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Health & Wellness Tips
Staying Healthy and Fit
Physical activity and a healthy diet are important immune system boosters. The more you move, the more your body is able to help fight inflammation and infection. Low impact exercise is a perfect way for senior citizens to stay fit. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats can also give your immune system a boost. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants which protect your cells from damage and keep your body healthy.
In The Research
Cardiovascular Exercise Improves Flu Vaccine Protection in Sedentary Older Adults
A study at the University of Illinois conducted a 10-month randomized controlled trial to determine whether cardiovascular exercise improved antibody responses to the flu vaccine. The study focused on older adults, using almost 150 people with an average age of 70.
Study participants in the cardiovascular group did three exercise sessions per week for a duration of 15-60 minutes. The exercise intensity was done at roughly 55-65% of the participants max capacity, and the modes of exercise were walking, cycling, the elliptical, and stair master.
Participants randomized to the cardiovascular exercise group had improvements in flu protection throughout the entire flu season, whereas those who performed solely balance and flexibility exercises did not. Although there were no differences in reported respiratory tract infections, the cardiovascular exercise group exhibited reduced overall illness severity and sleep disturbance. This study supports the hypothesis that regular cardiovascular exercise improves influenza vaccine responses, likely because of the overall immune system benefits of regular exercise and lower bodyweight.
Woods, et al. (2009). Cardiovascular exercise training extends influenza vaccine seroprotection in sedentary older adults: the immune function intervention trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 57(12), 2183–2191.
Staying Active During COVID
These are stressful times, I’m sure we can all agree on that. Normally when we are stressed, a good way to alleviate that tension is to go for a run, go on a hike, or do a hard workout. There’s a myriad of research linking physical activity and lower levels of stress. It’s important for us to distance ourselves for the time being, but this leaves fitness enthusiasts in quite a predicament.
Alas, there is hope! There are still steps we can take (no pun intended) to help maintain our health during this stressful time. This month I wanted to give you some exercises to help you stay active during this time that the Wellness Pavilion and outdoor parks are closed.
A 30 - 45 Minute Home Workout
- A 20 to 30 minute walk outside around your neighborhood
- Push-ups - three options...
- modified with hands on a bench or elevated
- modified with hands on the wall
Chair Squats - with or without a load...
- Go from seated in a chair to standing, using only your bodyweight or holding a 5-10 lbs. load. You can use a heavy book or gallon of water.
- For added difficulty try going from seated to standing using only one leg!
Planks - 20 to 45 seconds...
- These can be done in a push-up position or on your forearms.
- For added difficulty try side-planks, which work the side muscles, or “obliques”
- A 5 to 10 minute walk outside around your neighborhood again.
- Neck stretch - depress your shoulder and bring your ear down to the shoulder.
- Oblique stretch - standing with one arm pointed straight up, bend to the opposite side.
- Calf stretch - hands against the wall and one foot forward with the other back.
- Shoulder/Back stretch - While either standing or seated, bring your arm across your chest while keeping it parallel to the ground.
- Hold these stretches for 10-20 seconds and repeat
- 2-3 times!
Coping with the Uncertainties While Physically Distancing
Many of us can’t fill our days the way we did two months ago. While physical distancing has replaced social engagement, don’t let yourself experience social isolation. Keeping busy entails exercising some level of control, and making choices each day will lessen anxiety. Below are some activities that may spark your interest. While technology can be helpful, there are some low-tech ideas too.
HOBBIES: Like reading, puzzles and games, baking or cooking, music, art, knitting, carpentry, gardening, and so on, all help pass the time. Virtual art classes offer fun, socialization, and a creative outlet.
WRITE AND LISTEN: Write a journal, blog, article or a book by sharing the interesting and connected thoughts holed up in your head. Listen to fascinating podcasts or audio books.
WATCH: Documentaries, movies or TV series, returning or not yet seen (Oscar nominated movies, past blockbusters, classics, popular Netflix or Amazon series). Keep up with current news events daily, but not all day, by way of the programming you trust most.
VIRTUAL LEARNING AND FIELD TRIPS: Take free classes from leading universities and companies. Reacquaint yourself to a foreign language learned while in school but have seldom spoken since. Visit tourist attractions like museums and state parks virtually.
SELF CARE: Pamper your self with at-home beauty treatments and relaxation through meditation or other peaceful activities.
CONNECT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS: By sending letters and cards, emailing, texting and calling, voice only or video and voice. There are all sorts of online options available to talk with family and friends.
REMAIN OR BECOME ACTIVE IN THE COMMUNITY: By reaching out to organizations, such as political parties, faith-based groups, and nonprofits. Many rely on volunteers to make phone calls.
