On Track: Running Tips for All Fitness Levels [Infographic]

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 4:16 PM comments (0)

Ready to hit the roads, trails and sidewalks this spring and summer? Before you lace up your running shoes and head out the door, check out these top running tips for all fitness levels from the experts at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Scroll below for our full running tips infographic, from improving endurance and when and how to stretch to running-friendly snacks and injury-prevention:

running infographic

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Matters of the Heart: Setting a Heart-Healthy Example for Your Children

Thursday, February 26, 2015 9:21 AM comments (0)

child on bikeParents, it starts with you. You are the first and most important influence on the current and future health of your children. The example you set could put your children on a course for a lifetime of healthy living, especially when it comes to heart health. The health risks posed by a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and obesity are immediate because heart health matters at any age, even in young children. 

David Najman, MD, Cardiology at NorthShore, shares some easy ways that parents can set a heart-healthy example for their children while also improving their own health:

Healthy diet. If you want your children to eat fruits and vegetables, you need to set the example by eating fruits and vegetables yourself.  Include your children in the decision making and help guide them by discussing the benefits of the delicious fruits, vegetables and whole grains that you will eat together as a family every night.  If children grow up eating healthy foods together with their parents, eating those same foods as young adults and adults won’t feel strange or difficult at all; those same foods will be what they ate growing up. 

Exercise. Show your children that exercise is important by maintaining a regular workout routine. And, as often as you can, get every member of the family involved in a fun, physical activity. Jog together as a family; ride bikes together as a family; go on a brisk evening walk together as a family. Children experience the same health benefits of exercise as adults—strong bones and muscles, maintenance of a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and a regular exercise routine reduces one’s risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and more. Get your kids moving now and they will likely maintain that active lifestyle later in life. Lead by example!

Smoke-Free. If you quit smoking, your kids are less likely to start. Smoking is more common in teenagers whose parents smoke. If you are still smoking, quit. Secondhand smoke is linked to lung cancer but it also increases the risk of multiple types of cancers, heart disease, diabetes and many other medical issues as well. 

Maintain a healthy weight. Today in the U.S., one child out of three is considered obese or overweight. Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, once common health issues encountered only in adulthood, have developed in children as young as seven.  Obese children are also more likely to become obese adults, increasing their risk of developing heart disease later in life. Don’t focus on weight with children; instead, shift to leading a healthy lifestyle as a family. Lifestyle changes like eating right as a family and exercising can make all the difference. 

What do you do to set a heart-healthy example for your children?

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Celebrate a Happy and Healthier New Year: Make a Big Impact with Achievable New Year's Resolutions

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 2:26 PM comments (0)

Make the commitment to improve your health one small step at a time. Big changes can be hard to maintain but small incremental improvements can make a big impact on your overall health.  

Celebrate a healthy New Year throughout the year with the help of these four simple New Year’s resolutions from NorthShore University HealthSystem.

resolution infographi

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Rehydrate! Water, Coconut Water or Sports Drinks?

Friday, July 11, 2014 12:55 PM comments (0)

rehydrateIt’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day but it’s especially important to replenish your body with fluids after exercise, particularly after periods of intense physical activity or exercise performed in high temperatures. But what’s the best way to hydrate? 

Water might seem like the obvious rehydration choice but there are other options. Patrick Birmingham, MD, Sports Medicine at NorthShore, discusses the pros and cons of some after-exercise rehydration options:

Water. Every system of the human body requires water to function, so when you exercise and lose water by perspiring, you need to replenish what you lost. On average, every individual needs to consume approximately 1.9 liters of water a day but this amount increases when you factor in exercise, especially high-intensity exercise. 

Pros: Unlike some sports drinks and coconut water, there are no calories in water so you won’t undo any of the good accomplished during your workout. After short, moderate workouts, water should be sufficient for rehydration. 

Cons: After intense workouts lasting more than an hour, your body loses not just water but important electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and these electrolytes will need to be replenished too. In this situation, water might not cut it. 

Coconut water. Coconut water is all the rage but is this “natural” source any better than a bottle of water or a sports drink when it comes to rehydration after a workout?

Pros: Depending on the brand, coconut water has fewer calories, less sodium and more potassium than the typical sports drink. Generally, it also has no added colors and only natural flavors (from other juices, for instance). 

Cons: After an intense workout, the most important electrolyte you need to replenish is sodium. Coconut water has less sodium than most sports drinks, which means it might not be able to do the heavy lifting after a particularly intense workout. Some coconut waters are enhanced with extra sodium but that can alter the flavor and make consumption less pleasant.

Sports drinks. Most popular sports drinks provide approximately 13-19 grams of carbohydrates and between 80-120 milligrams of sodium.

Pros: Sports drinks are made especially to replace the electrolytes you lose during long, arduous workouts, so they should be your go-to source on high-intensity days. The tasty flavors mean you’re likely to consume enough when you need it most. Pediatric rehydration mixtures like Pedialyte are also a great option. They have just the right combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates with less sugar. 

Cons: Many sports drinks have added artificial flavors, colors and unnecessary sugars. Make sure to check for lower-calorie versions so you aren’t undoing all your hard work at the end of your workout.

All summer long, NorthShore will be at athletic events in the community to help you find out how you can Unleash Your Inner Athlete. Come to the NorthShore tent and enter to win free entry into upcoming summer races and/or a grand price of a personal activity monitor. For a schedule of events where you can find NorthShore, click here

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Get Moving! Work-Friendly Activities and Exercises [Infographic]

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 3:45 PM comments (0)

We weren’t made to sit around all day; yet, research shows that the average American spends roughly 13 hours sitting each day. For some, their desk job might deserve part of the blame. Don’t let your job impact your health. Prolonged sitting can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more.  

The experts at NorthShore University HealthSystem have put together an infographic that is full of simple, fun ways to get up and move throughout the day, even while at work. Stop sitting and get moving! Click on the image below to view our full infographic and discover easy ways to get some extra exercise at work.

Get moving infographic

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Finding a Style of Yoga That’s Right for You

Thursday, May 01, 2014 1:42 PM comments (0)

yogaIntrigued by yoga but not sure where to start? For beginners, yoga’s many styles and moves might be a bit overwhelming but don’t be deterred. Yoga is a great exercise for people of all ages, activity levels and body types; it’s just a matter of finding the one or combination of styles that’s right for you.

Finding the right style of yoga comes down to assessing your current level of fitness/ability and determining what you hope to achieve by adding yoga to your fitness routine.  Some styles are better suited to athletes looking to increase flexibility and stamina, while other more gentle styles are ideal for those with injuries or chronic medical conditions. But no matter the style, all yoga increases strength, flexibility and balance, while also releasing tension and calming the mind. After all, the goal of yoga is to create a bond between the mind and the body. 

Join us for Total Care for the Athlete at Heart on Saturday, May 3rd from 8-10:30 a.m. to learn more about Meditative Yoga as a Fitness Cool Down. Register for this free event by clicking here

Polly Liontis, Yoga Instructor and Licensed Massage Therapist, highlights some popular styles of yoga and discusses the health benefits and required fitness levels of each:

Hatha yoga focuses on breathing exercises and basic poses. Its more basic approach makes it an ideal style for beginners who need to accustom themselves to yoga’s poses and relaxation techniques.
Benefits: Hatha reduces stress, increases concentration and promotes a feeling of overall relaxation. It’s also great for the core.
Who can do it? Anyone, regardless of age or ability, can do Hatha!

Iyengar yoga is a form of Hatha yoga that focuses on alignment and precision during movement. Often straps, blankets and blocks are used to enable beginners and those with injuries to achieve the correct positioning without putting excess stress on muscles and joints.
Benefits:  Like all styles of yoga, Iyengar is a mind and body exercise. It promotes balance, builds muscle and can help with recovery after an injury.
Who can do it? Iyengar yoga is a gradual yoga. By including props and allowing one to progress slowly from one move to the next, it’s great for just about anyone, especially those with less mobility after an injury.

Vinyasa yoga seeks to synchronize movement with breath. The key to Vinyasa is to flow smoothly from one movement to the next, which is why it is also frequently referred to as Vinyasa Flow.
Benefits: Vinyasa gets you moving more than Hatha so there’s the added cardiovascular benefit. It also builds lean muscle, improves strength and flexibility, and tones abdominal muscles.
Who can do it? It’s a bit more physically demanding and fast-paced than Hatha, but Vinyasa is still great for beginners and those looking to move from beginner to intermediate level. 

Ashtanga yoga is a form of power yoga that is fast-paced and intense with lunges and push-ups. The six-move sequence flows rapidly from one strenuous pose to the next and is paired with Vinyasa-style breathing. 
Benefits: Like with any style of yoga, Ashtanga reduces stress and improves coordination and balance. It’s quite a workout too, which means the added benefit of potential weight loss and full-body toning. 
Who can do it? Ashtanga yoga is best for fit people who wish to maintain or increase their strength and stamina. It would be helpful to be familiar with the six basic poses in the Ashtanga sequence before jumping into an Ashtanga class.

Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, is practiced in a humid room with temperatures kept at 95 - 100 degrees. All Bikram sessions are 90 minutes and consist of the same 26 poses and two breathing exercises.
Benefits: The heat of Bikram facilitates a deeper stretch, and increased perspiration helps flush and cleanse toxins from the body. It’s a gently intense workout with weight-loss possibilities.
Who can do it? The heat might make it a bit of a stretch (no pun intended) for beginners but after you’ve gotten the hang of the heat and the poses, it’s a good yoga style for intermediates looking to push themselves to new levels.

 

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Get Fit: Great Exercises Your Family Can Enjoy Together

Friday, January 17, 2014 10:00 AM comments (0)

family fitnessGet them when they’re young! Exercise is important for every single member of the family, even the small ones. Physically active kids are more likely to grow up into physically active adults, which could ultimately reduce their risk for heart disease, obesity and many other health issues. In addition to the long-term and obvious physical benefits, children that are physically active have better concentration at school, higher self esteem, improved ability to handle stress and greater social acceptance than those who are not active.

Help your kids make a lifetime commitment to health and fitness by making that commitment as a family. Show your kids the way it’s done and you could set them on a path for a healthier future. 

Ideally, all children over the age of two should be physically active for at least one hour per day.  For toddlers and preschoolers, much of that will be unstructured play, but it’s important, nonetheless.  If a child or family is not currently active at all and one hour per day seems intimidating or unrealistic, it’s perfectly fine to set smaller goals (i.e., 15-20 minutes per day) and build from there.

Leslie Deitch Noble, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares some ideas for family fitness that will get everyone moving and, most importantly, having fun:

Hiking. A moderately difficult hike can burn approximately 400 calories per hour.  If you don’t happen to be near a hike-friendly area, simply go for a brisk walk as a family. It’s a great safe way for the family to catch up, explore the outdoors and get fit together. 

Ice-Skating. Cold weather doesn’t mean the entire family should hibernate. There are many calorie-burning activities that embrace the season and feel more like fun than exercise, including ice-skating, which can burn over 400 calories per hour. Make sure everyone stays safe by keeping ice-skating confined to skating rinks and not lakes or ponds.

Yoga. The family that does yoga together reduces stress levels together. There is a yoga type for every age and every fitness level. When introducing beginners and children to yoga, help prevent injury by using a certified yoga instructor.

Biking. When roads aren’t icy or snowy, break out the helmets and hit the road. Make sure everyone is up-to-date on safety and the rules of the road before heading out. Biking is a great way to explore as a family, and, it could potentially awaken a lifetime passion for fitness for your kids.

Dancing. Nothing could be simpler or more fun than turning on some tunes and dancing as a family. If a fitness craze like Zumba can work magic for adults, a little dancing could do wonders for kids too. Dance games for the Wii, Xbox or other gaming consoles are also a great way to get the family dancing at home during the cold months.  Parents and kids, alike, love a little bit of friendly competition when everyone is laughing and grooving together.

How do you stay fit as a family?

 

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Start the Year Off Right – Set Reachable Goals

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 9:45 AM comments (0)

Reachable-GoalsI am going to work out for an hour every day. I will lose 20 pounds in the next three months. I’ll be back down to my weight in high school by the end of the year. Do any of these goals sound like your own for the year?

If so, and you have a thoughtful plan on making it a reality – good for you! If you tend to say the same thing every year and don’t see the progress you’d like, this year try to set an attainable goal with key milestones to keep you on track and motivated.

Thomas Hudgins, MD, a physician at NorthShore and a triathlete, gives the following suggestions for setting health and weight goals you can stick to this year:

  • Choose activities and exercise routines that you enjoy. You will find that you’ll be much more likely to stick to a routine if it involves doing something that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy running, choosing a weight-loss routine that focuses heavily on running probably isn’t going to be something that you’ll stick to long-term. Remember, activities as simple as walking and going up the stairs can help get you on track.
  • Don’t stress out about the numbers. While it is good to check your progress on a scale from time to time, don’t let the numbers rule your success. Getting into shape may involve weight loss, but it also involves muscle strengthening and toning.
  • Be flexible. Be willing to change things up, if needed. It’s great to have a reachable goal in mind, but it’s just as important to be able (and willing) to make adjustments to your routine to help you get there.
  • Partner up. Working out with someone else can help keep you motivated. If you don’t have a family member or friend that can join you, consider participating in a class or group workout activity.
  • Set short-term goals. While keeping your long-term goals in sight, don’t forget to set short-term goals and reward yourself periodically for reaching those closer milestones.

What goals do you have this year? How do you plan to stick to them?

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Don’t Stress the Holidays

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 4:13 PM comments (0)

holiday stressStress is our body’s reaction to something which upsets the normal balance of life, something more than our usual day-to-day duties and obligations. Stress often triggers a “fight or flight” response. During stressful events, the adrenal glands release adrenalin, a hormone that activates the body’s defense mechanisms, causing the heart rate and blood pressure to increase, muscles to tense, digestion to slow and pupils to dilate. These physiological responses give us the strength and focus to escape or to fight when faced with an acute threat. This once ensured the survival of our species when predators were a true threat. 

Today, when many think of “stress,” they think of something negative. Stress is not a pure evil though. The world we live in now may be filled with less literal predators, yes, but the “fight or flight” response to stress can still be useful. It can help us make good, productive decisions when faced with a deadline at work or school, and we often experience cognitive and emotional growth as a result of some stressful experiences as well. 

Some are better equipped to handle stress though. Temperament plays a role in how susceptible people are to stress. Most parents have probably observed that one child might be especially fussy by nature and need extra soothing, compared to another who is calmer and can more easily accept and feel comfort. If one does not handle stress well, it can manifest in a variety of ways physically, including headaches, stomach pain, sleep issues, regular illnesses, anxiety and depression. Chronic stress can trigger a secretion of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can cause heart disease, obesity and the suppression of one’s immune system. That’s why it’s imperative to find ways to both harness the power of stress and find ways to cope with and reduce stress levels when they become too high.

The holidays can be an especially stressful time for many people, from holiday shopping that becomes too much to handle, to travel that makes the holidays feel far from festive. 

Zahava Davidson, Head of the Division of Individual and Relational Psychotherapy at NorthShore, shares some ways to manage your stress levels during the holidays and beyond:

Regular exercise. Often the holidays become an excuse for letting a regular exercise routine fall by the wayside. Don’t do that again this year. You might have less time during the holidays, but make time for exercise. It’s a great stress-reducer and even a short walk each day can do wonders.

Make a list. Finding a better way to manage your time could help you avoid those skyrocketing stress levels altogether. Prioritize your schedule. Chances are, the big things are stressing you out. Which are most important? Which will take the most time? Acknowledge they need to be done, get them out of the way and then enjoy the holidays with your family. 

Eat a balanced diet. It’s all about taking care of yourself both mentally and physically. If your stress levels are high, you are more susceptible to illnesses, so you need to keep your body healthy too. Try to eat a balanced diet. Yes, this is important even during the holidays. Also consider limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption. 

Sleep! Start each day off right. Getting enough sleep each night makes handling stress much easier. When you’re tired, you are more likely to lose your temper or become easily agitated. When you’re well rested, you can better handle whatever the holidays might throw at you, and maybe even enjoy it. 

Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything on your own. You might be hosting the big meal or you might be hosting family at your house for the week, but that doesn’t mean you have to do all the work. Those who have a strong network of family and friends are better able to handle stress. Let your family and friends take some of the weight off your shoulders.

Try meditation and mindfulness. The holidays can leave some with the feeling that they don’t even have time to think. You do. Or you should make time for it. Find time to be alone with your thoughts. For an extra boost of stress relief, consider combining this time with a massage, aromatherapy, yoga or acupuncture to relax your body as well.

Acknowledge that holidays can trigger depression. If your family has recently lost a loved one, or certain relatives and friends will be out-of-town, realize that it’s normal to feel grief during the holidays. Allow yourself to feel those emotions, and seek support from community, religious or healthcare resources.

Stick to your budget. The cost of food, gifts, travel and entertaining during the holidays can create a financial burden that greatly adds to stress. Plan in advance how much money you can afford to spend, then stay committed to your budget. If your budget is small, create more affordable ways to celebrate such as exchanging homemade gifts or asking guests to bring a potluck dish.

How do you cope with the stress of the holidays?

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Fall into Wellness with Health and Fitness Tips Suited to the Season [Infographic]

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:49 PM comments (0)

Cooler temperatures are no excuse to let your health and wellness fall by the wayside. In fact, fall is the perfect time to take advantage of some of the highlights of the season, from incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet to kicking your fitness routine up a notch with fall-friendly activities. 

NorthShore University HealthSystem has created an infographic filled with fall health tips and creative fall fitness suggestions. Click on the image to see our full Fall into Wellness infographic

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