Tag Archives: weight control

Why Walking Is Good Exercise

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The other day, I heard an exercise instructor say that walking isn’t really exercise, and it upset me. There’s no reason to disregard any form of physical activity as not “difficult enough.” Walking is good exercise.

Is walking good for weight loss?

Working out doesn’t have to be extreme to be beneficial, and, as it turns out, putting one foot in front of the other is harder work than we thought.

This study shows that walking burns more calories than experts have presumed for decades. I’ll remember that when I’m walking my dog, Lucy (pictured below).DSC_0036

Any movement burns calories, and adding more walking to your routine may help with weight loss and prevent weight gain. In addition to burning calories, which may mean easier weight control, walking has other benefits.

How exercise alters gut health for the better

Why walking is good for mental health

Brains shrink with age, which is not good news for memory, judgement, and coordination.  Research from the UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh links any type of aerobic exercise, including walking, to a better brain structure and reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

I don’t know if my brain is expanding when I walk the dog every day, but I do know that it gets me out of the house and away from my desk, and that the rhythmic motion of walking reduces my stress and clears my mind.

Lucy is little, but she needs to exercise every day. That’s why I log at least 10 miles a week of walking outside in all kinds of weather. There is evidence that walking in nature changes your brain for the better.

Bottom line: Walk more for better health

I love to walk, and there’s no doubt that it’s good exercise. If you haven’t been working out lately, walking is a step in the right direction.

Start slowly and work up to at least 30 minutes on five days a week. Walking briskly offers more health benefits.

Walkers who have been doing the same loop for a while may want to take walking up a notch to make it more challenging.  Round out your walking routine with at least two sessions of resistance training, such as a weights or bands class, each week.

Now, where are my sneakers?

Should You Weigh Yourself Every Day?

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I’ve been on a lot of low-calorie diets, mostly as a teenager, and my dietary deprivation always involved frequent tracking of my “progress” on the bathroom scale.  I felt accomplished when I dropped a pound or two, and terrible when I didn’t.  It was clear that my self-esteem was affected by the numbers on the scale, and I didn’t like the feeling. As a registered dietitian counseling people about weight control, I made stepping on the scale optional.

In my personal and professional experience, the scale can leave emotional scars. That’s why I was a bit surprised by an article in USA Today that suggests weighing yourself daily is helpful for losing weight and preventing weight gain.

That conclusion may be based on the results of several research studies, but it does not apply to everyone, and certainly not to children.

As Laura Cipullo, RD, author of The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, puts it in the article, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers and start to identify your self-worth with what’s on the scale.

If you struggle with disordered eating, weighing yourself daily may not be a good idea. In fact, the studies mentioned in USA Today excluded people with a history of disordered eating, who may be more prone to obsessing about weight and respond to falling or rising numbers on the scale with extreme dieting or binging.

I would like to think that I’ve made peace with the scale, even though I weigh myself more often now than in the past 20 or 30 years. I use the scale to confirm that I must get back on track before the pounds really add up, not to deride myself for veering off course.

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with weighing ourselves. Do you weigh yourself on a regular basis?

 

 

 

5 Nutrition Rules Debunked

Many nutrition rules that we take for granted are more hype than help. It may come as a relief that you can ignore some nutrition advice and still eat healthy!

Advice: Put only the most colorful fruits and vegetables on your plate.

Bottom line: This rule shortchanges white, brown, and tan produce, such as mushrooms, cauliflower, and bananas, which are just as nutrition-worthy as their brighter counterparts. Most of us fall far short of suggested fruit and vegetable servings, so concentrate on including the types you like, no matter how pale. And while we’re at it, let’s stop shaming starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and peas, as nutrition expert Janet Helm so aptly puts it.

Advice: You should eat breakfast every day to control your weight.

Bottom line: The research doesn’t support the claim that eating a balanced breakfast is necessary for weight control, but if it works for you, stay with it. Skipping breakfast probably won’t cause weight gain or prevent weight loss if you stick to your calorie budget throughout the day, but there’s more to breakfast than the number on the scale, including fuel and nutrients for body and brain.

Don’t like to eat when you get up? Divide a balanced breakfast of fruit, yogurt, and a whole grain roll into two morning snacks that you finish before lunch. If you’re not into “traditional” breakfast foods, munch on a slice of leftover thin-crust cheese pizza and fruit, or half a turkey and cheese sandwich and carrot sticks.

Advice: Shop only the perimeter of the grocery store.

Bottom line: Yes, the outer parts of the store have lots of nutritious foods, including the fish counter, produce section, and the dairy case, but the bakery is also located there. The aisles house healthy options including whole grain cereal and pasta, as well as canned seafood and beans, and jars of fruit packed in their own juice. Plan meals and snacks, and head to the grocery store with a list to make it easier to peruse the aisles for nutritious choices. Don’t shop when you’re hungry, or that bakery along the perimeter may be too tempting to walk past.

Advice: You must drink 64 ounces of plain water every day.

Bottom line: Probably not! Water is an essential nutrient, but most of us don’t need to down a half gallon of the stuff every day.  Men, and women who are not pregnant or nursing require between nine and 13 cups of fluid daily, about 72 to 104 ounces, respectively. (Physically active people may need more.) Plain water is preferable for meeting fluid needs, but the water in other drinks, such as milk, coffee and tea (even the caffeinated kinds) contributes fluid, so it’s easier than you think to meet your quota.

Advice: Eating at night leads to weight gain.

Bottom line: Only if you overdo it, which is often the case. If you’re extremely hungry (from under-eating during the day; see section on breakfast, above), stressed, or bored, and you reach for high-calorie foods such as cookies, chips, or candy, you may find it difficult to limit your calorie intake. It’s OK to eat at night as long as you’re mindful of your daily calorie needs. If you struggle to control calories after the sun goes down, read this by Yoni Freedhoff, M.D.

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