Heart disease is this country’s No.1 killer, but by exercising for as little as 30 minutes each day you can reduce your risk. That’s what the Start! Movement is all about: Walk more. Eat better. Live a longer, healthier life.
The Benefits of Walking
Walking Toward a Healthier You …
There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It’s the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.
Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
Improve blood lipid profile
Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
Enhance mental well being
Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes
There really are so many benefits for such a simple activity!
Countless people across the country are jumping on board. Join them in the Start! Movement, get walking and start taking a more active role in your health!
The American Heart Association has designated Start! Walking Paths across the nation. You can find the signs in parks, around downtown, in shopping malls, airports and more.
Discover your local path and get on the road to good health!
Hungry for Health features a day in the life of Willa Sparks; a woman who overcomes the environmental obstacle of living in a food desert, an inner-city neighborhood without easy access to a grocery store. Determined to give her family the healthy food that every person deserves, Willa takes an hour-long bus ride at the first of every month to get to the closest grocery store. If healthy food won’t come to her, as her neighborhood is infested with fast food restaurants and corner stores, then she will go to it. This film was produced as a senior project. This film shows a close and personal view of how the challenge of food access affects many Cleveland residents [and I’m sure many more Americans across the country].
If you want to increase your chances of losing weight, reduce your stress level and get adequate sleep. A new Kaiser Permanente study found that people trying to lose at least 10 pounds were more likely to reach that goal if they had lower stress levels and slept more than six hours but not more than eight hours a night.
The paper, published today in the International Journal of Obesity, was the result of a study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Nearly 500 participants from Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Washington took part in the study, which measured whether sleep, stress, depression, television viewing, and computer screen time were correlated with weight loss. Several previous studies have found an association between these factors and obesity, but few have looked at whether these factors predict weight loss.
“This study suggests that when people are trying to lose weight, they should try to get the right amount of sleep and reduce their stress,” said lead author Charles Elder, MD, MPH, an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., who also leads Integrative Medicine at Kaiser Permanente Northwest. “Some people may just need to cut back on their schedules and get to bed earlier. Others may find that exercise can reduce stress and help them sleep. For some people, mind/body techniques such as meditation also might be helpful.”
The study involved two phases: during the first phase, participants were asked to lose at least 10 pounds over six months. If they succeeded, they moved to the second year-long phase of the study, which tested a complementary acupressure technique against more traditional weight-maintenance strategies. Findings from phase two are not yet available.
During the study’s first phase, all participants attended weekly meetings at which they were weighed and advised to reduce calorie intake by 500 calories per day, adopt a low-fat, low-sugar diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, increase physical activity to 180 minutes a week, and keep daily food records. People who kept more food records and attended more meetings were more likely to lose weight during this phase of the trial.
Participants also were asked to report levels of insomnia, stress and depression, and to record how much time they slept and spent watching television or using a computer. The research team found that sleep and stress levels were good predictors of weight loss, but depression and screen time were not.
People with the lowest stress levels who also got more than six hours, but not more than eight hours, of sleep were most likely to lose at least 10 pounds. In fact, nearly three-quarters of this group moved on to the second phase of the trial, and were twice as likely to be successful as those who reported the highest stress levels and got six or fewer hours of sleep per night.
Participants who qualified for the second phase were divided into two groups: one received monthly guided instruction in the Tapas Acupressure Technique, which involves lightly touching specific pressure points on the face and back of the head while focusing on a problem (i.e., maintaining weight loss). The other group also met monthly with a trained interventionist and a support group, but used more traditional nutrition and exercise techniques to keep weight off. Both groups met for six months and then were followed for another six months to see which group kept more weight off. Results of that phase of the trial should be available in late 2011 or early 2012.
The study authors caution that their findings may not apply to all groups trying to lose weight. The authors also noted that the participants were highly motivated, and that 90 percent had attended at least some college.
These studies are part of ongoing research at Kaiser Permanente to better understand weight loss and the key factors to maintaining optimum weight. Another Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research study last year found that the more people logged on to an interactive weight management website, the more weight they kept off. Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research also found that keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss and that both personal contact and web-based support can help with long-term weight management.
