Riding your bike has amazing benefits - especially riding to and from work! If you’re able, riding your bike to work can be one of the most beneficial things you can do in your day. There are many benefits to riding your bike to work, from keeping your body and your pocketbook healthy to saving the environment and promoting safe-cycling community infrastructure. It also can be fun, simplify life and provide a sense of freedom. The average bike commuter loses 13 pounds their first year, according to the League of American Bicyclists. And for women, a 30-minute daily commute can cut heart failure risks in half and lower the rate for breast cancer. But despite the benefits, only 17 percent of Colorado residents ruse a bicycle for transportation, including riding it to and from work, for errands, to school or social and leisure activities. Bicycle Safety Cyclists fare best when they act as though they are drivers of vehicles and, thus, are treated as such. Many people are afraid to commute because they’re afraid to ride in the road. It’s important to look up a route that takes quiet streets or streets with bike lanes, even if it’s not the most direct route and take the plunge. Legally, bicyclists must follow the same rules as motor vehicle drivers. When that does not happen, accidents do. Almost 40 percent of bike crashes involve a bicyclist who is riding against traffic and conflicting with cross-street vehicles. For safety, bicyclists should:
- Use designated bike lanes, but when bike lanes are not available, or safe road conditions do not allow, take over the traffic lane and, use visible and audible directional signals.
- Wear bright clothing, use bike lights and do not weave through parked vehicles. Instead, maintain your lane position. Be predictable for others on the roadway. Be assertive and confident but also alert and cautious, as if driving behind the wheel of a vehicle.
- Air: Are the tires properly inflated? Is there a portable bike pump and/or patch kit on board?
- Brakes: Do they work?
- Cranks, Chain, Cassette: Depending on the type of bike, make sure the “guts” are working properly and are well maintained.
Finding the right weight for you. When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to pick the right plan for you, not just the plan that’s popular at the time. There are no lack of fad diets promising fast results. But such diets limit your nutritional intake, can be unhealthy, and tend to fail in the long run. Lifestyle Changes are Key Short term diets generally fail. Short term diets do not help you to change your habits for the long run. The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is about the lifestyle changes you decide to make. Healthy eating, regular physical activity, and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses, are all key to changing your lifestyle. Staying in control of your weight contributes to good health now and as you age. Balancing Diet and Activity to Lose and Maintain Weight If your body weight has not changed for several months, you are in caloric balance. If you need to gain or lose weight, you’ll need to balance your diet and activity level to achieve your goal. Your doctor can help you decide how many calories you should have in a day to achieve and maintain your recommended weight. Keep track. To learn how many calories you are taking in, write down the foods you eat and the beverages you drink, plus the calories they have, each day. By writing down what you eat and drink, you become more aware of what you are consuming. Also, begin writing down your physical activity each day and the length of time you do it. Need more tips to help you get on track to a healthy weight? Talk to your doctor to discuss the best track for you and how you can set goals that are achievable.
Flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the sun is staying up longer. And here in Colorado, depending on what part you’re in, we may still even be shoveling snow. It’s this time of year that runners ditch their treadmill for the trail, spring fruit and veggie recipes start to emerge and people are embracing this great transition into summer. It's time for a healthy spring. Here are four new ideas for embracing spring.
- Start cleaning - Spring cleaning! Not only is it a good idea to declutter and organize your house, but take the time to recharge your mind and evaluate your social and work schedule to make more time for yourself.
- Swap the winter soups with fresh salads. Get creative and swap out plain lettuce or romaine for arugula, spinach or kale. Also, try experimenting with new vegetables, like this Endive and Snap Peas Salad with a homemade dressing.
- Get active outdoors! Take a run through the park or grab a friend for a hike. It's nice to come out of hibernation and get a dose of fresh air and feel re-energized in your workout. Get outside and get some fresh air while you work out.
- Eat healthy and have a picnic. Pack a healthy lunch, grab your family, a blanket and head over to your favorite scenic spot. Not sure what to pack? Finger foods, like veggies or salsa are easy to pack and make for convenient snacking.
Get back on track after your big Thanksgiving meal. Here are a few tips and tricks to help. It’s really hard not to fall off the diet wagon on Thanksgiving. And with all of the leftovers it’s hard to not continue with the overindulgence. If you’re still feeling the affects of your Thanksgiving meal, here are a few suggestions to get you up and moving again.
- Move! Feeling like staying on the couch? Streaming a fun fitness video. Or take a walk around the block to get your blood flowing. Once you start moving, you’ll start to feel great and eventually get yourself back to the gym or out of the house for some exercise. The more fun the video is, the better. It’ll get you motivated to move.
- Stock up on protein and veggies. If you overdid it on Thanksgiving, make sure that the following two days include meals high in protein, which signals your body to burn body fat, and fiber from vegetables. Stay away from starches and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Do a high-intensity workout 12 to 16 hours after a big meal. Working out hard during this timeframe helps your body burn off the energy in the muscles and liver. Hundt recommends going for a fast run, a high-intensity strength training workout or a combination of the two.
