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Healthy Lifestyles

A resource for wellness


 6 Tips For Not Regretting Your 4th of July BBQ*

1. Use small plates — Research clearly shows that people who choose smaller plates and utensils eat less without even noticing it. The difference can be as substantial as 50 percent fewer calories consumed, yet everyone reports the same level of fullness and satisfaction. Try borrowing a plate from the kids table or the dessert tray.

2. Eat slowly and mindfully — People who eat more slowly eat fewer calories over the course of a meal. BBQs are a perfect opportunity to pace yourself as you mix and mingle with friends and family. The more you're chatting, the less you're eating.

3. Eat healthiest foods first — If you are eating slowly and off small plates, you may as well fill up on the healthiest stuff first. Salads are a great place to start because watery vegetables slow digestion and have very few calories. Try to choose something with oil and protein as well, because these will help you feel full sooner.

4. Skip the chips, crackers and bread — Refined carbohydrates are the worst things you can eat because they offer little satisfaction, loads of calories and dangerous insulin spikes. BBQs are filled with wonderful food, so do yourself a favor and save your calories for the really good stuff. You don't have to eat your burger without a bun, but pass on the pointless chips and other snacks that lure you when you're not thinking. If you're feeling bored, grab a Frisbee instead.

5. Keep dessert small — The difference between a large slice of cake and a smaller slice of cake can literally be hundreds of calories. And to reiterate, sugar and refined carbohydrates are the most dangerous foods. You don't have to pass on dessert completely, but keep your portion sizes in check for this course.

6. Think before you drink — There is a place for alcohol in a healthy lifestyle, but making smart choices can be the difference between losing or gaining weight (not to mention your self-control). One sugary margarita can have 600-800 calories. That means 3 margaritas is more food than you should be consuming in an entire day. Is that really worth it? Stick with wine or beer, drink plenty of water and remember to pace yourself. Small tricks can save you hundreds and potentially thousands of wasted calories that you will never notice or miss. Why sacrifice a good time when you can just upgrade your health style? *


9 of the Healthiest Vegetables You Can Eat

With the warmer weather comes farmer's markets and fresh produce! You know they are good for you, but be sure to move these antioxidant-rich picks to the top of your shopping list.

1. Onions You'll get the most out of this veggie's cancer-fighting antioxidants by eating it raw; cooking onions at a high heat significantly reduces the benefits of phytochemicals that protect against lung and prostate cancer. Try combining chopped raw onions with tomatoes, avocado, and jalapeño peppers for a blood sugar–friendly chip dip. Finish with a splash of lime juice.

2. Corn On the cob or off, just make sure you eat your corn cooked! A study in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry found that the longer corn was cooked, the higher the level of antioxidants like lutein, which combats blindness in older adults.

3. Peas Tiny but mighty, one study in the International Journal of Cancer found that daily consumption of green peas along with other legumes lowered the risk of stomach cancer. Try a brown rice risotto with lemon and green peas.

4. Kale This veggie's curly green leaves are chock full of vitamin C, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol.

5. Broccoli Broccoli is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants. One study found men who ate 5 servings or more per week of cruciferous veggies (broccoli's one of them!) were half as likely to develop bladder cancers over a 10-year period as men who rarely ate them.

6. Red bell pepper One medium pepper is light on calories (only 32!) but heavy on vitamin C, providing 150 percent of your recommended daily value and warding off atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease.

7. Spinach Spinach is packed with carotenoids — antioxidants that promote healthy eyes and help prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Cooking the green helps make lutein (a carotenoid) more absorbable by your body.

8. Alfalfa sprouts This tiny powerhouse is rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that protects against lung cancer and helps maintain healthy skin, hair, nails, gums, glands, bones, and teeth. It's also a good source of vitamin E, which may help prevent heart attacks, stokes, and lower the risk of death from bladder cancer.

9. Brussel sprouts These balls of antioxidants can help detoxify cancer-causing free radicals, and with 80 percent of your daily vitamin C in just a half-cup, also help fight heart disease and ward off cataracts. Try sautéing them with a little bacon or olive oil and mustard for a smoky kick.  


 Can't Lose That 'Bowl-Full-of-Jelly' Belly? 6 Reasons You're Not Losing Belly Fat

1. You Fall Short on Magnesium — Our bodies require magnesium for more than 300 chemical reactions, including keeping heart rhythm steady and regulating blood sugar, but in addition to its health benefits, this nutrient may also aid in weight loss and body shaping. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that higher magnesium intake was associated with lower levels of fasting glucose and insulin (markers related to fat and weight gain) and another study found that a magnesium supplement may have some beneficial effects on reducing fluid retention, meaning you'll feel less bloated. Flat-belly solution: Eat more magnesium-rich foods, such as leafy green vegetables, beans and nuts. Or talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.

2. You're Doing the Wrong Workout — Many people turn to cardio workouts, like long jogs, when trying to slim down. The problem with this approach: A 45-minute run at a consistent pace may help you shed pounds at first, but soon your metabolism will adjust and you'll stop burning calories the moment you hop off the treadmill. A more effective way to tone your tummy? Weight training. Lifting weights creates micro-tears in muscle that take more energy (i.e. burn more calories) in the healing process. Research has found the most effective workout for fat loss is high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, which raises your heart rate while also taxing your muscles. Flat-belly solution: You can create a HIIT program with any sort of exercise, including cardio workouts such as running, swimming, cycling or rowing, as well as full-body strength workouts.

3. You Don't Sleep Enough — More than half of Americans feel like they're not getting enough sleep. This lack of ZZZ's can have serious consequences for your waistline: One study found that those who slept five or fewer hours per night were 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain over 16 years than those who got more sleep. Another study of people sleeping four hours instead of eight, showed that they consumed more than 300 extra calories a day, mostly from fatty foods. Why? Too little sleep causes an increase in a hormone called ghrelin that stimulates appetite. Flat-belly solution: Get the expert-recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night. To ensure quality slumber, remove distracting electronics from the bedroom; keep your room cool (your body sleeps best at around 65 degrees); avoid caffeine after lunch; and try to maintain the same sleeping schedule.

4. You're Hooked on Soda — Sugary soda, packed with empty calories, is a diet disaster, but even the no-calorie versions can expand your waistline. One study found that regular soda was associated with increased waist size and abdominal fat, but diet soda was associated with increased waist size, BMI and total percentage of fat. One theory about why this happens is that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda don't produce the responses your body expects when you eat something sweet. So, the sweet taste of a diet soda triggers a message to your body to expect an influx of energy, which won't arrive since there are no calories in diet drinks. This interferes with your body's hunger signals and causes you to crave (and consume) additional calories to make up for the lack of calories in diet soda. Flat-belly solution: Stop this vicious cycle by making water or unsweetened tea as your standard drinks with meals. If you're bored with H20, sweeten it with slices of fruit. Coffee is also acceptable, but minimize the tempting high-calorie additions.

5. Your Diet is Packed With Salt — If you've ever felt bloated after a salty meal, it's not in your head. Excess salt causes water to move from your bloodstream into your skin, which is why a daily dose of Doritos will give you a puffy look. Nearly 90 percent of people consume more than the recommended 2,300 mg sodium per day. So even if you're not pouring on the table salt, you're likely getting more sodium than you need through other sources such as canned foods, salad dressing, deli meats and even some dairy products like cottage cheese. Flat-belly solution: Avoid adding salt to your meals. Instead, boost flavor with spices and herbs, many of which have added health benefits as well. Try cooking with delicious flavors like cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne powder, cumin, ginger, basil, parsley, and rosemary — you won't miss the belly-bloating salt.

6. You Drink Too Much — Several studies show that alcohol can increase appetite and food intake, and certain types of alcohol are associated with belly fat specifically. If you're an ale aficionado, be especially mindful of your consumption: One study suggests that intake of beer is associated with abdominal obesity, while another study found that lifetime consumption of alcohol is positively related to abdominal fat in 160,000 people. Flat-belly solution: It's fine to enjoy a glass of wine or clear liquor every so often with a meal. But avoid soda and sugary mixers, like those used for daiquiris and margaritas. The good news? There's no need to cut out booze completely. In fact, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that normal-weight individuals who consumed a light or moderate amount of alcohol gained less weight and had a lower risk of becoming overweight or obsess during nearly 13 years of follow-up than even non-drinkers.

No Tricks! Just Healthier Halloween Treats!

Don’t worry about haunted houses, zombies, or vampires. Halloween candy is what’s scary! Americans reportedly spend $2 million on Halloween candy - this certainly can't be helping America’s childhood obesity epidemic. If you want to offer a healthier option, try these:

1. Hand out individually-wrapped snacks. From Goldfish to fruit snacks, there's an assortment of lunch box snacks that can double as Halloween handouts. Granola bars, cheese sticks, raisins, pumpkin seeds and crackers also can be used as Halloween treats. Remember, when it comes to handing out edible healthy alternatives to trick-or-treaters, be sure to choose foods that are individually wrapped.

