Tag Archive for: exercise

man and woman walking outside in nature

5 Unexpected Health Benefits of Taking a Daily Walk Outside

Walking has a lot of health benefits. It can help you lose weight, increase bone density, and improve your mood.

You can get these benefits from walking anywhere, including on a treadmill. But if you want some added gains, consider taking your daily walk outdoors instead of inside.

5 Reasons to Walk Outside Instead of Indoors

It might not seem like a big difference, but getting outside can reap a whole host of benefits for you mentally and physically.

Here are the top five reasons to get outside every day, even if you only walk a few minutes at a time.

1. Feel better (almost) instantly

Humans are naturally predisposed to thrive in nature and natural environments. Researchers have found that spending just 20 minutes a day outdoors is enough for the body to release stress-relieving hormones that can make you feel better almost instantly.

However, our modern lifestyle leaves most of us spending up to 90 percent of our time indoors. So, taking your walk outside can help you get reacquainted with nature. If 20 minutes is too long to walk, you can still get these benefits by stretching, meditating, reading, or simply sitting still without distractions.

2. Time will seem to go faster

If you’re walking to lose weight, staring at your treadmill screen can make 20 minutes feel like forever. Going outdoors gives you a change of scenery, which distracts your mind and can help your workout feel like it’s flying by.

3. Raise your vitamin D levels

Your body needs vitamin D to build strong bones and a robust immune system. Yet, nearly half of all adults in the U.S. are vitamin D deficient.

One reason for such a staggering statistic is that people aren’t getting enough sun. Our bodies naturally make vitamin D when they are exposed to the sun. So, when we spend most of our time indoors, our bodies don’t have the opportunity to make this essential vitamin.

It’s possible to get vitamin D from a supplement, but just 20 minutes of sunshine a day is all it takes to get the amount of vitamin D most adults need.

4. Enjoy a creative boost

The next time you’re struggling to solve a problem that seems to have no solution, shut down your computer and go for an outdoor walk.

Research has shown that going for a walk outdoors, even a short one, can help get your creative juices flowing, making it easier for you to solve problems when you’re back at the office.

5. Feel the energy rush without the crash

Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee during the mid-afternoon slog, try going for a short outdoor walk instead. Studies have shown that a 20-minute walk outdoors is as effective as having a cup of coffee to increase your energy levels.

Tips for Walking Outdoors

Keep these safety tips in mind before going for your next walk.

Make sure you are visible

Ideally, you will walk during daylight hours. If you are walking when it is dark (or expected to get dark), wear reflective clothing so cars will see you.

Keep others in the loop

Keep your phone with you, and make sure someone else knows your walking plans. That way, if something unexpected happens (you fall, twist your ankle, etc.), someone will know to come looking for you.

Don’t go further than your limits

If you’re new to walking, take it slow and easy. Don’t try to walk 5 miles the first day. It’s perfectly fine to start in short increments. Even a five-minute walk can give you massive health benefits!

Don’t forget to stretch after your walk! If you need more support for your stretching, book an appointment with StretchSPOT.

bowl of fruits and vegetables with exercise mat, sneakers, scale and weights

Get Pain Free Without Addicting Meds

Nothing tests people like constant pain for which there seems to be no effective treatment. And yet, as we age, more and more of us face pain on a daily basis.
 
Science has proven you do not have to become a slave to pain medications. Too many doctors will prescribe a potentially addictive drug instead of explaining the many lifestyle modifications you can adopt to relieve pain. Most people can manage pain without the drowsiness and confusion caused by many pain medications.
 
It behooves everyone with pain to advocate for their own well being, even if it means talking back to a doctor or two. StretchSPOT invites you to read on to learn how you can fight pain and lessen its impact on your life.
 

Eliminate Triggers at Home

If you are living with pain, make sure that you have removed triggers in the home. If you have allergies, for instance, ensure the home is dust and mold free. Make sure litter boxes are always fresh. Wash fabrics like bedspreads and curtains at least three times a year to remove dust mites.
 
If your pain comes from migraines, look critically at your lighting to make sure it’s neither too bright, nor too dim. If you suffer from sore joints and muscles, put heavy objects, like step ladders, in one central place so that you don’t have to move them around a lot.
 

Eat Right to Reduce Inflammation
 

Much chronic pain is related to inflammation of joints and cartilage. Scientists at Harvard University tell us that diet alone is an important factor in reducing inflammation. If you suffer from chronic swelling, avoid margarine, red meat, processed meat (such as sausages and hot dogs), anything made with white flour, sodas, and fried foods — especially fried carbohydrates, like french fries.
 
At the same time, there are foods that reduce inflammation. In general, people who adopt a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, tomatoes, and fatty fish, will live with less pain. Other foods that promote health and reduce inflammation are dark and leafy vegetables like spinach, turnip greens, kale, and mustard greens; cherries, oranges, blueberries, and strawberries; and nuts.
 

