Daryl Hopkins, Minister of Recreation, offers Health Tips in the Taylors Rec monthly email.  Subscribe here.

Daryl is a minister and a specialist in the field of sports and fitness. His credentials include BS, MDiv, National Academy of Sports Medicine(NASM): Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist and Sports Performance Trainer.

 

Walk This Way

For those who walk and those who are thinking about starting a walking routine, here are some ways to add diversity to your walk and improve your strength, flexibility and stability at the same time.

  • Power Walk – Walk with a weight in each hand and raise your hand above heart level as you stride. Improves cardio-vascular strength and shoulder strength.
  • Lunges – Pick a short section of the course you walk. When you get to that section, with each step you take squat down as far as you can until you have gone through the selected section. Strengthens thighs, knees, hips, and lower back.
  • Side Step – Pick a section of your course or determine how many steps you want to take and simply walk sideways. Make sure to use both legs as the lead leg.
  • Walk on an uneven surface such as a park, nature trail, etc. Walking on uneven surfaces challenges your sense of balance and strengthens it. It also strengthens your ankles and helps prevent falling.

 

Soup-er Fitness

Most of us are constantly going to or through our kitchens. While you are there, why not take a few minutes to do some “soup-er” exercise.
Take a can of soup (or any other identical foods) in each hand then do the following:

  • Circles – extend your arms to the side at shoulder height. Do front and back circles, small at first then larger as you feel looser. Do 10 each way.
  • Side lift – hold arms at your side and lift sideways to shoulder height 10 times. Go slow returning to the starting point.
  • Overhead – start with your elbows bent and the cans at shoulder height. Together or separate, extend your arms directly overhead as far as possible. Repeat 10 times.
  • Horizontal – starting with the cans in front of your chest push forward (like a boxer punching) and back 10 times each arm.
  • These “soup-er” exercises will add stability, flexibility and strength to your shoulders. Try to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise every day.It truly only takes a few minutes and your shoulders will thank you.

 

Take Note

Want to maintain or sharpen your memory? Write a note.

Typing notes enables you to jot down more material, but you are more likely to remember them if you write them. According to Indiana University’s Dr. Towfigh, “To learn something means to have processed it. And when you make handwritten notes, you ‘process,’ learn or remember more information.”

I have sticky pads, notebooks and note pads everywhere – home study, kitchen, office, truck and shed. When someone or something pops into my head, I write it down. This step locks it into my head until I can act on it. If I forget, the note reminds me. It’s a win-win.

 

More is Less

A snack is generally considered 250 calories or less. Therefore, we think that 100 calorie snack packs and other low calorie snack items can be acceptable as part of a nutrition improvement plan.

Regrettably, because these types of snacks are made up of highly processed carbohydrates and sugars, they will make you hungrier sooner because they are so quickly absorbed by the body. Therefore, you will get hungrier more frequently and you will reach for the snacks more often thereby increasing your total daily calorie count, not decreasing it.

At snack time always have something with protein in it because this choice keeps your hunger at bay longer. Examples include nuts, peanut butter with an apple or other fruit, jerky, etc. You may take in more calories initially, but less over the course of the day.

 

Works for Me

Years ago while leading a youth wilderness backpacking trip, I came down with a severe case of bronchitis while out in the boondocks. I came across an old man collecting herbs to sell and he suggested I try apple cider vinegar the next time I felt like I was coming down with something.

I had always been plagued by spring and fall allergies which turned to bronchitis, which were starting to turn to pneumonia.

So, the next time I felt flushed, with scratchy throat and coughing, I tried what the man said: two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 6-8 ounces of water with a teaspoon of honey. I took it morning and night until the symptoms ended, usually only a day or two.

It still works for me to this day.

For other benefits, search the internet for “benefits of apple cider vinegar.” You will be amazed.

 

Water

Water, Water, Water! It is generally recommended that we drink in ounces daily, half our body weight in pounds. For example if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water each day. For beneficial reasons to drink water, search the internet for “benefits of water.”

 

Get with the Program

According to the Mayo Clinic, starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Click here to learn more.