2. Hand out Halloween-themed straws. Hit your local dollar store and pick up orange and black bendy straws or straws with pumpkins or ghosts attached. Scoring some of these favors means a cheaper and healthier option for fun Halloween-inspired handouts.

3. Hand out removable tattoos. Most every kid would trade a piece of candy for a ghoul tattoo. Temporary tattoos provide all the fun without the sugar and they last longer than candy too! If you're feeling inspired hand these out to trick-or-treaters and even consider putting them on the kids right at your door.

4. Small, plastic novelty toys. You know those little toys you give out as party favors? They make great Halloween handouts. Plastic spider rings or neon glow sticks would be welcomed in most any child's trick or treat bag.

5. Halloween-themed stickers. Stickers come in a close second to candy for many costumed kids on Halloween. A variety of pumpkin, witch, ghost and jack-o-lantern stickers will entice any child to knock on your door.


Percent increase during the past five years in the number of menu items containing kale.

Known as the "Queen of Greens," kale is a nutritional powerhouse! Here are 10 benefits of adding more kale to your diet.

1. Kale is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding digestion with its great fiber content. It's also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below.

2. Kale is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.

3. Kale is high in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

4. Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.

5. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10 percent of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.

6. Kale is great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels.

7. Kale is high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.

8. Kale is high in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.

9. Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility.

10. Kale is a great detox food. Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.

Controlling Stress-Induced Weight Gain

When you're under stress, you may find it harder to eat healthy. Also, during times of particularly high stress, you may eat in an attempt to fulfill emotional needs — sometimes called stress eating or emotional eating. And you may be especially likely to eat high-calorie foods during times of stress, even when you're not hungry.

To prevent weight gain during stress and reduce the risk of obesity, get a handle on your stress. When you feel less stressed and more in control of your life, you may find it easier to stick to healthy eating and exercise habits.

Try these stress management techniques to combat stress-related weight gain:

  • Recognize the warning signs of stress, such as anxiety, irritability and muscle tension.
  • Before eating, ask yourself why you're eating — are you truly hungry or do you feel stressed or anxious?
  • If you're tempted to eat when you're not hungry, find a distraction.
  • Don't skip meals, especially breakfast.
  • Identify comfort foods and keep them out of your home or office.
  • Keep a record of your behavior and eating habits so that you can look for patterns and connections — and then figure out how to overcome them.
  • Learn problem-solving skills so that you can anticipate challenges and cope with setbacks.
  • Practice relaxation skills, such as yoga, massage or meditation.
  • Engage in regular physical activity or exercise.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Get encouragement from supportive friends and family.

If you try stress management techniques on your own but they don't seem to be working, consider seeking professional help through psychotherapy or counseling.[From]



Food, Mood And Stress from

It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, you are irritated, your head is fuzzy and your eyes are having trouble focusing. You would love to find a corner and go to sleep, but there is no time. How about a coffee or a chocolate bar?

Most of us instinctively reach for sweets or caffeine to give relief from the morning sluggishness or afternoon slump. We use sweets as a way of helping ourselves through stressful times. Those strategies might help, temporarily, but there is a downside to these methods.

Many people choose sweets and caffeine as a substitute for proper nutrition. Poor eating strategies affect our brain chemistry and cause fatigue, apathy, apprehension, edginess and the blues. The brain has first call on the body’s available supply of nutrients, therefore, the first effects of nutritional deficiencies are often mental symptoms.

Research shows that low levels of protein in a diet have a negative impact on the body’s production of neurotransmitters, which directly affect our mood and energy. Deficiencies in vitamins B1, B6, C, A, essential fatty acids, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, copper and iron also affect the fine balance of these neurotransmitters.

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies In Mental Health:

· Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is drained by simple sugars. B1 helps convert blood sugar into fuel. Without it, we can experience fatigue, depressive symptoms, irritability, anxiety, memory problems, insomnia and even thoughts of suicide.

· Research has found a strong correlation between vitamin B6 deficiency and depressive symptoms

· A lack of B12 can lead to mood swings, paranoia, irritability, confusion, dementia, hallucinations

· Folic Acid assists in the creation of many neurotransmitters and can cause fatigue and dementia

· Low levels of Vitamin C can produce depressive symptoms

We know that food has a profound effect on our mood, but what other simple steps can we take to boost our energy, lift our mood and help us to focus?

10 Simple Strategies To Avoid The Sugar Blues

1. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Smaller balance meals are preferable to large meals

2. Use exercise or stretching to increase energy and lift the ‘fog’

3. Eat protein earlier in the day – we metabolize proteins in a way that we get the full energy from them up to 5 hours later

4. Include fish in your weekly diet as the essential fatty acids they contain increase energy and improve mood

5. Eat complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables instead of simple sugars found in chocolate bars and candy, which give the quick high but a low plunge

6. Don’t confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking a cool glass of water can boost energy in the middle of the afternoon slump

7. Avoid food additives such as colorants and preservatives which can have a negative allergic reaction in the body

8. Don’t buy foods high in sugar. If it is not sitting in the cupboard or desk drawer you are less likely to make snap decisions

9. Have healthy snacks readily available. Plan ahead and keep them in desk drawers, lockers or even in the glove box of your car

10. A daily supplement may be helpful, but don’t rely on it to replace healthy eating. Eat a variety of foods.

We have all heard the saying ‘We are what we eat’, but most of us connect this with the body’s physical reactions. Our brain is just as dependent on the food that we consume. Healthy food choices help us avoid the erratic blood sugar levels and associated mood swings, which can keep us mentally healthy.


Breakfast: Your Secret Weapon

By Leslie Fink, MS, RD (Reprinted from

What do bagels, bran cereal and bananas have in common? They're good-for-you breakfast foods that might help keep you on the weight-loss straight and narrow.

Research has shown that people who skip breakfast may not be as successful with weight management as those people who eat breakfast regularly. Why? Eating breakfast may help you reduce snacking and avoid overeating.

Food is fuel

Eating breakfast is like filling up a gas tank. When you wake up in the morning, your body is low on fuel, like a car running on empty, explains Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, director of nutrition for WebMD. A morning meal can kick-start your engine by giving your body energy.

Zelman warns that skipping breakfast may make you more likely to overeat later in the day to make up for the missed meal.

In fact, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that breakfast eaters fall prey to impulse snacking less often than non-breakfast eaters.

Unleaded or diesel?

Not all fuels are created equal. Most people will get more mileage from a small bran muffin and a cup of fat-free milk than they do from a large glass of juice. That's because the sugar in the juice is a much more rapidly used energy source than that derived from the muffin and milk.

"The ideal breakfast is based on carbohydrate and protein," says G. Harvey Anderson, PhD, professor in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto. He theorizes that the most satisfying breakfasts deliver a quick shot of energy (by raising blood sugar levels rapidly) and then a longer term energy boost from high-fiber, complex-carbohydrate, protein-containing foods that slow digestion.

What does that mean for your sugar cereal? Toss a handful into a bowl of low-fat yogurt and then mix it up with some fiber-rich fruit. Other tag-team breakfasts include:

  • Low-fat cheese and tomato slices on a whole-wheat English muffin
  • High-fiber cereal with fat-free or low-fat milk and dried or fresh fruit
  • Peanut butter and jelly on multi-grain bread
  • Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs (or egg whites) with a couple of wheat crackers
  • Low-fat yogurt and a grain-rich cereal bar
  • A banana and a small handful of peanuts or almonds

Banish no-time-for-breakfast excuses

I don't have time to make myself breakfast. The only things available to me at work are doughnuts and cookies from the vending machine.

When time is of the essence, think portable. Try a hard-boiled egg (keep a few in the fridge at all times) and a couple of crackers or string cheese and a piece of fruit. And for those real crunch times, keep packets of instant oatmeal, high-fiber breakfast bars and mini boxes of raisins stashed in your desk drawer.

Excuse: I just can't eat before 1:00 p.m.

You don't have to eat when the roosters crow, but it is a wise idea to eat within several hours of waking up. If you can't stomach much, try a few grapes or a wheat cracker and half a glass of juice. After a few days, your body might naturally look forward to this a.m. fuel-up and you can try more substantial meals.

Excuse: I'd like to eat breakfast but I'm afraid it will set my hunger into overdrive.


Plug In to Slim Down -- New Apps Aid in Weight Loss

If you've got a smart phone, you've got easy access to weight-loss tools. Here are a few apps to consider:

Lose It
With this app, enter how many pounds you want to lose to find out how many daily calories you can consume and the day you'll meet your goal, assuming you stick with the plan.

Use this app with a heart monitor to track your steps, stairs climbed, calories burned and more.

Fitness Buddy
Access more than a thousand exercises with photos by muscle group using gym equipment, dumbbells or body weight with this app.



