VCSST_Staying Active and Better Balanced

NEWSLETTER

DoMore of What Makes You Happy

Newsletter

“An optimist is the human personification of spring.” – Susan J. Bissonette

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Staying Active & Becoming Better Balanced

There are a million and one tips that are passed down generation to generation about the key to a long and successful life. Some say the secret to a long and happy life is to focus on family; others say it all comes down to finding the right career. Whatever choices you make in your life, and whatever your values are, there are several fundamental truths that are almost always accurate: To stay healthy, you must stay active, and to stay happy, you must stay balanced. Mental and Physical Balance Staying active and staying balanced in many ways go hand in hand. Staying active refers to the amount of activity that you engage in daily. This of course can refer to how much time you spend at the gym, but it can also refer to how many steps you take in a day, how often you find yourself running around the office, and how frequently you head out to the backyard

to run around with your children or your dog. Balance in many ways works on the same principles. There are some activities that you do every day because you have to do them — work often falls into this category, as do household chores. But what about the activities that you simply love to do? What about the activities that you enjoy? Think about the last time that you sat down with a book that you loved and made yourself a cup of tea or coffee and really enjoyed the moment. Perhaps it isn’t reading that you wish you had more time for, but instead it is a garden that has grown weeds as it has been neglected. It could be a project at your home that you have looked forward to completing or an old car that you’ve wanted to fix up. There are special hobbies and interests that appeal to each of us, and spending time with those hobbies can help you live a more balanced life.

FEEL BETTER BY EATING BETTER

3. Drink Water. Sip water or other drinks with few or no calories to help maintain a healthy weight. Keep a water bottle in your bag or at your desk to satisfy your thirst throughout the day. 4. Be Active Whenever You Can. Set a goal to fit in at least 2½ hours of moderate physical activity in your week. Being active 10 minutes at a time also adds to your weekly total. Ask your friends or family to keep you company as you bike, jog, walk, or dance. Don’t forget to do some muscle strengthening activities twice a week. 5. Enjoy Your Food But Eat Less. Use a smaller plate for meals to help control the amount of food and calories you eat.

There’s no question that what you eat affects how you feel, and a healthy diet helps you feel better. The healthiest diet is one that emphasizes whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables and that includes lean protein and low-fat or no-fat dairy products. Combine a healthy diet with regular exercise, and you will find it helps your mood as well as your body. Here are some tips to help improve your mood and activity with the right nutrition: 1. Mix in Protein to Boost Mood. Like fiber, protein can help you to avoid blood sugar crashes. Some good sources of protein are chicken, fish, eggs, seeds and nuts, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese and milk, tofu, and peanut butter. 2. Don’t Worry, “B” Happy. The B vitamins, including B6, B12, and folic acid, play a role in the production of brain chemicals that regulate mood. Especially if you have depression, be sure to consume foods rich in these vitamins. Good food sources for many B vitamins include shellfish, poultry, eggs, low-fat yogurt, and fortified breakfast cereals. Folic acid in particular is found mostly in leafy greens.

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How Is Your Balance?

and engaging with the people you care about. Part of becoming a more balanced person means finding ways to spend your time more wisely and taking more time for yourself as needed. It’s Never Too Late You don’t need to grow up as an athlete to enjoy exercise as an adult. There is no point in your life where it is too late to start being more active than you currently are. There are plenty of ways to incorporate light activity into your lifestyle, such as: • Taking a walk in the evening with your family • Wearing a pedometer and trying to take more steps every day • Joining your local community center and using the pool to swim laps several times a week • Engaging in light weight training at home before work • Taking a yoga class These are just several examples of how you could incorporate more activity into your lifestyle without making many large changes to your way of life. If you feel that your physical health or an old injury is holding you back from being active, contact us. Working with a physical therapist can help you achieve improved balance and a healthy lifestyle.

In addition to finding your mental balance with how you spend your time, becoming more physically balanced is just as important. There are certain markers that typically indicate trouble with maintaining balance, such as frequently tripping and falling, or feeling dizzy when standing too long. But even if you are not having fundamental issues with your physical balance, you may still have difficulty with whole-body balance. Yoga is a great form of exercise to use to improve your ability to balance, as yoga helps to strengthen core muscles and improve coordination.

You can improve your physical balance by: • Increasing muscle strength • Improving stamina • Improving core strength • Practicing balancing techniques

In addition, taking steps to ensure that you are getting a full night of rest, that you are exercising regularly, and that you are eating a healthy diet are all strong components to ensuring you are well-balanced. Think about the percentage of time that you spend working during the week. For most people this number is well over 40 hours per week! Then consider how much time is spent driving to and from work and around town on errands, and then consider the time spent doing things you have to do at home, like the dishes or the laundry. Then really think about how much time you are spending doing the things that make you feel better — including those hobbies that you love, but also being active

Try Green Exercise to Wash Away the Winter Blues

For those of you who have been following our monthly campaign towards a healthier you this year, you know we have been suggesting the addition of one simple thing to enhance your life each month. The month of April signifies the beginning of spring and with it a renewal of a new life cycle. As cold, dark days and monochromatic landscapes transition into a brilliant palette under warming skies, we can’t help but feel a twinge of anticipation. Spring evokes the sentiments of hope and promise. The outdoors are enticing us to get out and literally enjoy a breath of fresh air! Our April challenge is to go outside and take in the excitement of the transformation. It doesn’t have to be an extended trail hike or formal camping trip. Simply enjoy the change of seasons in a natural setting - a stroll in a park, gardening, meander around a lake, or just a walk outside at lunch. Breathe deep and make it a point to notice all the changes occurring in nature. Look at a tree and follow its swaying branch out to the tiny bud getting

ready to emerge. Pay attention to your body movements and rhythms as you engage with your surroundings. Just like the seasons, we must periodically renew our focus and reset our goals. Draw inspiration from nature by reattempting something you were unsuccessful at or by trying something new. The phrase “go for a walk outside to clear my head” has an actual physiological basis. The experience of distancing yourself from a stress-inducing environment has an immediate effect on reducing blood pressure and lowering cortisol, the stress hormone. It facilitates the release of endorphins which have a calming effect. There is also the added benefit of increasing blood flow to the brain, which can promote creative ideas and problem solving. Studies have shown that spending time in a natural environment builds immunity and boosts the production of anti-cancer cells. Not only does walking in nature help with weight management and food cravings, but it is “green exercise”.

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