Blog Post

The YMCA employs experts in the field of health & fitness. All of our locations have certified personal trainers, group exercise, and wellness center instructors, all of which who are available to help guide, coach, support and inspire your journey to a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy these articles and wellness tips for a healthier and happier you.

Reduce Stress in December

Gauge Your Stress Level

10 Food Stress Busters

Diet and Exercise Fight Stress and Anxiety

Get Moving to Manage Stress

 

Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.

By Mayo Clinic Staff  http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469

You know that exercise does your body good, but you’re too busy and stressed to fit it into your routine. Hold on a second — there’s good news when it comes to exercise and stress.

Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.

Exercise and stress relief

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
  • It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements.

As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.

  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Put exercise and stress relief to work for you

A successful exercise program begins with a few simple steps.

  • Consult with your doctor. If you haven’t exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Walk before you run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running). You also can do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

Also, incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week.

  • Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming.
  • Pencil it in. Although your schedule may necessitate a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Stick with it

Starting an exercise program is just the first step. Here are some tips for sticking with a new routine or reinvigorating a tired workout:

  • Set SMART goals. Write down SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited goals.

If your primary goal is to reduce stress in your life and recharge your batteries, your specific goals might include committing to walking during your lunch hour three times a week or, if needed, finding a baby sitter to watch your children so that you can slip away to attend a cycling class.

  • Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.
  • Change up your routine. If you’ve always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.
  • Exercise in increments. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can’t fit in one 30-minute walk, try three 10-minute walks instead. Interval training, which entails brief (60 to 90 seconds) bursts of intense activity at almost full effort, is being shown to be a safe, effective and efficient way of gaining many of the benefits of longer duration exercise. What’s most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.

Whatever you do, don’t think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity you enjoy — whether it’s an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back — and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress.

GAUGE YOUR STRESS LEVEL

  1. Emotional:
    • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
    • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control
    • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
    • Feeling lonely, worthless, or depressed, having low self-esteem
    • Avoiding others
  2. Physical:
    • Low energy
    • Headaches
    • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation and nausea
    • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
    • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
    • Insomnia
    • Frequent colds and infections
    • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
    • Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
    • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
    • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
  3. Cognitive:
    • Constant worrying
    • Racing thoughts
    • Forgetfulness, disorganization, inability to focus
    • Poor judgment
    • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
  4. Behavior:
    • Changes in appetite – either not eating or eating too much
    • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
    • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
    • Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting and fidgeting

FIGHT HOLIDAY STRESS AT THE YMCA!

http://www.anxiety-and-depression-solutions.com/diet-and-exercise-help-fight-anxiety-392

While most people associate anxiety with an emotional response to stress, a major factor in stress and anxiety is the physical response to external stimulus. The stress response in the brain sends signals to the body to prepare us to handle a perceived danger or threat, and this induces a physical state of tension that can add to the emotional reaction to problem situations. As the body stores tension over time, a state of chronic anxiety can occur. Proper diet and regular exercise can help alleviate the physical tension associated with stress and help lower anxiety levels.

Eating a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and meats can help strengthen the body’s resistance to stress. These foods contain nutrients that are essential for healthy body function. Combining complex carbohydrates available from sweet potatoes, rice, or whole oats with protein helps to keep blood sugar levels steady, avoiding the stress of the sugar crashing cycle that can add to physical stress. Drinking plenty of water helps, too, as dehydration is just added stress to the body.

Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine also helps to reduce stress. Stimulants put the body in a constant state of heightened agitation and can facilitate a kind of false stress response when no stress is present. Refined sugar also creates stress as the body feels a rush of energy and then a crash in blood sugar. Processed foods should be avoided in favor of whole foods as they don’t contain the nutrients needed for strengthening the body’s ability to handle stress.

Exercise also helps to alleviate stress and anxiety. It does this in several ways. Engaging in physical activity increases the flow of oxygen through the body and stimulates the nervous system, and this can help to release the tension held in the body and induce a relaxed state of calm, making it easier to deal with stressful situations when they arise. Hormones such as endorphins are released during exercise, and these hormones help to alleviate pain and create a mental state of well-being. Exercise also helps to create a more positive self-image, provides a distraction from worries, and facilitates a sense of motivation and positive direction.

