Archive for hydration

a good way to start your day

Editor’s Note:  With fall in full swing, we get to thinking about nice welcoming mugs of goodness to warm our bones.   Research has shown a strong association of teas with long life and health in many ancient cultures.  After reading this WebMD article, you will find that green tea is very beneficial for your health.  We enjoy iced green tea in the summer, now it’s time to make it a year round drink, a daily ritual!  Drink it to relax, and for your health.  Enjoy the article!  Cheers!   

A cup of green tea is a good way to start your day.

By: Paula Spencer Scott A WebMD Feature

“It’s the healthiest thing I can think of to drink,” says Christopher Ochner, PhD. He is a research scientist in nutrition at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Green tea is beyond a super food.”

In the past 20 years, thousands of studies have shown green tea’s benefits.

Healthy Cells

Why is green tea so good for you? “It’s all about the catechin content,” says Beth Reardon, RD, a Boston nutritionist. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Green tea is not processed much before it is poured in your cup, so it is rich in catechins.

Healthy Heart

Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. A 2013 review of many studies found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure.

Brain Health

What’s good for the heart is usually good for the brain, and your brain needs healthy blood vessels, too. In one Swiss study, MRIs revealed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brains.  Green tea has also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes

Green tea seems to help keep blood sugar stable in people with diabetes. Because catechins lower cholesterol and blood pressure, they can protect against the damage a high-fat diet can cause, Ochner says.

Weight Loss

Green tea can help increase and even change your metabolism, so you burn more calories from fat. Studies show that green tea can also help you keep weight off once you’ve lost it.

It’s also a smart swap for sugary drinks. “All things being equal, if you sub 1-2 cups of green tea for one can of soda, over the next year you’d save over 50,000 calories,” says Ochner. That’s more than 15 pounds.

Cancer Role

Studies on green tea’s impact on cancer have been mixed.  But green tea is known to aid healthy cells in all stages of growth. There are some indications green tea may help destroy cancer cells.

Less Stress

Sipping tea helps you slow down and relax, Reardon says. An amino acid called theanine found in green tea can provide a calming effect.

For a healthy cuppa:

  • Don’t add green tea to boiling water. You’ll kill helpful catechins. Better: 160-170 degree water.
  • Add lemon. Vitamin C makes the healthy compounds in green tea easier to absorb. Dairy, on the other hand, makes it harder to absorb the catechins.
  • Levels of the healthful compounds in green tea can vary. Rule of thumb: Pricier teas usually have more, and canned green-tea drinks have less.

Aim for at least four cups a day, two with caffeine and two without. Even more than that seems to have little health downside, other than the possible effects of caffeine, Ochner says. “There could not be a more simple way to improve your health,” he says.

hot fun in the summer time


a guide to handling the heat on hot summer days

 
Yes ladies, it is that time of year again.  The summer heat is beginning to sizzle, but your training/fitness doesn’t need to flame out over the summer months.  The good news is there are some tricks for beating the heat and getting in your runs this summer. Being informed and being prepared are keys to understanding dehydration and overheating – and making the adjustments that are right for you.  We’ve researched several different medical and sports performance sources and found some pretty ‘cool’ information we want to pass along.

Our bodies are about two thirds water. When someone gets dehydrated, it means the amount of water in your body has dropped below the level needed for your body to function normally.  In our cases with activity such as running and heat, managing our hydration becomes a critical component of our lifestyle and training.  The heat index chart below outlines how heat + humidity can add up to dangerous heat levels quickly.


In the heat, our hearts have to work harder as well.  The reason is blood volume is diverted to the skin to try and cool the body faster, which takes away from blood flow to supply the running muscles.  Heat acclimation conditions the body to become more efficient, however it is a gradual process.  Tuning in to your body and how it responds is very important.  Pay attention to what it is telling you.  Everyone can adjust, but it is an individual thing, what works for one may not work for another.  Run/exercise smart.

Overheating, heat stress and heat stroke are all conditions that can be very dangerous and heat stroke can result in death.  So, knowing the symptoms can help you recognize when you are in trouble and/or when someone else is.  Symptoms of heat problems may include abnormal breathing, intense heat build-up in the head, clammy skin, headaches, muscle cramping, feeling faint, significant nausea, loss of concentration, confusion, any loss of muscle control, unusual heart rhythm and excessive sweating or cessation of sweating.

