Adding this to your day could extend your life!

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 Hi friends! Well we’ve had some amazing weather here in the Midwest, it’s been so warm and sunny, great weather for doing more walking. That is the focus of my post today. 

  
Did you know that you can add SEVEN YEARS TO YOUR LIFESPAN BY WALKING FOR 20-25 MINUTES DAILY?!! I had to put that in caps because it is such an incredible fact. 

Now that’s not to say that’s all you need to do, obviously you still need weight training and a healthy diet. If you also add in weight training and interval training to your fitness regime you can add an ADDITIONAL 3-7 YEARS TO YOUR LIFESPAN!

  
 Walking is important for a few different reasons. First, if you’re walking you’re not doing one of the worst things for us and the thing we Americans do far to much of, and that is sitting. Sitting for long periods of time is known to lead to type 2 diabetes, among other diseases. Second, walking helps delay the onset of dementia, serves as an anti-depressant and improves cognitive function. Yep, all that with a simple 20-25 minute walk! 

And if you vary the pace of your walk you can burn 20% more calories than if you walk at a consistent pace. Slowing down and speeding up help to create a varying pace, but stopping and starting are where the most energy is expended in a walk. Another thing that helps is to walk with weights or a backpack to burn more calories. Oh, and walking in a curving route rather than a straight line will also burn more calories. All of these things can be achieved when walking with dogs because if you’ve ever walked a dog you know they slow down, speed up, stop suddenly, and definitely don’t follow a straight line. Also, since I have two dogs and they pull hard despite wearing pronged collars, it takes all of my energy to pull them back so they don’t run into the road and get hit. I’m burning some calories for sure!! Getting a dog has so many advantages, too many to name here, but one of the best ones is that they get me MOVING.

   

So that’s my message for the day for my wonderful readers, get moving and keep moving! If you have a fit bit or a step app on your phone aim for 5,000-7,000 steps per day, but 10,000 is the ultimate goal to reach for. Moving to a new home is a great way to get your steps in because since we moved a week and a half ago I’ve increased my steps to the 10,000 range daily unpacking all the boxes, and it’s great weight training at the same time. Win-win! Keep on walking and you’ll live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

Sitting is the new smoking!

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Cozy nights in front of the fire, Chewie sleeping, normal winter nights in my family!

Cozy nights in front of the fire, Chewie sleeping, normal winter nights in my family!

I know that fall is coming and the weather is getting cooler, especially lately in Indiana. Soon it will be time for cozy nights in front of a roaring fire sipping hot chocolate (or wine!). This is a real Norman Rockwell moment, isn’t it? Well, all of those cozy evenings with cooler weather means more time sitting inside the house, and I’m emphasizing the sitting part. What I’ve learned is that sitting is not good for you. In fact, I’ll just say it, sitting is bad for you, like hazardous to your health bad for you! Read on for more info about sitting and what you can do to counteract the dangers of sitting.

Sitting around, watching TV- can actually be HAZARDOUS to your health!!

Sitting around, watching TV- can actually be HAZARDOUS to your health!!

Now I’ll be the first to say that I love a good sit! Relaxing with my family and watching a movie is one of my favorite things to do. I am also an avid reader so I like to curl up with a good book and have a nice, long reading session. So when I say that sitting is bad for you I want you to know that I love sitting, but I have changed my sitting behavior as a result of what I’ve been reading about the dangers of sitting. Dr. Mercola references a study in which the results concluded that adults who spend an average of 6 hours in front of the TV per day cut their life expectancy by almost 5 years, compared to people who don’t watch TV. Another study found that people who sit for longest periods of time are twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to people who sit only for short periods of time. Here’s the important thing and the thing that really changed my sitting habits, EVEN FOR THOSE WHO ARE ACTIVE (and I’d call myself an active individual), SITTING FOR LONG STRETCHES IS A RISK FACTOR FOR DIABETES, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE AND KIDNEY DISEASE. This is true even if you exercise regularly. So, in conclusion, it really doesn’t matter how much you workout, if you sit too long it negates all the positive benefits of your exercise.

Too much sitting can decrease your life expectancy by almost 5 years!

Too much sitting can decrease your life expectancy by almost 5 years!

So why is sitting so bad for you? When you sit, the lack of muscle contraction decreases blood flow through your body, reducing the efficiency of your body systems. If you think about it, even if you exercise for 30 minutes to an hour a day and you sleep for 8, that still leaves 15- 15 1/2 hours a day- your non-exercise wakeful time. If most of that time is spent sitting you’ve got a major problem on your hands. Seniors are particularly vulnerable and need to make an effort to move more (Hear that Mama?!!). In another study Mercola sited that seniors who moved a lot during the day suffered fewer heart-related problems, suffered fewer strokes and heart attacks, were least likely to die, had less depression, less dementia, less cancer, less diabetes, and had low risk profiles overall.