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or exhausting to provide benefits against anxiety. Just 10 minutes of moderate exercise a day can create a more positive outlook. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Try becoming a member of a group to provide the added benefit of social interaction and fun. To see benefit, make sure to move at least 3 to 4 times a week, and remember to start small and build slowly based on your level of fitness. Overdoing it too soon can cause problems and make it hard to keep up the routine.

Adopting a more physically healthy lifestyle based on balance is the key to a healthy emotional outlook and reduction in problems such as anxiety. Wellness can be looked at as a lifestyle choice, and making good decisions about diet and exercise is one way to improve the quality of life.

The YMCA is here to help! The Y offers a huge variety of exercise classes on land and in water, sports programs for youth and adults and, with the help of ActivTrax, we can customize a path for you to gain strength, flexibility, and balance through guided workouts and activity tracking as well as better diet with nutrition and meal planning tools.


STOP STRESS EATING

Are you a stress-eater? Many of us are and find it can have catastrophic effects on our weight and health. Certain foods inherently help reduce stress so if you munch on them regularly, you may find that your stress level has been naturally reduced. If you reach for the cupcakes or ice cream when you get stressed, you’ll want to read more!

  1. Rich and creamy avocados are a great source of vitamins and nutrients that have been shown to naturally boost your mood as well as block certain fats. Avocados are even great as a dessert food and better for you than that cupcake or ice cream to satisfy that craving for sweets.
  2. Cashews are high in zinc, which has been shown to lower depression and anxiety. They are high in protein too, helping keep you feeling full longer. It’s easy to grab a handful when you get stressed and snack on them instead. They are perfect to eat by themselves or add to a salad or main dish.
  3. Oranges are a great souce of vitamin C that helps you feel energetic and the sweetness can help fight off sugar cravings. Since oranges are such grab-and-go snacks, they are perfect to reach for whenever stress makes you want something sweet.
  4. Garlic is great for warding off illness and boosting our immune system. Because stress weakens our immunity, eating plenty of garlic in your diet can help keep your immune system strong.
  5. Broccoli is loaded with folic acid which has been directly linked with stress reduction. While it’s not an instant treatment for stress, eating plenty of garlic regularly can help lower your stress level.
  6. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants that help lower stress. Just be sure to make it dark chocolate and don’t overdo it!
  7. Salmon is loaded with omega-3s that help with brain function. Improved brain function can help you deal with stress more effectively.
  8. Water is good for so many things! Drinking a cold glass of water and taking a brisk walk for a few minutes is a great way to get those endorphins going and easy your stress.

 

The YMCA employs experts in the field of health & fitness. All of our locations have certified personal trainers, group exercise, and wellness center instructors, all of which who are available to help guide, coach, support and inspire your journey to a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy these articles and wellness tips for a healthier and happier you.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

The Impact of Exercise on Diabetes (article)
Warning Signs of Diabetes
Risk Factors for Diabetes (article)
Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes (article)
YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program
Remaining Motivated (testimonial)
Tips for Managing Diabetes

New studies that took a deeper look at the role of exercise in treating people with Type 2 diabetes determined that both the timing and quantity of exercise can have an impact on people with the disease.

Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population has Type 2 diabetes and more than one in three people are pre-diabetic, putting them at high risk for developing the metabolic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

New Approach to Diabetes Treatment

Study: Exercise, Diet Reduce Diabetes Risk

A small study conducted by researchers in New Zealand found that walking 10 minutes after meals, and dinner in particular, proved to be more effective in controlling blood sugar levels for Type 2 diabetics than doing 30 minutes of exercise all at once during the day. The study, published Monday in Diabetologia, found that walking post-dinner brought post-meal blood sugar levels down by 22 percent.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes sugar to collect in the blood, according to the National Institutes of Health. Type 2 diabetes can be treated with diet, exercise and medication, including insulin. Type 1 diabetes, which more commonly occurs in childhood and young adulthood, is a result of a damaged pancreas that produces little to no insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must self-administer insulin for the rest of their lives.

In a separate study, researchers from the U.K. combined results from 28 smaller studies and found that the more exercise people did, the lower their risk of Type 2 diabetes. The studies found that exercise helps insulin work better on cells and helps muscles use sugar more effectively.

The research, also published in Diabetologia, found that people who doubled their amount of exercise to about 300 minutes per week, instead of the recommended 150 minutes per week, reduced their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 36 percent.

Only 49 percent of Americans regularly exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week, at a moderate level, according to 2015 CDC data.

