Tag Archives: healthy living

Eat More Veggies! 7 Sneaky Ways to Get More Vegetables into Your Diet

Americans don’t eat enough vegetables. This is a commonly known fact. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only one in 10 adults are getting enough fruit and vegetables in their daily diets. Yet government guidelines recommend that adults eat at least two to three cups of vegetables per day as well as at least one-and-a-half to two cups of fruit. So, how can you change your diet and modify your cooking to make sure you’re meeting the recommended guidelines?

Maybe you aren’t a big fan of broccoli, or you aren’t sure how to prepare vegetables in an appealing way. Or maybe, like many people, you just find it inconvenient to eat all of those veggies when there are quick and easy packaged meals ready to go.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to eat enough vegetables because they are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which can help keep you healthy and help fight off disease, as well as help you maintain a healthy weight.

Here are seven creative ways to incorporate vegetables into your cooking that are both easy and appetizing.

1. Make vegetable-based soups.
Soups are a great way to incorporate several vegetables at once. You can make vegetables the base of the soup by puréeing them and adding spices, meats, noodles, or more veggies. Some examples of vegetable-based soups include tomato soup, carrot soup, creamy cauliflower soup, mushroom-spinach soup, and of course classic vegetable soup. You can find some delicious soup recipes here.

2. Try Veggie Noodles.
If you crave pasta but are watching your carb intake, veggie noodles are a great low-carb alternative and a way to get in several servings of vegetables in one meal. The most common vegetables used for noodles are zucchini, carrots, spaghetti squash, and sweet potatoes. You will need a spiralizer for making veggie noodles: you insert veggies into the spiralizer, and it processes them into noodle-like shapes. Veggie noodles can be eaten just like regular pasta—just add another vegetable-based sauce, such as tomato sauce, and add meat if you like. Toss in some mushrooms and onions, and you’ve met a big portion of your daily vegetable requirement.

3. Add Vegetables to Sauces.
Speaking of noodle dishes, another easy way to increase vegetable intake is by adding them to sauces. When cooking a sauce, such as a marinara sauce, just add in other veggies like chopped onions, carrots, peppers, or spinach. You can also puree other vegetables to make them into a sauce on their own, such as butternut squash or spinach.

4. Use Cauliflower for Carbs.
Cauliflower pizza is all the rage right now. With the popularity of gluten-free and low-carb diets, substituting cauliflower for flour-based crusts allows you to still enjoy pizza, plus it adds in a full serving of vegetables. Blend more veggies into your pizza sauce or add them as toppings for a veggie-rich meal.

Cauliflower rice is another carb alternative and can be substituted for regular white or brown rice. You can use either a food processor or box grater to make cauliflower rice. It’s even easier to cook than regular rice, either on the stove top or in the microwave. You can serve it as a side or use it as a base for other recipes that mix in meat and other vegetables.

5. Blend Veggies into Smoothies.
Smoothies are a really easy way to eat more vegetables and are especially appealing if you have picky kids. They won’t even be able to taste the vegetables or know they are in these yummy drinks! Blending in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale with fruits such as mangoes, strawberries, bananas, and peaches packs both fruits and veggies into one sweet, icy drink that you or your kids can have for a quick breakfast-on-the-go or for an anytime snack.

6. Try a Lettuce Wrap.
Using lettuce or other leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach as a wrap instead of a bun or tortilla is one of the easiest ways to eat more vegetables. They can be used for several types of dishes including bunless hamburgers or hot dogs, or a low-carb sandwich.

7. Make a Veggie Omelet.
Omelets don’t have to just be for breakfast, plus they’re an easy way to sneak in more veggies. Almost any type of vegetable tastes good in an omelet, but the most popular ones are mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, and tomatoes. Add in some cheese and/or meat for a filling meal.

By getting creative with using vegetables in your cooking, you’ll be able to increase your daily intake and learn to love eating vegetables.

 

 

 

Exercise 101: Starting an Exercise Program for the New Year

If you’ve made it your New Year’s resolution to start an exercise program, you’re not alone. The majority of New Year’s resolutions are fitness-related, with 65 percent of those who make resolutions vowing to exercise more, according to Inc. com. Perhaps you aren’t just wanting to exercise more or run a 5K, but instead, you’ve never really exercised much before and want to start being more active, but aren’t sure where to begin.

