The Road to Health & Happiness, One Step at a Time

You’re up on your feet and you have a goal in mind to get moving and stay moving (Why? Read “Is Sitting the New Smoking?”), but where do you start? There are options, plenty of them, some of which we’ve mentioned in our previous installment. But perhaps you want FullSizeRenderto start out simple. Perhaps you would like to engage in a physical activity without having the added worry of the expense that comes with a gym membership or whether or not you can make that 6:30 Spin Class at “The Y” when your child’s Soccer practice has run late and dinner hasn’t even been thought out, let alone prepared. What can help get you out of the house, out of a mental rut and into terrific physical shape, yet won’t cost you a dime?

It all begins with a single step, followed by another and another and so on.

According to growing scientific evidence, walking, when done often and properly, can provide you with an array of benefits that are just as effective as those gained from high intensity activities. That evidence has shown that walking can burn glucose to help control blood sugar, especially after meals. A 2013 study in the journal Diabetes Care suggested that three 15-minute post-meal walks each day can be more effective at regulating blood sugar levels than a single 45-minute walk mid-morning or afternoon.  Walking for just 30 minutes a day can decrease the risks related to heart disease by improving your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing your blood pressure, and lowering the rate of weight gain. Some studies have even linked walking to strengthening memory, not to mention reducing stress, increasing your flexibility, bone strength, and energy levels.

Walking the Right Way

  • Keep your spine straight, with ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, and hips over knees.
  • Your arms should be bent at 90 degrees and swing back and forth (not across the body) from the shoulders. Your legs will naturally move in sync. The faster you swing, the faster you’ll walk.
  • Your feet should land heel first with each step. You would then roll through the foot and push off with your toes. Make it look as if you’re showing the sole of your shoe to someone behind you with every stride. If there is a slap-slap sound when your foot lands, then you’re landing too abruptly, rather than rolling smoothly with every step.
  • When you walk, strive for a brisk pace, like you need to be somewhere, catch the bus, or avoid being late to a meeting. The brisker the pace, the better.
  • Avoid using weights. Studies have shown that 2 to 5 pound dumbbells do not create enough resistance to develop any meaningful changes in strength, yet are heavy enough to increase the risk of inflicting shoulder injuries upon yourself.

Gearing Up

You want to find a good pair of walking shoes that provide both stability as well as flexibility. As running shoes tend to be stiff, you’ll want to opt for a more lightweight, flexible shoe that you can twist or bend in your hands, but remain fairly firm. Low heels work best. Always wear socks.

For clothing, in colder climates, you’ll want to bundle up, but not too tightly. You should be able to move comfortably. Add layers, starting with a moisture-wicking synthetic fabric under-layer, a wool mid-layer and moisture-proof outer-layer that can be easily shed. For warmer months, thin, light-colored clothing will suffice and a hat to protect your scalp from the sun.

Steps to Success

  • Just get started, even if it’s only a 5-to-10 minute walk each day during your first week. You can increase your time by adding a few additional minutes each day afterwards.
  • Be aware of what you are capable of and what you’re ready to do in the long-term.
  • Set a new, reachable goal each day, then you can work towards a goal of 30 minutes a day as you get in better shape.
  • Find an approach that you find enjoyable, whether it be a choice of setting, walking with someone or alone, joining a walking group.
  • Track your progress – Use a pedometer, establish a baseline and increase the amount of steps as your goal changes. This is a good way to keep you accountable and encourage you to push yourself and stay motivated.
  • Walking for longer periods increases the health benefits. It allows your muscles to continue to take up sugars for hours afterwards, not just while you’re walking.
  • If you use a treadmill, get creative by dialing up the incline a bit to add some resistance.

The Great Outdoors

Don’t limit yourself to treadmills, go outdoors! Surfaces such as grass, dirt, sand and roads are never completely level which help work out muscles more effectively than a treadmill can. Wind can increase resistance, especially when walking uphill. And being outside, especially amongst nature, can be healthy for both body and mind. Taking your walks during the day will allow your body to increase it’s intake of Vitamin D from the natural sunlight. Studies have shown that natural sunlight also helps set the body’s internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep, and normalizes hormonal function that occur at specific times of the day.

