Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes

start with walking

walk for health


If ONLY three people read this article, at least one of them would report that they perform no leisure-time physical activity. In fact, 36% respondents of a recent study said that they perform absolutely no physical activity when not on the job – a.k.a. they probably hold the couch down for a considerable amount of time.


To me that’s crazy-staggering because the lack of physical activity actually correlates to 22% of heart disease and even 22% of colon cancer (among other things).


Clearly, people that fall into that category have “fallen into a rut” and need to jumpstart their physical activity again to help improve their health and overall quality of life! But this rut may seem insurmountable. Here’s a 4 step process to help you get up and on your way to active again!


[Note: this doesn’t take into account how much nutrition can have on your health. In order to really see amazing results you need to not only improve your physical activity but take control of your diet.]


1. Start Small and Walk


I may be one of the biggest proponents of walking around. The simple task of walking for just 30-45 minutes per day at a moderate to brisk pace can help even the most inactive person improve their health. Walking can help increase your exercise capacity, improve cardiovascular health, burn calories…etc. Get up and get walking everyday and you will build up your exercise capacity to where you can take on more arduous tasks!


2. Activity Calendar


Now that you are in the groove of getting up and simply walking you can create your activity calendar and “schedule yourself in”. By putting it in your planner/calendar you are making a commitment to yourself that you won’t back out of. You can also start to schedule in 2-3 strength training days per week as well, which we will discuss now.


3. Lifting Activity


After several weeks of walking and building up your exercise capacity, it’s a great idea to start having at least two whole body strength training workouts per week. These can take as little as 30 minutes but are a great way to increase your lean muscle mass which will also help you burn more calories throughout the day and also improve your overall strength. You can simply pick 8-10 exercises which in combination work the entire body. Perform all the exercises for 3 sets of 10 reps.


4. Stay Committed


It does you absolutely no good to start walking or lifting for 2 weeks and then just go cold turkey and quit. Instead, let’s make a commitment to actually make a permanent change. This time, commit to improving your life for 12 weeks. That’s only 3 months. Those 3 months could make a huge difference in the rest of your life!


Look we get it, who wants to stay active after you’ve been up on your feet all day a work? This includes those of us that sit behind a desk all day too! Don’t be like the 36% of adults out there who are physically inactive when at home. Start small, stay active and commit on your way to a happier, healthier you!


In need or more workouts, recipes, weight loss tips and muscle building tips? Head on over to our site at Always Active Athletics for nothing but the best DIY fitness, food and lifestyle tips around!


Youth Sports: Preventing Dehydration & Heat Illness

dehydration and heat illness in children

children’s sports health


Sports should be a fun part of childhood and adolescence. Parents, coaches, and athletes should take every step necessary to keep sports fun and enjoyable while also preventing injuries, dehydration, heat illness, concussions and complications from sickle cell trait.




Dehydration can leave an athlete feeling tired while reducing their ability to focus. It can also lead to an increase in core body temperature, strain the cardiovascular system, reduce blood flow to muscles and increase risk of heat stroke and death. Risk for dehydration is greater in hot, humid environments and at higher altitude. Every year we hear about a high school student who dies due to dehydration or over hydration. Kids with larger body sizes have an increased risk of dehydration particularly when they are practicing with pads and helmets in the heat because equipment can trap heat making it difficult to dissipate the heat their body is producing.


How can you prevent dehydration? Thirst is not always a good indicator of hydration needs, particularly in children. Coaches should give kids a 5 to 10 minute rest and fluid break after every 25 to 30 minutes of activity. Sports drinks and water should be provided and when exercising for a prolonged period of time (over 1 hour) or in the heat, children should be encouraged to consume a sports drink that contains sodium. Sodium is critical to help their bodies retain the fluid that they are drinking. Over-consumption of fluids that do not contain enough sodium, like water, can dilute blood sodium leading to a dangerous, even deadly, condition called hyponatremia. Coaches should also monitor children to make sure that they are drinking.


When the temperature and humidity are high rest and fluid breaks should be scheduled after every 15-20 minutes of activity. And when the temperature and humidity are very high, practice should be canceled or moved indoors.