Should you weigh yourself every day? Should it be once per week, [a month] or never at all?
The advice about weighing can be as confusing and conflicting as the advice about eating eggs or drinking wine.
Some experts say that weighing should be kept to a minimum so that we don’t get obsessed; others say more-frequent weighing is the best way to stay honest with yourself. Who is right? How often should we weigh to improve our chances of managing weight for life?
Most dieters believe that the more often they weigh, the more motivated they’ll be to lose weight. The typical dieter weighs every day. But, when weight is our primary focus, there’s less attention paid to the behaviors that result in weight loss. With too much focus on the scale, it’s easy to feel defeated if the weight doesn’t come off as expected. This is when dieters start avoiding weighing in or go off their diets.
If you use the scale to determine if you are a success or a failure, then weighing in, no matter how frequent, will be a problem. Weighing in is only an opportunity to get information, and it’s not the most important information to achieve weight goals.
It’s possible to use a household scale in productive ways. But you need to understand the basics of the information it provides. The scale registers your total weight at the moment you step on it (assuming the scale is accurate). If the scale indicates you’ve lost weight, there’s no way of knowing how much of the lost weight is fat, water, muscle or waste. The scale only indicates your weight, not body composition.
Weight can vary from one day to another, or at different times of the day, even if you’re not trying to lose weight. So you need to view the scale realistically and not give it more importance than it deserves.
There are several factors that determine the best weighing method for each individual.
Attitude - Your mind isn’t going to want to do anything that’s uncomfortable, so if weighing in involves being judged or punished in any way, the brain will resist. And that’s exactly what weighing in has come to mean for most people — a time to judge or measure worth. It’s important to approach the scale unemotionally. Weighing in should not be a test; it is simply a tool that you may choose to use.
Expectations - Remember that your body and brain are the experts about your physiology. They know exactly how fast or slowly you are able to lose fat based on the food and exercise you are providing. Rather than getting frustrated or angry because of the number reflected on the scale, use that number to help you figure out if your behaviors need to change.
Goals - Your focus should be more on behaviors than a number on the scale. Goals dealing with activity, nutrition, portion control and priorities will influence fat loss far more than any number.
Lifestyle - If you’re going to focus on numbers at all, it makes more sense to think of a weight range, or better yet, think of the lifestyle you wish to have long-term. Let’s say my lifestyle includes walking every day for an hour, having a full-time office job, watching TV for an hour each day, dining out several times a week and playing tennis once per week. I would then focus on achieving that lifestyle and let my body tell me what weight it can maintain with that lifestyle. If I want to weigh less, I might have to forgo some restaurant meals, or increase the tennis. But maybe I’ll decide I’d rather weigh more and keep my lifestyle just as it is.
The scale can help you correlate habits and weight so you can make choices — if your attitude toward the scale is based on reality.
Having trouble getting the most out of your attempts to lose weight?
We’ve all heard about the dangers of carbs, wonders of diet foods and side effects of the saltshaker, but are the rumors for real?
Registered dietitian and chef Michelle Dudash shares five diet myths to watch out for in order to stay on track and eat a balanced diet.
Myth 1: Cutting carbohydrates helps you lose weight.
Truth: You need healthy carbohydrates for energy and important nutrients. At the very least, 100 grams are what is needed daily for brain fuel.
The best way to go lower-carb if you choose is to cut back on refined carbohydrates such as soda, candy and foods made with white flour. Instead, load your diet with healthier carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Myth 2: Going gluten-free helps you lose weight.
Truth: The gluten-free diet is not a low carbohydrate plan, and unnecessarily eliminates many foods in the hopes of losing weight.
The diet is designed for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive disorder causing intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and most oats. Those suffering from gluten intolerance and other related diseases can benefit from going gluten-free, but for most healthy individuals it simply isn’t the case.
Instead of eliminating gluten from your diet, a more nutritious path includes limiting refined grains and instead reaching for hearty 100% whole grain breads and cereals, whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and bulgur. These foods offer fiber to keep you feeling full longer.
