Tips for Fall Wellness
Fall means football, flu season, and that last stretch of pleasant weather before winter kicks in. Days are getting shorter, temperatures are getting cooler, and as the holidays approach, it’s a tempting time to slip out of exercise routines and pack on the pounds.
This guide provides helpful tips to promote health and wellness throughout the season.
Prioritize Physical Activity
Fresh, crisp air, and beautiful changing leaves can beckon you outside, but the colder weather and shortening days can become barriers to physical activity and exercise.
Take advantage of the sunlight and try exercising outside as much as possible. You’ll get a boost of disease-fighting vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” which is harder to come by naturally as winter approaches and the days grow ever shorter. Research shows that it’s easier to focus and concentrate on activities while you’re outdoors, so you may be more likely to keep up with a fitness program if it’s taking place outside.
With after-school activities, holidays, and busy weekends, finding time to work out can be a challenge, especially if you have younger children. Try breaking up your workout into a few mini sessions throughout the day. Try taking a walk at lunch. A few minutes of stretching in the morning before leaving for work can make it easier to fit fitness in around the day’s activities.
Recruiting a friend as a workout buddy can keep you accountable to each other. A gym partner can motivate you to show up for your workout instead of putting it off. Get the whole family involved by allocating time for family fitness every day, like a walk in the park or some hoops in the driveway. Exercising with your children can motivate parents to stay fit as well as model good physical fitness for the kids. [tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]Exercising with your children can motivate parents to stay fit as well as model good physical fitness.[/tweet_box]
Many people feel that it is almost impossible to avoid getting sick during the autumn and winter months. Often when you do get sick, your body builds it’s immunity and becomes stronger!
It is possible to keep yourself healthier during the winter months. Here are some tips to help you keep as healthy as possible:
- Wash your hands often and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze
- Get plenty of sleep to avoid a weakened immune system
- Eat healthful, fresh foods with vitamins and minerals to support immune health, including plenty of vitamin C
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid emotionally or physically stressful situations
- Get plenty of rest
- If you do get sick, stay home from work or school to avoid worsening symptoms or infecting others
- Try not to share objects that can carry germs, like drinks and kitchen utensils
- Immediately discard used tissues after coughing or sneezing to avoid spreading germs
It goes without saying, if you are running a high fever for an extended period of time, are becoming dehydrated or are feeling the ‘effects’ of a serious flu episode, seek medical attention immediately.
Maintain Good Nutrition
Autumn boasts an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables in season. Take advantage of nutritious seasonal fruits like apples, grapes, persimmons, pears, and cranberries. Leafy greens like chard, kale, mustard greens, and spinach also are at their best in the fall months. Sweet potatoes and winter squash, which are packed with beta-carotene, are available in the autumn months. They can be roasted, pureed, or mashed.
With such a variety in season, eating well as the leaves turn doesn’t have to be a chore. These seasonal fruits and veggies tend to be hearty, filling foods that can satisfy your hunger during colder weather.
While a fridge and pantry stocked with seasonal produce is a great start, fall also brings an array of eating habits to watch out for.
From tailgating at football games to the Thanksgiving table, the temptation to overeat is everywhere. You don’t have to cut out all the bad stuff entirely, but mind your portions and try eating more of the healthier foods at the spread. Try to eat half a plate of fruits and veggies and leave the other half for everything else.
On Thanksgiving, for example, eat a healthy breakfast or snack beforehand. This may seem counterintuitive, but it will actually help you fill up sooner and make better choices about what you put on your plate.
Avoid empty, liquid calories like soda and alcohol as much as possible and limit your holiday treats to gatherings. Halloween candy and sugary food gifts are common this time of year. Don’t keep seasonal cookies and candies around the house, where you’re more likely to munch on them.
Stick With It
The hardest part of staying healthy this fall is sticking to a positive routine. Keeping up with physical fitness, keeping an eye on what you eat, and getting enough sleep are all key ways to avoid packing on holiday pounds and succumbing to the next bug making the rounds.
Fall is a busy season. Make it all simpler by getting into a rhythm now. Whether it’s packing lunches or planning a workout regimen, it will be much easier to keep everything organized with a weekly routine that you and your family can stick to.
If you prioritize healthy habits, you can successfully navigate these challenges while enjoying the beautiful weather and holiday festivities.