Symptoms of dehydration:

– dry mouth
– thirst
– being irritable or cranky
– headache
– poor athletic performance
– dizziness
– cramps
– excessive fatigue
– confusion


Heat Illness


Heat cramps may lead to intense pain and muscle spasms. Though the name includes the word key, heat cramps can occur in any sport including ice-skating and swimming. Prevention includes adequate conditioning, getting acclimated to changes in heat and humidity, and providing adequate fluid including a sports drink that contains sodium. Treatment involves replacing fluid and sodium losses, stretching and massage.


Heat exhaustion may occur when a child continues to play through some of the symptoms of dehydration. In addition to the symptoms of dehydration heat exhaustion can also include the following symptoms:

– pale skin

– profuse sweating

– nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

– stomach cramps

– muscle cramps


If heat exhaustion is suspected the child should be taken out of play and moved to a cool area. Equipment and extra clothing should be removed and cold towels and a fan used to cool the child. If the child does not make quick improvements, seek immediate medical treatment.


Heat stroke is a severe and very serious form of heat illness. Signs and symptoms may include those for dehydration and heat cramps as well as:

– core body temperature above 104°F (rectal temperature)

– altered consciousness

– seizures

– confusion

– irritability or combativeness


Immediate treatment for heat stroke includes calling on-site emergency medical personnel or 911 and beginning to cool the child with cold towels, fans, and cold water while waiting and during transport to the hospital or medical facility.


National Athletic Trainers Association

Heat Illness, Medline Plus


Science Update: 5 Recent Health Studies

charts and graphs

Once a week I browse through the latest published health research to see what new, interesting findings are being brought to light. It’s the nerdy scientist in me that loves to see what the newest research is all about. My most recent search through the literature brought these 5 studies to mind that might be of some interest to you all. Let’s break them down really quickly!


1. Your Physicians Support Could be the Key to Weight Loss


A recent study published in Patient Education and Counseling surveyed over 300 obese individuals who were participating in a federally funded weight loss program (clinical trial). It found that those who thought their physician provided helpful support lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t rate their physicians support as high! Like with most things when it comes to weight loss, having the support of those around you can be key to starting and actually sticking to a plan! This research could lead to weight loss programs where your primary physician plays a leading role!


2. On-the-Go Eating Can Lead to Weight Gain


This study out of the University of Surrey found that those who eat while on-the-go (walking) actually end up overeating later in the day. Professor Jane Ogden explained, “This may be because walking is a powerful form of distraction which disrupts our ability to process the impact eating has on our hunger. Or it may be because walking, even just around a corridor, can be regarded as a form of exercise which justifies overeating later on as a form of reward.”


3. Exercise Alone Does Not Induce Weight Loss


We’ve heard this several times that weight loss is all about diet and exercise. You need to control what you put in your body via nutrition and burn any excess calories (among other things) via your exercise program. Recent research points to the fact that exercise doesn’t induce weight loss. Authors involved in the study, Drs. Cooper and Luke explained, “While physical activity has many benefits, multiple lines of evidence lead to the conclusion that an increase in physical activity is offset by an increase in calorie intake, unless conscious effort is made to limit that compensatory response.”


4. Elderly Can Reduce Household Falls with Vitamin D


Recent research has shown that vitamin D supplementation can help increase muscle integrity and strength which can lead to an overall reduction in household falls. The research was published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. It looked at only 68 nursing home participants (so a larger study is needed) but found vitamin D supplementation resulted in a 50% reduction in falls compared to those who consumed a placebo!


5. Omega-3 Supplements Don’t Stop Cognitive Decline


You’ve probably heard of the research where it was hinted that omega-3 consumption can improve your cognitive ability? That might not be the case. That’s why it’s good to always brush up on some of the latest research because a recent study looked at over 4,000 participants. It found that omega-3 consumption did NOT slow cognitive decline. This long term study (5 years) was one of the largest and longest to study the cognitive affects that omega-3s can have! As with all the other research mentioned above, the researchers called for more research on omega-3 supplementation to discover its cognitive power (or lack thereof).


As I’ve said before, one study doesn’t mean something is fact. It just lends credibility to the idea. Be sure to take all of these findings with a grain of salt and do your own research into the matter. That being said, this new research can help us start to implement some strategies into our daily lives that we might not have thought about and lead us down a healthier, happier path!


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