Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pedaling in Portland

I had my very first experience in Portland over the past weekend. As expected, I left with very happy taste buds.

I also left with more freckles on my nose.

I’m not really sure how I managed to soak in more sunshine, but karma was on my side.  I escaped the clouds and rain in LA and was welcomed by sunshine and warmth in Portland.

It was the perfect weekend for exploring a new city. And not only did I just explore a new city - I explored a new city on a bike.  More than giving me tired hamstrings and a really fun experience to have in my memory bank, it also got me thinking.

study published in The Lancet this past August explored the healthful benefits of exercise. Taiwanese researchers examined the physical activity habits of more than 400, 000 study participants in a 12 year period; and the study’s results got people talking.

It determined that a little exercise goes a long way.

The researchers found that even 15 minutes of physical activity a day can increase your life expectancy by 3 years, or by 14 percent.

And that’s just from 15 minutes a day.

But, in a nation where a sedentary lifestyle has become the norm, we seem to forget that engaging in daily activity is not only good for your health, it can make you feel good. While we’re Registered Dietitians – not fitness gurus – we do promote a lifestyle that nourishes you in more ways than with just food. Moving your body every day is one of the best ways to do just that.
Being active doesn’t mean you necessarily have to clock an hour at the gym every day. Physical activity should be something you want to do. Do it to make your body healthy, strong, and because it makes you feel good.

When it comes to physical activity, here are 8 thoughts to consider:

#1. Choose activities that you can easily include into your day. Take the stairs, park your car a little further from your destination, go for a walk rather than meeting for coffee, or ride your bike to work.

#2. Choose activities that you enjoy doing. Take a salsa class. Take the dog for a walk.  Practice yoga. Go kayaking. Go skiing. Go for a swim. Have a game of tag with your kids. Have a dance party.  Play tennis. Play catch. Play on the monkey bars. Hike. Swim. Rock climb. Or, laugh really, really hard.

#3. Choose activities that get you out of your comfort zoneTry something new. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself or be afraid of failing.

#4. Choose activities that are attainable and achievable. Be realistic with your own expectations. Rather than biting off more than you can chew, try taking smaller, manageable bites – one at a time. Remind yourself that every little bit of activity you incorporate into your day really adds up.

#5. Choose foods to keep your body fueled. When you’re being active, nourishing your body is especially important to restore muscle glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrates) and reduce muscle breakdown. Snacks containing good quality carbohydrates and good quality protein – such as our granolabars or granola – are the perfect combination. Here are some more of our favorite snack ideas.

#6. Drink water. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: don’t underestimate the power of water. But, rather than sounding like a broken record, you can read about our thoughts on staying hydrated here.

#7. Find a fitness buddy. Just as we enjoy sharing food with the people we love, we also enjoy sharing our company. Getting active with a friend, co-worker, spouse, or pet keeps you motivated and keeps it fun.

#8. Remind yourself that being active is worth it. Daily physical activity has been linked to:

·         stronger immunity
·         lower blood pressure
·         reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes
·         lower risk for heart disease
·         healthy joints
·         stronger bones
·         better weight management
·         increased lean body mass
·         higher metabolic rate
·         improved posture
·         reduced depression and anxiety
·         improved sleep
·         improved self-image & self-confidence
·         improved productivity & energy
·         enhanced quality of life

Who could have thought a fun bike ride on a perfectly sunny day could do all of this for my health?

So step outside. Or at least step outside of your comfort zone, and get moving. This life is yours and we think everyone should have fun with it.

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