Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Silhouette young woman, exercise on the beach at sunset.

BYOB: Bring Your Own Workout for Summer Vacations

By Jen Fuller-Allen

J Smith Young Y.M.C.A Programs Director

Vacations are a wonderful opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy a chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Vacations were designed for us to rest, but some worry that all their hard work in the gym will go down the drain after a week or so of vacation. Not to worry. Your body will benefit from a small break and from the variation of your normal routine.

Your first option is truly to rest. Take a few days to let your body recover from exercise, catch up on your sleep and give yourself a chance truly to relax. Resting is just as important as working out because it’s an equal part of the total process required to build strength, endurance, and muscle. Working out breaks down your body tissues. Resistance training breaks down muscles causing microscopic tears. When the muscle heals and rebuilds itself, you grow stronger. Rest days allow your body the time needed to rebuild.

Sleep is also an important part of the process to get stronger. Your body produces more growth hormone during the REM cycle of sleep, which aids your body in repairing and rebuilding muscles post-workout. Sleep is also a very important part of keeping you healthy in general. If you are skimping on your sleep at home, a vacation is a great opportunity to sleep a little later and help your body recover.

If the idea of resting for a week is more than you can handle, here are a few quick and easy ideas to incorporate fitness into your vacation without spending all your time in the gym with your days of rest and relaxation.

  1. Bike around your destination. Bring your own bike or rent one from your vacation destination. Use it to explore your surroundings or to go to and from dinner. For most of us, almost all of our time commuting at home is spent in a car. Try to limit your time in the car on vacation as much as possible and make your travel time active time.
  2. Try something new – you can canoe, kayak or paddleboard at the beach. Try hiking, skiing, or rock climbing in the mountains – no matter where you are, there is sure to be something you haven’t tried before or something you don’t get to do frequently.
  3. Pretend that the elevators don’t work. Use the stairs whenever possible for a little added calorie burn.
  4. If it’s within a mile, walk. Walk to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the shops across the street. Lots of short bursts of activity will add up and you will have the opportunity to see lots of sights you might have missed from the car. If you wear an activity tracker, make it your goal to hit 12,000 steps a day instead of 10,000.
  5. Stretch – use this opportunity to try yoga, Pilates, or just spend time stretching outdoors and enjoy the quiet. You can easily create your own routine, download a free app for a workout that you can follow, or visit a class.
  6. Tabata – this is a quick and easy (and super challenging) workout for anyone. Select an exercise, preferably a bodyweight one, and perform that exercise as many times as possible for 20 seconds. Work as hard as you can in the 20 seconds, bringing your heart rate up as high as possible. Rest for ten seconds and then repeat for 8 total rounds (4 minutes of total time). Use a watch with a timer or a tabata timer app to help you keep track. Your goal is to do 4 rounds of tabata total (16 minutes). A full body tabata workout would include squats, pushups, planks, and burpees. You can substitute any exercise you can think of for those listed — just be ready to repeat it for four minutes. You can break it up with some core work or add in some interval run/walking at the end to make it a little bit longer.
  7. Visit a new gym. If you have a YMCA membership, your membership is good at any YMCA through membership reciprocity, so take a new class or try out another facility. If you aren’t a Y member, ask your hotel if they have any special deals worked out with local gyms that you could visit.
  8. Play a game with your friends and family. Volleyball, tennis, golf – anything that you all enjoy and will get you moving will fit the bill.
  9. Find a hill near you – walk, run, skip, lunge, backpedal (walking or running backwards), and sprint to the top of the hill and jog back down. If you want to make it a little harder, do 10 pushups every time you get to the top of the hill and hold a plank at the bottom of the bill for 30 seconds. Repeat the entire routine for 20 minutes.
  10. Use your body as your resistance for your workout. Bodyweight workouts are wonderful – they easily incorporate your entire body and can get your heart rate up in a hurry. Look for 10 minute body weight workouts on Pinterest – you may be surprised at how difficult they are.

 

If you want a more challenging outdoor workout – try this one.

-          Walk or run to a local park.

-          Wall sit with your back against a wall or phone pole – try to hold it for 1 minute.

-          Run to the monkey bars and either complete 10 pull ups or hang on the bar for 30 seconds at a time (repeat 10 times).