Healthy Snacking Made Easy

Snacking isn't "bad” if you do it in moderation and make healthy choices. Healthy, good-for-you snacks can be a part of a healthy diet – which you need to do to live healthfully. To snack the sensible way, the American Heart Association recommends choosing nutrient-rich snacks like those listed below:


Carrot and celery sticks
Green pepper sticks
Zucchini circles
Broccoli spears
Unsalted rice cakes


Unsalted sunflower seeds
Whole-grain breads or toast
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Low-fat or fat-free cheese
Plain, low-fat or fat-free yogurt
Unsalted almonds, walnuts and other nuts


Unsweetened canned fruit
Thin slice of angel food cake
Baked apple
Dried fruit gelatin gems
Frozen bananas
Frozen grapes
Fresh fruit
Low-fat or fat-free unsweetened fruit yogurt



No Bones About It -You Need Calcium Everyday

Many people do not get enough calcium needed for strong bones and proper muscle function. Lack of calcium can contribute to stress fractures and the bone disease osteoporosis.The best sources of calcium are dairy products, but many other foods such as salmon with bones, sardines, collard greens and okra also contain calcium. Additionally, some brands of bread, tofu and orange juice are fortified with calcium.

Important questions about calcium

By Dr. Suzanne Koven

| Globe Correspondent

March 18, 2013

Adapted from the In Practice blog at

Certain questions come up frequently in my medical practice. Often these concern issues that have been reported heavily in the media and/or about which there is controversy.

This is the first in what will be an occasional series on this blog addressing some of the questions my patients ask most often.

One of the things about which I’m asked most commonly is calcium. Some of the confusion comes from the fact that our knowledge about calcium and health is evolving.

Here are a few of those questions , along with answers that reflect our knowledge — to date.

Why is calcium important?

Calcium, a mineral element, is a major component of bones and teeth. Smaller amounts are also necessary for normal function of the heart and other organs.

What’s the best way to get enough calcium?

Various foods, including vegetables, fish, and dairy, are rich in calcium. Omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans can all get enough calcium in food — though it requires some effort and attention. Supplements are also available.

My blood calcium level is normal — doesn’t that mean I get enough calcium?

No. The level of calcium in the blood is tightly regulated by various hormones, the kidneys, and other organs. It does not reflect the store of calcium in the bones. In extreme cases, lack of or excess calcium intake can lower or raise blood calcium levels — both are dangerous.

Why are calcium supplements often combined with vitamin D?

Adequate vitamin D is required to absorb calcium in the intestines. Many people who live in northern climates or who don’t get outdoors lack adequate vitamin D, since sunlight is necessary to metabolize it. Various foods including fish, eggs, fortified milk, and orange juice provide vitamin D. It is a little challenging for vegans to get adequate vitamin D from food alone, but it can be done.

If I have osteoporosis (bone thinning), will increasing my calcium intake help?

While inadequate calcium (and vitamin D) intake contribute to osteoporosis, supplementing these nutrients may not cure the problem. A landmark study showed that supplementation improved bone density, but didn’t significantly lower the risk of fracture.

What’s the down side to taking calcium supplements?

Excess calcium intake can lead to kidney stones and constipation. Calcium supplements can interfere with the metabolism of certain medications. Also, some data suggest that calcium supplementation in men can cause heart disease and prostate cancer — though other studies have shown a decreased risk of cancer.

So what’s the bottom line?

Calcium is important for bone and general health and most of us don’t get enough of it. Ideally, we’d get what we need from food. If that’s not possible, supplements are available, but we can’t say confidently that these are 100% safe for everyone or that they are a fix for fragile bones.


MyPlate Makes It Easy

The new food icon is easy to understand and teaches the components of a healthy diet. The interactive plate offers tools and tips for eating a well-balanced diet based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Balancing Calories to Manage Weight:

Balance calories - Find out how many calories YOU need for a day as a first step in managing your weight. Go to http://www.choosemyplate.govto find your calorie level.

Enjoy your food, but eat less - Take the time to fully enjoy your food as you eat it. Eating too fast or when your attention is elsewhere may lead to eating too many calories. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues before, during and after meals. Use them to recognize when to eat and when you’ve had enough.

Avoid oversized portions - Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Portion out foods before you eat. When eating out, choose a smaller size option, share a dish or take home part of your meal.

Be physically active. Being physically active can help you manage your weight. Learn more about physical activity for a healthy weight.

Foods to Increase:

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables - Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert.

Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk - They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.

Choose a variety of protein foods - Eat a variety of foods from the protein foods group each week. This group includes seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Foods to Reduce:

Compare sodium in foods - Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled "low sodium," "reduced sodium," or "no salt added."

Drink water instead of sugary drinks - Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets.

Cut back on solid fats - Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine or shortening); pizza; cheese; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.

Building Healthy Eating Patterns:

Create an eating pattern - Select an eating pattern that meets nutrient needs over time at an appropriate calorie level.

Be food safe -

  • Clean: Wash hands, utensils and cutting boards before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
  • Separate: Keep raw meat and poultry apart from foods that won’t be cooked.
  • Cook: Use a food thermometer. You can’t tell if food is cooked safely by how it looks.
  • Chill: Chill leftovers and takeout foods withintwo hours and keep the refrigerator at 40°F or below.
  • Rinse: Rinse fruits and vegetables (even those with skins or rinds that are not eaten) with tap water.

*Sources: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 ( and (


Should You Eat Before You Exercise?


Just like your car needs fueled up before a trip, your body needs fuel before you work out. Snacking about an hour before your gym routine lets you work out longer and harder. Fitness Magazine reviewed more than 180 new snacks and whittled it down to the 8 best choices. These winners provide complex carbs, either fruit or a whole grain as their first ingredient. And, since they weigh in at only 200 calories or less, and contain no more than 6 grams of fat, they are easy to digest.

So go ahead — eat AND run!

5 of Dr. Oz's Top 10 Health and Fitness Tips of All Time*

1. Get Strong Not Skinny
Illness or injury may often be the instigator, but frailty is what kills us, says Dr. Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon, author and host of The Dr. Oz Show. Our bodies can't recover as well if we're not strong, which is why he recommends a balanced workout plan that includes strength, cardio and flexibility training.

2. Cut Out the White Stuff
The easiest way to lose weight and improve your health? Ditch the white stuff! Most white foods (bread, rice, pasta, sugar, flour) are primarily made up of refined carbs and empty calories, so cutting them out of your diet is one of the quickest ways to shed pounds and improve your well-being, Dr. Oz says. There are a few exceptions to the rule, including egg whites, cauliflower and fish, he says. Those are the only white foods you should have on hand.

3. Bring on the Broccoli
"Broccoli is the best produce option because it cleanses the liver and helps to fight cancer," he says. To reap the most rewards, the doctor suggests cleaning and slicing cruciferous veggies (like broccoli) 5 to 10 minutes before cooking, and then steaming or microwaving them (instead of boiling) to help retain the most cancer-fighting compounds.

4. Get Your Daily Dose of D
"New research says that vitamin D may play a crucial role in weight loss by controlling appetite and helping fat cells become more metabolically active," Dr. Oz says. The sunshine vitamin also helps your body better absorb bone-boosting calcium, improves immunity, reduces inflammation and may even protect against some forms of cancer. Nearly 75 percent of Americans are vitamin-D deficient, so there's a good chance you're not getting your recommended daily dose of 400 IU (some people may need as much as 1,000 IU, so check with your doctor to find out what's right for you).

"The best sources [of vitamin D] are salmon, tuna, and mackerel (especially the flesh)," Dr. Oz says, adding that "fish liver oils, beef liver, cheese and egg yolks also contain small amounts." And don't forget the most convenient source of all: sunlight. "Vitamin D is actually produced in your body when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike your skin; the UV rays trigger synthesis of vitamin D, which then gets converted in your liver into its active form."

5. Drink More Water
There's a reason Dr. Oz can't omit this expected tip from the list. Drinking water is so imperative for staying healthy, energized and even losing weight. There are so many reasons to stay hydrated — hunger is often disguised as thirst, it boosts your metabolism and water is the best energy drink available, he says.

To find out exactly how much water you should be drinking, divide your body weight (in pounds) by two and aim to drink that many ounces of water every day.

  1. Van's The Perfect 10 Crackers — 140 calories per 12
  2. Peeled Snacks Apple Clusters Apple Crunch — 75 calories per bag
  3. Deep River Snacks Organic Popcorn with Sea Salt — 90 calories per bag
  4. Kashi Berry Lemonade Chewy Granola Bars with Chia — 130 calories per bar
  5. Simply Balanced Classic Muesli Cereal — 180 calories per half cup
  6. Barbara's Multigrain Maple Brown Sugar Squarefuls — 200 calories per cup
  7. Annie's Organic Cinnamon Grahams — 130 calories for two
Kind Healthy Grains Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Bar — 150 calories



Baby On Board: Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

Eating well can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Don't forget breakfast.

  • Try fortified ready-to-eat or cooked breakfast cereals with fruit. Fortified cereals have added nutrients like calcium.
  • If you are feeling sick, start with whole-wheat toast. Eat more food later in the morning.

Eat foods with fiber.

  • Choose a variety of vegetables and fruits like carrots, cooked greens, bananas and melon.
  • Eat plenty of beans and whole grains. Try brown rice or oatmeal.