Here are some tips to get you started on an exercise program so you can make a lifestyle change, and not just burn out after a couple of weeks and quit by the end of January.

Get a checkup.
Before beginning any sort of exercise program, it’s important to check with your doctor first. If you’ve been inactive for a while or are over 45, you should consult a doctor to make sure you don’t have any underlying health conditions or limitations that could put you at risk for injury during exercise.

Choose an activity you enjoy.
Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to mean a strict, time-consuming workout at the gym. There are so many different types of exercise that it’s best to start with something you enjoy doing, so there’s a better chance you’ll stick to it. You can always try something new later on after your fitness has improved. Activities such as walking, dancing, biking and even gardening are good ways to get started moving, especially if you’ve led a mostly sedentary lifestyle in recent years.

How much exercise?
For heart health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise most days of the week. If you can’t do a full 30 minutes, even as little as 5-10 minutes will still offer benefits, and you can increase the duration as your fitness level improves.

As a long-term goal, the American College of Sports Medicine’s current recommendations for physical activity include at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. You can achieve the 150 minutes any way that works best for you—for example, you can work out for 30 minutes five days per week, or do a 40-minute workout every other day.

Set realistic goals.
Create an exercise plan that has clear, achievable steps and goals. For example, set goals to exercise for 30 minutes three times per week to begin. After a few weeks of sticking to that plan, increase to four days and increase the duration of how long you exercise. Continue to build on this type of schedule as your fitness improves. Once you’re exercising regularly for as many days as you can, you can also set more long-term goals, such as completing a 5K.

Create a habit.
You are more likely to stick to an exercise program if you can make it a regular habit. If you schedule your workout at the same time every day, such as after or before work, you’ll be more likely to stick to it long term. Use your online calendar or a print calendar to schedule your workouts into your day just like you would other appointments. Set reminders on your phone or use fitness trackers if that keeps you motivated.

Stay hydrated.
Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day to keep your body properly hydrated. If you’re exercising in hot temperatures, it’s also important to replenish fluids during exercise, and always drink water after you finish your workout to help your body recover.

Warm up and cool down.
Be sure to always warm up before each workout. Stretching your muscles will help prevent injury, increase flexibility, and help reduce muscle soreness after working out. Similarly, cooling down after a workout is equally important. Light walking or stretching after a workout can help return your breathing to normal and help reduce muscle soreness.

Listen to your body.
If you’re just beginning and are not used to strenuous exercise, start slowly and pay attention to your body’s limits. If you feel any pain or discomfort during a workout, stop and rest before continuing. By starting slowly and building up the intensity of your workouts over time, you’re more likely to stick with it and less likely to injure yourself.

Reward yourself.
Regular exercise has all kinds of wonderful benefits for our bodies including increased energy, improved sleep, improved emotional health, weight loss, and improved overall health. But these types of benefits are long-term rewards. To motivate yourself to stick with an exercise program long term so you will reap these types of health benefits, it’s important to give yourself short-term rewards when you reach a fitness goal or even after completing a week of workouts. These rewards can be anything you enjoy such as a hot bath, watching a show on Netflix, a manicure/pedicure, a new pair of sneakers or new workout clothes. Just make sure you only allow yourself the reward after you exercise.

20 Tips for 2020: How To Realistically Set and Keep New Year’s Resolutions.

If you’re like most people, every year you set several big, lofty goals for the New Year: maybe it’s to lose 30 pounds, to eat cleaner or to exercise more, or even to run a 10K. Most New Year’s Resolutions revolve around losing weight or exercise goals, and most people have given up their goals by February. There’s a reason that gym is packed the week after New Year’s and practically empty come Valentine’s Day!

According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, just 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals, while around 80 percent fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions.

You can keep and attain those New Year’s resolutions and be successful. By setting realistic and attainable goals and making a few other changes, you can make 2020 the year you accomplish your goals. Here are 20 tips for 2020 to get you started and to help you reach your goals.

1. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to make your resolutions. Plan your goals well ahead of December 31.

