THE WELLNESS REPORT
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DO YOU EVEN LIKE THE GYM? PUTTING THE FUN BACK IN FITNESS
I pick her up and we go to Altitude Trampoline Park for an hour and a half. I’ll tell you, I am very tired when we get off the trampolines. It’s a workout! Speaking of staying healthy, we’ve been seeing a lot of illness going around — I just got over a cold myself. I’d recommend getting plenty of vitamin D, as it’s a key ingredient to good health. Really, everyone should be taking it this time of year because of the lack of sun. Studies are also showing that adjusting certain areas can stimulate the immune system. When the body is fighting musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, it can tax the immune system. Your body focuses energy on the pain and isn’t able to fight off illness and bacteria as well. An adjustment can be just what you need to get back to optimal health. I’m happy to talk with you more about how specific adjustments can promote your health.
The options for being active while having fun are limitless.
I recently had a conversation with a patient that got me thinking. “I really have to get to the gym more this year,” they said. The way they said it made me pause. “Do you like the gym?” I asked. “No, I don’t,” they admitted. From talking to my patients and friends, and from my own experience, not loving the gym is a common problem. Often, when we get into the mindset of New Year’s resolutions, our automatic response to the pressure of self-improvement is to drag ourselves to the gym even if we don’t enjoy it. I’ve noticed that a lot of people are not excited about it. Well, if not, what’s the point? What are you really after? I’d like to encourage you to do something you love to stay active and healthy. You’re going to find so much more success, and it will be much more sustainable for you. Toss out your idea of what fitness is — it doesn’t have to be pushing weights around or sitting on a machine for hours. There are so many options available: go outside and walk the Greenbelt, go snowshoeing, get a group together and go bowling.
I know that if I do the same workout days in a row, I get bored. I have to keep it fun. Recently, I got into Cyclebar classes at the Village in Meridian. I’d describe it as spin class on steroids. It’s a choreographed workout with everything from fast- paced cycling to movements that are more akin to strength training. Since we can rarely get on our mountain bikes this time of year, Cyclebar is a great option for keeping up the cardio. What I love about this class is the community; you’re working out with a group of hardworking individuals, and the instructors are very motivating. They never shame you; instead, they promote and build up each person in the class. The music is also super motivating. It’s not your typical spin class, to be sure. Breaking up the monotony of being a one-workout creature is key for me. If a workout gets boring, I need to mix it up and try something new. I like to get my daughter, Emerie, in on the fun when I can. About once a week,
Here’s to a happy and healthy February, and to finding workouts we love.
Until next time,
–Dr. White • 1 208-375-3500
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WHAT’S STOPPING YOU? DAILY HABITS THAT IMPEDE YOUR HEALING Physical therapy can help your body harness
Painkillers can also inhibit the healing process because they mask pain without treating the source. Use them when necessary, but don’t rely on them for a long-term solution if you can avoid it. EAT FOR YOUR JOINTS You already know that food is fuel for your body, but what you eat can also affect your quality of life. Ingredients that cause inflammation — such as saturated fats, alcohol, and sugars — can increase pain in your joints and put extra strain on them. Instead, stick to a healthy diet of lean proteins, leafy greens, low-sugar fruits, and complex carbohydrates to give your body the boost it needs to heal. Making or breaking a habit can take weeks, so take it slow, understand that change is a process, and ask your physical therapist for advice. It may make your healing process more challenging, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
its healing power, but without a lifestyle change, you may actually be hurting your body. Add these three tips to your PT regimen to help your body heal as well — and as quickly — as possible. TOO MUCH YET NOT ENOUGH Rest is necessary for healing, but when you rest too much, you do more harm than good. Nursing an injury by using crutches for too long or favoring a limb encourages unhealthy movement and keeps your body from healing normally. On the other hand, not resting enough can be harmful. So be active but take it easy, and avoid spending hours on the couch or the treadmill. SNUFF YOUR HABIT Smoking comes with a long list of health risks, and “inability to heal from an injury” is on that list. Nicotine, the powerful chemical that makes tobacco so addictive, keeps your immune system from doing its job. Smoking also makes exercise more difficult because of the toll it takes on your cardiovascular system.
STRENGTH OF MIND TIPS TO KEEP MEMORY SHARP AND IMPROVE COGNITIVE FUNCTION
running keep the part of our brain responsible for memory from shrinking. SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY Humans are social creatures. Many studies have shown that being a part of a supportive social group can significantly benefit our physical and mental health. In fact, the American Journal of Public Health reports that people who have daily contact with friends and family cut their risk of dementia and mental impairment almost in half. Our mental diaries may be longer and fuller than they were in Wilde’s day, but if we fill those pages with hobbies, exercise, and close friends, our memories will remain sharp and vivid for the rest of our days.
