Monthly Archives: August 2019

Meal Planning for Easy Eating

Back-to-school is a busy time for any family, and it’s possible for important activities to fall by the wayside in the rush to get everyone ready and out the door on time. One of the first things to fall through the cracks is healthy eating. It’s all too easy to pack instant meals for your child’s lunch as opposed to nutritious meals, and that’s especially true if you’re trying to get everything ready on the fly. Instead of falling into this habit, consider these meal-planning tips to streamline the food preparation process and keep everyone happy and well-fed.

Schedule Your Meals

Create a meal plan for every day of the week. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cook something every day;  sometimes it’s just more practical to pick something up. But planning ahead gives you the opportunity to scope out smarter food choices for quick takeout than a fast food restaurant. Additionally, planning your meals out in advance gives you more time to determine when you’ll actually cook them and how to store them effectively for long-lasting freshness.

Prepare the Night Before

Instead of waiting until morning to prepare lunches, have your children help you make and pack their food the night before. This gives you more time to find healthy options while giving your child a sense of responsibility for themselves and the food they eat. This is a great chance to teach them healthy food preparation rules as well as the importance of good nutrition. And the morning will be a much less stressful experience when all you have to do is grab a packed lunch from the refrigerator and send your children on their way.

Plan Breakfast, Too

One of the biggest time-wasters parents encounter each morning is waiting for their children to decide what they want to eat for breakfast. Unless they are old enough to prepare their own food, don’t give your children too many choices. Have one or two options that are easily prepared, and you’ll find the morning moves more smoothly, and your children receive consistently healthy meals before they head off to school.

Keep It Simple

Is it tempting to try your hand at a complicated meal that consists of roughly 20 different ingredients and takes two hours to make? Well, for some us, the answer might very well be “yes.” Chances are good, however, that this isn’t a smart choice. Do you really have time to create a complicated dinner every night after work? Instead of picking complicated dishes that can take a while to prepare, keep it simple during the week. Opt for meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that can be prepared quickly and offer all the nutrition you need. For school lunches, this can consist of wraps, cheese cubes, fruit, and hummus with pita bread.

Making healthy food doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Streamlined meal preparation tips can help make it an easy and fast process. With these tips in mind, start making delicious food for your family even during the most chaotic of times.

Exercise Your Way to Better Health in the Pool

People with certain physical limitations cannot participate in running, jogging, walking, biking, gym workouts, sports activities, and other high-impact exercise routines. However, there is still an option for them to maintain a healthy, physically active lifestyle.

Swimming is an ideal exercise for those with limitations as well as for healthy adults. It is a low-impact aerobic exercise that builds strength and improves cardio abilities and is a total body-strengthening workout since all parts of the body are used. Swimming helps your body to use oxygen more effectively, improving lung capacity and building endurance. And it decreases the risk of many chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. As for weight loss, Dr. I-Min Lee, a Harvard Medical School professor of medicine who studies the role of physical activity in disease prevention says “Recreational swimming will burn about the same calories as brisk walking.”

Besides swimming, there are other water-based exercises that are great options:

  • Water aerobics –These are simply mild exercise and movements done in an indoor or outdoor pool. Some might be apprehensive about water aerobics because they are not strong swimmers or do not swim at all, but these classes (which may be offered by YMCAs, private clubs, or sports clubs) do not involve actual swimming but other water exercises instead. They are led by an instructor who will guide participants and show them what to do. There are different levels that may be offered: beginning, medium, or advanced-level classes. These are usually held in the shallow part of a pool where members stand while doing the exercises, but deep-water exercises may be an option as well.  Accessories that may be used are items like kickboards, foam noodles, and water dumbbells (made of foam and plastic). Often, the classes are accompanied by recorded music and are done with a group, so participants can enjoy getting to know other participants.
  • Acquapole® – A newer water fitness exercise, pole dancing or Aquarobics, began in Italy in 2010 when water fitness instructor Monica Spagnuolo and Stefania Manfredi developed an apparatus consisting of a steel pole that fits into a red base and can be applied to the bottom of a swimming pool through a system of suction pads. This more intense water activity has spread to Australia and other countries and can be found in some US cities but is not yet widespread in the United States. With over 20 “holds” and 150 different exercises, Acquapole® Fitness offers participants a variety of training sessions that can work on all muscle bands: legs, arms, and core.
  • Silver Sneakers – offers water aerobics classes like Splash or Water in Motion for all skill levels—even non-swimmers. Splash involves  the use of signature splash-boards to increase movement and intensity options. (Silver Sneakers is fitness program for older adults  and is available at no cost under some supplement plans.

Whether swimming or participating in water aerobics, the buoyancy of the water reduces the amount of stress put on the weight-bearing joints of the legs and enables the participant to do a full range of movements and exercise that they might not be able to do on land.

The great thing about swimming and other water exercises is that they can be done by those of any age, weight, or body type.  And you can get the exercise without the sweat that goes along with gym workouts and other high-intensity exercises. If health conditions prevent you from participating in high-impact exercise activities, just grab a bathing suit and find a swimming pool.

The Benefits of Having Healthy Employees

According to statistics from the US Department of Health and Human Services, less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day and only one in three get the recommended amount of physical activity each week.

Persistent job stress and inactivity of employees in most workplaces contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Large corporations first offered wellness programs to their employees as a benefit, but as the fitness trend has grown each year, many smaller businesses have implemented programs, devices, and equipment to help employees become healthier.

Adjustable sitting/standing desks, balance balls, desk treadmills, and other devices as well as wellness programs can now be found in many office environments to help promote the health and well-being of employees. Businesses are implementing employee wellness programs because they like the benefits of having healthier employees.

What are the benefits of offering wellness programs, installing fitness centers, or other health-related equipment in an office environment? Many benefits are not measurable, but the following are among the reasons a business might start a wellness program:

  • Lower healthcare costs – Healthcare professionals have estimated that 70 to 90 percent of healthcare spending is for problems of chronic disease associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices—improper nutrition, too little exercise, or smoking, which costs American businesses more than one trillion dollars each year in lost productivity. From 22 studies that examined the costs of wellness programs and healthcare costs, it was found that for every dollar spent on wellness programs $3.27 was saved because of reduced healthcare costs.
  • Fewer lost work days – Healthier workers miss fewer days from work due to illness.
  • Lower stress levels – Neck, back, wrist, and arm fatigue as well as eye strain from sitting and staring at a computer during work hours contributes to fatigue and stress on the job. Exercise during wellness programs helps to dissipate stress, ease muscle strain, and provide relaxing moments—promoting a sense of well-being.
  • Promotes teamwork – Employees participating together in a wellness program are more likely to develop a spirit of camaraderie and teamwork which enhances the company culture and causes the employee to value the company more. Workplace wellness programs show that companies value and appreciate their employees and the employees are more loyal to their company.
  • Improved work performance and longer retention of employees – Since exercise increases one’s ability to focus and provides more energy to perform daily activities, employees are more productive at work. Employees who have a greater sense of well-being and who feel valued by their employers are more likely to stay with their companies.

More recent studies of wellness programs in 2019 cast doubt on the benefits the programs actually produce, but many factors go into how wellness programs are initiated and supported by the businesses and corporations that started them.

There have been many studies which have examined the results and benefits of wellness programs. One study that looked at nearly 200,000 wellness program participants showed that 5 out of 7 health risks improved after one year.

One thing seems certain: Companies will end programs from which they derive no benefit for their employees or their “bottom line.” The benefits of a workplace wellness program outweigh the costs.