A Walk a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

 

shoe

Opportunities to get “well” are all around us. They are shouted from billboards advertising gyms, hidden in community education catalogues, and “sold in a store near you.” It’s exhausting.

 

In my role at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, I manage a group of wellness programs called the Healthy Communities Partnership. Every day, I hear many, many messages about wellness, and I’m constantly working with my team to come up with messages and strategies to help people find the information they need.

 

But maybe we’re over-thinking this. Is it possible that there is a simple answer? A recent video by Dr. Mike Evans promotes a single therapy that has been clinically proven to:

 

  • reduce depression and anxiety
  • reduce progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • reduce progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes
  • reduce hip fractures in post-menopausal women
  • reduce overall risk of death
  • reduce fatigue
  • increase quality of life.

What is this miracle drug? Walking. Walking 30 minutes during the day has been proven to accomplish all of those things.

 

I like this idea because almost anyone can do it without spending a lot of money or dramatically changing their lifestyles. The problem with most of the wellness strategies I hear about is that they just don’t fit my life. I can do anything for a few weeks, but I’ve got a son to raise, a job to do, a house to maintain and a television to watch! I’ve got priorities! But I can walk. All I need is a pair of sneakers and a few minutes.

 

We recently competed in an internal walking challenge here at the Penny George Institute. It wasn’t complicated. We divided into four teams, and the team with the most steps at the end of six weeks wins. We measured our steps with high-tech pedometers called Fit Bits.

 

During those six weeks, I figured out how to walk 10,000 steps a day without compromising other parts of my life. I walked my dog every day, something I wanted to do anyway. I worked in short walks during the day. We had some walking meetings. I took the stairs more. And I felt better!

 

You can take or leave the pedometer. I found it useful, personally, and you can get simple ones for less than $10. But the goal is to walk. It’s the easiest way I know to dramatically improve your health.

 

Guest Blogger:

Nathan Kreps, Healthy Communities Partnership Program Manager/ Live Well Blog Writer

Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

A Healthier, Happier You in 2014!

What is it about the beginning of the year that suddenly makes us want to be our greatest selves? More than 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of them, only about 8% keep them. In fact, most people have broken theirs before the end of the first week. Remember January 2012′s promises to eat healthier, save more and be more adventurous, only to spend the majority of 2013 eating two pound burritos (extra sour cream, please), not sticking to your savings plan and spending your free time doing the same old thing? Yes, we’ve all been there time and time again.

This year, My Mental Health Day offers these tried and true tips to help you be in the top 8% and stick to your resolutions. We intend to keep our resolutions and invite you to join us. We’re going to provide you (and us) with quarterly challenges that revolve around keeping our minds, bodies and spirits healthy and happy.

Here’s the game plan for winter:

Mind
Choose three goals: Two short-term and one long-term. Remember, when setting goals they should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound). We’ve established the “T” in the short-term goals with our plan – to achieve by the end of 2014.

Next, identify two concrete steps toward accomplishing each goal. For example: “By October 1 (time-bound) I will be able to run a 10K (specific – does not say ‘I will get into better shape.’).” You have to determine for yourself if it is attainable. If you’ve never run before, maybe you should try a 5K first. You will also decide if it’s relevant, it’s your goal.
- Step One: Register for the Marine Corps Marathon 10K.
- Step Two: Create a training plan.

 

Body
Decide on your choice method of exercise for the winter. Then pick a backup exercise. (Meaning, if your plans change and you aren’t able to make it to your pilates class, you can still get in a core workout in the living room with a DVD.) Need ideas? Check out sites like Groupon or Living Social for deals on exercise classes in your area.

Choose three healthy foods/drinks (that adhere to any dietary restrictions you may have) to incorporate into your everyday diet. Then choose three not-so-healthy foods/drinks you want to go cold turkey on. Need ideas? Adding more water, dark leafy greens such as spinach, and fruits are simple starting points. We like this list from Fitness Magazine.

Spirit
Work on letting any hurt, disappointment or anger from 2013 stay in 2013. Write down all of the things you know you need to let go of as you enter the new year, and one thing you learned from each experience.

That goes for people as well. Think of relationships that leave you feeling more drained than uplifted. It is important to appreciate how well they served you once, and understand that it is okay your life paths are no longer intertwined. Life is too short to surround yourself with people who give you anything but love. If you find you’re having a difficult time in accomplishing this, seek a mental health professional to talk you through it.

 

Check in with us on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to share your progress with us using the hashtag #MMHDhealthierhappier. 

Click here for a MMHD Winter Challenge printout.

We’re here to support each other!

Do You Wear Pajamas to Work?

Aly WEAR

Aly Jacobs at MIX 107.3 Morning Show
With My Mental Health Day WEAR Bracelet

The first question I always get regarding my morning show job is, “how on earth do you wake up at 3:30 in the morning?!” That question is always followed by “when do you have to be at work? When does the show end? Do you wear pajamas to work? It must get easier, right?” To put it lightly and g-rated, no it does not get easier…and no I do not wear pajamas to work…anymore. Over the eight years of my career as an on-air morning show personality, there are ways that I have learned how to deal with the stress of the monster that is my 3:30am alarm.

I remember the first time my alarm clock went off at 3:30 in the morning. I was a junior in college.  I looked at the obnoxiously beeping clock like it had 3 heads…like it was speaking a foreign language (other than Spanish)…like it was trying to explain to me the Sequester (yeah I still don’t get it). Eight years later and my alarm is still working- louder than ever.  I used to just come home and sleep the day away after work and in between my classes. That was leaving me groggy, angry, and I was beginning to “sleep eat.” For those who have never woken up from sleep elbows deep in a bag of chips–you’re lucky. It was not a pretty sight. That is when I realized that I needed to channel my “job hour” stress elsewhere. I am head over heels for radio and what I get to do for a living, so I just needed to figure out a way to stay healthy- mentally and physically.

Six years ago I discovered running, and my life has never been the same since. Every day I head to the gym either right after work to sweat out the stress from the day…or, I will take a quick nap and rather than eat or drink my way through the day, I will meet friends at the gym and make it my social activity for the night! From Bosu Bootcamp to Bikram Yoga, Zumba class, or a long run around the Nation’s Capital, working out not only keeps me in shape, but it gives me the mental clarity that I need to stay balanced with my unusual work schedule.

Incorporating exercise into my daily routine has also changed my eating habits. I now love to cook and experiment with different recipes (see below for one of my favorites)! From Cauliflower Crusted Pizza to Kale Chips- cooking is therapeutic and fun…especially after you sweated out the stress earlier! Sure waking up at 3:30 isn’t ideal- but when you find ways to channel the negative into something positive, well then life is pretty great!

Click Photo to Enhance Aly’s Favorite Recipe

recipe--Aly Jacobs

 

Follow my sometimes “stress-free” life at https://alyjacobs.tumblr.com

To buy a MY MENTAL HEALTH DAY W.E.A.R. Bracelet:  www.wearproject.com/    WEARing mine reminds me to take a deep breath and sweat it out!

 

My Mental Health Day Thanks:
Alyson Jacobs, On-Air Personality/Producer WRQX-Mix 107.3
https://alyjacobs.tumblr.com

 

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