or picking up a new hobby work wonders to keep your mind active and your memory sharp. These mental exercises are especially important after retirement, often to make up for the loss of stimulating challenges that work used to provide. GET PHYSICAL Taking care of our physical health has also been shown to help brain function. According to a study by Sydney University in Australia, aerobic exercise is particularly good at jogging our memory. The researchers note that “aerobic exercise acts by preventing the usual decrease in neurogenesis associated with aging, thus resulting in greater retention of neural matter — particularly in the hippocampus.” In short, exercises like swimming and
Irish poet Oscar Wilde once called memory “the diary that we all carry about with us.” Of course, in Wilde’s time, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years old. As modern medicine continues to enable people to live longer, these “diaries” tend to become muddled. Fortunately, there are ways to counteract the natural dulling of our memory that comes with time. PUZZLE YOURSELF Just like any other muscle, our brain needs a workout in order to stay strong. As Dr. Celeste Robb- Nicholson of Harvard Medical School writes, “Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells.” Activities like solving puzzles, learning a musical instrument,
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A WALK IN THE WOODS IS THE PRESCRIPTION 3 WAYS CONTACT WITH NATURE IMPROVES YOUR HEALTH
arboretum, performed 20 percent better on the memory test. Group B didn’t show any marked improvement. Additional research has corroborated the memory-enhancing effects of nature. A MOOD BOOST Observing the benefits nature has for cognitive function, scientists wondered what effects it might have on individuals diagnosed with depression. In one study from the University of Essex, participants with major depressive disorder reported an improvement in self-esteem and mood after spending time in nature. Exercising while in nature resulted in even more of a mood boost for participants. A CALMING EFFECT
study conducted by Chiba University in Japan, participants spent two nights in the forest. Researchers evaluated their levels of stress hormones during and after this period and compared it to their normal work days in the city. Across the board, participants’ stress levels were much lower during the days spent in the forest and for several days afterward. Today, we’re less connected to our natural environment than our ancestors were. Modern comforts and technology mean we don’t have to go outside to get our food. But nature is still accessible and you don’t have to go far to find it. In many of the studies, even minor exposure to the outdoors, like adding plants to your home or looking out a window during work, showed health benefits. This winter, find ways to bring a little more nature into your life each day. Your brain will thank you.
Our ancestors were deeply connected to their natural environment, mostly because their survival depended on it. With no Whole Foods available, those who could best track a mammoth, find water, and forage for edible plants kept themselves alive and passed on their genes. Given our history as hunter-gatherers, it’s no wonder contact with nature provides us with several health benefits. A MEMORY BOOST In a University of Michigan study, a group of students were asked to take a memory test that involved repeating numbers back to researchers. Next, researchers separated the students into two groups. Group A took a walk around an arboretum and Group B walked along busy city streets. Afterward, they were asked to take the memory test again. Group A, the students who had walked in the
Research also shows that spending time in nature reduces stress. In a
TAKE A BREAK!
HAZELNUT BERRY CHOCOLATE BARK Inspired by Simple Vegan Blog
• 7 ounces dark chocolate • 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts
• 1/4 cup dried cranberries • 1/4 cup dried cherries
3. Once melted, pour chocolate into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly. 4. Add hazelnuts and dried fruits. Let sit at room temperature until set. 5. Break into shards and serve.
1. Chop chocolate and place into a mixing bowl. 2. In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Stir frequently and remove from heat as needed to prevent burning. Keep chocolate under 115 F.
• 3 208-375-3500
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208-375-3500 | www.DrTravisWhite.com
PRST STD US POSTAGE PAID BOISE, ID PERMIT 411
Dr. Travis White At Health Quest 1100 N Cole RD Boise, ID 83704
1. COVER TITLE 1. WHY ARE YOU WORKING OUT? INSIDE THIS ISSUE
HEALING TIPS: WHAT HELPS AND WHAT HINDERS
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY
3 WAYS NATURE IMPROVES YOUR HEALTH
DO THERAPY LIGHTS REALLY WORK?
THERAPY LIGHTS DO THEY WORK OR ARE THEY ALL HYPE?
Average office lighting puts out less than 500 lux.
or end table. They simulate natural sunlight and are marketed as mood boosters that treat symptoms of SAD. But do these therapy lights actually work or are they just placebos? The answer is both. There are a lot of therapy lights on the market, but they’re not all equally effective. The difference is their output. While most lights attempt to simulate sunlight, some devices have weaker output, which means your body and brain won’t respond the same way they do when in natural sunlight. For instance, some lights are marketed as having “5,000 lux” or “10,000 lux.” There is a big difference between the two. Normal daylight (not direct sunlight), has the equivalent of 10,000– 25,000 lux. Direct sunlight can have anywhere from 30,000–100,000 lux.
The winter months can be dreary for folks who live in northern regions. The days are shorter and the sky is often obscured by clouds. This bleak weather can lead to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Depression, moodiness, and lower energy typically affect people with SAD more during the fall and winter months. The disorder has several different causes, but a primary one is a lack of sunlight, which can have an impact on your body’s internal clock. The winter climate can also reduce your serotonin levels, which influence your mood. Low serotonin can bring about feelings of depression. To address this problem, manufacturers developed light therapy devices. Therapy lights, or “happy lights,” are bright lamps that can sit on your desk
In order to be effective, you need a lamp with at least 10,000 lux. After about 30–45 minutes of use, you should notice a boost in mood and energy. While therapy lights are safe and come with few side effects, they are not suited for extended use. Many lights come with a warning not to use them for more than an hour at a time. Using them for longer than an hour can cause eye strain, headaches, and irritability. Therapy lights are not a cure-all. They can help, but they’re a short-term solution. If you feel the effects of SAD or experience depression, consult with a health professional to determine what solution is right for you.
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