Check out our Back to School Guide for more information on how to stay healthy during the school year.
Image Copyright: stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo
About the Writer
Dr. Brooke Joins “The Team Behind the Team” In Colorado
For two weeks this summer, I was a member of the Sports Medicine team at the United States Olympic Training campus (USOC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I have always been an avid sports fan so to have this experience was a dream come true. The one word that best sums up my experience for the two weeks that I spent with the Sports Medicine team is ‘affirming.’ After reflecting on my experience, I am certain that I am practicing in a manner that is congruent with the absolute best care that can be provided to athletes—or patients– of any level.
Dr. Bill Moreau is the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for the United States Olympic Sports Medicine program, the CMO for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, and will be the CMO at the 2016 Rio De Janiero Olympics. He is also the one who inspired me to begin this journey in the first place. My favorite fact about Dr. Moreau is that he is a chiropractor! He is brilliant, a consummate professional, an amazing speaker and to top it off, an inspiration. There is a team of full time employees at the USOC but that team relies heavily on the volunteers to uphold high standards of care for all the athletes. Dr. Moreau called us “the team behind the team.”
Our team was a multi-disciplinary medical team and comprised of a massage therapist, athletic trainer, and orthopedic surgeon. The four of us worked together brilliantly and collaboratively for the betterment of many of the athletes. This collective and team-based approach is necessary to understand and meet the full spectrum of an athlete or patient’s needs. It is the approach I am accustomed to and I found it hugely affirming that at the highest-level the expectation is collaboration.
The days I spent in clinic were busy and non-stop. Some days I saw 15 athletes over the course of eight hours; the demand for my skills was high. I was amazed and encouraged to regularly hear athletes requesting to see me at the front desk. As it turns out, the two full-time chiropractors on staff were only able to focus on recovery from injury, which is an all too common situation. That left me the ability to provide preventative chiropractic to athletes, often wrestlers, gymnasts, and weight lifters. These groups understand the benefit of the keeping their body aligned as a means of maintaining health and also securing a competitive advantage.
Our mission was to keep the athletes on the court, field, pitch, pool or venue. We were there to support those seeking to stand on the podium at an Olympic games; those that are training to proudly represent our country and achieve their dreams. We were also there to give athletes the extra edge needed that can mean the difference between a gold and silver medal, in some events it comes down to .001 of a second!
One particular athlete, with whom I spent a considerable amount of time, is preparing to compete in his fifth Olympic games. I’m excited to follow him over the next few months and would love nothing more than to see him standing on the podium receiving a medal in the 2016 Olympics. Regardless of whether he medals or not I’m thrilled to know that I was able to have a role in his training and health as an athlete.
Walking away from this experience will leave me with many wonderful memories and lessons for my career. First, being a chiropractor puts me in an ideal position to evaluate, care for and inspire athletes of any age, shape, and size. I loved seeing that the main treatment modality in the Sports Medicine clinic was the use of manual care, the laying on of hands. Second, our accomplishments in the clinical care of the athletes were done so, in no small part, as a team. Being a vital member of that team proves that working together with other disciplines is the future of health care.
About the Writer
200 Miles? 500 Miles? When Should You Replace Your Running Shoes?
Ryan Hall won his first NCAA championship in 2005 when he ran the 5000 meter race in 13:22.32, beating his teammate by less than a second. That’s just off a 4 minute pace, for those of you who are counting. Gina Kolata from the New York Times wellness blog, caught him standing still long enough to ask him when he decides a shoe is ready to retire. He explained that he replaces his shoes every 200 miles, saying, “I know that my shoes could probably handle a couple of hundred more miles before they are worn out, but my health is so important to me that I like to always make sure my equipment is fresh.” Dr. Jeremy Keene, from our clinic in Roanoke-Cave Spring, Virginia echoed Hall’s emphasis on maintaining your gear; encouraging runners to remember that, “Injury prevention and increased performance are the results of shoes that provide the proper support.”
Replacing shoes every couple hundred miles isn’t quite as daunting when your shoes come from a corporate sponsor, but when the rest of us are looking at spending between $90-$120, new shoes don’t seem quite so necessary, regardless of the stern warnings about possible injuries from tired-out treads. Gina Kolata decided to get a few other opinions on the topic as well, asking a friend who runs 100+ miles each week how often she purchases replacements. Ms. Davis guesstimated her gear logs about 500 miles before she heads to her local running store. A range of 200 to 500 miles is fairly large though and neither Mr. Hall nor Ms. Davis had too much to say about how they determine when the time is right to start looking for new shoes.