With all of this compelling evidence that sitting is very bad for you presented, what can we do to live a healthy life? It’s a very easy solution- STAND UP! Another study was sited that found regularly standing up from a sitting position is more effective than WALKING. It’s because when you stand up your change in posture acts against gravity which is beneficial to your body, as does moving in any way. Sitting, because it’s low gravity, causes your body to deteriorate at a far more rapid pace than standing.

This is what I'm doing right now as I write my blog- I'm standing!

This is what I’m doing right now as I write my blog- I’m standing!

Now you might say, “How can I stand? I work at a desk all day?” Great questions and here is the answer: STAND UP WHILE YOU WORK. I’m standing right now as I work on my blog post as I frequently do. My kitchen island is the perfect height for me to stand and use my laptop.

An example of a standing desk.

An example of a standing desk.

Your next objection might be, “I don’t have a kitchen counter to stand at while I’m working and it will hurt my back to lean down to my desk.” I totally agree but they have these really cool standing desks. I first heard about them years ago because my dad has a bad back. He had to get a standing desk because he couldn’t sit for too long without hurting his back. However, now they’re all the rage and it should be fairly easy to get one.

This is what I do at 10 minute intervals while watching TV!

This is what I do at 10 minute intervals while watching TV!

But what about when you’re watching tv? A standing desk won’t help you then right? Here’s what I do. I set my phone alarm to go off at 15 minute intervals while I’m watching TV or reading and then I don’t just stand up but I do 5 jump squats while standing. Then I sit down and enjoy my program or book for another 15 minutes. I do the jump squats because it is better to exercise my body while standing to achieve the optimal benefits. Sometimes I’ll jog in place or do regular squats to change it up. Mercola calls this intermittent movement and says you need to do this 35 TIMES PER DAY. That doesn’t mean you can stand up 35 times in a row and then sit for the rest of the day, it has to be spaced evenly throughout your waking hours.

Cool treadmill desk!

Cool treadmill desk!

On that same note, instead of getting a standing desk, get a treadmill desk. I saw it on Good Morning America this week. One of the correspondents on the show got one of these and lost 25 pounds by using it during the day. I know they’re a little pricey, approximately $1500, but what price will you pay for your sitting induced bad health?!! Doctors appointments, medications, tests, etc, etc, etc… Cha Ching!!! To conclude this post, sitting is hazardous to your health and to counteract the ill effects of sitting you need to STAND UP AND MOVE, at least 35 times throughout the day like I do! Do this and you will live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

 

 

A Furry Stress Reliever!

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Lap time with Chewie makes me happy! And I'm not the only one- read on!

Lap time with Chewie makes me happy! And I’m not the only one- read on!

Hello friends! As I said in a previous post I’m a brand new empty nester and am still adjusting to this new phase of my life. It is very gratifying to see how well my daughters are doing, and in particular my first time college student! So it’s all good for them which definitely helps my adjustment process, but it’s a process and I have moments in which I kind of look around like something is missing. Well, in this case it’s two SOMEONE’S who are missing, and as I tell people it’s just WEIRD. That’s the word that best describes my feeling about this new phase.

My first dog, Princess, with my girls when they were little! They loved cuddling with her!

My first dog, Princess, with my girls when they were little! They loved cuddling with her!

So anyway, as I go through this process of getting used to life without my girls I find that I am getting a lot of comfort from my dogs. That’s not unusual for me, I’m a crazy dog lady after all, but I have been comforted by their presence even more than usual. Just looking at them helps me to feel better. I was surfing around on the internet the other day and I came across an article in Dr. Becker’s newsletter that talked about that very topic. Dr. Becker is a holistic veterinarian who has teamed up with Dr. Mercola (a holistic doctor) to dispense advice and sell products. In fact I highly recommend both doctor’s newsletters! Dr. Becker’s article talked about the emotional benefits of owning a dog and here they are!

Still getting comfort from her dog, in this case our current Golden, Delilah!

Still getting comfort from her dog, in this case our current Golden, Delilah!

1. Dogs relieve our stress- Dr. Becker mentions how many hospitals now have dogs come in to visit with patients, and schools that bring dogs in during finals to help relieve stress associated with both hospital stays and exams in schools. Last spring Purdue University had dogs and their handlers come in during finals week for students to come and pet/cuddle. Jacqueline went over and spent time with the dogs and she said it really helped her feel better and less stressed. She got straight A’s last semester so clearly the dog cuddling time helped her rock her exams!

