Take Strides with Pride!

By Tegan Johnson-Galvez, DPT and Stephanie Alde, BS

With medical professionals encouraging people to increase their number of steps per day, we question, are all steps the same? The answer is simply, no. You can maximize the benefits of walking while decreasing the stress on your body by following these simple guidelines.

  • Posture First. Think Tall! Elongate the crown of your head toward the sky and elongate the space between your ribs and pelvis. Doing so decreases pressure in your joints by activating the muscles that support them. Think about the posture you would have while balancing a book on your head.
  • Trunk Movement. As your arms swing your trunk should rotate lightly. Do not walk “en blocke” avoiding this trunk rotation. Trunk rotation helps your spinal mobility, balance, and abdominal strength.
  • Foot Position. Avoid rotating your foot to the ten or two o’clock position. Keep it in neutral at twelve o’clock.
  • Quiet Steps Only. You should strike the ground softly with the heel and push off to the next step with your toes. Avoid loud slapping with the feet while walking.
  • Stride Length. Short quick steps are preferable to decrease joint stress, however be sure your stride is not too short by fully extending your hip.
  • How Fast Should I Be Walking? According to the Journal of Sports Medicine, light walking is <100 steps per minute, moderate is 100-129 steps per minute, and vigorous walking is > 130 steps per minutes.
  • Watch Your Heart Rate. The current recommendation for heart rate intensity during your walking program (by the American Heart Association) should by calculated by taking 50-80% of (220-age). However, it is understood that not all people of the same age are created equally. So consult with your physical therapist or trainer for more specific intensity recommendations based on your physical abilities.
  • How Much Should I Be Walking? According to the Journal of Obesity we should strive for > 15,000 steps per day and/or greater than 7 hours per day standing upright.

While each one of these recommendations are important to minimize stress on the joints and maintain a healthy lifestyle, focus on only one or two at a time while walking. This is a great start learning to gradually improve one’s gait. Keep progressing as you improve and aim to incorporate most of the above recommendations. If you have more specific questions on how you should be walking, consult your local physical therapist.

References:

The American Heart Association, url hhtps://healthyforgood.heart.org, Know your Target Heart Rate for Exercises, Losing weight and Health.

J. Slaght et al., Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 2017,Walking Cadence to Exercise at Moderate Intensity for Adults: A Systematic Review, Article ID 4641203.

WW Tigby et al., International Journal of Obesity, 2017 Volume 41,689-696, Time spent in sedentary posture is associated with waist circumferences and cardiovascular risk.

 

Stress is physiological – exercise can help!

Stress. It seems like for most of us, it is just a part of daily life. In fact, we’re so used to being stressed that we may not even notice how stressed we actually are. We’re often puzzled and alarmed by seemingly inexpiable stiff muscles, headaches, digestive issues, constant colds, insomnia, fatigue, or chest pain, all of which can be symptoms of stress(1). This is because even though we sometimes think of stress as just a “feeling”, in reality, stress is a set of physiological conditions which we evolved with to protect us against threats from predators. When we perceive a threat, the brain’s hypothalamus sends out nerve and hormonal signals to the adrenal glands, which release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. While useful for emergency situations, overactive stress responses can have serious chronic health consequences, and our modern lives are filled with perceived threats. Even though most of our threats today are not emergencies, unless we are conscious of how we react to them, our body still produces the same surges of hormones(2). This is not good news.
What is good news, however, is that exercise positively alters many of the physiological conditions associated with stress. There are numerous studies that tout the ability of physical activity to reduce stress levels, yet when people are stressed out, exercise seems to be one of the first things they stop doing. In surveys conducted by the American Psychological Association, the majority of adults who said they exercise or walk to help manage stress said that the technique was very effective or extremely effective. However, that same survey found that 39% of adults said they have skipped exercise or physical activity when they were feeling stressed(3).

