Posted by HCGH on Nov 26, 2013 in Fitness, Parenting | 2 comments
Family Fun while Supporting a Good Cause
Family fun is an important way to strengthen family relationships. Family fun begins early when your baby is born. Fun is a component of play that helps your baby learn. As your baby grows you can expand fun to include planned trips to playgrounds, parks or special events. Understanding the value of fun throughout your lifespan will benefit both you and your family.
The holiday season brings families many opportunities to have fun together. Consider coming to the Healthy Families Howard County (HFHC) Winter Wonderland Walk. This annual fundraiser for HFHC is sure to delight children of all ages as well as adults. Walking through the beautiful, lighted pathway makes the magic of the season more real. The Winter Wonderland Walk is on Friday, December 6 from 4:30 p.m. until 5:45 p.m. The last admission is at 5:15 p.m. Tickets are $10 each. Children 12 and under are free. Tickets may be bought in advance at the HCGH Wellness Center or will be available on site.
HFHC is a free, voluntary program for new first-time parents who live in Howard County. For more information, visit our website or find us on Facebook. See you there!
Posted by hclibrary on Nov 14, 2013 in Fitness, Health | 0 comments
Yoga is a great, low-impact activity anyone can try despite joint-inflammation conditions.
As a child, I routinely had physical therapy sessions for stretching and exercising my joints. I remember these experiences as mostly painful. My joints were stubbornly resistant to moving and the therapists would push ineffectively on my unmovable parts. Then, I would be given a list of exercises to repeat at home.
Let’s just say I wasn’t always compliant on my exercise regimen when I was a child coping with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I did, however, enjoy walking, running, playing, and swimming before I had too much joint damage. Because my family lived in the country, I had plenty of opportunity to do these activities.
As an adult, I’ve experimented with various forms of exercise. Recently, I had several months of physical therapy and found it quite helpful. This time the exercises focused on what I could do while also expanding my abilities by challenging me to work additional muscles, increasing my range of motion. I also took home-exercises and integrated them into different routines for me to complete throughout the week.
The best way to get me to exercise involves a few components:
Make exercise a habit. I’m more successful at carrying through my exercises knowing that it’s part of my daily routine. I expect to do a round in the morning, some during my breaks in work, and more in the evening.
Incorporate practical activities. One of the greatest things my latest physical therapist said to me was that exercises to practice my ability at daily living activities were great for me because not only do I get stronger, I get better at doing things I want to do. For example, standing and walking. With my therapist’s support, these (and similar activities) are a part of my exercise routine and have increased my physical independence in daily life.
For me, exercise is about gaining (or maintaining) strength, keeping my joints active, and overall wellness. I’m not looking to become a marathon runner. I’m realistic about the severity of my rheumatoid arthritis and the level of activity my joints can handle. I choose exercises that fit my needs—not too stressful on the joints, yet challenging to the muscles, and entertaining enough for me to want to repeat. In a lot of ways, this is true for anyone.
One other important point to note is that everyone—and I mean absolutely everyone—can exercise. I spend most of my day in a wheelchair and have significant physical limitations. But even I have found exercises that help keep me as active as possible. Not only that, but I’ve seen people with more disabilities dance in their wheelchairs, wave their arms, or wriggle their fingers. Just start exercising where and when you can, and go from there.
“Master the Movement” is a five-part series which briefly covers the proper form and mechanics of various exercises. Please consult your physician before attempting any new exercise regimen and consider meeting with a certified, professional trainer who can assess your form to prevent injury as you work toward your goals.
Have you noticed the massive influx of new exercise machines, group fitness classes, and gadgets promising quick weight loss? Despite the high turnover of fads and products, there’s one piece of equipment that hasn’t gone out of style: the barbell.
While barbells are commonplace in nearly every gym, many people perform barbell exercises without practicing or understanding proper form. There are those who are afraid to do squats because they think it will hurt their knees, while others fear the damage a dead lift could do to their backs. The reality is that both injuries are possible, but not if the movement is done correctly.
Now regarded by many people as a standard benchmark for strength, the bench press is usually seen as a chest or pectoral exercise. While the pecs play a role in the movement (when done properly and safely), it’s the triceps which work for the majority of the rep. This exercise is about body movement awareness and control.
Many thanks to my lovely wife for being our bench pressing model.
#1 Set up:
Lay down on the bench with the bar at eye level.
Feet on the floor and a comfortable width apart.
Try to squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Arch your back as much as is comfortable (think putting a fist under your back).
Arms slightly wider than shoulder width.
#2 Lift Off:
Get your whole body tight (legs, abs, back, etc.).
Take a deep breath in your belly. Exhale as you lift off.