2. Don’t make too many resolutions. To increase your chances of success, it’s better to pick one realistic goal and set small steps to achieve it rather than making a list of several resolutions.

3. Don’t make the same resolution year after year. Perhaps you’ve made the same resolution each year—to lose 30 pounds, for example. And every year, you’ve failed to reach your goal. Instead, this year, break down that big goal into smaller goals such as “lose 10 pounds by April 1″ or “exercise 3 times per week.” Then re-evaluate and set new goals after you reach your first small goal.

4. Set attainable and meaningful goals. When making your resolutions, be specific and have identifiable steps of how you will reach your goal. One way to do this is by following the SMART acronym – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. Learn more here.

5. Write it down. Write down your resolution and break it down into smaller steps that you can follow to help you reach your ultimate goal.

6. Post it somewhere visible. After writing down your goals, post them on your fridge or bathroom mirror, or wherever they’ll be most visible for you to see daily to help keep yourself motivated.

7. Plan a time frame. Buy a calendar or use an online tracker so you can plan your action list for the coming weeks and months. This way, you can assess your short-term progress and make adjustments along the way.

8. Track your progress. Using that same calendar or online tool, track your progress. Record little achievements as well as big ones. For example, if you made it to the gym four times one week, record it.

9. Set rewards along the way. To help yourself stay motivated, reward yourself along the way. For example, if your goal was to lose 30 pounds, reward yourself for your first five pounds lost. Rewards can be such things as treating yourself to a spa day or buying yourself a new pair of sneakers, but stay away from food-based rewards especially if your resolution is to get healthy in the new year.

10. Announce it to friends and family. Tell your family and friends about your resolutions, and ask them to help support you in the new year. You could also post it on social media to enlist the support of your friend network and to help keep yourself accountable.

11. Enlist a partner. If you have a friend who has the same or similar goals for the new year, partner with them to help keep each other motivated and accountable.

12. Find digital support. If you can’t find a real life partner, look for support online. There are numerous online support groups for diet and exercise programs, as well as social media groups.

13. Take advantage of technology. Make use of tools such as Fitbits, trackers, cell phones, or other online support tools to help you track your progress and stick to your goals.

14. Have a plan to deal with setbacks. You will experience setbacks along the way, but as long as you have a plan on how to deal with them, they don’t have to unravel all of your progress. If you fall off your healthy eating plan, for example, get right back on it the following day.

15. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t obsess over occasional slip-ups. Take things one day at a time and use your plan for handling setbacks.

16. Keep trying. Once you’ve had a setback, or several, you may feel completely discouraged and ready to give up. If by mid-February you feel like you want to throw in the towel, don’t! Recommit yourself for 24 hours. Then set another 24-hour goal and build from there, and soon, you’ll be right back on track.

17. Know when to take a break. Burnout will happen if you don’t allow yourself to take breaks. Find time every day to relax and especially to let your mind relax and not hyper-focus on reaching your goal.

18. Be patient. Change takes time. Be patient with yourself and know that change won’t happen overnight or even in one week or month.

19. Re-evaluate after six weeks or six months. Check in after a period of time and re-evaluate your goals. Are you where you wanted to be? What changes can you make to help you reach your goal? Have you already reached or surpassed your initial goal? What can you do to keep improving yourself?

20. Celebrate all successes. If your resolutions revolve around weight loss or exercise goals, it’s important to have small, measurable ways to see progress. Don’t base your goals only around a number on the scale. Take your measurements before starting a weight loss or exercise program, and periodically remeasure to see changes. Are you feeling less winded when taking the stairs at work? That’s progress too! Celebrate all of your successes, no matter how small.

The Benefits of Exercise During the Holiday Season

Maintaining a regular exercise routine during the busy holiday season is important and not just because of the risk of gaining unwanted pounds, although that’s one good reason. While it may be tempting to skip your workouts with the idea that you’ll start back again after the New Year as part of your resolutions, you really should make exercise a priority even when the holidays place extra demands on your already hectic schedule. Exercise can help you face many of the challenges and stressors of the next few weeks.

Check out some of these exercise benefits:

Preventing holiday weight gain. The most obvious benefit of continuing a regular exercise schedule is avoiding the dreaded holiday weight gain. Exercising consistently can protect you from the effects of up to a week of overeating, according to a study from the University of Michigan.