-          Complete a set of 10 tricep dips off a park bench or set of parallel bars.

-          Bear crawl in the grass for 30 seconds. (Bend down and put your hands on the ground. Try to keep your back flat as you crawl forward as fast as you can.)

-          Crab walk for 30 seconds. (Sit on the ground and bridge up with your hips so you look like a table top. Walk forward on your hands and feet as fast as you can.)

-          Hang on the bar again and try to do 10 knee lifts to your chest. If that’s too hard, hold a plank on the ground for 1 minute. Complete both exercises if you want an added challenge.

-          For your finisher, complete 10 burpee/broad jumps (From a standing position, bend down and put your hands on the ground. Now jump your legs out behind you, so that you end up in the top position of a push-up. Perform a push-up and then reverse the motion quickly and come back up. Immediately broad jump as far forward as you can.)

You can repeat the entire circuit or run/walk back to your starting point.

 

Exercise doesn’t have to be confined to four walls of a gym. No matter where you are, there are lots of options to find a way to work a little activity into your day.

 

 

water

I’ll Have Water, Please!

Why you should drink more water

By Caitlyn Madore

With warmer weather on its way, take this opportunity to make sure you’re staying properly hydrated. Chances are you aren’t drinking enough water throughout the day – one of the most essential nutrients for life.

Women should drink about 72 ounces of fluids a day, and men should drink about 100 ounces a day, according to the Institute of Medicine. That’s about 9 cups and 12.5 cups, respectively. While those estimates account for water and other fluids, it’s always better to choose water over sugary drinks, soda, and juices.

Why is that? Water refreshes and reinvigorates in ways that no other liquid can. “Water impacts your body’s health as a whole in many different ways,” said registered dietitian, Caitlyn Madore. “It regulates our body temperature, carries nutrients, lubricates our joints, and protects our organs. If you aren’t drinking enough, it’s harder for your body to carry out these essential tasks.”

Water and weight

Drinking enough water can also promote overall health, including weight management.

“Sometimes thirst can be mistaken as hunger,” Madore shares. “This can lead to possible weight gain when excess calories are consumed due to what your body perceives as hunger. If you’re drinking enough water, your body won’t have to determine if you’re hungry or if you’re actually just thirsty.”

Madore says drinking water with meals could also promote an earlier feeling of fullness. If you drink a glass of water before you start your meal, you will be more likely to stick to the recommended portions.

Choosing water over soda and other sweetened beverages can also cut your calories for the day.

Dehydration

Dehydration, or not consuming enough water, can negatively affect your health. Not staying hydrated can impair our ability to achieve optimal health, including the health of our skin. Dehydration could result in skin that is dry and more prone to wrinkling. Madore added that dehydration can also cause confusion, loss of energy, weakness, and can prevent our bodies from working at their best to fight ailments.

Tips to drink more water

If you find yourself struggling to reach for more water, here are some easy tips:

  • Add your own flavor with fruit slices! Fruit slices are a natural way to add flavor to your water without adding unnecessary sugar. Try adding slices of lemon, lime, or oranges.
  • Keep a glass or bottle of water nearby at your desk or in your car. You will be more likely to drink it if you are surrounded by it throughout the day.
  • Think of the money you could save. It’s cheaper and better for you to order water at restaurants. Both your wallet and your body will thank you.

 

Caitlyn Madore is a registered dietitian and licensed dietary nutritionist at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center.

 

nowlater

Daily Decisions Lead to Lifetime Habits

By Landon Gentle

Wellness Center Coordinator/Specialist

J. Smith Young YMCA

 

Do you remember that age where you thought you knew everything? It wasn’t just false hubris. You were convinced that you had all the answers and nobody  — especially your dear parents  — could tell you otherwise. My father used to tell me that he’d forgotten more than I would ever know. I guess that was his way of feeding me some humble pie, but ignorance is bliss.

Most of us grow out of that stage, but it takes some (me) longer than others. I waited until I went off to college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to study exercise science where I realized I just might not be the smartest person in the room. It wasn’t hard to do since many of those rooms were filled with over 100 students. Some of them seemed to have everything figured out at the ripe old age of 20. They had plans for their future and had thought through the steps it would take to achieve their goals. How I envied them. I could not comprehend the idea of what building a life and career consisted of and how, when I was just living for the weekend, that these kids were mapping out their lives.