Bring the bar out so your arms are vertical.
Avoid locking your elbows, otherwise you risk hyperextension in that joint.
While keeping everything tight, bring the bar straight down.
Do NOT flare out elbows, keep them tucked comfortably near your body.
Let the bar descend until it touches your sternum, avoiding bouncing at all costs.
if you can picture your arms making a 90-degree triangle you can avoid unnecessary strain on your muscles.
The objective is to work not injure.
Still keeping your body as tight as you can, explode the bar off of your chest straight up (not backwards towards the rack) After maintaining this position for a short count, re-rack the bar.
Be sure you know what your goals are before you attempt any kind of lifting exercises. Not to mention, get your doctor’s approval too. Your goals will dictate what proper form looks like. That is, your grip, reps, speed, stance, weight, and the like affects your workout outcomes.
The New Rules of Lifting series can help you examine your current lifting form and provide a deeper explanation of what’s happening between your movements and your muscle groups, as well as get you started with new exercises suited to your goals (allowing for modifications when necessary).
The fact is, proper form equals an efficient workout.
Share your experiences with bench pressing in the comments below.
I hate doctors. Don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of respect for them (really) because their job is to provide good healthcare and keep you well. I just hate what they usually have to tell me.
Last Tuesday, I had an appointment with my gynecologist. It had been about a year since my last exam and she was not happy with the state of my health. I held my breath as she silently clicked through charts and my latest weigh-in.
After four or five minutes, she pulled her eyes away from the computer and peered at me over her thick Prada frames. Let’s call her Dr. Emerald (the color of her nail polish that day).
“J…do you realize that since you’ve been a patient here, you’ve gained almost 40 pounds? You started at a fit and trim 122 and now you’re teetering at 160,” she said. She was right. A mere four years ago, I was still obsessed with exercising five times a week. I was also miserable and hungry because I chose to deprive myself of anything remotely salty, fattening, or sweet.
For most people, 160 pounds is not a lot. But, I’m barely pushing the 5 foot mark.
“I really didn’t think it was that much. I thought my clothes fit a little snug,” I said sheepishly.
Snug? More like the seams of my old size 4 jeans threatening to burst into a cloud of dark blue denim.
My doctor shook her head and shut the laptop. I could tell what she was about to say was serious. I didn’t like how uneasy I felt, but I knew I had to listen because my life was at hand.
“You have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which we both understand can make weight loss very difficult for you. There have been studies that women who have PCOS often secrete high levels of insulin which trigger frequent carb cravings,” Dr. Emerald said. “BUT you have to learn to control it. You’re pre-diabetic, J. You have to adjust your lifestyle and work your way back to a healthy weight.”
I sat there in stunned silence as she continued to mention how important it was to remember my family’s history of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes. She also reminded me that (with PCOS) I am at high risk for certain cancers. The only way to mitigate these health risks was to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Diabetes could have killed me. Instead, it saved my life.” – Sherri Shepherd
I’ve battled with my weight for the sake of vanity, my entire life. My motivation always had to do with bad breakups, being a bridesmaid (wedding photos last forever), or squeezing into a nice pair of skinny jeans. Now, I’m fighting for my life.
My doctor emphasized the importance of losing weight slowly and with real sustainability. She recommended that I enlist the help of a dietitian (if covered by health insurance) and find a physical activity I enjoy to start.
I drove home that afternoon feeling completely deflated and overwhelmed, processing everything my doctor told me. I couldn’t argue with her or make excuses anymore. I promised Dr. Emerald I’d start working my way towards better health that day.
I passed my neighborhood coffee shop and had the urge to pull into the drive thru for a giant, faux-Italian-sized-frozen-coffee-drink topped with a mountain of whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.
I slowed my car down, took one last glance at the iconic logo and hit the gas.
I have an appointment with Dr. E in six weeks and she’s holding me accountable for my health.
I have to start somewhere before I get anywhere. Even if it’s just saying no to a blended coffee drink.
How many times have you lost or gained ten, twenty, or even fifty pounds? While both men and women experience health issues surrounding weight, women tend to ride the “weight loss roller coaster” for much of their lives. Starting from adolescence, the media pressures women to fit a certain body type and look a certain way. Who cares about how you look? Is fitting that ideal image the most important goal? Have you ever quit exercising because that dreaded scale didn’t move after working out and eating healthy for a month? Do you feel like healthy eating is a punishment?
This roller coaster ride, the number of weight loss (or gain) peaks and valleys we experience, directly impacts our metabolism. It’s never too late to jump off that roller coaster. But, when you’re ready to get off, where do you begin?