 

Resist

“Age-related muscle loss (3% to 8% per decade) initiates a cascade of undesirable physiological responses, including bone loss, metabolic slow down, and fat gain that are associated with many prevalent diseases and disabilities. Resistance exercise has been shown to be effective for reversing muscle loss, increasing bone density, recharging resting metabolism, decreasing body fat, improving glycemic control, reducing resting blood pressure, improving blood lipid profiles, facilitating physical function, enhancing mental health, reversing aging factors, and attenuating low-back pain and arthritic discomfort. Resistance training health benefits may be attained by performing 2 or 3 weekly workouts of 8 to 10 multi-joint exercises using loads that permit 8 to 12 controlled repetitions.” – American College of Sports Medicine

 

Draw It In

Lower abdominal “pooching out” is a concern for many. It is caused by lack of muscle tone in the lower abdomen generally attributed to a sedentary lifestyle, child birth and weight. The under used muscle is not a movement muscle but one that functions as a cummerbund for our internal organs. When this muscle is not toned, it allows for abdominal distension. What to do? “Drawing in” is the name of the exercise that tones this muscle and gives support for the lower back. 1. Place your hand over your navel. 2. Without moving your hand, draw your abdomen away from your hand and hold 10-15 seconds, release. Repeat at least 10-15 times a day. This movement can be done from any position – sitting, standing, walking, driving, etc.. Note: this exercise is not “sucking in” where you take a deep inhale and hold it. When you “draw in” you should still be able to breath and talk.

 

In The Zone

In the health and fitness world there is a phrase called the “heart rate zone.” It is the pulse rate where improvement in cardio/respiratory health can be gained. The puzzle has always been, “How do I accurately measure my pulse while exercising?” There is a simple way to measure! It is called the “talk test.” It is a self evaluation of how difficult it is to talk while you exercise and how that measure translates into the heart rate zone of improvement.
On a ten-point scale, the zones of improvement (levels 4-6) are as follows:
Level 4: I am starting to sweat, but effort is relatively easy; I can carry on a comfortable conversation.
Level 5: It is a little above comfortable, I am sweating more, but can still talk continuously with ease.
Level 6: The effort is becoming challenging as is my breathing; I now talk in shorter sentences.
Using this method can be a simple means to measure the quality of your exercise.

 

Posture

In this day of high mobile device usage, we are seeing more and more posture imbalances which can lead to numerous problems such as headaches, back aches, poor oxygen uptake when breathing and a host of others.
The most common postural distortion we see is the head forward and down position while looking at a cell phone or computer.
A simple solution is the head retraction exercise. Begin seated, or standing, looking forward with shoulders back, head up. Attempt to draw head directly backwards, tucking the chin. Maintain level head position. Do not tilt head up or down. Hold for two seconds. Return to start position. Beginners should start with 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

 

Go Bananas

Instead of hitting carrot cake (not a vegetable) and other seasonal sweets, try a banana. Bananas are the #1 snack food in the world. They are a good combination of carbohydrates, simple sugars and dietary fibers which provide energy for physical activity. Also, this snack is a good source of potassium which helps with stimulation of muscle, nerve and brain cells. My daily breakfast: 1/2 banana with a bit of peanut butter and a cup of black coffee.

 

Stand Up – Sit Down

If your lifestyle or vocation has you sitting for large amounts of time, your muscles can become weak, your posture sag and your weight rise. A big help is to practice standing and sitting slowly.
For standing, sit on the front edge of chair, couch, etc. Try to rise slowly without slinging yourself forward or using your hands. This technique makes your thighs do all the work, which will increase your calorie burn and strengthen your thighs. This exercise will help your stability and balance and help prevent falling.
From a standing position, practice squatting slowly. Initially, only go down as far as you feel comfortable and hold for 3-5 seconds then rise. Ultimately, you want to squat till your thighs are parallel to the floor, but don’t rush it.
These movements can be done in home, office or elsewhere and do not have to be done all at once. For those in a working environment, these exercises can be done through the course of a day without breaking a sweat.

 

Playing Footsie

One of the leading causes of falling as we get older is loss of side-to-side strength in our ankles. This weakening is why we hear of people stepping on an acorn or pebble and falling over. Our ankles have lost the strength to correct the off balance we experience when we step on an uneven object.
To help offset this problem, do simple ankle rocking. Sit on the front edge of a chair, couch, etc. Place your feet flat on the floor, parallel to each other and a natural distance apart. Simultaneously, rock both feet to the right side, hold a few seconds and then rock to the other side.
Do this movement for a couple of minutes several times a day. It will not only make your body more able to respond to a change in your walking surface, it will also increase the strength and flexibility needed to respond effectively and prevent falling.