Less risk of losing workout gains. While skipping one or two workouts won’t affect your overall fitness, if you regularly miss workouts during the holidays, you could face significant losses. Both cardiovascular fitness and strength could suffer if you start skipping workouts regularly; you could lose many of the benefits you’ve worked so hard to gain.

Reducing stress. Even though the holidays are meant to be a joyful time, they can produce added stress for a lot of people. The extra demands on your time, gift shopping, food preparation, visiting relatives, traveling, house guests, and financial worries can add up to lots of increased anxiety and stress. Exercise can reduce stress by releasing endorphins that make you feel good. It also provides you with an outlet to take out some of that stress and frustration, and gives you a guaranteed dose of daily time for yourself.

Reducing symptoms of S.A.D. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), a  mood disorder related to change in seasons and less daylight during winter. Sufferers may feel depressed, fatigued, experience sleep problems and appetite changes, and have difficulty concentrating, among other symptoms. Exercise can help relieve depression and elevate mood. In addition, doing an outdoor workout during the day allows you to get much-needed sunlight exposure, which can benefit mood disorders.

Lowering blood pressure. Exercise lowers blood pressure—and does so right away. Whether you take a daily walk, run, or swim laps, every time you finish a workout, your blood pressure decreases and remains lower for several hours, which is beneficial for your overall health. If you’re prone to high blood pressure, the added stress as well as extra salty and rich holiday foods may raise your blood pressure, so sticking to a regular exercise routine can help keep your blood pressure in check.

Healthier Thanksgiving Day Options

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s meant to be enjoyed while surrounded by good food, family, and friends. It is perfectly okay and even expected to indulge at Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy your favorite foods. But you also don’t have to let this one day derail your healthy eating.

Traditional Thanksgiving foods are actually great for both eating healthy and for satisfying your cravings. Thanksgiving staples such as sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries, corn, pumpkin, and, of course, turkey are all nutrient-rich dishes—the key is in how they are prepared.

Here are some alternatives for some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes to make them into healthier options:

Sweet Potato Casserole/Candied Yams
Classic sweet potato casserole or candied yams are often made with lots of butter, sugar, brown sugar, and marshmallows. It’s basically less of a side dish and more of a dessert. For a healthier option, you can bake, roast, boil, or mash sweet potatoes and top them with a tiny bit of maple syrup and fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Check out the following recipes. 

Stuffing 
While these may be easier, boxed stuffing mixes are usually high in sodium and preservatives. They are also usually made using white bread, so starting with a whole wheat bread base automatically makes it a better option because it contains more fiber and is better for digestion. Using low-sodium chicken broth and fresh spices to round out your stuffing makes a flavorful, healthier version. Here are some other healthy stuffing recipes.

Turkey
As the main event of the Thanksgiving meal, turkey is a lean protein that can be a very healthy choice as long as it’s prepared properly. They key is to prepare the turkey without adding too much sodium and extra calories. Try some of these recipes for cooking your turkey.

Cranberry Sauce
Canned cranberry sauce is quick and easy, but it’s also chock full of sugar and sodium. Cranberries are a super food, so don’t skimp on this side dish. Fresh cranberry sauce is easy to make and can add a colorful and healthful option to your holiday meal. This easy cranberry sauce recipe uses fresh or frozen cranberries and orange or lemon zest.

Pumpkin Pie
Don’t skip dessert, especially if it’s pumpkin pie that is full of healthy beta-carotene and fiber. Ditch the whipped cream and use more spices and other ingredients to keep the sugar content as low as possible when making your pie. Try one of these healthy pumpkin pie recipes.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes – What’s the Difference?

November is National Diabetes Month and a great time to dispel some common misconceptions about this chronic condition.

The most important distinction to understand is that Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are not the same condition. While they share the symptom of having higher than normal blood sugars, each disease has different reasons why it develops, and each is treated and managed very differently.

Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is much more rare than Type 2 diabetes—only about 5 percent of people with diabetes have Type 1. Sometimes called “juvenile diabetes” because onset is common in childhood, today more than 50 percent of people in the U.S. diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes are over age 19. However, Type 1 is usually not diagnosed past the early 30s.