That you can party and be productive was a foreign concept to me at the time. I didn’t think they were necessarily more intelligent than I am, but they were more driven. There was zero fear of failure; only their dreams of future success. I look back now at the age of 28 and ponder why I still don’t have everything figured out like all of my former classmates had, or at least thought they had. I take solace in a recent article I read pointing out that most adults do not believe they have achieved stability in life until they are 36 years old because “adulting” is hard, but that fact gave me hope that I might actually have a chance in this world after all.

Sometimes the anxiety of failure can overcome the ambition to succeed, and that is why many of us don’t take chances in life. Maybe we don’t apply for that job because we might actually get called for an interview. It feels much better to play it safe than to have our pride take an uppercut.

Moderation is the key word here. Reading a golf magazine and trying to incorporate the 11 pages of swing tips into your game simultaneously and trying to contort your body in the most unnatural ways because you tried to put the puzzle together all at once doesn’t really work. It is better to add a little here and a little there so that you can put the puzzle together without losing all religion in the process. It is here where I think I may have something to offer as it relates to fitness.

My first piece of advice is that it is not wise to make the decision to quit smoking (if you’re a smoker), eat healthy and start running five miles per day all on January 1st. The first ingredient in achieving a goal is that it needs to be realistic. The prudent play is to set small goals that will eventually lead you to the grand prize, which is to attain overall good health and well-being. These are just the pieces of the puzzle that will not fit together unless they completed in the proper order. Don’t get me wrong,; dreaming big is never a negative, but one must realize that it takes time and dedication along with plenty of perspiration to reach your end goal.

Somewhere in the not so distant past, yours truly was a smoker going through approximately a pack per week. It wasn’t until I was heading home from a beach trip with some close friends that I told myself ‘I’m not buying another pack ever again’ and I haven’t since. I swear! This proclamation was made less difficult due to the fact that I felt lethargic and my lungs were unable to work at their full capacity. Someone with my exercise habits shouldn’t be exhausted one mile into a run on a beautiful late summer day. It wasn’t that my legs were tired; my alveoli which are tiny air sacs in our lungs that absorb oxygen to deliver to our blood were at the point that they were probably delivering more C (carbon), than O2 into my blood stream.

Smoking prevented me from doing the things that I wanted to do. Luckily the other pieces of the puzzle were already in place as I was exercising habitually and my diet was well balanced. Surprisingly, only 15% of Americans are current smokers according to the CDC, and that number is trending downward every year. So I decided to assimilate and become part of the majority. As an alternative, I encourage people to take on the challenge of improving their health in the form of exercise. Exercising is much easier than quitting smoking, so instead of taking on the biggest guy in the crowd (smoking), pick on the smaller one that you know you can handle (exercise).

Here are a few beliefs that I live by:

  • Life is about moderation, not deprivation. It is okay to reward yourself because you deserve to get paid if you put in the hours at work. Your body deserves a cheeseburger if you spent two weeks torturing yourself in the name of good health. Just don’t exercise for an hour then reward yourself with a pizza, because there is a thick line between rewarding yourself and defeating the purpose.
  • Know your limits. What’s the point of running 10 miles if you can’t walk for the next 2 days? There is no scientific evidence that says professional runners live longer. In fact, the opposite is true. Because habitual runners are constantly putting so much stress on their heart, the walls thicken which leads to a much higher risk of heart attack. Even running requires moderation.
  • You are more likely to work out at a gym than at home. Spend $2,000 over the course of 5 years for a gym membership rather than on a fancy treadmill that will collect dust in your basement.
  • You can’t find time to work out, you have to make time. You always have 30 minutes or an hour to watch your favorite TV show; therefore, you can make it to the gym for 30 minutes to work up a sweat, and you’ll be glad that you did.
  • Staying active is the most important thing. Peak bone mass is reached at the age of 30 and then reduces as you age. Walking, jogging, hiking, and resistance exercise is key to slowing down your bone loss. It is never more important to exercise than when you are over the age of 40.
  • Don’t depend on someone else to be your workout partner. They will always let you down. I know that sounds hopeless, but you are in charge! Anyone can find an excuse not to exercise, so it won’t help to have someone else making an excuse for you.
  • Use your common sense. There is no miracle cure or easy way out to achieving good health. Learn how to sort through the clutter of fad diets and the greatest new products. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Set small goals, then once they are achieved move on to the next goal. Nobody starts at the top.
  • It takes 60 days to form a habit. Eventually your day will not feel complete unless at some point you pushed your body to fatigue.
  • Remember, 80% of success is showing up. Even if you planned on working out for an hour but you only lasted 20 minutes, you are still better than you were the day before.
  • Choose your exercise plan wisely. Working out the same muscle group day after day can be a negative. They need time to rebuild and repair. When you strength train (weight lifting), your muscles are experiencing micro tears and it takes time for protein to repair the tears, which then leads to hypertrophy (the enlargement of the muscle). Rest as well as exercise is a very important component to living a healthy life.
  • For those who have a slow metabolism or if it has slowed due to aging, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Eating a large breakfast kick-starts the digestive system and speeds up your metabolism which will naturally slow down throughout the day. Therefore you should eat a smaller lunch and an even smaller dinner.
HimalayanSalt

Himalayan Salt & Salt Lamp Benefits

Business Spotlight

What are Himalayan salt and Himalayan salt lamps? Salt is one of the substances that our body needs. Salt regulates and maintains our blood pressure. It is also vital for our nervous system. Sodium chloride is essential for brain growth and the development of our neurological functions. Our adrenal glands need salt to function and the adrenal glands secrete 50 of our body’s hormones that we need! We also need salt for our metabolism and digestion.

Himalayan salt is mined from the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan. It has no environmental pollutants that can harm our bodies. Salt from these mountains dates back 250 million years. Eighty percent of Himalayan salt is sodium chloride. The remaining 20% contains 84 trace minerals that our body needs. Himalayan salt is an unrefined salt and doesn’t contain any of the chemicals found in traditional table salt.

For years, many European countries have used salt mines and hot salt springs to promote a sense of rejuvenation. People rest and rejuvenate in salt mines and caves, in spa-like ambiance in many cases, for periods of time to help aid their mood and overall sense of calm. Why are the salt mines so beneficial? Quite simply, the very dry, negative ion environment of a salt mine is the key. There are many places in America where you can also enjoy salt springs or salt caves. Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia are places where you will find natural salt springs. Manmade salt caves are also located in 57 places in the United States.

It depends on who you talk to or what you read about as to the benefits of the Himalayan salt lamps. Most agree that it’s a huge chunk of salt which draws moisture into it. Once the water vapor comes in contact with the salt lamp, the pollutants are believed to remain trapped in the salt. Since the lamp is heated, the salt dries out and is able to continue the cycle of attracting water vapor and pollutants, releasing the water vapor back into the air, but holding on to the health-hazardous pollutants. There aren’t any scientific studies focusing specifically on Himalayan salt lamp benefits. However, there is good reason to believe that a real Himalayan salt lamp may provide some health benefits given the other salt research out there, as well as many encouraging user testimonies. These include antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, loosening of excessive mucus and speeded up drainage, and removal of pathogens (i.e., airborne pollen). The salt lamps are believed in general to purify the air, ease allergies and asthma, and reduce electromagnetic radiation by producing negative ions to remove the positive ions in our environment. They are also believed to provide a calming effect which can boost mood and promote sleep.

The Nature Cottage has recently opened a Himalayan Salt Therapy Room known as “The Zen Den.” The room contains 20 Himalayan salt lamps in various colors and sizes. We have three treatment options varying from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. The 60 minute treatment also includes a heated or cooled Himalayan neck wrap and a Himalayan salt brick foot treatment. Complimentary beverages and aromatherapy are offered as well. You can enjoy the benefits of the Zen Den by calling 336-843-4297 for an appointment. Individuals and small groups are welcome.

We also sell Himalayan salt lamps that come from the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan. They all come with dimmer cords which are UL tested for safety. Come in and see the variety of salt lamps that are available. The Nature Cottage is located at 21 S. Main Street in Lexington.