March 27, 2012

National Nutrition Month

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month?  This year's theme was "Get Your Plate In Shape" which features a giant red heart-shaped plate lifting a barbell while displaying an example of healthy food compartments on its belly.  The month is now coming to a close, but I was fortunate to be included in several NNM projects during my internship rotations.  In fact, I wrote some tips for my last rotation to include in their newsletter.  Strangely, it is more focused on fitness (being more active at work), but physical activity is another topic I am passionate about as well as a huge contributor to living a healthy life. Below is my fitness advice for National Nutrition Month:

Many people are challenged trying to fit physical activity into their day, but studies have shown that time spent sitting during the work day is associated with a greater proportion of overweight or obese workers. 

Current recommendations suggest a goal of 30 minutes of moderate activity per day.   Here are some tips to get you on your feet when you are working.  Remember, even a combination of three 10-minute sessions can meet your daily goal!
  •  Spend 10 or 15 minutes of your lunch break walking.  Inviting a co-worker for support can keep you both motivated.
  • Use a restroom or water-fountain on a different floor and use the stairs to get there.
  •  Set an alarm each hour of the work day as a reminder to stand up, stretch, and give your eyes a break.  Swinging your arms, flexing your legs, and stretching your neck can help you feel more alert.
  • Keep a small set of hand-weights or stretch bands under your desk.  On a short break, do some bicep curls and triceps extensions.  Start with 5 of each per side and work up to 20.
  •  Stand straight and raise both heels off the ground so you are standing on the balls of your feet.  Start with 10 and work up to 30. 
  • Watch the clock to time 1 minute of jumping jacks in your office.  
  •  If you have a stable chair, do some dips off the front of it:  extend your legs, balance on your heels, slip your body off the front of the chair and lower yourself gently towards the floor 10 times with elbows pointing straight back.
  •  Do walking lunges across the room. 
  • Sit up straight in your chair and extend 1 leg straight in front of you, hold for 10 seconds then switch legs.  Start with 3 sets and work up to 10.
  •  Be sure to stretch out your chest and wrists several times throughout the day, especially if you use a computer. 
Any increase in movement during the day can increase your weekly activity level. 
Small changes can really add up when it comes to improving your health! 

*Ginger Hultin, Hines Dietetic Intern

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