Mindful Monday | 8 Steps to Live Healthier

There are a number of “life hacks” out there recommending adding butter to coffee, taking specific miracle supplements, or engaging in even more extreme methods like blood transfusion, all in an attempt to slow aging, improve health, and decrease weight.

However, the simple approach of regular exercise, healthy eating, and not smoking increases longevity and enjoyment with the additional benefit of increased lifespan in a multitude of studies.

In 2011, the American Journal of Public Health published such a study showing these lifestyle behaviors can increase lifespan by 11 years.

In 2016, the British Medical Journal found the following lifestyle behaviors reduce all-cause mortality 61 percent! Brad Stulberg of Outside Magazine, has compiled a number of these studies and synthesized the lifestyle changes in to 8 simple steps:

8 Simple Steps to Live Longer

  1. Move Around: 30 minutes of moderate to intense daily physical activity can lower heart disease, cancer, and other physiologic diseases as well as psychological ones!
  2. Eat “Real Foods”: avoid plastic wrapped foods, it normally means they are ultra processed, which can result in excessive calorie consumption without as much nutrition.
  3. Call Friends & Family: social connection is associated with reduced cortisol and improved sleep quality, among other positive effects.
  4. Avoid Supplements: without proven deficiency or need, studies have often shown more harm than good from supplements.
  5. Sleep 8 Hours: continuous deep sleep is critical for mental and physical health.
  6. Enjoy Nature: getting outside can curb negative effects of stress and alleviate anxiety and depression.
  7. Don’t Smoke: it’s associated with dozens of cancers and causes 1 out of every 5 deaths in the U.S.
  8. Don’t Drink Too Much: excessive alcohol use is associated with chronic diseases. “Moderation is key.”

Read more here.

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Can Hair Stop Exercise?

Many may find they don’t want to exercise because they want to avoid sweating or what sweating may cause. For women it can be a hassle to have to shower off after a workout, but for many African American women it can be a larger hurdle. Health Day News reports on this difficulty and the fact that many providers are unaware of this particular issue as a barrier to exercise.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that 95% of doctors speak with African American, females about exercise, but 76% of them do not include hair in the discussion and only 34% were comfortable with the idea of discussing hair along with exercise.

Dr. Tolliver is a family medicine physician at Ohio State and was the lead researcher in this study. She explained:

It’s going to come down to increasing education about African-American hair, African-American females’ cultural practices when it comes to hair, and how you can counsel a patient in an office visit about decreasing that barrier.

Dr. Tolliver advised that for African American women wanting to become more physically active, but who consider hair a barrier:

  • If you’re new to exercise, consider starting with low-impact exercise, such as walking, to minimize perspiration.
  • Try a protective hairstyle, such as braids, twists, buns or extensions.
  • Schedule more strenuous workouts on a day you plan to wash your hair.

Read more at Health Day News.

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Mindful Monday – Soul Line Dancing offers exercise and connection

As lifestyle coaches and diabetes specialists, we all know how important regular activity is to improve well-being, glucose levels, and overall health. Yet, keeping engaged in an ongoing activity is one of the biggest challenges most people face.

Soul line dancing might just offer an unexpected solution.

Soul line dancing – like country line dancing – is really just choreographed dance moves that you do in a group, without a partner. “It’s a sneaky way to get exercise in”

Andrea powell – soul dancing devotee

This activity offers the benefit of connecting with friends, learning a sequence of moves (that is great for brain function) and having fun. It’s an efficient way to improve cardiovascular health and keep fit.

Soul line dancing is held in local churches, gyms, community recreation and senior centers. “There is such enjoyment and that is part of music and part of rhythm, and is almost innate in humans,” say Terri Lipman, a professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Lipman is collecting data on the impact of soul dancing programs and says that the data shows that soul line dancing counts as moderate exercise.

Since soul line dancing is an exercise that is both fun and social, it creates a habit that is more likely to last for the long run!

Read more here from NPR Story: Soul Line Dancing: Come For The Fitness. Stay For The Friendships

And, if you want to learn the World Diabetes Day Flash Mob, here are the steps and a video. Just in time for National Diabetes Month in November.