There are other risk factors that can come into play when considering training in heat.  These include the adverse effects of many medications (read labels), whether you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, overall fitness level, lack of heat acclimation, sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption.  Talk with your medical professional if you have any other health issues, education/prevention is the key to optimizing your performance.

If you or someone around you shows the signs of heat stress, be sure and get them to stop running or exercising first.   Take them to a shady place or inside and give them cool drinks.  Help cool their body by misting with hose, cold compresses, etc.  If conditions worsen, seek medical attention. 

Running in the Heat and Hydration Tips

Think about hydration as a part of your lifestyle.  You should be making sure you have enough water during the course of the day, whether you are running or not.  Even mild dehydration can cause mood swings, dry out your skin, as well as lower mental and physical performance.   Design a plan for reminding yourself to drink enough water over the course of the day.  You will feel better!

It takes about 20 minutes for your body to absorb/work with the fluid intake.  As well, most coaches/sports experts say you really don’t need any sports drinks for activity of 45 minutes or less, however, you can adjust this as necessary in the heat.  You will need to manage electrolytes (sodium, potassium, minerals, etc.) if you are going to be out longer.  Your plan for hydration with running/training should include:

  • Pre run.  Get 20 – 24 ounces of water in you 20 – 30 minute before beginning your run or workout.
  • During your run, about every 20 minutes get an additional 4 – 6 ounces.  Consider a little more fluid and/or electrolyte mix for runs 60 minutes or more.
  • Post run recovery should be another 20 ounces of water and/or some sport drinks.  Be careful, learn about sports and ‘recovery’ drinks, many are loaded with sugar, additives and are high in caloric content.  As always, be careful with the claims made by advertisers.   

More Tips for Running in the Summer

The best plan for working out in the hot summer months is to be flexible and sensible.  Slow down when you run in the heat and get your whole workout in instead of going too hard and having the heat stop you.  In extreme heat, have indoor workout plans, use a treadmill.  Adjustments will have to be made, so use your imagination and creativity instead of complaining about “how stinkin’ hot it is!”  You can break your runs/workouts up into segments.  For instance, two 15 minute runs instead of one 30 minute run.  Do some pool running combined with water workouts.  Have fun, it’s summer time!

  • Run in the early morning if you can.  It’s the coolest time of the day.
  • Run during the evening and night.  Again, it is cooling down and you don’t have the sun beating down on you!
  • If your option (or desire) is to run in the middle of the day, try and find a route with as much shade as possible.
  • Wear light and breathable clothing.  Cotton soaks up sweat and does not breathe well, making the shirt/shorts heavier as well as increasing chafing while you run.  The newer shirts with technical fibers will wick the sweat away from your skin, allowing a superior cooling affect.  You can experiment with a technical hat as well.
  • If you are running where neighbors are watering, use the sprinklers as cooling breaks!  Pour some water over your head/body.  Use your imagination to come up with cooling ideas!
  • Be sure and know your skin and wear sunscreen if you are going to be out for a while.  Be careful and do some research here.  Some sunscreen coatings can slow down the sweat rate through your skin, producing a faster heat buildup.  We will consult with a dermatologist soon and get some advice to help you with your sun protection plans.

You have to take the soaring temperatures into consideration – do experiment slowly and easily until you are comfortable with listening and responding to what your body is telling you.  If you are out in the more extreme parts of the day, running with a friend is a good way to stay safe out there. You can maintain and even increase your fitness level in the summer months.  Many women use the summer months to back off a little, and run for the joy of it with maintenance runs in preparation for the official fall training programs.  So, pick a local 5K race to run and test your fitness with that!  Above all, enjoy the journey and the pure joy of moving your body! 

 

small things add up


small things really do count …

2012 is well underway, resolutions may still be in full force (maybe not) and the holiday bulge may still be hanging around (ouch!). People tend to make lofty New Year’s goals to be healthier, but aren’t successful because they aren’t specific enough, too rigid to achieve and stay on track, or maybe you just haven’t followed through.

For many women, all it takes is one candy bar or one bad meal and the rest of the day, or even the week is ruined. We beat ourselves up over the one lapse. Instead look at the big picture and know that we can get back on track. Break it down and know that the small things can make a dramatic difference in your quest for a healthier you. Try these simple day to day tips – the small things will add up to something big!