ABC News’ Chief Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser said that each diabetic responds differently to exercise so people should work with their doctors to make sure they are getting the benefits of exercise but not dropping their blood sugar levels too much.

“Every bit helps,” Besser said of exercise. “You shouldn’t be put off by the fact that, ‘I don’t have time.'”

Aside from exercise, the chief recommendation for helping lower people’s risk for developing diabetes is weight loss.

According to Besser, even a five percent drop in weight for an overweight person can considerably reduce risk for diabetes. Doctors commonly recommend a regimen of both diet and exercise for Type 2 diabetics because losing weight helps lower the risk of diabetes and exercise itself seems to help with diabetes treatment.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/studies-suggest-benefits-exercise-people-type-diabetes/story?id=42874203

I joined the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program in May of 2016. My experience has been life-changing, and I heartily support the program. The program promotes a lifestyle change of nutrition and physical activity which reduces the risk of diabetes. For several years my primary care provider urged me to lose weight and exercise more because I was pre-diabetic. I joined a gym with good intentions, unfortunately, my efforts failed repeatedly. Last March my doctor referred me to the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program. I made the one-year commitment and have learned nutrition, the importance of consistent physical activity, and have identified road blocks that kept me from reaching my goals. The facilitator and classmates offer additional support as we take this journey to a healthier lifestyle together.

Now, five months into the program, I remain motivated and have exceeded my goal of 7% weight loss. I exercise at the YMCA at least three times a week and now understand how a balanced and healthy lifestyle will protect me from diabetes. I am looking forward to my next appointment with my doctor instead of the usual dread. I am confident that my lab results will show improvement. More importantly, I now feel healthy and optimistic that my life-style changes will be long-term.

Because Type 2 Diabetes can lead to serious health complications, it’s important to be aware of any diabetes warning signs and get tested for diabetes if you have any of these symptoms. Treating diabetes early can help prevent serious complications.

Warning Signs of Diabetes

Sometimes Type 2 Diabetes can develop without any warnings signs. In fact, about a third of all people who have Type 2 Diabetes don’t know they have it. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor about your risk for diabetes and determine if you should be tested.

Common warnings signs of diabetes include:

  1. Increased thirst
  2. Increased hunger (especially after eating)
  3. Dry mouth
  4. Frequent urination or urine infections
  5. Unexplained weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry)
  6. Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
  7. Blurred vision
  8. Headaches

If you have any of the above mentioned warnings signs of diabetes, give your doctor a call and schedule a diabetes test. With the right diabetes diet, regular exercise, and medications, if needed, you can manage Type 2 Diabetes and live an active, productive life.

http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-warning-signs

NEED HELP MANAGING YOUR TYPE 2 DIABETES?
HERE ARE SOME TIPS

  1. Get your doctor’s OK. Let them know what you want to do. They can make sure you’re ready for it. They’ll also check to see if you need to change your meals, insulin, or diabetes medicines. Your doctor can also let you know if the time of day you exercise matters.
  2. Check your blood sugar. Ask your doctor if you should check it before exercise. If you plan to work out for more than an hour, check your blood sugar levels regularly during your workout, so you’ll know if you need a snack. Check your blood sugar after every workout, so that you can adjust if needed.
  3. Carry carbs. Always keep a small carbohydrate snack, like fruit or a fruit drink, on hand in case your blood sugar gets low.
  4. Ease into it. If you’re not active now, start with 10 minutes of exercise at a time. Gradually work up to 30 minutes a day.
  5. Strength train at least twice a week. It can improve blood sugar control. You can lift weights or work with resistance bands. Or you can do moves like push-ups, lunges, and squats, which use your own body weight.
  6. Make it a habit. Exercise, eat, and take your medicines at the same time each day to prevent low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia.
  7. Go public. Work out with someone who knows you have diabetes and knows what to do if your blood sugar gets too low. It’s more fun, too. Also wear a medical identification tag, or carry a card that says you have diabetes, just in case.
  8. Be good to your feet. Wear athletic shoes that are in good shape and are the right type for your activity. For instance, don’t jog in tennis shoes, because your foot needs a different type of support when you run. Check and clean your feet daily. Let your doctor know if you notice any new foot problems.
  9. Hydrate. Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  10. Stop if something suddenly hurts. If your muscles are mildly sore, that’s normal. Sudden pain isn’t. You’re not likely to get injured unless you do too much, too soon.

http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/exercise-guidelines

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