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5 Steps to Stop Sitting and Increase Longevity

New studies show that sitting for too long can impair health and even shorten life expectancy. It’s difficult to keep active in a world of screens, movie theaters, and desk jobs. However, studies are showing that body awareness and movement is necessary. The goal is to get up at least every hour of sedentary time, to improve posture and metabolic rate.

Medical News Today published an article on proper posture while sitting, showing just how difficult it is to maintain good postural health, with over ten variables to consider. Sitting and staying in one position for more than an hour increases the likelihood of poor posture, decreased metabolism, and inhibits blood flow, which can worsen circulation problems for people with diabetes.

Here are several strategies to lessen their sedentary time and get healthier:

1. Standing Desk/Treadmill Desk

Office Fitness Industry News encourages employers to spend their wellness funds on standing desks or treadmill desks, rather than spending money on a wellness program that offers employees under-utilized gym memberships.

Standing desks help improve posture by allowing people to stand, stretch, and interrupt their sitting time. Simply standing more can help tone muscle, increase metabolism, and prevent diabetes complications. However, some may have difficulty standing for long periods of time. A treadmill desk may feel more natural and compounds the benefits of standing desk: burning extra calories, increasing creativity in the workplace, and potentially even increasing mental acuity for kinesthetic learners or those with ADD.

Even if an employer won’t provide a standing or treadmill desk, just standing up every hour helps counteract a lot of the issues associated with sitting too much.

2. HIIT It!

Taking brief exercise breaks during the day can help tremendously. It doesn’t require going to the gym, or even using your full 10 – 15 minutes in the morning or afternoon. HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, only needs to be done in 30 second bursts to be effective. This can include 30 seconds of sprinting in place or doing quick push-ups against a counter (such as in a break room or bathroom). You can find more HIIT exercises that can be done in just 30 seconds, here.

3. Take More Breaks

Many people may only get two 10-15 minute breaks per day plus lunch, but that doesn’t mean they have to be chained to a desk at all other times. Refilling water bottles or glasses every hour can help interrupt sitting and also offer a refreshing mental break from staring at a screen or papers. If the job requires reviewing or reading documents, try doing this while standing or pacing to interrupt the monotony of sitting.

4. Treat the Feet

Suddenly switching from sitting to standing can be tough on lower extremities, and for those already standing most of the day because of their job, proper foot care is important to lessen fatigue and prevent ending the day on the couch until bed.

Wearing thicker socks and cushioned sole inserts can help during the day. Ending the day with an Epsom salt foot bath and lotion can help ease soreness, increase circulation, and help you get back on feet the next day.

5. Stay NEAT

NEAT means non-exercise activity thermogenesis. All it requires is simple stretches, twists, and bends to break up your sitting every hour. Practicing NEAT helps increase circulation, ease back pain and muscle aches, and increase daily range of motion, which will eventually make getting nore active easier too.

Staying mindful about sitting duration and taking any of these steps to move more can help lead to a longer and better quality of life. To see more on how to counteract or avoid sitting disease, see Just Stand’s Office, School, and Home resources.

See our Exercise Resource Page for a bunch of wonderful handouts and movement ideas.

Mindful Monday | Morning exercise, short breaks from sitting lower high blood pressure

An Australian study was published linking morning exercise and short walking breaks throughout the day to blood pressure control.

Society today calls for an increase in sitting for longer periods of time. Prolonged sitting can lead to higher blood pressure and increased blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular disease.

Australian scientists believe adding three-minute walking breaks throughout the day can help regulate blood pressure. Although it is known that exercise and short breaks can help lower blood pressure, scientists studied the benefits of combining the two.

“They recruited 67 men and women who were between 60 and 74 years old and overweight or obese. About 4 in 10 participants also had high blood pressure. Every participant completed three different day-long tests in random order, each separated by a minimum of six days. Researchers measured heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other blood markers during each test condition. “

During one test, participants sat for 8 hours straight and another they sat for an hour then walked for 30 minutes then went back to sitting for 6.5 hours. However, the last test participants sat for an hour then walked for 30 minutes, then sat back down but got up every 30 minutes for a 3-minute walking break.

The participants showed lower blood pressure throughout the day if any exercise was involved. “The biggest reduction was seen when people did the 30-minute treadmill exercise in the morning and took 3-minute walking breaks throughout the day – although the additional benefit of the walking breaks was seen only among women.”