My dogs encourage me to keep moving!

My dogs encourage me to keep moving!

2. They encourage us to exercise- Dogs need more exercise than just letting them out to do their business and wander your backyard. I don’t care how big or small they are, and how many other dogs or cats they have to run around with, they still need to exercise or they will become overweight and bored. Our little dog, Chewie, is a perfect example of that. He started to gain weight over the winter when I wasn’t walking him as much, but worse than that he got bored. Now, for Chewie boredom is NOT a good thing. He started to chew on things, get into things he wasn’t supposed to, and in general he became a nuisance. I learned that I HAD to take him on a walk each day to really wear him out so he wouldn’t get into trouble. The benefit of that was that I got out and walked with them, because they obviously can’t walk themselves. Now, if walking isn’t your thing you can throw a Frisbee with your dog, throw a ball, run, swim, and pretty much anything active that you like to do your dog would LOVE to do with you. If your dog moves and you move with him/her, it’s a win-win!

Chewie loves to cuddle with his sissies!

Chewie loves to cuddle with his sissies!

3. Dogs increase our “happy” hormone- Dr. Becker quoted a study in which they tested dog owner’s amount of oxytocin when they looked into their dog’s eyes. Oxytocin is the hormone that increases when we kiss or hug a loved one. It’s also stimulated during breast feeding, sex, and giving birth. What they found in this study was that the amount of oxytocin in dog owners continued to INCREASE the longer they gazed into their dog’s eyes. No wonder I like to look at my dogs all the time!

My mom even enjoys her cuddle time with my dogs!

My mom even enjoys her cuddle time with my dogs!

4. Dogs have the ability to heal us- Dogs are known to be helpful in those suffering from PTSD, depression, autism and various disabilities. Therapy dogs are utilized to aid those with various ailments. The number of illnesses that dogs can bring about healing for hasn’t been fully explored yet, and new ways dogs can help heal us are still to be discovered. The bond between human and dogs is very complex and in some ways deeper than the relationship between humans. I could’ve told you that!

They are definitely buddies!

They are definitely buddies!

5. Dogs help us in our relationship with other humans- A study showed that when you bring your dog along with you to different places, you are more appealing to others. It showed that 95% of study participants found people in the company of their dogs to be more approachable to members of the opposite sex. Guys did you hear that? Bring your dog along if you want to meet girls! I always meet people when I’m out walking with my dogs in the neighborhood. In fact, I just met a nice woman and her bichon this morning on our walk and we exchanged numbers to go on future walks together. I’m sure that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had my dogs with me. Thanks Chewie and Delilah!

So anyway, the upshot is that dogs are a great source of comfort and love for us, especially when going through stressful events. If you’re going through some stress, gaze into your dog’s eyes and feel your oxytocin levels rising! Also, just a 10 minute walk with your dog can ease your stress and give you some exercise too! Enjoy your dog, get some exercise, ease your stress and live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

Just Do It!

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Can I admit something? Of course I can, it’s my blog! Anyway, I must admit that I don’t like to exercise. Is anyone out there with me on that? I’m sure there are many of us, which is one of the reasons why our nation ranks among the top countries for obesity in the world.
My exercise philosophy

My exercise philosophy

Even though I don’t like to exercise I have consistently worked out 5 days a week for 45-50 minutes at a time for the last 10 years, despite flare ups of my chronic fatigue syndrome, times when my children were sick, working 40 plus hours a week, cooking, cleaning, running errands, being exhausted, etc.  You get the picture. We are all busy living our lives and that is the primary excuse I hear for why people don’t exercise and I get it, I really do. I just don’t believe that is a legitimate excuse. If I can keep up my fitness schedule with my other responsibilities and the fact that I really don’t like to exercise, then anyone can, believe me.

Another excuse I hear is that people can’t afford to exercise. My exercise regimen consists of a 20 plus year old road bike, stationary bike of equal age, hand weights from Walmart, 10 fitness DVD’s and Comcast On Demand. Total cost- pennies per day over the past 8 years at the most.  Are you in? If so, then read on for my ten easy steps to fitness success!