Choose healthy snacks.

  • Low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit
  • Whole grain crackers with fat-free or low-fat cheese

Take a prenatal vitamin with iron and folic acid every day.

Iron keeps your blood healthy. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects.

Eat up to 12 ounces a week (2 average meals) of fish or shellfish.

  • A 3-ounce serving is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Avoid fish and shellfish with high levels of mercury. Don't eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish.
  • If you eat tuna, choose canned light tuna. Albacore (white) tuna has more mercury.
  • Common fish that are low in mercury include shrimp, salmon and catfish.

Stay away from soft cheeses and lunch meat.

Some foods may have bacteria that can hurt your baby. Don't eat:

  • Soft cheeses like feta, Brie and goat cheese
  • Uncooked or undercooked meats or fish (like sushi)
  • Lunch meats and hot dogs unless they are heated until steaming hot

Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol.

  • Drink decaffeinated coffee or tea.
  • Drink water or seltzer instead of soda.
  • Don't drink alcohol.

This information was compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Calorie Reductions Needed to Achieve Obesity Prevention Goals

A new study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine,found that without changes to eating and activity, more than one in five young people could be obese by 2020, up from the current level of 17 percent. Furthermore, to achieve the federal government’s national goals for obesity reduction by that year, children in the United States would need to eliminate an average of 64 excess calories per day. This reduction could be achieved by decreasing calorie intake, increasing physical activity or both. Children with higher obesity rates would need to see greater calorie reductions.

What Plain Old Water Can do For Your Health

By Marcia Hammond (Written in Healthy Living on April 9, 2013)

There are many reasons why water is good for your health - from aiding weight loss to preventing cancer. It will also keep your skin clear, boost energy levels, banish fatigue and prevent diabetes. Learn what water can do for you and how to benefit.It’s fat-free, has zero calories, is always ‘on tap’ (literally) and is essential to life. We’re told to drink more of it, but is it really so good for our health? Water makes up 60% of our body weight and is vital for essential functions such as maintaining blood pressure, eliminating waste products and preventing delicate mucous membranes in our nose, mouth and lungs from drying out. But apart from the essential stuff, what else can it do for us?

Heart Health - Research found those who drank five glasses of water a day were less likely to have potentially fatal heart disease, compared with those drinking two glasses.

Digestive Health - Water absorbed by fiber passing through the digestive system, bulks out stools making them softer and easier to pass. (Many laxatives work on exactly this principle by drawing water into the stool). So not drinking enough water is likely to cause constipation.

Prevents Cancer - A study in men found those drinking 10.5 glasses of water a day were 24% less likely to develop bladder cancer, while another showed the risk of certain types of bladder cancer to be halved in men who drank 11 glasses a day. Large quantities of water may be quickly washing cancer-causing agents out of the body, so they cannot accumulate. Women have also been shown to be at lower risk of cancers affecting the bladder and kidneys the more fluid (of all types) is consumed - water straight from the tap having the strongest effect. It has also been shown that drinking four to five glasses of water a day compared with two or less, reduced rates of colon cancer by 45% in women and 32% in men. Other research showed a greater reduction in men: 92.4% for rectal cancer and 42% for colorectal cancer. Water increases the rate at which stools pass though the bowel, reducing contact time between cancer-causing agents and the bowel lining. The risk of breast cancer is also affected by drinking water - a study showed risk was reduced by 79% in post-menopausal women and by 33% in premenopausal. This demonstrates the importance of water to normal functioning –at low levels cells are less able to filter out toxins.

Avoid Diabetes - By drinking water Not drinking enough fluid has also been found to increase risk of developing high blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes. In a study, those drinking less than half a liter a day were more likely to develop high blood sugar than those drinking a liter or more. The link here is a hormone (vasopressin or ADH) secreted by the brain when fluid levels are low. It leads the kidneys to retain water, but causes the liver to release glucose into the blood. So the more vasopressin released due to dehydration, the higher blood sugar levels become.

Weight Loss - Drinking plenty of water helps you feel full, making you less likely to indulge in calorie-laden snacks between meals. In addition, many dieters have realized that drinking a glass or two before meals, curbs appetite, so you’re less likely to overeat.

Energy Levels - Being dehydrated by as little as 1-2% has been shown to reduce energy levels. Drinking water instead of sugary drinks will also prevent the energy slump that inevitably follows a high sugar load.

Headache - Many people experience headaches as a result of dehydration, although the precise mechanism is not known. It may be that the balance of substances in the blood is affected by a drop in the amount of water in the bloodstream, and that the brain is very sensitive to these changes.

Better for teeth and gums - Drinking water and swishing it around the mouth will help to dislodge food and plaque around the teeth, which lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Replacing sugary drinks with water will also be better for tooth and gum health.

Fitness and Tone - You are better able to exercise when not dehydrated, as lack of fluid can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue.

Skin Quality - Skin health is dependent on removal of toxic waste produced by cells, and water is essential for this process So it’s not surprising that drinking plenty of water has long been associated with a clear skin.

How Much and How Often to Drink - There is no ready-made answer to the question of how much water we should drink, although experts seem to agree that it is better to drink small amounts regularly, rather than large quantities infrequently. Many recommendations regarding how much to drink ignore the differences body size and weight will make. They also do not take into account that in high temperatures and when exercising we all lose fluid through sweat, so have more need to replace it. We obtain water from food as well as drinks other than water, but ironically some drinks can lead to a loss of water. Caffeine and alcohol cause more vasopressin to be released, so we lose more water by producing lots of dilute urine. So the general rules are to drink water steadily through the day, producing pale-coloured urine, and increase intake when sweating a lot. Health experts advise drinking more water before, during and after exercise to maintain hydration throughout. The message is don’t wait until you’re thirsty – that’s way too late!

Water, Water Everywhere

You can survive for a month without food, but only a few days without water.

  • Water is the most important nutrient for active people.
  • When you sweat, you lose water, which must be replaced. Drink fluids before, during and after workouts.
  • Water is a fine choice for most workouts; however, during continuous workouts of greater than 90 minutes, your body may benefit from a sports drink.
  • Sports drinks have two very important ingredients - electrolytes and carbohydrates.
  • Sports drinks replace electrolytes lost through sweat during workouts lasting several hours.
  • Carbohydrates in sports drinks provide extra energy. The most effective sports drinks contain 15 to 18 grams of carbohydrates in every 8 ounces of fluid.

Water Versus Sport Drinks … Which is Best?
 (Download this as a .pdf with graphics)

Which should you reach for after your summer workout — water, or that colorful sports drink?

The answer is not always as clear as, well … water!   Sports dietitians say that it depends on the duration and intensity of the physical activity and on how much you sweat.  The general guideline for most people is that if you are doing continuous exercise for 60 minutes or less, water is fine, but beyond that – and especially if the intensity is high – you should consider a sports drink.

This is because sports drinks include electrolytes (which help regulate nerves and muscles), carbohydrates (which help restore the body’s glycogen — or fuel — levels) and water (which helps hydrate).  So, what are the best sports drinks on the market?  For training over an hour at medium-to-high intensity, look for a drink that provides between 13-19 grams of carbohydrates per 8-ounce serving, and at least 80-110 mg sodium —and even more for longer duration training or those losing a lot of salt in their sweat.

Here are some good picks:

Gatorade G
Per 8 ounce serving: 50 calories, 14 g carb; 110 mg sodium

This is the original Gatorade, and it’s still an outstanding option.  The formula is designed so that     you'll absorb the fluid and energy quickly, and continue to want to drink.

·     Powerade Ion 4
Per 8 ounce serving: 50 calories, 14 g carb; 100 mg sodium

Th  This is a well-designed hydration beverage with adequate sodium. 
Powerbar Endurance
Per 8 ounce serving:
70 calories, 17 g carb; 190 mg sodium

This powder works best for longer workouts or for athletes who lose quite a bit of sodium in their sweat.

Gatorade Endurance
Per 8 ounce serving: 50 calories; 13 g carb; 170 mg sodium

This is also a good option for longer workouts or those needing more sodium.

Accelerade Hydro
Per 8 ounce serving: 80 calories, 15 g carb, 120 mg sodium

In addition to regular sugar, this drink contains trehalose, a slow digesting sugar, which may help athletes who experience low-blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during or after training.



8 Tips for Exercising in Summer Heat*

Summer is the perfect time to go outside and have fun. For many exercise enthusiasts, it is a favorite time of year because there are so many outdoor activities from which to choose. But, the summer heat can be a problem if you're not careful, particularly in areas with extreme heat and humidity. Some of the biggest problems include staying hydrated and maintaining the body's electrolytes and salt. When you sweat, your body loses not only water, but electrolytes and salt, too. This delicate balance of water and electrolytes is crucial to keep your body functioning properly. If you don't drink enough water, you can get dehydrated and suffer from light-headedness and nausea. If not recognized, dehydration can even result in kidney failure and or, in extreme cases, death. However, if you drink too much water without replenishing your electrolytes, you can experience hyponatremia. This can lead to confusion, nausea, muscle cramps, seizures or even death in extreme cases.