Enjoying the outdoors also gives you that mental break from the rigors of the on-the-run lifestyle we lead and can improve your mood. You end up having a clearer, more focused mindset.

So take advantage by finding a walking trail or use your phone and GPS to help you create your own walking path. Drive around and look for scenic areas with plenty of greenery to map out, if possible. You might even be lucky enough to have everything you are looking for right in your own community. The residents of Grand Haven, a Brevard County community comprised of 6 neighborhoods, take advantage of such elements when they walk or run – an extended walking trail, scenic lakes, lush preserves filled with all manner of flora and fauna, and a beautiful park that also offers a variety of facilities and activities for the active-minded.

Walking is a great physical activity that will keep you up on your feet and on the go. It will make you feel more energized and alive and improve your outlook. And committing to this active change to your life will not only bring you added health benefits, but may inspire you to expand upon your physical activity regimen. And it all begins with a single step.

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Leland Management Named 2015 Best Place to Work

Leland Management was named one of 2015’s Best Places to Work in Central Florida in a OBJ 2015 BPTW logorelease by the Orlando Business Journal on June 26th.  Finishing in the top 3 companies of the large category, Leland employees reported a 92.42% performance score. This score is an aggregate of 37 questions covering topics on teamwork, job satisfaction, employee engagement and benefits. Rankings were determined by Omaha, Nebraska-based Quantum Workplace.

This is the fifth consecutive year Leland has earned the title of Best Place to Work and we look forward to continuing this tradition of excellence for years to come. You can learn more about the results at Orlando Business Journal’s website or picking up a copy of the issue out on newsstands now.

Got Water? Most Kids Don’t

While the importance of drinking water seems obvious, especially during hot Florida summers, a new study by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that most American children and teens fall short when it comes to fluid intake. In fact, the study HT-KidsDehydrationrevealed that 25 percent of kids ages 6 to 19 didn’t drink any water as part of their daily fluid intake.

This water shortfall typically causes mild dehydration, which can affect energy levels, mood and even a child’s ability to learn. Many researchers attribute low water consumption to the popularity of sodas and other sugary drinks.

So how much is enough? According to the Institute of Medicine, children and teens should consume on average two to three quarts of water per day. And the water contained in foods like soups, fruit and veggies counts, too. While the total amount needed does vary by child, adolescent boys generally require more water than girls.

A few signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst – This can be the first indicator that dehydration has set in, but it’s not always an accurate measure. However, parents should help kids get into the habit of always drinking water when they’re thirsty.
  • Dry Mouth – A sticky or dry feeling in the mouth, even after drinking, can be a sign of dehydration.
  • Sleepiness or Tiredness – Dehydrated children can appear less active or more tired than usual.
  • Urine Output and Color – When dehydrated, the urine color is often darker than normal. In most cases, the darker the color, the more severe the dehydration. The need to urinate also is less frequent.
  • Mental Changes – Kids may start of feel dizzy or lightheaded. In extreme cases, confusion or loss of consciousness may occur. Seek immediate medication attention since intravenous fluids may be necessary.

When left untreated, severe dehydration can lead to more serious conditions. So parents should start educating children early about the importance of drinking water. In fact, why not throw out all the sugary drinks and just start serving water with meals at home? It’s a healthy habit for a lifetime.

This Health Tip brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up and accepts most major insurance plans. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.org, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

Hurricane Safety Tips

Be Prepared!

Before the Hurricane:

  • Know how and when to turn off the gas, water and electricity.
  • Trim back any dead or weak branches from trees.
  • Secure loose items in the yard that may become hurricane-safety-tipsmissiles in high winds.
  • Check into flood insurance. Find out about the National Flood Insurance Program through your local insurance agent.
  • Buy a tarp to cover any potential roof damage.
  • Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container.
  • Take pictures of valuables now and store the photos with your other valuable papers.

 

After the Hurricane:

  • If the community were to lose power, look for communications to be posted in the common areas.
  • The rule of thumb is when the power is off, the pools are closed.
  • If debris begins to block storm drains, please help by removing the items so that water does not back up. If you are unable, please call your Community Association Manager to advise us of the blocked drain.
  • Turn your refrigerator / freezer to its coldest setting. Open only when absolutely necessary, and close quickly.

Is Sitting the New Smoking?

“Sitting is the new smoking.”