Type 1 is a complex disease, and experts still aren’t sure what triggers it. Genetics, family history, viruses, and environmental factors play a role in who develops the disease. It is considered an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the pancreatic cells that are responsible for producing insulin. The pancreas either cannot produce enough insulin, or more often, shuts down completely and stops making insulin altogether. Without enough insulin, the body is not able to regulate blood sugar levels and provide the body enough energy. Left untreated, Type 1 diabetes can lead to a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be fatal, which is why it’s so important to know the symptoms and seek immediate treatment. The good news is that once diagnosed, it is a very manageable condition.

Unlike those with Type 2 diabetes, people with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin to live. Insulin is either injected multiple times a day with a needle or through an insulin pump, a wearable device that can function like an artificial pancreas. Those with Type 1 diabetes must also check their blood sugar levels several times a day with either a blood glucose monitor, or by using a newer device called a Continuous Glucose Monitor or CGM, which like an insulin pump, is worn on the body. Managing blood sugar levels using insulin and new technologies, combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise program, can help people with Type 1 diabetes live a long, full life.

Type 2 Diabetes
Whereas Type 1 diabetes usually develops in children or young adults, Type 2 diabetes is often called “adult onset diabetes” because it’s more likely to be diagnosed in adults and elderly patients. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for 90 percent of all cases.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the body does not use insulin properly. This insulin resistance causes the blood sugar levels to rise and cause hyperglycemia, which can lead to serious health problems if levels stay chronically high. But like Type 1, Type 2 diabetes can also be managed to prevent or lessen the chance of complications down the road.

Contrary to mainstream media’s claims, Type 2 diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar or even being overweight or obese. While weight and nutrition do play a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes, the exact cause is still not known. There are certain risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes including a family history, being overweight or obese, unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, increasing age, high blood pressure, ethnicity, and a history of gestational diabetes.

Depending on the level of insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed through diet and exercise alone. Achieving a healthy body weight is essential to controlling Type 2 diabetes, as excess weight can cause too much stress on the pancreas and cause it to not function properly, resulting in insulin resistance. If the condition does not respond to diet and exercise, there are many oral medications available to treat Type 2 diabetes and help control blood sugar levels. In some cases, people with Type 2 diabetes may need to take insulin. Like those with Type 1 diabetes, people with Type 2 should also monitor their blood sugar levels regularly. Through a combination of medication, healthy diet, and increased physical activity, those with Type 2 diabetes can manage their condition and lead a very normal life.

Know the Symptoms

The symptoms of both Type 1 and Type 2 are similar. Extreme thirst, frequent urination, abnormal fatigue, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, and yeast infections in women are common to both types of diabetes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor and have your blood glucose levels tested.

Chronically high blood sugar can lead to a host of health problems if not managed properly, and both types of diabetes can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, and damage to the eyes. Fortunately, management for both types of diabetes has come a long way,  and people with diabetes can manage their conditions to lessen or prevent long-term complications.

Not Always Pink: Men Can Get Breast Cancer Too!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with it’s pink-washed campaigns and numerous pink products, is mainly associated with women, but men can get breast cancer too. While rare, men do develop breast cancer, and the topic is often taboo and rarely discussed. This lack of awareness often means men who develop symptoms may not recognize them or associate them with breast cancer, and they may be diagnosed at a later stage when the cancer is not as treatable.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., men are born with some breast cells and tissue. And although men don’t develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. It is much less common, with less than one percent of all breast cancer cases in males, and only one in 1,000 men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer in his lifetime.

Because breast cancer awareness for males is less, and many men who do develop symptoms delay seeking treatment, men carry a higher mortality rate from breast cancer than women. Unlike women who are recommended to get annual mammograms and do regular self-breast exams, men aren’t routinely screened for breast cancer, so when it is detected, it’s usually at a much more advanced stage. Essentially, most men just don’t think they can get it.

