include Dasani
Alkaline water has been ionized to increase its pH to between 8 and 10. Some believe that the health benefits of alkaline water are overstated, and that it has little to do with stabilizing or reducing acidity in the body, but is more of a marketing scam.
A major issue with this kind of water is that there is not enough research conclusively showing the benefits actually exist. Even if many of the claims are true, the only people who really would benefit are individuals who have trouble keeping their body alkaline due to a bad diet, or people who have problems with their natural buffering systems.
Alkaline water systems include the Jupiter, I-Water, Kangen, and others. Some devices pass tap water through a carbon filter, which does not remove many toxic metals and often does not even remove too many toxic chemicals because the water must move quickly through the filter.
Then the water passes over electrified platinum and titanium plates to alkalinize it. Platinum is a deadly toxic metal, as is titanium. Some people find that they develop extreme platinum or titanium metal toxicity after using these machines. Because of this problem alone, I do not recommend these filters.
Some say alkaline water is beneficial because of its alkalinity and ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential) making it an antioxidant. However, the antioxidant value only lasts 18-24 hours after it’s made.
The higher pH will last approximately 1-2 weeks. The smaller molecule cluster size of its water will last about 1-3 months. Given these facts, bottling alkaline water makes no sense, because the health benefits are gone is such a short period. Don’t waste your money.
Tap water contains heavy metals, fluoride, chlorine, medicines like antibiotics and antidepressants and hundreds of chemicals, many of which are not even measured or regulated.
Fluoride causes many, many side effects, weakening bones and increasing your chance of developing osteoporosis and cancer, yet it’s added to almost every municipal water supply in the US.
Drink it if you dare. Tap water, if unfiltered, often has too many toxic metals and chemicals in it to be good for drinking.
If tap water is filtered with only carbon, then it will hydrate the body and can be used for drinking, but is not usually as good as a high quality spring water.
Note that carbon can remove some chlorine, but not fluorides. Since city regulators do not monitor or filter for medications, there are hundreds of them in your tap water. It’s not a good idea to drink it.
Drinking water comes from a municipal source, but is better known as tap water. Don’t bother paying for bottled drinking water that you can get out of your tap. Examples include Sahara and Kirkland brands.
Distilled water has gone through a rigorous filtration process to strip it not only of contaminants, but natural minerals as well. When water is distilled by boiling and condensing it, all solid matter is left behind except for some chemicals that were in the water.
Most industrial distillers have methods to capture these substances to prevent them from remaining in the water. For this reason, I find that industrially distilled water is the very best. I do not recommend buying a home distiller because they cannot match the purity of industrial distillers.
Distilled water can be used for a few months to remove toxic metals and toxic chemicals from the body quite effectively. Drinking distilled water for longer than this, however, always results in vital mineral deficiencies. Examples of distilled water include Sparkletts and SmartWater.
Mineral water contains no less than 250 parts per million total dissolved mineral solids and is defined by its constant level of mineral and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source.
No minerals can be added to the water. Examples include Panna from Italy.
Sparkling Mineral Water
Yes, the fizzy kind. But what makes it fizzy? This type of water contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had when it emerged from its source.
Sparkling bottled waters may be labeled as sparkling drinking water, sparkling mineral water, sparkling spring water, etc. Examples include Perrier and Pellegrino.
Well water can be fine, but often it is contaminated. This is especially the case if one lives in a location that was ever used for industry or agriculture. Even if your location is pristine, wells can easily become contaminated, especially with minerals such as iron and manganese.
Learn more about The Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water
State testing laboratories cannot or will not test for hundreds of toxic chemicals. They often don’t even test for contaminants such as high levels of manganese. If you have a well, try to check carefully before using it for drinking purposes. Many folks that drink from wells have manganese toxicity, in addition to others.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
The fact is as long as you’re drinking water that is good for you, knowing how much to drink in order to reap the benefits is simple:
- Drink whenever you feel thirsty
- When you don’t feel thirsty any more, don’t drink
- Drink before meals if you want to curb your appetite
- Drink more when it’s hot or you are exercising to make up for lost fluids
It really is as simple as that.
Here’s an interesting infographic I have found at graphicspedia.net
Tis the season for spring cleaning and Stop Foodborne Illness is helping purge the dirt with some tips on spotting and washing the dangerously germy areas often overlooked. Surprisingly, most of these places are found in the kitchen. “There are so many things that we don’t think about in terms of food safety, for instance, touching raw chicken and then grabbing a spice bottle with unwashed hands and putting it back in the cabinet. It is a good time to review your food safety practices and incorporate a few new healthy habits,” says Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO of Stop Foodborne Illness, a national, nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens.
From sponges to drawer handles to the refrigerator, the kitchen is the room most likely to be bacteria-tainted, including food that cross-contaminates everything in its path. As you clear out the clutter collecting dust in cabinets and on shelves, do not forget about the everyday bacteria breeding grounds hiding in plain sight around the kitchen.
Reusable Grocery Bags
Reusable grocery bags are great for the environment but they are also great for spreading bacteria like E. coli. A 2010 study found that more than half of eco-friendly reusable totes are contaminated with bacteria because almost 97 percent of shoppers interviewed said they never wash their bags. Keep food safe by throwing your bags in the wash.
Sponges & Dishrags
Public health and safety firm NSF International found that 72 percent of sponges and dishrags were contaminated with bacteria which can cause food poisoning, making them the germiest thing in your house. Prevent the growth of bacteria, like salmonella, by allowing sponges and rags to dry between uses or zap them in the microwave for a minute or two. A recent Fitness Magazine article recommended replacing your sponges once every three weeks.
Oven mitts protect hands from hot pans but not from bacteria. Slower growing microorganisms thrive on mitts because they are not frequently washed even though they occasionally brush up against food, have been left on dirty counters and get hung up or shoved in a dark drawer. Washing mitts after every few uses to keeps them clean and bacteria safe.
Sinks can be prime real estate for nasty bacteria like E. coli. Many people dump raw meat juices or drain packets containing raw meat straight into the sink thinking it help contains the spread of bacteria. However, within 20 minutes of E.coli coming into contact with a sink, it can multiply like wildfire. Combat those germs by scrubbing down counters, utensils and sinks as part of your regular cleaning routine.
The fridge is one of the most forgotten spots while cleaning. When The Today Show’s national investigative correspondent, Jeff Rossen, went germ-hunting in his home he found that his fridge’s shelves had a reading of 904 on the bacteria meter, slightly over nine times higher than what experts consider acceptable.
According to experts, foods like spilled milk and raw meat, combined with cold temperatures, create a perfect environment for bacteria–including E. coli and Salmonella–to thrive. These bacteria can lead to foodborne illness. To reduce risk, wipe up any spills immediately and wrap raw meat in a disposable bag and place it on a plate before storing it in the refrigerator. Read more tips on how to clean your fridge and keep food safe.
Keeping your kitchen sanitized is a good start to practicing food safety. Avoid cross contamination by touching raw meat as little as possible, and by not touching cabinets, drawers, or other items on the counter when working with raw meat. Do not cut vegetables on the same board, or with the same knife, used on raw meat. And, always wash your hands.
For more food safety tips please visit www.STOPfoodborneillness.org/awareness/. If you think you have been sickened from food, contact your local health professional. You may subscribe to receive Stop Foodborne Illness e-Alerts and eNews here: www.STOPfoodborneillness.org/take-action/sign-up-for-e-alerts/.
For questions and personal assistance, please contact Stanley Rutledge, Community Coordinator, at srutledge@STOPfoodborneillness.org or 773-269-6555 x7.