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Let’s Get Healthy 2014: Part 2 – Sustainable Exercise

Exercise 2014 Part 2..By Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Ever wonder why New Year’s resolutions are so difficult to keep?  Willpower or lack thereof may be one good reason.  We all have a limited supply of willpower that may sustain us short-term.  So, unfortunately, we can’t rely on willpower alone to support us through a new gung-ho exercise plan.  Pushing too hard and attempting to do too much too soon leaves us feeling overwhelmed and quickly leads to exhaustion aka burn out.  Before you know it, we’re abandoning our fitness resolutions altogether.  In order to make lasting lifestyle changes, an attitude adjustment and change of habit is required. 

Now about that attitude adjustment.  Have you ever noticed that healthy and fit people can’t wait to get the gym?  Or that sedentary people find exercise boring or a chore?  The trick may lie in finding an activity that you love to do and, in turn, realizing that “exercising” can be fun.  It’s easy to make excuses that we don’t have time to exercise.  While it’s true that many of us are so time-stressed that we feel we don’t have one extra minute, what we need to realize is that exercise can also be quick.  It’s really all about becoming more physically active for more moments of the day.  And for those of us who are goal oriented, thinking in terms of “productive” activity can really help to change your mindset about exercise. 

  • Fun – Matching your physical abilities to activities you enjoy may just be enough to sustain regular exercise.  The biggest challenge here is simply deciding which activities are convenient enough to build into your regular routine.  You can choose activities that don’t require memberships, equipment or ongoing costs.  If you love to dance, put on some great music and dance in the living room.  If you have children, they’ll be the first to join in and suddenly exercise becomes a fun family affair.  If being outside lifts your spirits, walking, riding a bike or taking your dog out to play can provide multiple benefits for both you and your pet.  Choosing a variety of both indoor and outdoor exercises  works different muscle groups and helps to stave off boredom.
  • Quick –  Yes, it’s true that 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there add up to overall fitness.  But what if you have only 2 minutes?  Use them wisely!  Short bursts of calisthenics are a great way to get fit.  If you watch TV in the evening,  get up during commercials and do a few sit ups, march in place or do some jumping jacks.  Add in  some stretches while you’re watching a movie or waiting for dinner to finish cooking.  Be creative.  There is more time in the day for increasing little moments of activity than you think and every movement helps burn calories and manage your weight. 
  • Productive – Some of us are more motivated when we can find value in an activity. Gardening, raking leaves or shoveling snow are all productive activities that can provide a feeling of accomplishment.  If you need an item from the store, when feasible walk or bike to the store instead of driving.  Participating in a charity walk-a-thon, volunteering to help an elderly neighbor with chores or shopping, walking dogs at the shelter or packing food at a food bank are some ways to be productively active and provide benefits to others as well as yourself. 

Remember everything we do each day is based on habits.  Plunking down on the couch after work each day is a habit just the same as going for a walk could be.  Exchanging bad habits for good habits is challenging but possible.  Focusing on one goal at a time for at least 30 days seems to be helpful technique for forming a new habit.  If your goals are health oriented, exercise is a good place to begin.  Starting with small steps and a change of mindset, as described above, is a reliable recipe for achievement.   

One of the best ways to stay on track with exercise is to plan for success.  If you miss a chance to work out, start fresh the next day.  Studies show that missing two workouts in a row increases your chances of giving up entirely.  It may help to remember that all exercise contributes to a more energized mind and healthier body.  Among the many positive and potential benefits of sustained physical activity are a refreshing positive outlook, renewed  health and fitness, and increased chances of a longer, healthier lifespan. 

If you are over 40 years of age, have existing health problems, are overweight or have been sedentary for a long period of time, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any vigorous exercise plan.  Starting out slowly and incrementally increasing the time, length and intensity of exercise has been shown to be the best way to sustain a healthy active lifestyle.  

Athletic Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations –  This multivitamin and mineral complex is designed to support physical training and performance.  A high potency, hypo-allergenic, vegetarian formula that combines highly bio-available mineral co-factors, activated vitamins, antioxidants and pH balanced creatine that targets endurance, increases energy and lessens muscle fatigue. 

Corvalen M by Douglas Laboratories –  This all natural supplement contains D-ribose, a natural pentose sugar that is designed to help fight fatigue and support the heart, muscles and other cells of the body.  This formula, with the added benefit of magnesium and malate, helps to relieve sore muscles and utilize energy. 

Klean Endurance by Klean Athlete –  All natural D-ribose chews are clinically proven to help restore and replenish energy and support cardiovascular health and mitochondrial function. 

Lasting Energy

Lasting Energy picBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

In order to function and sustain life, your body requires energy.  The body gets its energy from the breakdown of nutrients in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.    