ORGANIZE: Closets and junk drawers, setting aside items to donate. While many have more than they need, others are in great need. Many non-profits facilitate the passage of gently used items to families in need.
REMAIN PHYSICALLY ACTIVE: Walk, chair exercises, yoga, meditation. For those who belong to a gym or studio, many are offering live or recorded workout options. Consult their website for more information or search YouTube for exercise videos.
Tips for Staying Physically & Mentally Healthy
1. NUTRITION - The most important lifestyle habit that we can control during these times is maintaining a healthy diet. See below for diet tips during COVID19.
2. FITNESS - You may not be able to come to the gym, but you should walk, run, or bike outside while keeping a safe distance from others. Other activities like stretching and yoga are great as well. Additionally, there are many online workouts available to follow along with. We are sharing workouts on our Facebook page @SeniorCenterinCentralPark.
3. STRESS - Yoga and meditation are great tools for managing stress, and they can be done in a small space. You can use apps like Headspace and Talkspace for virtual mindfulness training and therapy. There are also thousands of guided meditation videos on YouTube.com.
4. SLEEP - People who get less sleep are more likely to develop obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It’s no secret that sleep is essential for a healthy life, low levels of stress, and staving off disease. Aim for 8 hours or more per day of sleep! Some helpful tips include (1) being consistent with when you wake up and go to sleep, (2) turning off artificial light 1-2 hours prior to when you want to fall asleep, (3) make the room slightly cooler, yes, a colder room helps with sleep, (4) avoid eating 2-3 hours prior to falling asleep; it is better to fall asleep with a mostly empty stomach.
Reduce Anxiety and Boost Your Immunity
- Citrus fruit and red bell peppers are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to help your immune system.
- Spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, and capsaicin are great additions to soups, stews, stir-frys, or salads.
- Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, clams, quinoa, chickpeas, cashews, and egg yolks contain the mineral. You may recognize zinc as an ingredient in the cold remedy Zicam, as zinc has some virus-fighting effects.
- Magnesium-rich foods may help you to feel calmer, and help support immunity. Stress can deplete your magnesium levels too. Great sources of magnesium includes legumes (beans & lentils), nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains like quinoa & oats.
- Fatty fish like wild salmon and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s may help reduce anxiety and certainly lower inflammation.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods and drinks such as pickles, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha.
- Add some antioxidants to your anti-anxiety diet, which can support your immune system.
Mistakes to Avoid When Eating a Plant-Based Diet
Don’t over-process your food. Whole, minimally processed foods tend to have the most nutrition and confer the greatest health benefits. For example, choose a piece of fruit rather than fruit juice or a potato rather than potato chips.
Focus on the entire dietary pattern rather than individual foods. For example, eating a few pieces of fresh fruit a day, but also eating a lot of fast food, may not benefit as much as someone who shifts their dietary pattern to include many more plants as well as fewer processed foods and foods prepared outside of the home.
Have a plan
Whole-food, plant-based diets require some advanced planning to make sure intake is adequate and to avoid nutrient deficiencies. There are loads of nutrients in plants, but if the selection is too narrow, or it does not include grains and legumes (or some animal products), it may be too low in protein and some vitamins and minerals.
Avoid the boredom trap
As is the case with any dietary program, if it is too restrictive over time, it may become less appealing. Mix it up with different recipes and dining out options. There’s even a new “fast food” option called Plant Power… wink wink.
Home Dumbbell Workout from ACE Fitness
As always, use a weight that is comfortable for you and go at your own pace.
“The Dirty Seven” Full-Body Workout (Days 1 & 5)
In 20 minutes, complete as many rounds as possible of the following movements:
- Dumbbell front or goblet squats (rep range of 10-20)
- Dumbbell lateral raise (5-20 reps per arm)
- Dumbbell bicep curls (10-20 reps)
- Lateral or forward lunges (5-20 reps per side)
- Dumbbell overhead press (5-20 reps)
- Reverse crunch or plank (10-20 reps or 30-60 sec.)
- Glute bridges (10-20 reps)
Rest for 30-60 seconds before repeating the round.
Full-Body Workout (Days 3 and 7)
In eight minutes, complete as many rounds as possible of the following:
- Dumbbell Romanian deadlifts (8-20 reps)
- Dumbbell front raises - together or alternating (8-20 reps)
- Dumbbell chest presses or push-ups (8-20 reps)
Rest for 30-60 seconds before repeating the round.
At the end of the eight minutes, rest two minutes and then complete as many rounds as possible in eight minutes of the following:
- Dumbbell bent over rows (8-20 reps)
- Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extensions (8-20 reps per arm)
- Seated shoulder press (8-20 reps)
Rest for 30-60 seconds before repeating the round.