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to exercising in the heat:

The time of day is important. Unless you are training for an event that takes place in the daytime heat, avoid exercising from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's the hottest part of day. Generally, the early morning is the best time to work out, especially if it's going to be scorcher that day.

Wear loose, light-colored. The lighter color will help reflect heat, and cotton material will help the evaporation of sweat. You may also want to try specially designed, moisture wicking running shirts and shorts. They are often made from material meant to keep you cool.

Sunscreen is a must. It's important to protect your skin. You can get burned and suffer sun damage to your skin even on cloudy days.

Stay hydrated. Before you go out, drink a glass or two of water. Carry a bottle of water or even a hydration pack such as the CamelBak. Take a drink every 15 minutes, even when you're not thirsty. When you're done with your workout, have a few more glasses of water.

Replenish your electrolyte and salt intake while exercising. Items like SUCCEED capsules — small, simple packs of sodium and electrolytes — will keep your system in check.

If you can, choose shaded trails or pathways that keep you out of the sun.

Check the weather forecast before you start your workout. If there's a heat advisory, meaning high ozone and air pollution, you might want to take your workout indoors. These pollutants can damage your lungs.

Most importantly, listen to your body. Stop immediately if you're feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous. *

Get Fit While You Play*

Turn these four playground favorites into your personal gym Chances are, you visited a park this past Memorial Day weekend. Did you know that you were in the midst of an outstanding workout venue? You can get a great workout the next time you take the kids to the playground. Swinging, sliding, climbing, and seesawing can tone your muscles and burn about 120 to 180 calories in 30 minutes (based on a 150-lb person), according to Kathleen Matt, PhD, Director of the Exercise and Sport Research Institute at Arizona State University. Add a few targeted exercises recommended by Dr. Matt, and you've got a total-body workout. (Do each exercise 10 to 15 times.)

1. Slide: Climbing up the steps is good for your quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks (gluteus). The best part--sliding down--does wonders for lifting your spirits and boosting your energy. If you're stuck at the bottom of the slide catching your child while he has all the fun, lift him overhead each time for a great upper body workout. Extra move (targets your triceps, the back of the arms): Place your hands behind you on the edge of the slide, and extend your legs. Bending your elbows so they point behind you, slowly lower yourself. Hold for a second, then slowly press back up.

2. Swings: Pumping your legs to swing high targets your quadriceps and hamstrings (front and back of thighs). The harder you pump, the higher you swing, and the more intense your workout becomes. Then hop off, and push someone on the swing to work your arms (biceps). Extra move (targets your abs): Sitting on the swing, grasp the chains with your hands overhead. Supporting yourself with your hands, pull your knees toward your chest. Hold for a second, then slowly lower. (This is a tough one, so you may only be able to do a few repetitions at first.)

3. Monkey bars: Swinging from bar to bar is a fabulous workout for your upper body. Or, climb up and down the bars to exercise your arms and legs at the same time. Just hanging from a bar is a great way to stretch your whole body. Extra move (targets your arms, back, and shoulders): If you can't do chin-ups, try this modification. Using a bar that is taller than you, place your hands about shoulder-width apart with your palms facing you. Step on a nearby bar to boost yourself up so that your arms are bent and your chin is above the bar you are holding. Slowly lower your body by extending your arms. When your arms are fully extended, use your feet to boost yourself back up.

4. Seesaw: The up-and-down motion is sure to put a smile on your face, the impact each time you land will help keep your bones strong, and pushing off to go back up works your legs and buttocks. Extra move (targets your chest, shoulders, and arms): When it's not your turn to ride, use the main bar to do push-ups. Place your hands about shoulder-width apart, and extend your legs behind you. Keeping your head, back, and legs in a straight line, bend your elbows and slowly lower your chest toward the bar. Hold for a second, then push back up. *  



The clock keeps moving at work, but are you? If you stay at your desk most of the day, it's important to find ways to still remain active for your overall health and well-being. Here are four simple things you can start doing during the workweek.

1. Bike to Work — Not only will you be stepping up your physical activity, you will also be saving gas money, helping the environment and noticing your commute is much more peaceful than when sitting in traffic. Before you gear up, plan your route — look for back roads or streets with dedicated bike lanes for your safety. Also, make sure your work has racks or a secure place to lock up your bike. Then, pack a bag with work clothes, toiletries to clean up when you get to the office and a water bottle, and be on your way.

2. Start a Lunchtime Walking Group — Taking a walk at lunch has proven to ward off afternoon slumps, and it's one of the easiest ways you can enhance your daily schedule with more activity. Pack your lunch and take it with you, and look for a park where you can stop and eat before heading back to the office. You don't have to do it alone either — start a group with colleagues and promote it in internal newsletters.

3. Modify Your Work Area — Push the chairs aside. Today's modern workstations are all about incorporating physical activity. For example, sitting on an exercise ball while you check emails will strengthen your core muscles and lead to improved balance and flexibility. The FitDesk 2.0 (available at Walmart and Sharper Image) is another good option. This exercise bike has a sliding desk platform for your laptop so you can get a workout while you work; it also includes upper body resistance bands for when you are hands-free, such as watching videos. Or, you can forego sitting altogether and get a standing workstation.

4. Tour Different Floors — Here's your chance to travel every day. Every time you need to use the washroom, make copies in a printing area or grab a coffee in the break room, use a different floor from your own. So, if you work on level four, head up to level 10 — and of course — always use the stairs. This will give you some aerobic exercise several times a day. *  


Walking Your Way to Fitness*

Can you really walk your way to fitness? You bet! Get started today. Know the benefits Physical activity doesn't need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life. For example, regular brisk walking can help you:

-Maintain a healthy weight Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes

-Strengthen your bones

-Lift your mood Improve your balance and coordination

The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits. Consider your technique Turning your normal walk into a fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here's how you'll look when you're walking: Your head is up. You're looking forward, not at the ground. Your neck, shoulders and back are relaxed, not stiffly upright. You're swinging your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows. A little pumping with your arms is OK. Your stomach muscles are slightly tightened and your back is straight, not arched forward or backward. You're walking smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe.

Plan your routine As you start your walking routine, remember to:

-Get the right gear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. If you walk outdoors when it's dark, wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility.

-Choose your course carefully. If you'll be walking outdoors, avoid paths with cracked sidewalks, potholes, low-hanging limbs or uneven turf.

-Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.

-Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.

-Stretch. After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. If you'd rather stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.



3 Reasons It's Better to Work Out With a Group*

It seems like almost everyone is getting involved in group exercise today. On any given day in a warehouse, in a park or at the gym you can find people exercising together. There's everything from Running Clubs and Cross Fit companions to Boot Camp classes. So, why exactly are so many people jumping the "lone wolf" ship to work out in a group setting? Whether you join a workout group or get your own group of friends together for a workout, here are three reasons "more is merrier" for earning your fitness gains.

1. Motivation- Unless you're that rare person who can jump out of bed at 5 a.m. and hit the ground running, odds are that getting and staying motivated are difficult for you. You are not alone. That's one of the great things about the group setting. Many people who attend a class will show up exhausted from the ups and downs of everyday life. But once they join the group, they become re-energized. Not only are you more motivated to get out of bed and exercise, but there's the motivation to improve your current fitness level. If you work out with people who are faster, stronger or fitter than you, you are probably going to get in better shape. There's an old saying that goes, "The lead dog sets the pace for the rest of the pack." Think about it.

2. Accountability- Remember when you were in high school and your mom would wake you up in the morning to go to school? She was holding you accountable. A workout group can do the same thing for your exercise routine. The fear of group teasing can get you out of bed. Plus, there's the friendly instructor who keeps track of your tardiness and sends you reminders ... possibly with threats of numerous burpees!

3. Group Camaraderie- Human beings are social creatures. Yes, a few are hermits and recluses, but the majority of us love to be around other people. We love to laugh, joke and have fun. This is one of the greatest products of a group workout setting. Nothing brings people closer quite like misery and physical suffering. If you've ever done a boot camp or similar class, you'll understand! Many people sign up to get more fit and along the way become friends through this mutual ritual. It's truly one of the best ways to meet people like you and develop a common bond while getting into the best shape possible. Finally, in a world where we've become so dependent on email and texting, working out with a group offers a human interaction that is slowly disappearing. We can do just about everything today virtually without ever talking to a person. With group fitness, you have to get involved. You can try to escape to the back of the pack, but a good instructor will integrate you into the group whether you like or not. That's why it's called group dynamics, and that's why technology will never replace the good ol' fashioned group workout. Get out of your cubicle, your car or your house and go meet other people that have a common interest just like you. You never know, you might just meet some real friends instead of the ones you find online.  

Running Down the Top Treadmill Mistakes*
It's getting colder and slick, snow-packed roads will soon make outdoor workouts hazardous! Many exercise enthusiasts will turn to the treadmill to keep their cardio routines going. Take a look at some of the most common treadmill mistakes gymgoers make, and learn how to safely get the most out of your treadmill time!