  • Drink more water – This one is crucial, adding more water to your diet alone can do so much good for your body. It also assists with weight loss. Drinking 96 ounces of water daily decreases fluid retention, improves liver function, appetite decreases, metabolic functions improve (more energy to burn more calories) and blood volume is maintained. Simple fix: keep a large bottle of water with you at all times because once you actually feel thirsty, dehydration has already set in. Mood swings and headaches are many times just simple hydration issues.
  • Unhealthy munchies – Stay away from the unhealthy snack trays and candy bowls. You know what we’re talking about! If you’re hungry, eat something healthier – try not to pick at something just because you’re stressed or bored. Simple fix – remember to eat all your daily meals – then keep healthy snacks with you during the day. Here’s a tip on an ideal day; breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, evening snack. By keeping regular eating habits you are less likely to be hungry and go for those unhealthy treats. A handful here and a bite there can add a lot of empty calories/sugar to your day. If you feel comfortable with it, keep a food journal so you have an idea of just how many calories you take in and when.
  • Think. Don’t eat it if it’s not worth it – There are some days a girl feels the need to splurge! Please make certain it’s something you really want to ensure that it was worth it so you don’t have that guilty “why did I eat that” feeling.
  • Soda and Sugary Drinks – We’ll do complete stories on ‘sugars’ in the near future. A diet high in sugar contributes to weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which raise the risk of heart disease, warns the Cleveland Clinic. It’s added in soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and even added in many juices! Don’t get us started on foods! Surveys have also found that the average American consumes ~ 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar every day. Health gurus say we should really be drinking/eating a fraction of that amount. The recommended sugar intake for adult women is 5 teaspoons (20 grams) of sugar per day, for adult men, it’s 9 teaspoons (36 grams) daily, and for children, it’s 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day. A 12 ounce Coke has 39 grams of sugar as a reference point. We will have a forum soon on label reading! We are not saying to BAN everything – what we are saying is to be informed, aware and adjust accordingly. Everyone enjoys a sugary treat once in a while!
  • Vegetables – Veggies are good for you. Great source of fiber which is beneficial to be heart healthy, lower risk of colon cancer and keeps you “regular”! An easy fix suggestion is to substitute veggies for fries. Or ‘bake’ the fries! We all have heard about what fried foods can do to us! Try adding servings of veggies to every meal. Add colors, experiment and have fun with it. The fresher the better!
  • Portion Size – Yes, it is true – America has the largest meal and packaged portion sizes in the world! For example and let’s be honest here, we know candy bars and other sugary treats aren’t getting us any closer to our goals so if you’re going to eat it, PLEASE stay away from the super-size, king-size, etc. and go with the bite size. Use smaller plates for meals, do some food research, learn label reading and have some fun with it! Many restaurants are famous for huge portion sizes! Make one order ‘dinner for two’ like we many times do! Heck we even order off the kid’s menu if they’ll let us! You can be sensible and creative when eating out!
  • The Great Chocolate Debate – Look for a higher cocoa content – 70% and higher are the healthiest. The higher levels provide more nutrients, antioxidants etc. Less is more with this type of beautiful stuff! Slow, small bites are much more enjoyable and satisfying.
  • Try keeping a meal log – Always at a loss what to plan for dinner every night, run out of time to fix dinner so just stop for fast food? Take a few minutes on the weekend and plan what you’re going to have for dinner each week. Plan grocery shopping around that and have everything on hand so you can feel more confident and in control all week!
  • Move Around – Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Seriously just do it! Many people are at desk jobs all day. Take 5 minute fitness breaks! Take the chair away, walk around or even squat in place. If your company has flex time or a rewards system for staying healthy, tap into as many of those resources as you can! If not – ask about leading a “walking’ break or meeting or find some other creative ‘moving’ solution! The more you move, the more you can do! Once again and back to the main topic – the small things will add up to big things. Use your imagination. One size does not fit all! What may seem to be small improvements for one may be HUGE for others so it’s all about finding what works for you! Pick one small improvement that you can work on per day/week and focus on achieving that goal then continue on each week. Leading a healthy lifestyle is most definitely a marathon not a sprint, so work towards improvements that you can continue on long term not for a quick fix.

I hope this helps with remembering that small improvements, one step at a time, really are the way to go. We are never going to get everything right, but we can adjust and have lots of fun with it. The point is to move your body and put good stuff in it! Laugh, have fun and play like a kid!

Peace Love Run ~ Sara McCauley, Energy Director