First, find a sledge hammer and take it to your scale. Enjoy every minute! Destroy that little machine which has controlled so much of your life and start looking at the important things in your life. Evaluate why losing weight matters. Find your driving reason for making this change. Examine your energy level, health status, family health history, areas of pain, and level of enjoyment in your life. What do you want to achieve?
Second, take it slow. Make small, realistic changes to your daily routine. Be sure to talk with your doctor and consider consulting a nutritionist for changes in your diet as well. Set out to achieve one or two goals a month as you form healthier habits. Try something new! Perhaps Yoga, hiking, Pilates, or Zumba. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily eating plan. Drink plenty of water and get enough quality sleep.
When working with a busy schedule, remember every little bit counts. Hearing that we must engage in 60 – 90 minutes of activity every day seems overwhelming at first. Do what you can, as long as it’s something active. Short on time? Make twenty minutes go a long way in your workout with intervals, try big movements with minimal rest. Increasing your intensity allows you to accomplish a lot in a short period of time.
Include your friends and family on your journey. Supporters can help you stay focused along the way. Chances are, they could use a little encouragement as well. Leave the wild roller coaster rides for the amusement park and set yourself on a smooth path to healthy living.
Your health is a journey, not a destination. Take time to enjoy the ride and the other things life has to offer. Be healthy and get off that roller coaster! Your life will benefit greatly and your metabolism will thank you!
Hello, my name is Wendy and I’m a “walkaholic.” The first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem. However, being addicted to walking doesn’t seem like an unhealthy issue requiring a steps program. Seriously though, walking is a really easy and healthy way to exercise. It’s low-impact, easy on your joints and muscles, making it hard to injure yourself, right? Wrong. You can get hurt while walking. I learned this lesson the hard way.
I typically walk on my treadmill daily. Recently, I heard a strange noise while on my machine and I discovered that I had worn out a part on the treadmill. I replaced it and commenced with my walking routine– thinking everything would return to normal. Apparently, fixing the machine had changed my pacing. I increased the speed and incline to compensate for the change and tried to find a comfortable pace. Unfortunately, I set the incline too high and the speed too fast. I felt pain in my hip and instead of stopping, I kept walking, believing it would work itself out. Then, when I got off the machine, I could hardly put weight on my right leg. I had injured myself.
I had never hurt myself like that before, and after failed attempts at trying to diagnose my injury online, I went to a specialist. I suffered a hip adductor strain after an x-ray ruled out a stress fracture. Stubbornly, I kept trying to use my treadmill despite my high pain level. I refused to listen to my body and I didn’t rest as instructed. I knew that I needed to completely stay off the treadmill until the pain subsided and I was well again, but my treadmill was calling to me. I needed to be walking.
Avoiding my treadmill was especially difficult. Walking is really important to me. I walk daily as a way to clear my head, relieve stress, and prepare for the day. I finally accepted that I needed to rest the injury in order to get back to walking the way I wanted to, but it was exceptionally hard. Much to my chagrin, I stayed off the treadmill for a couple of weeks and tapped into my collection of fitness DVD’s, which are very low-impact.
These past weeks have taught me a valuable lesson about the consequences of ignoring my body’s cues and the painful effects of body strain. I am much better at listening to my body, and if something hurts, I stop doing it right away. I’m also taking the time to stretch both before and after walking (especially afterward, when the muscles are warm). I’m careful not to make sudden changes while walking either. Quick, jarring movements can easily cause muscle strain.
Now that I’ve admitted to my walking addiction and how it hurt me, I’m committed to walking smarter. I keep on a much slower and easier pace than before and pay attention to my body.
Here are some of the things I’ve done to help in my pursuit of a more conscious and careful walking routine.
- Wear proper footwear. I made the mistake of wearing athletic shoes a half-size larger than my actual foot size. I had thought it would be better to have extra room in the toe area. Instead, I got blisters on the back of my heels. So, I had my feet measured and bought a pair of properly fitting shoes. Talk about a difference! Also, you know the extra shoelace holes at the top of the shoe near the ankle? I never laced those before. These days, I do lace them up. Now, I have a more secure fit with my shoe; less sliding around means less friction, which, in turn, means no blistering! I also found some really cool toe-socks to help with blistering.
- Listen to my body. If something hurts, stop doing the exercise! Rest it, get it checked out, and with an expert’s direction, ease back into your activity.
- Stretch. Proper stretching reduces injury. Plus, it feels good!
- Be aware of treadmill safety tips
For those of you who don’t want to walk outside (or on a treadmill) but want to get moving, try Leslie Sansone on DVD. As always, you should consult your primary care physician before attempting any kind of exercise program. Happy and safe walking everyone!