1. You Crane Your Neck to Watch TV — Anything that throws off your posture, whether it be leaning over to watch your feet or veering to the left for a better view of the TV, is a bad idea. "Your neck is pulled to the right or dropped forward and one part of the musculature is getting stretched while another is getting tightened," says Matthew Basso, president of Iron Lotus Personal Training. The longer you're in that position, the higher your risk of injury becomes, he says. To guarantee you're standing your tallest, imagine someone is pouring ice water down your spine. For those runners who rely on a little television time, try to find a treadmill with a screen attached, so you can face forward with your chin parallel to the ground. If your gym doesn't have that, go to the back of the room, so that your neck will be as straight as possible while you watch the overhead screens. Remember to keep your head, heart and hips inline when you run.

2. You're TOO Zoned Out — Clearing your mind with your favorite TV show during your run is one thing. Jumping on the treadmill with concrete fitness goals is another. "I think a lot of people who choose to use cardio equipment, yeah, they sweat, but your mind starts to wander," says Basso. "Instead of really being present and focusing on the exercise, your gait, your posture, people lose it there." An engrossing book or magazine, or a movie might be too distracting, says Jay Cardiello, celebrity trainer, author and creator of JCore. "Save the reading for your cooldown."

3. You Do the Same Thing Over and Over — "One of the biggest mistakes people make is to do the exact same thing every time, and then wonder why they don't see results," says Jason Karp, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist and the author of Running for Women and Running a Marathon For Dummies. Shake things up by varying the intensity, speed or incline. Try a longer and slower run one day, and a shorter and faster one on another visit. A great way to mix things up and see results sooner is with an interval workout, says Cardiello. Short bursts of higher intensity exercise can up the fat-burning powers of your workouts, improve heart health and more, not to mention save you some time.

4. You Skip the Warmup — Yes, you're busy. Some days you just want to hop on the treadmill, get it over with and get out. But skipping a warmup can lead to pain and injuries, says Basso. You don't need a lot of time, and you don't need to passively stretch, he says. Instead, take five to seven minutes for an active warmup with a "joint-by-joint approach" that includes hip circles, toe touches and more. "It's more of a priority to keep your mobility and keep yourself out of pain than to start a workout."

5. You Hold the Bars — Holding onto the handrails on the treadmill might seem like a safety measure, but your workout will suffer, says Karp. Some of your bodyweight will be supported, meaning you won't have to work as hard and you won't burn as many calories. If you feel like you need to hold on, it's probably because you're going at a slightly faster speed than you're ready for. "Get comfortable without holding on in increments to gain confidence at each speed."

6. You Set the Incline Too Steep — How often do you encounter a steep hill in the outside world that takes you an hour to climb? Exactly. Exercise should be functional, says Basso, and strengthen your muscles for real-world use. Plus, the steeper the incline, the more likely you'll be holding on to the bar to keep yourself on the belt. "If you have to hold on, it's either too fast or too steep," says Karp.

7. You Trust the Settings — Between the heart-rate monitor grips on the handrail and the button for the "fat-burning" zone, there's not much worth trusting on that digital dashboard. "You can't really rely on those," says Karp. "The mathematical formulas are rough estimates based on a lot of variables," he says. And, every runner is different. Since they're probably not accurate to begin with, says Cardiello, don't obsess over the numbers on your machine. "Throw a towel over the display," he says, and you might just find you work a little harder.

8. You Jump Off With the Belt Moving at Full Speed — It might seem like taking a water break without slowing down the belt saves you time in the long run, but not if it makes you trip and fall first. "Most people don't have the coordination to do that without risking injury," says Karp. "I see people all the time who come close to falling."  

More than 60%
The percentage of Americans who blame a slow metabolism for their extra pounds, according to a recent Calorie Control Council survey.

Research has shown that a person's resting metabolic rate (RMR), the number of calories a person burns at rest, actually slows with age, hormonal changes and weight gain — and of course, genetics has a hand in it as well.

Give your metabolism a makeover with these six simple strategies:

  1. Hit the Weights — Losing muscle to fat can drastically decrease your RMR. Studies have found that doing 8-12 reps of three upper-body and three lower-body strength exercises four times a week using moderately heavy weights can gain about a pound of muscle each month. Muscle provides a great boost to your metabolism.
  2. Trash the Crash Diets — When you don't eat enough, your body goes into starvation mode and your metabolic rate decreases. And, you end up losing valuable muscle... not fat. Remember, if you exercise regularly, you need at least 1,500 calories a day — and if you are active, you may require 0.5 to 0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So, stock up on eggs, Greek yogurt, almonds, beans, lean meat and fish!
  3. Reduce Your Sugar Intake — the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar a year! It isn't just the sweets that kill your metabolism, but simple carbohydrates like chips, pretzels, white bread and pasta. Limit sugar to no more than about 100 calories a day (the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar). Keep processed foods in check and read labels for any word ending in 'ose' — as well as honey, molasses, and fruit juice concentrates.
  4. Sleep it Off — A University of Chicago study found that test subjects who snoozed only 5.5 hours a night were hungrier and lost 55 percent less weight than those who slept 8.5 hours a night. Sleep deprivation intervenes with your body's ability to metabolize foods. While 8 hours of sleep is ideal, 7 is enough to ward off weight gain and improve overall health.
  5. Don't Party Too Hard — Studies have found a correlation between occasional bouts of heavy drinking (consuming at least 6 cocktails at a time) and excessive abdominal fat. Your liver breaks down stored fat for energy, however, with heavy alcohol intake, your body prioritizes the detoxification of the alcohol over the metabolism of fat. Sip no more than one drink a day — and make it a glass of wine, preferably red.
Stomp Out Stress — A study from Rutgers University found that chronic stress leads people to high-sugar, high-fat comfort foods, and those who were the most frazzled had more abdominal fat. Chronic stress causes Cortisol secretion, which prompts fat in the body to be relocated and deposited deep in the abdomen, and this visceral fat is the key to the metabolic slowing that occurs with age, weight gain or hormonal change. Take a look at the stressors in your life and minimize them wherever possible. And, practice stress-management techniques such as regular exercise and meditation.

The amount of space a pound of fat tissue takes up in the body compared with a pound of muscle.

While muscle has greater density than fat (which means your scale could inch up as you tone up), you'll look more toned and sleek after you stick with a strength training regimen. Illinois park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies have more than 700 recreation centers in which you can get fit!

Five Easy Ways to burn 100 Calories!

1. Pop gum in your mouth
Even if you've told your kids to stop chomping on their gum, you'd be smart to keep chewing the stuff. Besides freshening breath, and sending a signal to yourself that you're finished eating, gum-chewing can blow off 11 calories every 12 minutes.

2. Go biking
Take advantage of the nice weather and go for family bike ride. Even pedaling at a moderate pace for a mere 15 minutes can help you leave 102 calories in the wind.

3. Take the stairs
In the same time you waste waiting for the elevator to come, you could be improving your physique. Climbing stairs burns 7-to-10 calories per minute, and climbing down burns about one-third of that!

Frisbees are the traditional giveaway on Park District Conservation Day at the Illinois State Fair!

4. Throw Around a Frisbee
Get your family in on a game of Frisbee. Chasing and tossing the disk around with send 102 calories flying away in 30 minutes.

5. Channel Forest Gump ... Play Some Ping Pong
Who needs the gym when you can work out with a fun game of table tennis. You'll paddle away 113 calories in 25 minutes!  



7 tips for a safe and successful strength-training program

Strength or resistance training challenges your muscles with a stronger-than-usual counterforce, such as pushing against a wall or lifting a dumbbell or pulling on a resistance band. Using progressively heavier weights or increasing resistance makes muscles stronger. This kind of exercise increases muscle mass, tones muscles, and strengthens bones. It also helps you maintain the strength you need for everyday activities — lifting groceries, climbing stairs, rising from a chair, or rushing for the bus.

The current national guidelines for physical activity recommend strengthening exercises for all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms) at least twice a week. One set — usually 8 to 12 repetitions of the same movement — per session is effective, though some evidence suggests that two to three sets may be better. Your muscles need at least 48 hours to recover between strength training sessions.

These seven tips can keep your strength training safe and effective.

  1. Warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes. Walking is a fine way to warm up; stretching is an excellent way to cool down.
  2. Focus on form, not weight. Align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. When learning a strength training routine, many experts suggest starting with no weight, or very light weight. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a muscle group.
  3. Working at the right tempo helps you stay in control rather than compromise strength gains through momentum. For example, count to three while lowering a weight, hold, then count to three while raising it to the starting position.
  4. Pay attention to your breathing during your workouts. Exhale as you work against resistance by lifting, pushing, or pulling; inhale as you release.
  5. Keep challenging muscles by slowly increasing weight or resistance. The right weight for you differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can’t do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete add weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs), or add another set of repetitions to your workout (up to three sets). If you add weight, remember that you should be able to do all the repetitions with good form and the targeted muscles should feel tired by the last two.
  6. Stick with your routine — working all the major muscles of your body two or three times a week is ideal. You can choose to do one full-body strength workout two or three times a week, or you may break your strength workout into upper- and lower-body components. In that case, be sure you perform each component two or three times a week.
  7. Give muscles time off. Strength training causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. These tears aren’t harmful, but they are important: muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover before your next strength training session.