The holidays are the hardest time of year to eat healthily. And it’s really hard not to overeat and feel lethargic after your big meal. Luckily, the folks at Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab have discovered helpful tricks over the years to help people eat better. Eat a healthy snack to get in a healthy mindset. You know the samples they hand out at the grocery store? Go for it, if they are healthy. Researchers found that a free sample of a healthy snack led grocery shoppers to buy 25% more fruits and vegetables than if they'd been given nothing and 28% more than people given a cookie. How does this relate to thanksgiving you may ask? Get in a healthy-eating mindset by avoiding fattening appetizers in favor of fresh fruit or raw veggies. Use smaller plates. When people serve food onto a 12-inch plate, they portion out 22% more food than when they use a 10-inch plate, the Food and Brand Lab has found. This is important since other research from the Lab has found people eat 92% of the food that they self-serve, yet still feel satisfied when their plate is smaller. Drink from tall, skinny glasses. Along the same lines, studies show people tend to pour 28% more liquid into a short, wide glass than a tall, skinny one. By pouring into a narrow glass, we will consume fewer calories. Serve yourself the healthiest food first. Research into the behavior of buffet lines suggests people tend to overload their plates with whatever is at the front. Then they gradually fill the plate with the rest of the items.Studies found this ratio is roughly 2:1 — two-thirds of the plate is occupied by the first thing people portion out. When you pick your seat, sit next to the vegetables. You'll naturally eat more of them. Put down your fork between bites. Mind over matter! It takes about 20 minutes for the "full" feeling in your stomach to reach your brain and tell you to stop eating. Therefore take more time, put down your fork before your stomach fills up. You'll eat slower, consume less, and still have room for dessert.
Discover the power of play and adventure this month. It’s summer and it’s July - National Parks and Recreation Month. We are so lucky to have as many wonderful parks for us and our family to play or exercise in. Or even just to relax, meditate, and take a break from the general craziness of life. For children and adults, play is a vital part of our mental wellbeing, physical health and personal interactions. We challenge you to get your play on at your local parks and recreation. Whether it’s summer camp, an adult sports league, exploring a trail, yoga class, meeting friends on the playground, playing cards in the park, or discovering nature — parks and play go hand in hand. And play and exercise also go hand and hand, which promotes a healthy and active lifestyle. Each July since 1985, America has celebrated Park and Recreation Month, a program of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The goal is to raise awareness of the vital impact that parks, recreation and conservation has on communities across the U.S. Parks are the cornerstone of nearly every community, serving millions of people as the places anyone can go to be active, live healthier, connect with nature and gather together. Get out there and play in your local park! Enjoy it and have fun outside.
We saw this video and not only did it warm our hearts, but it got us thinking about how you can get active, lose weight and save a pet all at once. It takes commitment, but pets can help you get on your way to a better life, in all sorts of ways. And here’s why:
- Eat Healthy: Avoid refined sugar. White, refined sugar weakens the immune system by stealing your white blood cell's ability to destroy bacteria. It can also encourage addiction to eating foods devoid of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Additionally, stay away from Aspartame and synthetic sugar products, such as NutraSweet, which includes Methanol (wood alcohol) which is a dangerous neurotoxin and a known carcinogen. Synthetic sugars contribute to acidity, a condition which leads to inflammation and the creation of fat cells to store that extra acid. Try using natural sweeteners, such as honey for your sweetener. Eat more greens and veggies. Not only do veggies taste good, but they also boost your intake of antioxidants, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc and omega-3s. Include: a daily serving of greens, a daily serving of colored veggies (can include bright-colored berries), and a daily serving of sulphur-producing vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, turnips, onions, and garlic.
- Log your food intake. Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat every day and when you eat it. The timing of your food intake affects how you feel and tracking what you eat is a helpful sports performance tool.
- Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. Movement is good, make a habit of it and stick to it. A healthy dose of exercise not only helps you get fit, but it can help you live a longer more energetic life.
With August 26th being National Dog Day, we wanted to share the health benefits that dogs (and pets in general) have on humans. Anecdotal and scientific evidence have shown that dog owners tend to be healthier than the average person. Here are a few ways that living with a dog might keep you healthy:
- They keep you moving and active: This is no surprise to dog owners that frequently walk or exercise with their pets. According to a 2010 study in the American Journal of Public Health, children with dogs spent more time doing moderate to vigorous physical activity than children without dogs. Additionally, a 2006 study done by Canadian researchers at the University of Victoria, dog owners were more likely to participate in mild to moderate physical activity. They walked an average of 300 minutes per week, compared with non-dog owners, who walked an average of 168 minutes per week.
- Dogs are allergy fighters: Although due to contrary belief, a growing number of studies have suggested that kids growing up in a home with "furred animals" -- whether it's a pet cat or dog, or on a farm and exposed to large animals -- will have less risk of allergies and asthma as they become adults.
- Dogs and the elderly: Studies have shown that Alzheimer's patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home. Caregivers also feel less burdened when there is a pet. Walking a dog or just caring for a pet -- for elderly people who are able, can provide exercise and companionship.
- Depression reducers: Studies in AIDS patients and the elderly have shown that each group is far less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. The benefit is especially pronounced when people are strongly attached to their pets and have a an animal to take care of in their life. Studies have found that pets give purpose.
- Good for the heart: Several studies have found that heart attack patients who have pets, survive longer than those without. Also, male pet owners have less sign of heart disease, lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Beet Juice? Who knew? Beet juice is a dietary source of the molecule nitrate. When converted in the body, nitrate can dilate the blood vessels and increase blood flow, both important factors for exercise performance. In a new study from American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, healthy male subjects who drank beet juice for 15 days had lower blood pressure and more dilated blood vessels at rest and during exercise. Blood vessels also dilate more easily and the heart consumed less oxygen during exercise with beet juice consumption. According to the researchers, the findings suggest that beet juice can be used as a dietary nutraceutical supplement to enhance oxygen delivery to the muscles and reduce the work the heart does during exercise. Exercise can be "performed at a given workload for a longer period of time before the onset of fatigue," the researchers added. Talk to your doctor about healthy ways you can improve your workouts.