We need to shift the way we think about stress, and how we choose to go about lowering it. Pay attention to your body and acknowledge the physical indicators that your stress levels may be too high. When you’re stress is high, don’t stop doing the things that keep you healthy, but instead, commit to prioritizing them, especially exercising. Don’t accept stress as the norm. According to new research, stress doesn’t only affect the person directly experiencing it. Stress is actually “contagious” (4). Therefore, when you lower your stress levels, you not only positively impact your own life, but everyone around you, setting off a chain reaction that can help everyone to be healthier, happier, and more productive.

1. https://www.stress.org/stress-effects/
2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037
3. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/exercise.aspx
4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2018/02/26/stress-may-not-only-affect-the-brains-of-the-stressed-suggests-new-study/#2b17d4ea640c

About the Author: 

Katrina received her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and is a CPT through the American College of Sports Medicine. Katrina worked as a personal trainer for several years while putting herself through college. In addition to her 16 years experience in the health club and fitness industry, Katrina has competed in several sports including basketball, track & field, softball, and soccer at the collegiate level.

The Proper Care and Feeding of a Teenager!

By Patti Miller

It is 6 p.m. and I hear the front door slam. Next, the bellowing, cracking voice of my 16 year old boy calling out, “Mom…what’s for dinner?” Are you like me and think about hiding out in the house when your teenager comes home from a long day of school, sports and other extracurricular activities? The “hangries”(hungry and angry) usually happen during a growth phase between ages 11 to 18. How can we prevent the hangries and free ourselves from the daily angst?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, energy needs for growing teens can vary based on age, physical maturity, gender, and activity level. Boys’ energy needs from ages 11-13 are between 1800 – 2600 calories per day and increase to 2200-3200 calories between ages 14-18. Girls’ energy needs from ages 11-13 are between 1800-2200 calories and increase to 1800-2400 calories per day between ages 14-18.(1) This is just the energy required to fuel a growing brain and body. Vigorous activities like soccer, football, basketball, hockey and others increase energy and fluid needs even more.

Teens are tempted by fad diets to help lose, gain or maintain weight and improve appearance. A balanced diet that includes all three macronutrients is important to meet these needs. Protein supports growth while fat and carbohydrates supply the increased energy needs. Breakfast is an important part of a child’s diet and research shows that a healthy breakfast improves brain function.(2) If your child is too busy for breakfast be sure to have him/her pack a healthy snack to eat mid morning.

Packing a lunch and snack is a healthier choice than eating at the school cafeteria. Choose whole grains to optimize fullness and provide much needed B vitamins and other minerals. Just like planning adult meals, teens should strive for a healthy plate. Ensure half your plate/meal is made up of fruits and vegetables, one quarter grains and one quarter protein.(3) Some snacks to include are popcorn, nuts and nut butters, eggs, veggies and cheese.

When participating in after school exercise, carbohydrates are an important fuel before and after a practice or game. A light snack such as half a turkey sandwich or fruit and cheese will ensure their bodies have enough stored glycogen (energy source in our bodies) to perform their best and feel good. After a workout, replenish those carbohydrate stores with a banana and some trail mix or a chocolate milk. Water is the best hydration source for athletes and non-athletes alike. Avoid sugary and caffeine loaded beverages.

Navigating the teenage years can be an emotional roller coaster. Let’s help eliminate the “hangries” by helping our kids choose healthy meals and snacks.

1.http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/how-many-calories-does-my-teen-need
2.http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-reasons-your-teen-needs-breakfast
3. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Patti Miller is a Registered Dietitian having completed her B.S. in Food, Nutrition & Dietetics as well as a dietetic internship. Patti’s professional background includes clinical nutrition support within hospitals and inpatient facilities as well as outpatient counseling and home care visits. She has consulted with private fitness clients

and provided nutritional assessments for a healthy, ready-to-cook meal preparation service. She belongs to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and California Dietetics Association. Patti enjoys spending her free time with her husband and two sons and enjoys weight training, golf and travel.