 The Heat Is On! 8 Tips for Exercising in Extreme Heat

With a few days of Heat Advisories behind us, it’s a good time to review some important things to note when exercising in extreme heat. Here are 8 tips to keep in mind:

1. The time of day is important. Unless you are training for an event that takes place in the daytime heat, avoid exercising from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's the hottest part of day. Generally, the early morning is the best time to work out, especially if it's going to be a scorcher that day.

2. Wear loose, light-colored clothing. The lighter color will help reflect heat and cotton material will help the evaporation of sweat. You may also want to try specially designed, "hi-tech" running shirts and shorts. They are often made from moisture-wicking material designed to keep you cool.

3. Sunscreen is a must. It's important to protect your skin. You can get burned and suffer sun damage to your skin even on cloudy days.

4. Stay hydrated. Before you go out, drink a glass or two of water. Carry a bottle of water or even a hydration pack such as the CamelBak. Take a drink every 15 minutes, even when you're not thirsty. When you're done with your workout, have a few more glasses of water.

5. Replenish your electrolyte and salt intake while exercising with sports capsules or drinks.

6. If you can, choose shaded trails or pathways that keep you out of the sun.

7. Check the weather forecast before you start your workout. If there's a heat advisory, meaning high ozone and air pollution, you might want to take your workout indoors. These pollutants can damage your lungs.

8. Most importantly, listen to your body. Stop immediately if you're feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous.

Johnny Can't Run: Study Finds Kids Take 90 Seconds Longer To Run Mile Now Vs. 1980s. - From Forbes Magazine

On average, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their counterparts did 30 years ago. Heart-related fitness has declined 5 percent per decade since 1975 for children ages 9 to 17. The American Heart Association , whose conference featured the research on [Nov. 19], says it’s the first to show that children’s fitness has declined worldwide over the last three decades. … Health experts recommend that children 6 and older get 60 minutes of moderately vigorous activity accumulated over a day. Only one-third of American kids do now.

The good news, I guess, is that researchers said in many regions, including North America, the fitness decline is leveling off, though in China it’s still getting worse. Researchers’ concern is that if cardiovascular health is bad in kids now, it’ll be terrible when they’re adults. After all, adults, before you get all Old Man Grumpus about "how back in my day, we could run a mile without collapsing,” remember your obesity rate has shot up over the last 30 years, too.

So what can we blame for the lack of movement? The first thought that comes to mind might be video games and other screens, but that’s only a small part of it. Over the last 30 years, we’ve also had a lot more suburban sprawl, fast-food chain expansion and child poverty — all of which contribute to poorer health. Sprawl — along with worries about child safety — also explain a precipitous drop the percentage of children walking or biking to school, from 50% in 1969 to 13% in 2009, according to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a private-public advocacy organization. And with food, farm subsidies go much more toward crops used for unhealthy food than for many fruits and vegetables, creating a price imbalance that makes junk cheap and good stuff relatively expensive.

Also in the last 30 years, schools have cut physical education because of budget issues and institution of stricter academic standards. Schools keep cutting athletic programs, or instituting pay-to-play rules, restricting opportunities for kids to get free or inexpensive organized activity, particularly at the elementary or middle-school level, when kids are trying out different sports on for size. Then again, there’s no profit in children playing for free, and it’s very easy to frighten parents into deciding they need high-level competition for their children at an early age, rather than let their kids figure it out themselves outside (and with sprawl, crime worries and all the other kids in organized sports, who would those kids play with, anyway?)

Often, obesity is portrayed as being about bad parenting and an inability to put down the fork. But the choices, if you will, about obesity aren’t just on the individual level. In many ways, we as a society have made choices that have led us to the point that if we dared ask our children to run to the store, they could not actually run to the store.


 Exercise of any kind is always good for you, but the New York Times points out that getting out of the gym (or your house) and into the open air adds a few subtle benefits, including an increased chance you'll stick to your routine.

In some cases, it's all about just being outdoors. Your stride is different when running outside as opposed to on a treadmill, and you're more likely to hit hills, so it's usually a bit more strenuous. You'll also run into wind resistance on a bike or running, which means you burn calories faster because you're expending more energy. More interesting though, are a few smaller studies that suggest we're willing to exercise more, and for a longer period of time when we're outdoors. The New York Times explains why that might be:

Studies haven't yet established why, physiologically, exercising outside might improve dispositions or inspire greater commitment to an exercise program. A few small studies have found that people have lower blood levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, after exerting themselves outside as compared with inside. There's speculation, too, that exposure to direct sunlight, known to affect mood, plays a role.

It's still a lot of speculation at this point, but if you're having trouble sticking to an exercise routine it might be worthwhile to move those activities outdoors. Just remember to stay safe in both the winter and the summer.


Get Healthy... One Step at a Time!

What's not to love about walking? Simply putting one foot in front of the other makes you healthier, gives you more energy and makes you younger. Plus, doing it lets you talk with friends, think through problems and see what's new in the neighborhood.

Check out a few other great things walking does for you:

  1. Fends off the #1 killer: Regular walkers have fewer heart attacks and strokes, have lower blood pressure, and have higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol than couch sitters do. In one study of women, a regular walking program did just as much in the heart-protection department as more vigorous exercise did.

  2. Changes your RealAge — pronto: As little as 90 days after starting a regular walking program, its age-reducing effects can be measured. Find out your RealAge now.

  3. Dims your chances of diabetes: Thirty minutes of walking a day makes your muscles more sensitive to insulin. That allows glucose to do its duty inside your cells rather than pile up in your bloodstream (that's what happens when you have diabetes) and cause other havoc.

  4. Helps you kick the habit: Taking a daily 30-minute walk is one of the keys to the success of quitting smoking. Even just a 5-minute walk cuts down on cigarette cravings — it engages your brain's emotion centers, unleashing mood-enhancing hormones that decrease cravings and take your mind off that cigarette.

  5. Slims you down: Burn more calories than you eat, and — voila! You're wearing one-size-smaller clothes. Plus, walking can help squelch chocolate cravings and nix the stress and anxiety that often lead to overeating.

  6. Keeps you sharp: Physical activity nourishes brain tissue and stimulates its production of neurons, synapses, and blood vessels. Some studies have found that walking can counter faltering memories in people over age 50.

  7. Reduces stress: Anyone who has come back from a walk in a different frame of mind than they went out with can attest to this. Studies back up that walking benefits your mood — and may even ward off depression and anxiety.

  8. Revs up your energy: Not only can a walk perk you up when you need it, but also it helps improve the quality of your sleep, so you're more energetic all day long.

  9. Boosts your immune system: Walking regularly can lower your risk of arthritis, macular degeneration, and even cancer by an astonishing 50 percent compared with people who don't exercise.

  10. Keeps you going: Walking has the highest compliance rate of any exercise.





Break Out That Jump Rope!

A new study from researchers at the University of Buffalo found that children ages 8 to 12 were more physically active when they had a greater number of "active” toys to choose from. Giving kids a variety of active toys, such as a beanbag toss, mini indoor basketball and jump rope, boosted both the length and intensity of active play sessions, especially for girls. The researchers speculated that being given the power to choose their own recreation motivated the children to be even more active.





You’ve been exercising regularly, but now it’s summer — and hot. Sometimes even dangerously hot, and seemingly too hot to go work out.

But don’t decide this is the time for a little summer break from fitness, experts say, because you may be hurting yourself in the longer term.

"It’s important to continue exercising over the summer because the effects of exercise training are rapidly lost once training stops — use it or lose it,” said Barry Franklin, Ph.D., director of the William Beaumont Hospital Cardiac Rehab and Exercise Laboratories in Royal Oak, Mich. "Most studies suggest many of the key benefits are lost in four to six weeks of inactivity.”

Be smarter than the heat

Still, you can’t just ignore the heat because you could wind up with heat stress, heat stroke or other problems. So to keep the heat from melting your workouts, Franklin recommends you:

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Maintain salt-water balance by drinking plenty of fluids (preferably water) before, during and after physical activity. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
  2. Exercise smarter, not harder. Work out during the cooler parts of the day, preferably when the sun's radiation is minimal — early in the morning or early in the evening. Decrease exercise intensity and duration at high temperatures or relative humidity. And don’t hesitate to take your exercise inside, to the gym, the mall or anyplace else where you can get in regular physical activity.
  3. Ease in to summer. Allow your body to adapt partially to heat through repeated gradual daily exposures. "An increase in the body's circulatory and cooling efficiency, called acclimatization, generally occurs in only four to 14 days,” Franklin said.
  4. Dress the part. Wear minimal amounts of clothing to facilitate cooling by evaporation. "Remember, it’s not sweating that cools the body; rather, the evaporation of sweat into the atmosphere,” Franklin said. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton.
  5. Team up. If you can, exercise with a friend or family member. It’s safer, and could be more fun.