Risk Factors in Men

There are certain risk factors that may make a man more likely to develop breast cancer:

  • Older age. Just as in women, risk increases as a man ages. The average age of men who are diagnosed with breast cancer is 68.
  • High estrogen levels. Both normal and abnormal breast cell growth is stimulated by estrogen. Men can have higher levels of the hormone due to a variety of reasons such as medications, being overweight or obese, environmental exposure to estrogen (i.e. pesticides like DDT), high alcohol consumption, and having liver disease.
  • Family history or genetic mutations. Just as the case with women, if there’s a family history of other men in the family having breast cancer, risks are greater. Also, if men carry the breast cancer genes BRCA1 or BRCA2, they are at an increased risk.
  • Radiation exposure. Men who have been treated for other cancers with radiation, especially to the chest, have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Symptoms in Men

Symptoms of breast cancer in men can be similar to those for women, but men may not associate these changes with cancer. This causes a delay in diagnosis. It’s important that men recognize that any changes to their breasts should always be checked by their physicians.

Breast Cancer Symptoms in Men Include the following:

  • a hard lump in the breast that can be felt
  • nipple pain
  • an inverted nipple
  • clear or bloody nipple discharge
  • sores on the nipple and areola
  • enlarged lymph nodes under the arm

With early diagnosis, treatment for breast cancer in men can be very successful. More awareness of breast cancer in men is needed so that men recognize any potential symptoms earlier and seek treatment when cancer is at a much more treatable stage.

Move More, Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk.

This October, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re focusing on prevention. And one of the best ways to lower your risk of developing breast cancer is regular exercise. In fact, multiple studies have shown that exercise is the No. 1 lifestyle change you can make to reduce your breast cancer risk, and also to reduce your chances of recurrence if you’ve already been diagnosed.

According to the Maurer Foundation, exercise can help reduce your breast cancer risk in several ways:

  • It helps you maintain a healthy weight. When you are at a healthy weight for your body, you naturally have less fat. This is important because fat cells store high levels of estrogen, and higher estrogen levels have been shown to increase breast cancer risk.
  • It can reduce the amount of estrogen in your body.  A study found that postmenopausal women who regularly exercised for a year had lower levels of estradiol, a type of estrogen, compared to women who didn’t exercise. Lower levels of estradiol in the body can reduce breast cancer risk.
  • It boosts your immune system.  Along with a healthy diet, regular exercise can strengthen your immune system and help your body to better fight off infections and diseases as well as helping to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.
  • It helps with stress relief and mood. People who are active report better moods and less anxiety and depression. Regular exercise can help you better manage the stress in your life, which is important in lowering your risk, as too much stress has been shown to speed up cancer’s progression.

How Much Is Enough?

Finding the time to exercise can be a challenge, but you don’t need to work out for hours every day to reap the benefits and lower your breast cancer risk. Even 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, such as walking, cycling, or gardening  has been shown to significantly reduce your risk, according to one study.  A  Women’s Health Initiative study concluded that just 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of brisk walking has been shown to reduce your breast cancer risk by 18 percent. If you increase your walking program to 10 hours or more per week, you can lower your breast cancer risk even more.

For those who prefer higher-intensity workouts, the recommendations are 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity spaced out across the week. Activities such as running, high-impact aerobics, swimming, or sports such as soccer or basketball are some examples of higher-intensity exercise.

Preventing Cancer Recurrence

If you’ve already had a breast cancer diagnosis and have undergone treatment, exercise can also be extremely beneficial in preventing the cancer from returning.  A 2017 study on lifestyle choices and their impact on the chances of cancer recurring in women who’ve previously had breast cancer found that of all the lifestyle factors reviewed, physical activity and avoiding weight gain seem to have the most beneficial effect on the odds of breast cancer recurrence.

According to the study, women who are overweight or obese seem to have the lowest chances of survival after a breast cancer diagnosis. Conversely, women who incorporated at least 30 minutes of exercise five days per week (or 75 minutes per week of higher-intensity exercise) significantly reduced their risk of breast cancer returning and of death from breast cancer.

In addition to reducing your risk of breast cancer recurrence, exercise can improve mood, improve body image, increase energy, maintain bone health, reduce fatigue, reduce anxiety and stress, improve physical condition, and improve overall quality of life in breast cancer survivors. Researchers did note that some forms of breast cancer are more aggressive and may recur despite lifestyle changes.

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.