Reduce Fat Tissue
 

A National Institutes of Health study suggests that loss of fat (also known as “adipose tissue”) can reduce the inflammation that frequently leads to pain, especially in people over fifty. That is why the best thing you can do to reduce pain might be to lose weight.
 
Even if your weight is within normal range, a loss of fat tissue could have benefits. Consult the Mayo Clinic’s BMI chart to see how much weight you can safely lose. A sixty-year old woman who is five feet and seven inches tall can weigh as little as 120 pounds without being too thin, according to the Mayo Clinic.
 

Find Ways to Battle Stress
 

Stress can make chronic pain much, much worse, which is why it’s important to find ways to decrease your stress and anxiety levels as much as possible. Some techniques to help you reduce stress include keeping your mind from jumping on stressful thought trains, identifying the things that can trigger extreme stress in your everyday life, and reducing contact with people who tend to stress you out.
 
Discover the many foods that can help you reduce stress. Options like herbal tea, dark chocolate, avocados, and whole grains can help you fight stress and manage those levels. Keep your home free of stress by adding some indoor plants and decluttering.
 

Do the Right Exercises
 

No one knows exactly why resistance exercises, combined with aerobics, reduce inflammation in some patients. However, at least two studies suggest that this specific regime has the potential to reduce inflammation in patients with ongoing pain. Patients of all ages with type 2 diabetes in particular seem to reap rewards.
 
Another good reason to do resistance training is that it builds up muscles. The stronger your muscles are, the more work they can do, taking pressure off sensitive joints. If your pain is located mostly in your neck and back, do exercises that strengthen those muscles. People with knee pain from osteoarthritis benefit from working out their quadriceps.
 
Of course, people with chronic pain need to approach exercise with caution. Exercise for pain is a long-term proposition, and you need to build up slowly. That’s because exercise can easily cause the inflammation that you are trying to escape.
 
When you are trying out a new exercise, do it for no more than five minutes the first time. Then gradually increase the amount of time you spend on it. Building up to one hour of low-impact, targeted exercise a day should make you feel much better.
 
If you’re feeling sore after your workout, book an appointment with StretchSPOT. Our professional stretch therapy can help with relieving muscle pain and tightness, as well as help speed up your recovery from working out.
 
You are not powerless against your pain. Fight it the right way, and you will put it in the background of your life where it belongs.

Woman smiling and walking and talking with a city backdrop

Sneak More Fitness into Your Day

At first, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation of getting 150 minutes per week might sound like a lot. Broken down, though, that’s only 30 minutes of activity, five days a week.

Even better! You don’t need to fit 30 minutes of activity in all at once. Breaking your activity down into several short bursts of activity can be just as effective as exercising for 30 minutes at a time.

If you are struggling to find 30 minutes to be active a day, you aren’t alone. A 2018 report from the CDC found that less than 25 percent of Americans achieved the minimum guidelines regularly. Fortunately, there are several ways to sneak activity into your daily routine so you can sit less and move more without feeling the impact on other aspects of your life.

5 Ways to Move More Throughout the Day

1. Walk and Talk

Walk around your office or home the next time you are on a phone call with a colleague instead of sitting at your desk. Even standing instead of sitting will give you benefits by increasing your heart rate and burning a few extra calories.

2. Exercise During Commercials

You don’t need to give up watching TV to be more active. Designate each commercial break to run through a quick workout. Target one muscle group per commercial or do a full-body workout. For example, do 10 jumping jacks, 10 crunches, five pushups, and five squats during each commercial break. You could also march in place until the commercial break is over.

3. Stretch and Cook

Put that awkward time when you are waiting for your meal to heat up in the microwave to good use. Start with some shoulder rolls, then stretch your calves, glutes, hips, and arms. Use this trick at work while you heat your lunch and at home as you cook dinner on the stove.

4. Find Ways to Walk Further

Walking is an excellent exercise, and there are plenty of ways to add it to your day. Park your car far from the door to the grocery store. Use the bathroom on the floor below your office instead of the one that’s only 20 feet away from your desk. Take a walk after meals to improve digestion and keep your blood flowing. Short, five-minute walks quickly add up over the course of a day.

5. Set a Movement Timer

Set a timer on your phone, watch, or computer that will remind you to move regularly. For example, set a timer to move for five minutes per hour. Get up and walk around the building, do some jumping jacks or squats, or just stand and stretch at your desk for five minutes. If you do this once an hour for every hour of your workday, you will have completed more than 30 minutes of activity before you leave the office.

Commit to Moving More

With these easy ways to be more active, there’s no excuse not to meet the minimum activity requirements of moving 150 minutes per week. Commit to moving more throughout the day so you can enjoy the health benefits that come from being more active. Your heart, lungs, mind, and muscles will all thank you.