YMCA Healthy Living Magazine, powered by n4 food and health Spring 2017 - Page 7

activity: get more active doing chores around the house, offer to go for the walk to get coffee at work, park the car further and walk to work or school, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. • Increase your daily steps. You can keep track of your steps, and exactly how active you’re being each day, by introducing wearable technology (e.g. pedometer, Fitbit or smartphone app). Some wearables even monitor your food intake/nutrition and sleep. • Organise active catch-ups with friends (e.g. catch up for a walk, fitness class or sight-seeing that involves activity such as visiting a zoo or participating in an historic tour). We all live busy lives and it can be easy to let exercise slip when there are so many other things to do! If you already exercise but are inconsistent, here are a few tips to help you enhance your strength and fitness: • Set an exercise schedule – choose the days and times that you will be exercising, and then stick to them as if they were an appointment to see your doctor. • Choose activities that you are actually able to do regularly. There’s no point having a schedule that you know you won’t or can’t continue with. • Choose a variety of activities as this will help prevent you from feeling bored. • Have a back-up plan for days where the weather or other things tempt you to skip your exercise. If you only do cardio exercises, try adding some strength training exercises into the mix. Resistance/strength training can help you tone up (i.e. gain muscle and lose fat), improve your bone health, and strengthen your heart. Plus, by adding resistance training to your workout regime, you’ll build and maintain your muscle strength. There are different ways to strength train. For example, you can use: • Your own body weight. This can be convenient and effective like push-ups, squats, ab crunches a nd sit-ups. • Free weights, such as dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells. But if you don’t have equipment, then use water bottles, milk bottles or even tins of food. • Weight training machines. If you’re unsure how to use them, book in a session with a personal trainer to write you a program, and be taught how to use them correctly and safely. Goal: Take a look at your current activity levels. Are they inconsistent, non-existent or just plain old boring? Choose one of the above options and set up a schedule of activities, days and times each week that you will do them. Nutrition for Strength Gaining strength is going to be a doomed mission if you don’t eat right. You can’t expect your body to perform if it’s not fuelled with the energy, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs. So nutrition-up to keep you strong. Here’s how: • Your body will benefit from developing healthy eating habits such as eating small regular meals during the day that are made up of healthy foods. Can you make simple healthy changes to your diet, such as eating more vegetables, choosing higher fibre options, reducing portion sizes, eating fewer takeaway meals, drinking more water? • Eating more home-cooked meals that are made from scratch and reducing eating-out can result in significant improvements to your health. There are plenty of great recipes in this magazine to get you started. • Eat foods that provide your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Everyday activities, as well as exposure to pollution in air, foods, and cigarette smoke, can place oxidative stress on your body. While oxidation is also a naturally occurring process in our body, too much oxidative stress may accelerate the ageing process, cause inflammation and increase your risk of disease (e.g. heart disease). Many foods contain the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Antioxidants are naturally occurring agents in foods that reduce oxidative damage by directly reacting with, or scavenging, oxidants. Eating foods rich in antioxidants is a good place to start. Some common antioxidants and food sources are listed below: - Vitamin C: fresh tomato, capsicum, oranges, lemon - Vitamin A: sweet potato, egg yolks, milk - Beta-carotene: carrot, pumpkin, mango, apricot - Flavonoids: tea, green tea, apples. - Selenium: Brazil nuts, whole grains - Zinc: seafood, lean meat, nuts - Lycopene: cooked tomatoes - Lutin: green leafy vegetables - Anthocyanins: berries, eggplant, black grapes - Vitamin E: avocado, almonds Goal: Take a good look at your daily food intake. To help you get a better picture of what you consume daily, you can keep a food diary or track it on a food diary app. Can you make improvements? Maybe you need to cook more from scratch, or perhaps you could add in a few of the nutrient- packed foods mentioned above? Strength encompasses many things, and small changes can make a big difference. So to get started, just choose a few of those provided, then once you’ve nailed the first ones, try the others. Sure enough, over time you’ll see your health going from strength to strength! SPRING 2017 YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE 7