  • Carbohydrates are digested and broken down into tiny glucose molecules, the body’s primary source of cellular energy.  Glucose molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream from intestinal cells and will always be used as a first source of fuel.  Our bodies need a balanced amount of insulin in order to use or store glucose for energy.  Excess glucose in combination with insulin is converted into glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles for later use.  Once glucose supply is depleted, the body runs mainly on fats.
  • Dietary fats, broken down into fatty acids, typically provide more than half of the body’s energy needs and are utilized to help the body absorb and transport nutrients, produce hormones and protect organs.  Fatty acids will be used as a second energy source when glucose is in short supply.  Fatty acids that the body doesn’t need immediately are formed into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.  The human body is exceptional at storing fat.  If energy needs exceed those provided by fats in the diet, the body will liquidate stored fats.  Although lipolysis generates energy, it requires more oxygen and occurs more slowly than equal carbohydrate metabolism. 
  • Proteins, broken down to form amino acids, are used primarily for building new cells, making enzymes, maintaining tissues, and synthesizing new proteins needed for basic bodily functions.  When there is a shortage of glucose and dietary fats, proteins can be utilized for energy.  Amino acids are not a practical source of quick energy and are typically used by the body only in starvation situations.  
  • Metabolism is the sum of the chemical reactions; catabolism, in which molecules are broken down into smaller units to release energy, and anabolism, the process by which the body utilizes that released energy. 

A total lack of energy or fatigue is one of the main complaints of the general population.  Fatigue wreaks havoc on the immune system, making us susceptible to illness and chronic conditions, such as heart disease.  Why is it that some people seem to have a limitless supply of energy while others may fall short?  Regular exercise, stress management and getting a good night’s sleep are all crucial for fighting fatigue.  To keep energy levels at their peak, the body needs proper amounts of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats.  Nutrition directly affects our energy levels, so use nutritious foods for energy pickups throughout the day.  Good nutrition, along with timing, can make you feel alert and energized!  What’s the answer to the energy question?  The answer is simple.  Work your body and then reward it with nutrition. 

  • Stay hydrated – The body needs water to function optimally.  Proper hydration is an easy and effective way to keep energy levels up. 
  • Snack smart –  Snacking on whole foods can keep blood sugar and energy levels balanced.  Avoid energy traps that drain energy such as processed foods or foods high in sugar.  There is a big difference between healthy food and empty calories, so you need to eat nutritiously if you want to stave off fatigue.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast – Studies show that eating a nutritious breakfast sets the stage for healthy eating later in the day.  To feel alert and satisfied and rev your metabolism, skip the processed carbs and include fresh fruits, whole grains and protein. 
  •  Don’t skimp on calories –  Skip the diet.  Just eat healthy.  Sustained hunger is not a good choice.  To keep energy levels high you need to meet your caloric needs each day.  If you are trying to lose weight, physical activity combined with sufficient calories is the key to slow, steady weight loss and a life plan for healthy weight. 
  • Include Omega-3’s –   Essential fatty acids have many health benefits including increased energy, stamina, metabolic rate and oxidation rate.  Omega-3’s help strengthen the immune system and help regulate inflammatory responses. 
  • Nutrient dense foods –  It’s difficult to sustain energy when blood sugar levels fluctuate to extreme highs and lows.  Choose complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that are high in fiber.  Nutritionists recommend three moderate sized meals plus two healthy snacks daily.  Optimal energy metabolism requires an abundance of vitamins and minerals to enable our cells to unlock their energy potential. 
  • Antioxidants – Whole foods are naturally balanced with complementary nutrients and healthy supporting compounds.  Antioxidants can derail damaging free radicals, which can cause fatigue and lead to illness. 
  • Substitute green tea for coffee  – Coffee provides a temporary stimulant but should not be relied upon as an energy source.  Once the short term boost wears off, exhaustion returns, generally followed by hunger.  Try sipping green tea for its gentle boost, high concentration of flavonoids and potent antioxidants.  Studies have shown that the polyphenols and caffeine in green tea may slightly boost the metabolic rate without raising the heart rate, and may help stimulate fat oxidation. 

And don’t forget to supplement your diet with the proper vitamins.  Here are some I recommend:

Corvalen M by Douglas Laboratories –  Corvalen M ® D-ribose is a natural pentose sugar that is formulated to fight fatigue, and support energy and mitochondrial function.  With magnesium and malate to aid in the utilization of energy, to support muscle function and provide muscle soreness relief. 

Astaxanthin 4 mg by Pure Encapsulations –   Astaxanthin is derived from Hawaiian microalgae and is a stable, powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant that supports the skin, macula, joints, immune system and cardiovascular health. 

Fatigued to Fantastic!  Energy Revitalization System by Enzymatic Therapy –  One glass per day of this powerful, all-day energy drink mix provides over 50 vitamins, minerals and nutrients that support vitality, health, and lasting energy.