You may have heard this phrase popping up of late within the public consciousness, a phrase coined by Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the first treadmill desk, but what does it insinuate? Over the last few decades we have had it drilled into our heads that smoking is bad for you, along with a laundry list of the inherent risks and adverse side-effects, but sitting-is-new-smokinghow or why is the act of sitting detrimental to your health?

As society moved from a more active, agricultural lifestyle to one of office jobs, automated transport, advanced technology and modern convenience, we’ve had a common priority in mind: our comfort. And that comfort equates to sitting for more than half the day, whether it be on the plush bucket seat of your car, the last spot on the subway, or your favorite comfy couch in your living room as you binge watch “Orange is the New Black”. But studies have shown that constant sedentary behavior can lead to poor health, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, colon, lung and endometrial cancer, disability, depression, obesity and hypertension. Doctors believed those problems were due to the fact that people who sat more were not working out very much, but while exercise is critical, the current thinking is that it is just as critical to be on your feet more and keep moving throughout the day.

New studies reveal that there is a big difference between exercising too little and sitting too much, due to the fact that our bodies consume energy in different ways whether it be sedentary, standing or exercising. The human body consumes energy in three different ways. There’s the thermic effect of food, which is the energy you burn while digesting food, processing nutrients, and generating heat to warm your body, your resting energy expenditure which refers to the amount of energy your body consumes at rest – where vital organs consume the majority of your daily calories even while sleeping – and your activity energy expenditure where exercise or daily activities consume a more variable amount of calories. That activity energy is further divided into what is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT, which is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating, or sports-like exercise. This could include walking to work, typing, performing yard work, or more trivial physical activities such as folding laundry or walking up a flight of stairs.

The human body is designed for movement, burning off the calories needed to ensure that every cell and bodily process runs efficiently. But even when we’re not exercising, we’re moving and using energy, which is why NEAT is so vital. A body that’s sitting is not expending energy, so the signals from your brain that result in you moving and burning calories become infrequent, which, in turn, the processes which build up fat increases. When that happens, the desire to get out of our chair wanes.

So, what are some changes you can make to reduce such sedentary behavior? You can start simple – take your phone calls while on your feet or pacing while you talk, keep a glass or bottle of water on your desk or table so you’re more inclined to get up to refill it, take walks around your office building or home often, especially after meals, skip the elevator and take the stairs, invest in or build your own standing work desk, wear a pedometer to track movement to achieve a baseline and aim to increase that baseline each day, create an action plan to incorporate different physical movements that fit seamlessly with your daily living.

Research has shown that incorporating just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day can significantly contribute to one’s longevity. An optimal approach would be to develop a well-rounded physical activity program which includes aerobic exercise (walking, running, cycling, swimming, stair climbing, etc.) and strength training exercise (using body weights, resistance bands, free weights, medicine balls or weight machines), but not necessarily during the same session. This approach will help maintain or improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, as well as overall health and function. Just be sure to seek medical evaluation and clearance before beginning any physical activity program.

Look outside you door, within your own HOA, and see what it may have to offer you in terms of leading a more physical lifestyle: walking trails, community 5 Ks, community fitness classes, recreation leagues, swimming or biking clubs, and the like, anything that you are likely to enjoy and stick to and incorporate into your schedule.  The goal is to get moving, and stay moving!

Tai Chi and Chi Kung: Moving Meditation

If you are looking for a low-impact, relaxing form of exercise, Tai Chi and Chi Kung may be for you. These exercise forms are traditional Chinese movement exercises and are taichiconsidered to be the safest and most practiced in the world. Tai Chi and Chi Kung combine the benefits of balance, flexibility, aerobic, and toning exercises through slow, controlled movements which can be done seated or standing. This type of exercise has been proven by scientific studies to aid a variety of medical conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and pain management. They effectively improved the three components of fitness: Muscle Strength, important for supporting and protecting joints; Flexibilty to reduce pain and stiffness, enabling people to move easier and do their daily activities better; and Stamina for overall health and proper function of the heart, lungs, and muscles. Tai Chi is considered a low-impact, aerobic exercise. Your mind will quiet and be calm, fully absorbed in the practice as you experience deep relaxation by being fully present in the moment, leaving you feeling refreshed.