Scientists were surprised that only women showed the benefits of lower blood pressure through the short 3 minute walking breaks. This finding leads researchers to believe there is a difference in blood pressure response and it could be affected by gender and epinephrine levels.

“We recognize that exercise is good, and we now have the awareness that prolonged sitting can increase blood pressure,” Bhammar told Reuters Health in a phone interview. “Now we need to build breaks into our routines as a default so we’re not sitting for four hours at a time.”

To learn more – Morning exercise, short breaks from sitting lower high blood pressure – Reuters

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Study Urges Seniors to Get Moving to Live Longer

A new study suggests that the most important benchmark for life longevity may be staying active and keeping fit.

The study tested 6500 people over the age of 70 by measuring their exercise limits on a treadmill or biking machine. Participants were tracked for 10 years, with 39% passing away by the end of the study.

Researchers found the participants who were active and fit, were twice as likely to be alive a decade later.

Participants with no risk factors had about the same chance of dying as those with three or more risk factors, according to the study, though researchers only found an association between fitness and life span.

“We found fitness is an extremely strong risk predictor of survival in the older age group — that is, regardless of whether you are otherwise healthy or have cardiovascular risk factors, being more fit means you’re more likely to live longer than someone who is less fit,” said lead author Dr. Seamus Whelton.

Researchers stress the importance of staying fit. Fitness can be measured using a treadmill or a biking machine. However, educators can also assess fitness by a self-report of a person’s physical activities as well.

The researchers believe that participants who are sedentary would benefit from beginning a routine of short exercises, but encourage movement newbies to check with their provider first.

To learn more: Study Urges Seniors to Get Moving to Live Longer – HealthyDay.

See our Exercise Resource Page for a bunch of wonderful handouts and movement ideas.

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Happy National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day!

Every year on the first Wednesday of May, we celebrate “National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day,” to help spread the word on the dangers of sitting for long periods of time.

Here at Diabetes Education Services we believe creating healthy daily habits is imperative, particularly in the workplace. We will be participating this year by doing fun stand up exercises each hour to ensure we aren’t sitting for too long! 

Bev and Anne exercise everyday at 2:00 p.m., check out our exercise video here.

The ADA recommends light physical activity every 30 minutes. Anything from walking to leg extensions at your desk. Help us spread awareness by telling your colleagues and community about National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day! 

We want to hear about your favorite short exercise for your workday. Share your activity by commenting on our Get Fit Don’t Sit Facebook post today.

For more inspiration, enjoy our exercise resource page:

Exercise Resources

Don’t like exercise? – High-intensity incidental physical activity is HIIT

The commonly held wisdom is that activity had to last for at least ten continuous minutes to be beneficial, although there was no credible scientific evidence to support this.
New evidence, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, shows regular, incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing is likely to produce health benefits, even if you do it in 30-second bursts, spread over the day.
Incorporating more “high-intensity incidental physical activity” or HIIT, whether by vigorously sweeping the floor or carrying groceries, could be the key to getting high quality exercise each day. Even if this incidental physical activity only lasts for a few minutes, it can result in significant health benefits. In this study, simply by adding more incidental activity, described as, “any activity that is part of one’s daily living that is not done with the purpose of recreation or health and requires no discretionary time” improved overall health.

Some examples of HIIT may include walking or cycling to the grocery store, performing daily chores with intensity, or using the stairs instead of the elevator. This kind of activity prevents far fewer barriers than the concept of “exercising” which is physical activity that is both structured and planned. This study answers the question of how incidental physical activity can be maximized to improve health conditions.

The length of time for incidental PA can vary and is not structured. It can be just a few seconds such as climbing the stairs, “or several minutes or even hours of active commuting.”

This focus on short bursts throughout the day, offers the opportunity to incorporate vigorous physical activity into a busy lifestyle while receiving major health benefits. Incidental vigorous physical activity has been shown to be synonymous with partaking in exercise lasting 20-30 minutes.

These new research has,”opened new horizons for physical activity and exercise medicine practice by recognizing that any bout of physical activity count toward better health.” It is highly recommended to work on incorporating a short bout of HIIT to experience numerous health advantages and outcomes.


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