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Posts Tagged ‘healthy lifestyle’

sunrise shining through trees with snow on the ground

Whether you love the wintertime for the beauty and possibilities that a fresh snowfall brings, or dread it for the cold temperatures and less daylight, it is important to give some thought to your wellness plan this winter. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Take time to be still. Learn to keep calm and be mindful in the present moment.
  • Do one thing at a time. Instead of trying to manage multiple tasks simultaneously all day long, give yourself the ‘brain break’ of doing just one task at a time. It’s harder than it sounds! During the writing of this article, I had to close my email, silence my phone and I still had 6 ‘distractions’ from my own thoughts that could have caused me to start working on multiple things. Instead, I made a note about each item to complete later.
  • Take a technology break. The constant notifications we get from all our electronic devices make it difficult to focus and be still.
  • Create something new! This could be a piece of art, a musical number, a new recipe. The act of creating can light up other parts of your brain that may be yearning for use.
  • Practice self-care. There is no substitute for eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep. Give your body what it needs.
  • Find ways to relax. Try meditation, yoga, massage, or take a walk in the woods.
  • Get outside. There is no substitute for natural light. If you work during the day, try to go for a walk during a break or lunch. Find a winter outdoor activity you enjoy like walking, hiking, tubing, ice skating or snowshoeing.
  • Invite the birds into your yard. Did you know that bird watching can help you feel more relaxed and happy? Providing bird seed and a heated water bath is sure to attract feather friends.
two birds at a bird feeder in the snow
  • Get moving. Physical activity works your muscles and expends energy. Exercise not only makes us stronger, it improves mood. Try a new type of indoor exercise like tai chi, pilates or line dancing.
  • Connect with others. It’s natural for some people to want to ‘hibernate’ during the winter. It’s important to connect with others. Make a date with a friend or family member.

For more ideas, check out these articles on finding joy in winter and beating the winter blues. Set a goal yourself this winter to be well. What is one small change you can make?

Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewer: Christine Kendle, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Tuscarawas County, kendle.4@osu.edu

References:

Lobb, J. Opt Outside to Beat the Winter Blues. Live Healthy Live Well, The Ohio State University. 7 Jan 2021.

Powers-Barker, P. I Can’t Control the Winter Weather. Live Healthy Live Well, The Ohio State University. 24 Jan 2022.

Stanton, L. Wonder and Wander in Nature this Winter. Live Healthy Live Well, The Ohio State University. 30 Nov 2021.

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telomere

When my sister-in-law turned 50, my family flew out to Arizona to help her celebrate. She warned us when we took our suitcases into the bedrooms to not leave our tennis shoes out in the open because her cat liked to chew on shoelaces. I forgot after the first couple of days and left my shoes on the floor. The next time I put them on, the laces snapped in half where they had been chewed and I had to tie my shoes with about one inch of shoelace.

The reason I’m sharing this story is because it’s a metaphor for what happens when we don’t follow exercise guideline advice. Have you heard the term “telomeres” before? Ten years ago, three American scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for their discoveries about telomeres. Telomeres are caps on the ends of our DNA strands (chromosomes).

Chromosomes hold our DNA, and the ends of them, called telomeres, help keep the chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other. Chromosomes are like our shoelaces, and telomeres are like the plastic tips on the end. Every time one of your cells divides, the telomere gets shorter. When telomeres get too short and cannot be repaired (like my shoelaces), chromosomes fray and the cells can no longer divide.

This shortening process is associated with aging, cancer, and a higher risk of death. However, it turns out that we may have more control over our telomeres than we think. Lifestyle is an important determinant of telomere length and telomerase activity. The more exercise people get, the less their cells seem to age.

How to keep your telomeres lengthened.

Simple answer? Exercise regularly. Spring is the perfect time to refresh your exercise routine. You don’t have to worry about extreme cold, snow or ice. 30 minutes daily will provide you with younger looking telomeres. It’s still not clear what level of exercise intensity is required to yield the best results.

Recent studies show that higher levels of physical activity or exercise are related to longer telomere length. This relationship is particularly evident in older individuals, which suggests the role physical activity can play in combating the aging process.

Bottom line.

This complex field is still in its infancy, with more unknowns than knowns. So far, the findings reinforce commonsense advice about a healthy lifestyle— not smoking, exercising regularly, controlling stress, and having a healthy diet.

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2013/09/108886/lifestyle-changes-may-lengthen-telomeres-measure-cell-aging

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/preventive-care/article/aging-what-telomeres-can-tell

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5546536/

https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/telomeres/

 

 

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You have probably heard about the increasing number of children who are overweight and the efforts to decrease the trend. 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! is a national childhood obesity prevention program which focuses on policy and environmental changes to increase physical activity and healthy eating for children through age 18. Let’s Go! works with youth and families through a collaboration of six sectors including schools, early childhood, communities, workplace, out of school and healthcare.  While the initiative originated in Maine through the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, communities across the nation have implemented the program.

 

The goal of the campaign is to change unhealthy behaviors and adopt healthier habits. While the primary target is youth, people of all ages can benefit from the guidelines.  Strategies are evidence-based and the messages are consistent and simple:

  • Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Spend 2 hours or less of screen time – television, smart phone, video games, etc.
  • Enjoy 1 hour or more of physical activity each day
  • Consume 0 sweetened beverages per day, such as soda, juice and energy drinks

5-2-1-0 graphic

Graphic courtesy of Keys for Healthy Kids

Collaboration is key to the success of the program in any state. Teams of nutrition, health and education specialists develop trainings to provide to partners within the community setting.  Some of the successful strategies that have worked for Maine and Florida include:

Engage community partners to support healthy eating and active living

Prohibit food being used as a reward

Implement staff wellness programs that incorporate physical activity and healthy eating

Provide water rather than sugar-sweetened beverages

Limit unhealthy snacks provided for celebrations, offering healthy snacks instead

In 2015, more than 350,000 children and their families living in Maine were reached through 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! Future opportunities of the program may be extended to parents in the home environment and disabled children.

 

Sources: The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! http://www.letsgo.org/

Florida Health, Palm Beach County, http://www.5210letsgo.com/

Jennifer Even, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County

Reviewer:  Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

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