By: Katie Richard, MA, BSN, RN, Director of Sports & Wellness
Each day you create yourself anew through choices. Along with the beauty
of nature in full bloom and a calendar of festivals, springtime in south
Louisiana presents unending choices to enjoy. It's also a perfect
time for renewing healthy eating, fitness and other lifestyle choices.
Live a longer, healthier life by choosing to:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and less red meat and sugar
- Exercise more
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Get more sleep
- Stay hydrated and limit alcohol consumption
Choosing to Eat Healthy
Remember the food pyramid with fruits and vegetables stacked along the
bottom, while foods high in sugar, salt and fat cap the top shelf. The
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends replacing the pyramid
with MyPlate, an easier-to-follow dietary guideline.
According to the USDA's plan, healthy eating starts by filling half
a plate with fruits and vegetables. Whole grains and protein fill the
other half. Vary protein choices with seafood, lean meat and poultry,
eggs, beans, peas or lentils. Dairy moves to a smaller portion on the
side and includes low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese.
Also, monitor your diet to ensure you're getting the necessary daily
amounts of vitamins and nutrients. In particular, B vitamins are essential
for brain health, metabolism and red blood cell production. Vitamin D
promotes strong bones and teeth, as well as boosts the immune system.
Routine wellness visits can detect deficiencies that need to be addressed.
What you need most is often what you try most to avoid. Despite knowing
the benefits of exercise, you may try to avoid the effort. Regular exercise
improves physical health, as well as mental health and overall well-being.
Whether walking on a treadmill or in the park, riding a bike, practicing
yoga or swimming—an hour of movement lifts your spirits and lowers
the risk of depression.
Along with benefiting cardiovascular health, research also shows exercise
is good for brain health. An hour of moderate exercise three times a week
can improve memory, energy levels and sleep patterns. Adults should get
at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes
of vigorous intensity exercise.
Thibodaux Regional Fitness Center offers a number of options to get moving
and with so many choices, it is easy to find a multitude of activities
you will enjoy - and as a result will be more likely to take part on a
regular basis. To learn more: https://www.fitnesscenterofthibodauxregional.com/.
Stress impacts the entire body. The mind-body connection affects our two
most vital organs—the heart and brain. Managing stress helps lower
blood pressure, decrease depression and anxiety, and reduce inflammation.
As April is recognized as Stress Awareness Month, renewing goals to manage
stress is crucial. Chronic stress, depression and anxiety contribute to
heart disease, the leading cause of death in this country.
Meditation offers a good option for relieving stress. Start with a 15-minute
meditation. Find a quiet place and sit comfortably on a cushion or favorite
chair. Close your eyes and try to shut out and shut off. Soothing music
or nature sounds help ease you into a calm state.
Walking meditations can also be beneficial. Try leaving your desk at lunch
and head outdoors to enjoy the beauty of azaleas and bulbs in bloom. Before
long, you might discover that you've walked several blocks and cleared
Getting More Sleep
Research shows that that less than seven to eight hours of sleep a night
is linked to memory loss and cognitive decline. A good night's sleep
allows the body to repair and restore itself. Optimal sleep balances moods,
improves memory and boosts immune systems. Sleep also helps control the
heart rate and blood pressure.
Among the biggest obstacles to sleep are screens. Turn off all devices—television
included—30 minutes to an hour before going to bed. If you have
trouble falling asleep, read a book or magazine until becoming drowsy.
If even after taking all of the right steps towards better sleep, but you
still aren’t getting quality rest, talk with the experts at Thibodaux
Regional Sleep Disorders Center. They offer both at-home and in-office
sleep testing to evaluate the cause. Learn more here: https://www.thibodaux.com/centers-services/sleep-disorders-center/.
While water consumption varies depending on lifestyle, climate and a person's
age, eight 8-ounce glasses a day remains the standard. As the weather
warms and humidity climbs, drink more water or eat foods with high water
content. Cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, celery and spinach
are all at least 90% water.
A recent study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that
adults who don't sufficiently hydrate may age faster, have a higher
risk of chronic diseases and die younger than those who stay well hydrated.
Along with drinking more water, drink less alcohol. Excessive consumption
increases risks for high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, liver disease
and other illnesses. Most medical professionals agree on no more than
one glass of wine per day for women and two for men.
Spring is here, the flowers are in bloom, the grass is green, isn’t
it time to we do a refresh on ourselves too?
For more information on health and wellness, contact Thibodaux Regional
Wellness Education Center, 985.493.4765.