The experts at REI recommend 500 miles as a general guideline but offer an easy set of tests for you to determine for yourself whether or not your shoes need to be benched.
The Press Test: Use your thumb to push on the bottom of your shoe up into the midsole. With new shoes, the midsole should visibly compress into lines or wrinkles. A more worn shoe will compress less when subjected to the same amount of pressure. Heavily compressed midsoles offer little stability or protection and are a sign that it’s time for a new pair.
Further Examination: Check out the wear your shoes have sustained. Are the heels intact? Have you worn parts of the outsole down? Have your shoes molded to your feet (i.e. heel pockets inside the shoe)? If so, your shoes may be ready for retirement.
Feelin’ Good: Finally, pay attention to how your feet, ankles, knees, hops, and back feel after you run. Are you noticing new aches and pains lately? If so, it may be time to change shoes. Alternatively, unexpected friction or blisters may signal overstretched shoes that allow your feet to move around more than they should.
While tests and expert advice are helpful, the real answer for when to replace your shoes rests with you. According to Runner’s World, shoe wear has a variety of causes including:
- The running surface – asphalt wears shoes down faster than grass or dirt,
- The runner’s weight – runners over 200 pounds wear their shoes down more quickly than lighter runners
- Strike style – heel strikers tend to wear out their midsoles more quickly than other running styles
- Shoe type – more protective shoes tend to last longer than minimalist shoe types.
With all those variables, you are the only one who can really say if your shoes are ready for retirement. Using the tests mentioned above should help you determine if you’re ready for a new pair. While rotating between two different pairs of shoes and using your running shoes exclusively for workouts will help shoes last longer, when you know your shoes are past their prime, it’s worth the investment to get a new pair that will help keep you running pain-free.
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Is It Bad to Crack Your Back?
There are varying opinions about whether people should crack their knuckles, back, or other joints in the body. Many people wonder about the cracking noise that occurs during a chiropractic adjustment, and some claim that having a friend apply force to “crack their back” can produce the same effect. But what actually happens when your back cracks? And how is it different than treatment from a chiropractor? Let’s take a look.
What Causes Your Back to Crack?
A recent MRI study published in April 2015 in the journal PLOS ONE illustrates what happens when you crack your fingers: Your joints are separated by force, forming a cavity that causes the cracking noise we are familiar with.
When your back cracks, the same principle applies — gases between the joints of the spine form a cavitation that causes a change in pressure, producing a popping noise.
Back cracking is perfectly normal. Gases and liquids surround the joints of the spine, and as you move throughout the day they move too. When pressure is applied, such as during a chiropractic adjustment, these liquids and gases rapidly move and form cavities that produce the popping noise. The joints and bones themselves are not affected by the cavities created.
Sometimes the back cracks as a result of ligaments tightening or shifting, but it also might be the result of a more serious condition, such as arthritis — rough bone edges may rub together because of the deterioration of smooth cartilage.
How Are Chiropractic Adjustments Different?
During chiropractic adjustment, cracking or popping noises typically occur as a natural result of specific manipulation applied to the joint, including changes in pressure that occur when your joints are being moved.
Having a friend crack your back and seeing a chiropractor are very different. Having an untrained person apply force that creates a cracking sound may provide some sort of temporary relief, but it also comes with a greater risk of injury. Only a trained, experienced professional like a chiropractor can manipulate specific joints and adjust them properly to provide lasting relief and appropriate treatment. Chiropractors can assess exactly where a joint is malfunctioning or causing pain and can deliver adjustments with specific, targeted intent that restores function and mobility to the joint.
There is a much higher chance that an untrained amateur could accidentally injure your back. Chiropractors are highly trained, and chiropractic manipulation is a very specific procedure. Dr. Ray Tuck, D.C., summed it up:
Anyone can produce a popping sound from a person’s back. A doctor of chiropractic can determine where an adjustment to a specific joint needs to be performed.
Doctors of chiropractic are trained to perform adjustments on patients with lower back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of chiropractic adjustment, please contact us with any questions or to schedule a consultation.
Image Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo
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