The Well-Being Journal

Walking Together for Longer, Healthier Life

Jennifer Rudloff

walking togetherWith all of our modern technology, connecting quickly has become easier. But there’s something to be said for trading some high-tech time with real, face-to-face quality time every once in a while. When we do this by going for a walk with friends, for example, it can do wonders for our physical and emotional health.

Successful Strides

Four years after becoming the first Blue Zones Project city, Albert Lea, Minn., continues to be a living, breathing example of this. A recent news article reported the city has 30 moais, or groups who continue to get together twice a week for an hour-long walk, bike ride or dancing. This Midwestern city has shown how a healthy habit can become a life-changing lifestyle.

Those who’ve participated in the Blue Zones program and adopted its principles—like regular activity and healthy eating—have experienced numerous benefits, such as:

  • Improved physical and emotional health
  • Elimination of medication for certain health conditions
  • An increased lifespan of 2.9 years on average

In summary, walking with others can make it easier to adopt healthy choices, which can grow into a lifestyle, which can lead to well-being improvement beyond measure.

Some Pep for Your Step

When was the last time you met up with a group of friends, colleagues or neighbors and went for a walk? Whether you have a health-related goal or would like to reconnect on a deeper level, consider making contact and find a time that would work. You could even consider organizing a "walking school bus" in your neighborhood, like described in this YouTube video. One step is all you need to get started. And if you want to use a little high-tech to initiate the conversation, a quick text probably wouldn't hurt.

Topics: Healthy Living In the News Exercise Physical Health Health Emotional Health Social Well-Being Success Stories Blue Zones Project

Have a Love Affair This Valentines Day, With Your Heart

Jennifer Rudloff

Whether it means flowers, chocolates, jewelry, or romantic dinners for 2 - Valentines day is the one-day each year that people all over the world shower those holding a special place in their hearts with love. This valentines day, show them that you want to be there for them, not just today, but for years to come. Commit to having a love affair this year, and make your heart your lover.

In the United States, one in three deaths is attributable to cardiovascular disease making this the leading cause of death and disability for Americans. The kicker is that it’s largely preventable. How, you ask? You don’t have to do anything drastic – taking small steps each day can have a profound impact on your health and quality of life. Try using American Heart Association’s “Simple 7” as your guide:

  1. Don’t smoke: Smoking damages your circulatory system and puts you at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. If you’ve tried quitting before without success – don’t concede to defeat. Create the perfect storm for yourself – decide to choose life if not for yourself, for those you love. There is a wealth of resources out there to support you in your journey. You don’t know how good not smoking can make you feel until you’ve quit - It won’t take long for the cravings to subside, energy levels to rise, and for you to start feeling healthier.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight: Two out of three Americans are overweight or obese. That puts a fair chunk of heart health at risk. Losing as little as 5-10 pounds can have a real impact your blood pressure. Losing weight starts with understanding how many calories you should intake each day. To assess your daily nutritional needs, click here.
  3. Engage in regular physical activity: There are so many benefits to physical activity – Not only does it help to condition your heart, a little exercise can go a long way to improving quality of life, reducing fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain and dementia. And guess what, there are ways to get moving without even thinking about it.
  4. Eat a healthy diet: According to the American Heart Association, a heart healthy diet means eating foods low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars, and foods high in whole grain fiber, lean protein, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Not only will these foods help you prevent and battle cardiovascular disease, they’ll also help you feel better. Try to remember the principles of input/output and eat with the mindset that you’re eating for the nutrients – this can help to impact your food choices.
  5. Manage blood pressure: Elevated blood pressure puts a strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys; it is the single biggest risk factor for heart disease. So how do you lower your blood pressure: eat a healthier diet that is low in sodium, remain active and maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, limit drinking, and avoid smoking. Easy peasy.
  6. Take charge of cholesterol: When left unchecked, cholesterol can clog up your arteries and cause blockages that may lead to heart disease and stroke. Begin impacting your cholesterol by choosing to eat foods that are high in fiber, and low in cholesterol and fats. Maintain a healthy weight. And exercise – this can help boost your body’s production of good cholesterol.
  7. Keep blood sugar, or glucose at healthy levels: Your body turns food into glucose which becomes energy which insulin then carries cells. Over time, high blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. Through limiting simple sugars (soda, candy), getting regular physical activity, and taking medication as needed, you can reduce your blood sugar and help control the risks.

