Ann Blanton Let's talk health, fitness, nutrition and everything in between

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Let’s take a walk

by Ann Blanton

Walking is the easiest and least expensive way to get where you’re going, especially with the price of fuel on the rise. The biggest challenge is to make a commitment and stick with it, so let’s put those hard earned dollars back in our pocket, tie up those sneakers and let’s get moving.

Sedentary Lifestyle

It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, if you live a sedentary lifestyle and have no physical movement, you’re at a higher risk for cancer. This is because inactivity or sitting for long periods of time are linked to increased inflammation and other statistics for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Some studies show that walking daily can decrease the risks of developing cancer significantly. 

Benefits

The benefits of walking are endless. Not only does it lower the risk of most diseases, it also gives you more energy, lifts your mood and boosts your immune system.

Let’s take a look at other advantages that walking provides.

  1. Reduces the risk of coronary disease and stroke
  2. Lowers  blood pressure and reduces cholesterol
  3. Increases bone density and prevents osteoporosis
  4. Improves physical and mental well-being

Walking for fitness can vary according to an individual’s age and level of activity. Typically, a brisk walk is best. A simple way to learn to walk briskly is by taking the “talk test”. This means to walk as fast as you can while carrying on a conversation without becoming out of breath. Depending on your fitness level, this might take a few weeks to achieve.

General Health and Longevity

Because walking helps to strengthen your bones, joints have a better range of movement and muscles are more flexible.

Weight Control

It’s recommended to walk briskly at least three times a week for a minimum of thirty minutes if you want to lose weight. For more experienced walkers, a maximum of five days a week for sixty minutes is advisable. Maintaining your weight and fitness level can be accomplished by walking three to four days a week for forty-five minutes.

Tip:

To burn even more calories, don’t forget to swing your arms.

Mental Health

Walking is man’s best medicine! If you’re feeling down, walking can ease the burden and lift your mood. When endorphins are released into the body during activity, it alleviates pain and creates a sense of well-being.

If the shoe fits, wear it!

If walking is something you’re serious about, it’s important to invest in a good pair of walking shoes. If you neglect your feet, you’ll feel discomfort and make it more difficult to walk.

Begin slowly

When beginning a walking program, don’t set unreasonable expectations. Beginners should start slowly and walk every other day. When you begin to feel stronger, than add an extra day or two into your routine. If you can’t walk for long periods of time, don’t get discouraged. As you become more advanced, your distance will gradually increase.

Pick a time and place

Decide what time works best for you. Some people find it enjoyable to walk early in the morning, while others find it a way to relax at the end of a long day. What works best for you? 

Choose a familiar place

It could be something as simple as a walk around the block, a nearby park or a walking path. It’s important to “shake” things up a bit once you’ve become comfortable with your routine. To prevent boredom, you might vary your routine by choosing different places or directions to walk.

Have a  back- up plan   

What do you do when the weather doesn’t permit you to walk outdoors? If it isn’t life threatening, you beat the bad weather, dress accordingly and brave the elements.  What’s your back-up plan?

Stretch before and after

This is important to prevent injury and soreness. It also helps to tone your muscles. Plus, it limbers and conditions the muscles to be long, lean and strong. Conditioned muscles helps you to handle exercise better.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/  Currently, I’ve just had my first creative story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

Foods with vitamin DMost of the time, it’s a good idea to use sunscreen, but it’s okay to enjoy the sun’s rays for about ten minutes without it. By getting a good dose of vitamin D and then slathering on the sunscreen, you get both benefits.

Also referred to as the “sunshine” vitamin, vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means it’s stored in the body and can be made naturally. Two other forms such as D2 and D3 are also important.

We depend on what we eat, the sun and taking a multivitamin to supply us with enough vitamin D; unfortunately, the sun is not always readily available to everyone.

Studies prove that by taking this supplement, you can prevent breast and colon cancer by cutting the risk by fifty-percent. What’s more, you can decrease the possibilities of other types of cancer such as skin, colon, and prostrate, when taking vitamin D. Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis can also be prevented.

Dosage

Depending on your age will depend on how much vitamin D you should be taking. This is because the older you are, the less vitamin D your skin will produce. Adult males, females and pregnant and lactating women under the age of fifty should take 200 units, fifty to seventy years of age should take 400 units and those over the age of seventy should consume 600 units. Children from birth to five years, should be consuming 200 units every day.

Foods

Dietary sources that include vitamin D include: fortified milk, salmon, tuna, sardines, eggs and cod liver oil. Fruits and vegetables are another good source of vitamin D. In fact, it’s almost impossible to get optimal levels from the foods that you eat. You’d have to eat at least two or three servings of salmon or sardines, drink five glasses of milk and take a spoonful of cod liver oil and that still wouldn’t be sufficient.

Benefits

This wonder supplement has been known to control blood pressure, reduce stress and tension and reduce spasms that are caused from aches and pains. It also helps fight depression, improves skin health and increases cardiovascular strength.

Vitamin D Deficient

This is common if you live in a place where sun exposure is infrequent or if you’re housebound. Signs that may occur are: muscle pain, depression, mood swings, fractures, low energy, fatigue and sleep irregularities.

Prevention

A good way to prevent vitamin D deficiency is by limited unprotected sun exposure, take a good quality multivitamin along with vitamin D and eat a diet that is rich in whole foods. If you’re someone who’s fortunate enough to live where there’s plenty of sunshine, get out and enjoy the rays. If not, then you might consider taking it in supplement form. So, how do you get your dose of vitamin D?

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ I’ll also have my first creative story published as an anthology in a book titled,  “Heartscapes”, in a few short weeks.

The Best Time to Exercise

The best time to exercise is the time that’s most beneficial for you. If it’s convenient, stick to a schedule. By doing this, exercise will become a habit and not a chore. Regardless of when you exercise, you’ll accomplish the same benefits.

Many people focus on morning exercise because that’s when their energy level is the highest, they’re well rested, more focused and it jump starts their metabolism and keeps it that way for hours. When your metabolism is elevated, you naturally burn more calories. It also puts you in a positive mood because you’re doing something that’s good for yourself. Exercise in the a.m., is easier for many to make exercise a part of their daily routine.

What do you do if you want to work out, but there’s not enough time to fit exercise into your hectic schedule because of work, school, taking care of the kids or other obligations? I’ll share how I manage to fit exercise into my busy schedule and I hope you pass some of your ideas on to me too. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a morning exerciser. Every day at the same time, I tie up my sneakers and workout. Eventually it naturally became a habit. If something unexpected comes up and I can’t get my morning workout in as planned, I try to reschedule later in the day.

Then again, some people prefer to exercise in the afternoon or evening because it’s a good stress buster from all the pressures of the day. Muscles are also more flexible and it’s easier to find a friend to work out with. Plus, your body temperature is at its peak and injuries are less likely.

Exercising in the evening works for many, but be careful because your cortisol levels are at their highest in the evenings, and exercising to close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Everyone has their own opinion what works best for them. So what time works best for you? Are you a morning exerciser like myself, or do you work out in the afternoons or late at night? If you’re an evening exerciser, does it interfere with your sleep habits? If so,  how do you handle it?

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/

I will also have my first short story published as an anthology in a book called “Heartscapes”, in a few short weeks.