Know what’s up

Because vigorous exercise in hot and humid conditions can lead to heat stress, heat stroke and related complications, you should know the signs of danger to keep an eye out for.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Headaches
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, moist skin, chills
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or both

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Warm, dry skin with no sweating
  • Strong and rapid pulse
  • Confusion and/or unconsciousness
  • High fever
  • Throbbing headaches
  • Nausea, vomiting or both

Take steps to cool down and get medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.





Easing Brain Fatigue with a Walk in the Park

by Gretchen Reynolds (in print on 04/02/2013, on page D5 of the New York Times edition with the headline: Brain Fatigue Goes Green.

Scientists have known for some time that the human brain’s ability to stay calm and focused is limited and can be overwhelmed by the constant noise and hectic, jangling demands of city living, sometimes resulting in a condition informally known as brain fatigue.

With brain fatigue, you are easily distracted, forgetful and mentally flighty — or, in other words, me.

But an innovative new study from Scotland suggests that you can ease brain fatigue simply by strolling through a leafy park.

The idea that visiting green spaces like parks or tree-filled plazas lessens stress and improves concentration is not new. Researchers have long theorized that green spaces are calming, requiring less of our so-called directed mental attention than busy, urban streets do. Instead, natural settings invoke "soft fascination,” a beguiling term for quiet contemplation, during which directed attention is barely called upon and the brain can reset those overstretched resources and reduce mental fatigue.

But this theory, while agreeable, has been difficult to put to the test. Previous studies have found that people who live near trees and parks have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their saliva than those who live primarily amid concrete, and that children with attention deficits tend to concentrate and perform better on cognitive tests after walking through parks or arboretums. More directly, scientists have brought volunteers into a lab, attached electrodes to their heads and shown them photographs of natural or urban scenes, and found that the brain wave readouts show that the volunteers are more calm and meditative when they view the natural scenes.

But it had not been possible to study the brains of people while they were actually outside, moving through the city and the parks. Or it wasn’t, until the recent development of a lightweight, portable version of the electroencephalogram, a technology that studies brain wave patterns.

For the new study, published this month in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh attached these new, portable EEGs to the scalps of 12 healthy young adults. The electrodes, hidden unobtrusively beneath an ordinary looking fabric cap, sent brain wave readings wirelessly to a laptop carried in a backpack by each volunteer.

The researchers, who had been studying the cognitive impacts of green spaces for some time, then sent each volunteer out on a short walk of about a mile and half that wound through three different sections of Edinburgh.

The first half mile or so took walkers through an older, historic shopping district, with fine, old buildings and plenty of pedestrians on the sidewalk, but only light vehicle traffic.

The walkers then moved onto a path that led through a park-like setting for another half mile.

Finally, they ended their walk strolling through a busy, commercial district, with heavy automobile traffic and concrete buildings.

The walkers had been told to move at their own speed, not to rush or dawdle. Most finished the walk in about 25 minutes.

Throughout that time, the portable EEGs on their heads continued to feed information about brain wave patterns to the laptops they carried.

Afterward, the researchers compared the read-outs, looking for wave patterns that they felt were related to measures of frustration, directed attention (which they called "engagement”), mental arousal and meditativeness or calm.

What they found confirmed the idea that green spaces lessen brain fatigue.

When the volunteers made their way through the urbanized, busy areas, particularly the heavily trafficked commercial district at the end of their walk, their brain wave patterns consistently showed that they were more aroused and frustrated than when they walked through the parkland, where brain-wave readings became more meditative.

While traveling through the park, the walkers were mentally quieter.

Which is not to say that they weren’t paying attention, said Jenny Roe, a lecturer at Heriot-Watt’s School of the Built Environment, who oversaw the study. "Natural environments still engage” the brain, she said, but the attention demanded "is effortless. It’s called involuntary attention in psychology. It holds our attention while at the same time allowing scope for reflection,” and providing a palliative to the nonstop attentional demands of typical, city streets.

Of course, her study was small, more of a pilot study of the nifty new, portable EEG technology than a definitive examination of the cognitive effects of seeing green.

But even so, she said, the findings were consistent and strong and, from the viewpoint of those of us over-engaged in attention-hogging urban lives, valuable. The study suggests that, right about now, you should consider "taking a break from work,” Dr. Roe said, and "going for a walk in a green space or just sitting, or even viewing green spaces from your office window.” This is not unproductive lollygagging, Dr. Roe helpfully assured us. "It is likely to have a restorative effect and help with attention fatigue and stress recovery.”



Exercise in the Great Outdoors

It's tempting to skip the gym when warm weather rolls around, but your exercise regimen doesn't have to suffer. You can get a great workout in the great outdoors. Try these moves next time you need to burn some serious calories.


Playing Multiple Sports Helps Beat Teen Obesity

Being a team player may help teens tackle rising childhood obesity rates. A new study shows that teens who play on three or more sports teams are up to 39% less likely to be obese. Click here to read more.

Find Your Motivation in the Closet

You're 16% more likely to work out for an hour or more if you buy new exercise apparel, according to a recent study.

What Would It Take?

Ever wondered how much exercise it would take to burn off the calories in your favorite food? We've got the answers ...



Activity to Burn Calories

IAPD Member Agencies Offer

Pepperoni pizza


60 minutes of fast dancing

Hundreds of Zumba classes



40 minutes of dog walking

More than 60 dog parks

Cafe latte


30 minutes of biking

More than 1,000 miles of bike trails

Glazed doughnut


25 minutes of vigorous swimming

More than 420 swimming pools

Hot fudge sundae


75 minutes of Spin class

More than 160 health clubs & rec centers

Large bagel


45 minutes of jogging

More than 650 miles of jogging trails

Here's Another Way To Think About It:

Maybe walking is your only exercise. So how far would you have to walk to burn off the calories you consume? Let's think of walking in terms of the length of a football field (120 yards, including end zones).

1 Plain M&M1 Football Field
1 Peanut M&M2 Football Fields
1 Potato Chip2 Football Fields
1 Chocolate Chip Cookie8 to 10 Football Fields (depending on cookie size)
1 12-ounce light beer36 Football Fields
Big Mac, french fries & shake 240 Football Fields

Nighty, Night ... Sleep Tight

Don't let insomnia sap your energy and add to your stress level. A few simple changes can mean a more restful night's sleep.

  • If you're not getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, start going to bed 15 minutes earlier. It's a small change that will create a new pattern and gradually increase your rest.
  • Worried about something? Jot it down on a notepad. It will give you peace of mind and ready your brain for sleep.
  • Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep -- a dark, quiet and cool environment is ideal for rest. Turn off the television, and turn on the fan. You'll be more relaxed.

Park Districts Make a Difference

The Batavia Park District is encouraging its community to get active and take advantage of the opportunities available to them, including Kamp Kaleidoscope, their summer kids' camp. Click here to read more.

Raising Active Children

Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a parent, you can help shape your child's attitudes and behaviors toward physical activity, and knowing these guidelines is a great place to start. Throughout their lives, encourage young people to be physically active for one hour or more each day, with activities ranging from informal, active play to organized sports.

Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself.
  • Make physical activity part of your family's daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together.
  • Give your children equipment that encourages physical activity.
  • Take young people to places where they can be active, such as public parks, community baseball fields or basketball courts.
  • Be positive about the physical activities in which your child participates and encourage them to be interested in new activities.
  • Make physical activity fun. Fun activities can be anything your child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. Activities can range from team sports or individual sports to recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities or free-time play.
  • Instead of watching television after dinner, encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends and family, such as walking, playing chase or riding bikes.
  • Be safe! Always provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads or knee pads and ensure that activity is age-appropriate.


The True Cost of Obe$ity

What is obesity really costing our country? About $117 billion in medical expenses ($61 billion in direct costs and another $56 billion in indirect costs -- other medical expenses from diseases related to obesity).

Playground Injuries

Each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. Review the CDC's fact sheet for more information.

Did You Know?

By the age of 65, individuals who haven't engaged in exercise on a regular basis may incur a decrease in their muscular strength by as much as 80 percent.

What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable. However, melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous. Learn more from the CDC.

Heart Smart

Walk This Way

Studies have shown that healthy, active adults should aim for 10,000 steps a day. Purchasing a pedometer can help you track your steps and motivate you to move. Following are a few easy ways to increase your steps each day:

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Park your car at the far end of the lot instead of closer to the door.
Take a walk during your lunch hour.
Walk to do your errands when you can.

Illinois has thousands of miles of trails to make walking outdoors easy and enjoyable. Check out your local park district's website for more information on what's available in your area.


You would need to drink a quart of milk every day for three to four months to drink as much blood as your heart pumps in one hour.

Your heart is about the size of your fist and weighs about as much as a softball.

In the course of a lifetime, the resting heart will have pumped enough blood to fill 13 supertankers.

Your heart is the strongest muscle of your body and beats about 100,000 times in one day in an average adult.