All of these tips will help you show your heart a little love and ensure that you have many more valentines’ days to share with the ones you love. What are some small things you do every day to promote heart health?

Topics: Healthy Living Heart Month Health Prevention Simple Seven Heart Health American Heart Association valentines day

Small Daily Actions Can Help You Reach Bigger Health Goals

Jennifer Rudloff

Reposted from the MeYouHealth.com/blog

Bigger isn’t always better. Particularly when it comes to the goals we make each New Year. Travel the world, lose weight, get out of debt -- these resolutions often set us up to fail, because they’re unrealistic, overwhelming and gigantic. They don’t have to be, though. Just as a journey starts with a single step, big goals are met through daily small actions.

It’s in the little actions and our daily intentions that we can achieve our aspirations. This year, we’re asking you to not make a resolution. Instead, choose a small action you can do every day, like pack your lunch (to save money or lose weight) or replace one bad-habit craving with a healthy snack or mini-meditation.

Little healthy actions like a packed lunch or snack swap can help each of us reach bigger goals, if we’re consistent. If it helps, keep track of your little daily actions and intentions on a calendar. Aim for 30, 100, or even 365 days of a small action that will help you achieve that bigger goal.

You don’t have to take our word for it. When we reached out a few blogger friends to let them know about our Anti-Resolution Revolution, they were happy to help spread the message that it’s the small things we do on a daily basis that matter to our success in reaching bigger goals.

Check out what healthy living bloggers Jan, Anne, Laura, Melissa, and Suzanne had to say about our opposition to making a New Year’s resolution:
Jan -- “Whatever your weight, health, or fitness goal is... I know you can achieve it this coming year if you believe in yourself and go for your goal by making small, sustainable changes and setting realistic milestones.”

Anne -- “I believe much more in the power of small daily actions, or intentions. I find that setting smaller daily or weekly goals vs. broad resolutions really helps with making healthy living a lifestyle change vs. a quick fix – or a huge overwhelming goal that is never reached.”

Laura -- “ Making small, daily changes will help achieve any s.m.a.r.t. [specific, measurable, attainable, realistic] goal. Take the steps to succeed and let the Anti-Resolutionists help you along the way.”

Melissa -- “I actually gave up on making resolutions several years ago because I realized that I rarely kept them because they weren’t specific enough and they had such a large scope that they become overwhelming. Having huge yet nebulous resolutions never seemed to serve me well. These days, I prefer setting smaller more short-term goals.”

Suzanne -- “Making small daily changes to your routine will be the difference between success and failure. Forget ‘changing your life’ or resolving to do things differently on a certain date. Simply begin by taking one small action every day.”

Small daily actions can give your well-being a great boost and break bigger goals into actionable, attainable mini-celebrations you’ll be more likely to stick with. For more ideas on small actions that can make an impact, check out our behind-the-scenes MeYou Health video, and be sure to sign up for Daily Challenge to get a boost of well-being delivered to you daily.

What positive results have you seen by taking small steps to reach a goal?

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being Health Prevention Small Daily Actions MeYou Health Daily Challenge Anti-resolution Revolution

The single best thing you can do for your health in 2012

Jennifer Rudloff

For many of us, along with the new year comes resolutions aimed at creating happier and healthier lives. So now, how do you go about doing that? Well, we know that there are a number of factors that contribute to our health and well-being -- good diets, good friends, and healthy behaviors go a long way towards achieving health.

But there's one thing that trumps the rest - Exercise! Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your health. Among other things, just a little bit of movin' and shakin' each day has the ability improve our quality of life and reduce fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain, dementia.

Topics: Healthy Living Exercise Healthcare 23 & 1/2 hours Health Prevention Design Lab New Years Resolution Dr. Mike Evans Healthier You