Days are getting longer, the weather is fine and it's time to take your workout outside. Outdoor exercise has many advantages. To start, there's no gym fee. The air isn't stuffy and a breeze helps you stay cool. And best of all, working out outside feels more like fun and less like a chore.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that most healthy adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. On top of that, the Guidelines suggest doing muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week that work all major muscle groups. That might sound like a lot but you can break your exercise up into segments to work with your schedule. And the activity doesn't have to take place in a gym. Anything that gets your body moving counts.
Talk to your doctor if you're pregnant, physically inactive, or if you have a health challenge that limits exercise so you know what activity level may be appropriate for you.
Sit Less, Move More
Time spent sitting down is on the rise — and it's not good for anyone's health. Between long hours working at a desk or binge-watching TV episodes or just being stuck in traffic, the average American now spends six to eight hours sitting every day. This raises the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. In fact, prolonged sitting is a risk factor for nearly every cause of death. It's easy to understand why sitting all day won't extend your lifespan. But why is prolonged sitting a real health hazard?
- Prolonged sitting can affect how your HDL or "good" cholesterol works. The muscle activity needed for standing helps trigger processes that aid the breakdown of fats and sugars. When you sit, these processes are idle. When you're moving, the processes rev back
- The American College of Sports Medicine has singled out a sedentary lifestyle as a disease risk factor, even in people who get plenty of
- Regular exercise does not cancel out the ill effects of too much sitting.
Getting up and off your chair can help you lead a healthier life. This month's newsletter explores ways to work outdoor fitness into your busy routine.
5 ways to fit outdoor activity into your busy life
1. Walking. You sat at your desk for most of the workday, you got stuck in traffic on your way to your daughter's soccer game and now you're sitting on the bleachers checking messages on your cell phone. How much more sedentary behavior can you squeeze into a single day?
It's time to get moving. Put on your walking shoes and walk briskly around the perimeter of the field. Three trips around add up to more than half a mile! No spectator sports on the schedule? Take your dog or a neighbor's dog for a long walk after dinner. Look for other ways to work a walk into your daily routine.
2. Gardening can be a lot more physical than you might think. It's not just popping outside to pick a handful of herbs for your dinner salad. Mulching, digging and planting all count as moderate-intensity (The talk test is a handy way to measure exertion. If you're working at a moderate-intensity level, you can talk, but you'll be too winded to sing.) Mowing the lawn with a manual push mower will take that activity up a notch to the vigorous intensity level. (If you're working vigorously, you will not be able to say more than a few words without stopping for a breath.)
3. Bicycling. Consider running errands using your bicycle instead of your car. Cycling provides aerobic activity without the pressure on your knees associated with running. Always wear a bike helmet, even for short trips in your neighborhood.
4. Active Play. Get outside and jump rope, shoot some hoops, play catch with your son or daughter or hit a tennis ball against a wall. The possibilities are endless!
5. Plan a hike for the coming weekend. Hiking outdoors in a beautiful setting can help reduce stress. It'll tone your leg, buttock and back muscles too. Contact your local recreation department for hiking opportunities in your area. Or talk to the folks at a local outdoor supply shop for suggestions. For an hour-long hike — about 3 miles — on a smooth, flat path you'll need running or cross-fit shoes. For longer hikes over rougher terrain, invest in lightweight hiking shoes. Wear a fanny pack with a water bottle, a snack and sunscreen.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH: Chicken Salad with Peaches and Walnuts
Sweet, juicy peaches start showing up in the produce department by mid-May. The season only lasts about six to eight weeks, so take advantage of the fragrant fruit while you can. Serve this filling and refreshing salad with whole-grain pita or rolls.
The salad components may be prepared a couple of hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until it's time to assemble the whole salad.
- 4 ripe peaches
- 1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
- About 2-1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1-1/2 tablespoons peach or apricot preserves
- 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt, sour cream or light mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 big pinch ground ginger or cardamom
- Several romaine lettuce leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds
- To make skinning the peaches easier, plunge them into boiling water for a minute or Remove from the water and set aside on a plate.
- Peel and pit 2 of the peaches and cut the flesh into small Toss with a squeeze of lemon juice in a bowl to prevent browning. Add chicken, celery and scallions.
- Stir together fruit preserves, yogurt, vinegar, salt, pepper and Add to chicken mixture and toss gently.
- Arrange romaine lettuce leaves on a platter. Mound the salad mixture on top. Peel and slice the 2 remaining peaches and arrange around the chicken Sprinkle with nuts and serve.
- 355 Calories
- 12 g Fat
- 3 g Saturated fat
- 33 g Protein
- 22 g Carbohydrate
- 4 g Dietary fiber
- 277 mg Sodium
Source: Healthy Living Kitchens