1. Integrate fitness into your daily life and find something you like to do- Since I am not one of those crazy exercise people I’ve tried many different forms of exercise over the years, from aerobics to Pilates to running and all forms in between. When I began cycling I realized how much I loved the feeling of wind in my hair,sun on my face and the sheer speed at which I could travel and I was hooked! That is my favorite form of exercise and I am faithful to it because I enjoy it so much. In bad weather I use my stationary bike so I can bike all year long. On my stationary bike I can also integrate weight training by utilizing hand weights while cycling, and I add more weight to them so I don’t plateau. Therefore I get both cardio and weight bearing at the same time. But the key here is to find an exercise you like and stick to it. Even if it’s not formal exercise, if it gets you outside and moving that’s great! Like gardening for example. Pulling weeds and hauling around a wheelbarrow full of mulch can be a great workout! Also if your children are young and you can’t leave them for long periods of time play basketball or tag with them, or if they’re really young, push them in a stroller for 30 minutes. Anything active is good!

Me and my babies out for a walk this past spring.

Me and my babies out for a walk this past spring.

2. Start with walking- your dog or yourself- Of course before beginning any new fitness activities make sure to run that by your doctor to make sure it aligns with your wellness goals. The easiest way to begin is by walking. It’s an activity that needs very little coordination and anyone at most fitness levels can tolerate it. Get a pedometer, set a goal for yourself, and stick to it! If you have a dog, walk him or her, and they will benefit too. If you have young children, push them in a stroller, and if you have a friend who is interested in getting to a better level of fitness, walk with him/her. A friend can really help motivate you to continue even when you don’t feel like it.

3. My Fitness Pal or other apps to log your success- I utilize an app called My Fitness Pal and it logs all your exercise as well as your food, calories, and nutritional information. It keeps track of what you enter and shows graphs of your nutrition and exercise, as well as your weight and other measurements. I’ve used this app for 3 years religiously and am able to see my progress, which is very motivating for me.

Justdoit3

4. Habit forming- Research shows that it takes an average of 66 days for something to become a habit, so make sure to continue your chosen form of exercise consistently for at least 66 days and it will become a habit.

5. Motivated by the healthy changes- One thing that is motivating for me is to see the changes that have taken place in my body as a result of my workouts. I have better muscle tone, more energy, my skin glows, my weight stays consistent, and I don’t have to buy new clothes! This helps me to continue when I’m not in the mood for a workout.

6. First thing in the morning or first thing when you get home from work- I alluded to this in an earlier post but I put on my workout clothes as soon as I get up in the morning and exercise as soon as I drink my coffee, and have a half banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter for breakfast. When I was teaching I exercised as soon as I got home from work. In fact, my next door neighbor commented that she’d see me pull into my garage after work and then within 10 minutes she’d see me ride out of the garage on my bike. That way I was more likely not to skip my workout by getting distracted by other things. I would exercise three times a week after work and each weekend day so that I’d get my five a week in. Now that I work from home I workout all week days and take off the weekends. I’ve read about recovery days but I do my recovering on the weekends.

7. Non-negotiable- this one is probably the most important for me. I don’t put off working out or avoid it because in the end it is something I MUST do and nothing will stop me from doing it. Of course, there have been days when I can’t work out, if I’m very sick or something of that urgent nature, but other than that I will exercise. NO EXCEPTIONS!

True dat!

True dat!

8. Variety is the spice of life- and working out- as I said I love to bike but I get bored doing the same thing all the time so in the past 2 years I’ve incorporated kick boxing and body sculpting into my week. Usually I bike twice, kick box twice and do body sculpting once for my five a week workouts.  That way I am strengthening different body parts, and combining cardio with strength training as well for an all around strong and healthy body. So switch up your workouts if you’re getting bored and that should help you to find your workouts fun and exciting again.

9. TV can be an exercisers best friend, not foe- Television plays an important role in my workouts. When I’m biking indoors I use that time to catch up on some of my favorite one hour shows that I’ve recorded, and when I forward through commercials it’s a perfect 45-50 minute workout for me. Also, as I said I use Comcast On Demand for their many fitness workouts. My favorites are kickboxing with Sensei Guillermo Gomez (he’s very good looking!), and Core Builders and Interval Training with Kathy Syphers. They are super workouts. I also have Physique 57 and yoga DVDs that I use occasionally to change things up.

My reward- a healthy, fit body and the energy to keep up with my daughters!

My reward- a healthy, fit body at 48, and the energy to keep up with my daughters!

10. Reward yourself-My reward is to see how healthy and good I look, but for some people extrinsic rewards are very important, so set some goals for yourself, say working out three times a week for thirty minutes.  If you meet your goals then reward yourself with whatever is a treat for you, like a piece of chocolate, extra glass of wine, or a pedicure. Whatever works for you to keep you motivated, just don’t make it something big that will cost too much money or derail you from your fitness goals!

I hope this helps you to achieve the healthy body you desire as it has for me. I wish you happy and healthy workouts!

V

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