Myth 3: Eating diet foods are the best way to help you drop pounds.
Truth: Prepackaged diet foods can have added sugar, trans fat, refined white flour, and less-than-appetizing artificial ingredients. As with carbohydrates it’s the quality of the fat that makes the difference. Monounsaturated fats in foods such as nuts, olive oil, and avocados, and the polyunsaturated variety from corn, safflower, and fish are believed to be beneficial to the cardiovascular system.
Consider boosting your diet with good fats, while keeping portion sizes in mind, by adding some almonds to your morning cereal or avocado to your salads. Just
Myth 4: The more you cut calories, the more weight you’ll lose.
Truth: Cutting your calories too far below 1,200 a day may slow down your metabolism. Though it will likely help you lose body fat, it will also decrease muscle mass.
To get the most out of the calories you do eat, choose produce, fresh meat and fish, and whole grains that are as close to their natural state as possible to retain fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals.
Myth 5: Cutting out the saltshaker is the best way to lower sodium intake.
Truth: Though salt doesn’t directly make you fat, it can cause people to retain water, which equates to excess poundage. The saltshaker only accounts for a small percent of sodium in most diets.
It is the restaurant and packaged foods that can get you into trouble, with canned food, cured meat, condiments, and fast food being among the biggest culprits. But it all boils down to reading the label. Keep in mind that 140 milligrams is considered a low sodium food. Read labels carefully on packaged food and fill your diet with foods closer to their natural state.
Michael Pollan writes in his wonderful book Food Rules, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”
“The colors of many vegetables reflect the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain – anthocyanins, polyphenols, flavonoids, [and] carotenoids. Many of these chemicals help protect against chronic diseases, but each in a slightly different way, so the best protection comes from a diet containing as many different phytochemicals as possible.”
And, registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Karen Ansel says,
“Adding a splash of colorful seasonal foods to your plate makes for more than just a festive meal. A rainbow of foods creates a palette of nutrients, each with a different bundle of potential benefits for a healthful eating plan.”
“Healthy eating includes more than counting calories alone. Food variety supplies different nutrients, so to maximize the nutritional value of your meal, include healthful choices in a variety of colors.”
Ansel offers ways to brighten up your plate in every season with this quick color guide.
Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks.
Fruits: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi and lime
Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach
Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity, and reduce the risk of some cancers.
Fruits: apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach and pineapple
Vegetables: carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn and sweet potatoes
Purple and blue options may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks.
Red indicates produce that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, and immunity and may reduce cancer risks.
Fruits: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes and watermelon
Vegetables: beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes
White, tan and brown foods sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks.
Fruits: banana, brown pear, dates and white peaches
Vegetables: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potato and white corn
Ansel recommends choosing a variety of colors when shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables. “And for additional options in the color palette, choose frozen or dried fruits and vegetables available throughout the year,” she says.
“Instead of grilled chicken and mashed potatoes, consider painting a more colorful plate, such as grilled chicken topped with salsa, mashed sweet potato, asparagus and spinach salad with orange slices. A colorful meal is not only visually appealing, but it also contains a variety of nutrients and is quite flavorful,” Ansel says.
The results of a recent study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in collaboration with the American Association of Retired People (AARP), suggest that, “Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases….”
But, according to Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, and author of the book Diet Simple, this may not mean what you THINK it means!
Should you be looking for foods in your supermarket that exclaim in bright letters “HIGH FIBER?” Probably NOT!
The term “HIGH FIBER DIET” when describing an eating pattern which benefits your health, is more accurately described as “A DIET HIGH IN FOODS WHICH ARE NATURALLY FIBER-RICH.”
People who eat a lot of fiber every day may be less likely to die prematurely from a range of illnesses — including heart disease, cancer and infection, according to a U.S. study.
The benefits of fiber in weight loss, lowering cholesterol and protecting against heart disease have been well established by previous studies, but researchers said the finding that it might also help prevent other common killers was new.
“The results from this study suggest that fiber may have broader health benefits than what has been found before,” said Frank Hu, who studies nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and wrote an editorial accompanying the study, which appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine.