Weekend Warriors Prevent Injury with Preparation

Ever heard the term “Weekend Warriors?” These fun-loving, sports-minded folks work hard then occasionally decide to have some fun by participating in an activity that’s new (or old and dear). The problem is, their body isn’t conditioned through diet and exercise for what’s about to happen, and the result is often an injury … sometimes a bad injury.

Common catalysts for weekend warrior syndrome are spring thaw, reunions, holidays, turning 40, turning 50, New Year’s resolutions and your teen’s friends playing ball in the lot next door. There are abundant opportunities to “jump right in” and although your heart’s in the right place, you could pay a big price later.

I’ve fallen victim to this scenario myself. I work out on a regular basis and eat well, but recently I played a charity softball game, a sport that I used to play in my younger years … and I could not get out of bed on Monday. I also could not use my Blackberry because my hands hurt so bad.

Had I at least been doing some type of similar activity before that game, or stretching the body parts I knew I’d be using, I might have had a fighting chance. Changing from a flat gym floor to uneven earth or rolling trails or sloped beaches can also cause issues. Imagine what the 50th-birthday-but-20-mile-bike-ride might do to an office worker.

If we’re not used to using certain muscles, we make ourselves prime candidates for debilitating or highly irritating injuries. I was thinking about the various ways to keep the body prepared for the occasional odd activity, and came across a great quote on the Internet: “Men over 40 should be fit for their sport rather than using their sport to get fit,” it said. This surely applies to everyone contemplating a sudden, big burst of athleticism.

The easiest way to avoid injury is the one requiring the most discipline: don’t do too much of anything that’s new. Start out in moderation, play part of the game, do 5 miles instead of 20. You could save yourself a stress fracture or a couple of very uncomfortable weeks.

Flexibility and stretching are key, too, so if you know you have a new sport ahead, start working that part of the body, stretching daily, and always stretch after a workout to gain flexibility. A balanced diet and proper weight is always a good idea. Hauling an extra 30 pounds around a make-believe football field is tough.

Here’s another tip: A lack of magnesium can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. Magnesium is lost via sweat, so regular exercisers and even saunagoers need to take in enough magnesium rich foods or supplement magnesium. But after a spontaneous workout, you’d do well to have some on hand.

Weekend warriors can benefit from maintaining a healthy mineral balance. Think of magnesium as your “muscle mineral.” The FDA recommends 310-420 mg daily for most adults.

Here are a few magnesium-rich foods if, like me, you prefer a healthy diet to taking lots of supplements: 3 ounces of halibut, 90 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted almonds, 80 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted cashews, 75 gm; 1/2 cup cooked soybeans, 75 gm; 1/2 cup frozen spinach, 75 gm; 1 ounce mixed dry roasted nuts, 65 gm; 2 biscuits of Shredded Wheat cereal 55 gm; 1 cup instant fortified oatmeal, 55 gm.

I also like to keep resistance bands all around me: tied to doors, in my travel bag, in front of the TV, wrapped around the legs and arms of my chairs. A good 10-minute workout with bands can be great if done right.

So if your college roomie has challenged you to a tennis rematch from days gone by … start working the “pushing” muscles on your chest wall, and get your shoulder primed for action. Do some sideways motion drills, and start taking magnesium. If it’s been a while, you’re going to need it!

How Can We Encourage Kids to Be More Active?

From my notes for the Daybreak Show on Fox 92.5 with Trey Radel. It was fun, Southwest Florida !

Q: How can we motivate kids to be more active?

1. STOP for a bit after work and take your children to the park. The 20-30 min you spend with them will change their lives and yours.

2. Always have your tennis shoes and change of clothes or a gym bag in your car. It eliminates your excuses. Children are ready to have fun any time. We do in life, what we make time for and a shift in priorities is necessary. In this fast-paced, crazy life we live in, we forget our children only mimic us. If you’re a couch potato, what do you think you’re going to get

3. We live in Florida, go run on the beach, barefoot in the sand with your children. Play Frisbee. Talk a long walk in shallow water.

4. Pick an active hobby that helps others, like walking an elderly neighbor’s dog.

5. Plan games and activies that are fun but active – regular physical activity can improve mental health and mood for both you and your children.

6. Once school gets out, start your day with a walk in the morning before work, to just talk to your your child(ren). Try it just once and I guarantee it will be the MOST rewarding day you have had in a LONG time. You will have activity and learn something about your child(ren).

7. Take your kids to the pool with a snorkel and fins and thrown money in the pool, they will enjoy hunting for even pennies, dimes and nickels. Make a game out of it. How many can they get with one breath? Have them get only the pennies with one breath. Throw in a few quarters, half-dollars or specialty coins. Then let them keep a few at the end. (ps. Don’t forget the sun screen

Read my News-Column: Small changes in eating mean big gains in health

Posted January 13th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Meal Tips

For many people, the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. The New Year is a good time to make a commitment to focus on living a healthier lifestyle. Even small changes in your eating habits can make a big impact on your health.

In addition, incorporating more exercise is important too. Simple tips that can make a difference in your health include parking farther from the building so that you have to walk more and burn more calories, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or cutting out all sugar drinks and drinking water instead.

When implemented daily, these easy lifestyle changes can help you get closer to reaching your goal of a healthy weight and feeling better.

For some, more significant changes must be made to get on track for healthy living. If you are thinking of starting a fad diet, be sure to do some research and consult with your physician to see if the diet is a safe and effective option for you.

Unfortunately, many diets deprive you of nutrients and can have a negative effect on your long-term health. In fact, consuming healthy food more often can actually help you drop those additional pounds. Be sure your diet includes plenty of complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables. Five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily are highly recommended.

In addition, find ways to reduce salt, fat and sugar intake. These are commonly found in fast food and processed food. Modify cooking methods to reduce the use of oil in cooking. Steaming, boiling, grilling and baking are good cooking methods. Avoid deep frying whenever possible.

Also, eat more moderately by monitoring your portions. Start cutting your quantities in half; you’ll be surprised at how filling and satisfying smaller portions can be.

To develop a healthy eating routine, plan ahead. Start off each day with a hearty breakfast.

Trade your breakfast bran muffin for a bowl of bran flakes. You can potentially save 83,000 calories per year. Follow your breakfast with a lunch and light dinner. Eat soup for lunch instead of a sandwich. This may help you save another 50,000 calories per year.

Be sure to eat nutritious snacks in between meals. Avoid junk food by replacing a candy bar with fruit. This small change can help you avoid gaining an extra 5 pounds per year. Eat more vegetables and fruit for snacks.

By eating less at meals and adding healthy snacks in between, your body will burn the calories quicker without storing as much excess fat. This also helps to keep your metabolism running efficiently all day long.

As always, drink plenty of water. Water works as an appetite suppressant and helps to ward off food cravings. It also helps to metabolize the fats in your body and keeps you properly hydrated.

In addition to making these small changes, one of the best ways to lose weight is to develop a support system. Get your entire family involved and start off with some simple little changes in your diet.

Stay the course and soon you will begin to see the results of your resolutions for the New Year.

May you have a healthy and happy New Year!

Fit in fun on Friday!

Posted October 30th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Fit In Fitness Friday, Uncategorized

It’s Halloween weekend, so while you are enjoying treats, make sure you fit in fitness to offset any extra calories you may enjoy this holiday!

Halloween is the perfect time to enjoy dancing as a way to burn calories and have fun. Try “the monster mash” or other Halloween tunes and dance while you party! If you plan to trick or treat, enjoy a few extra laps around the neighborhood without stopping at every house for a treat! Instead, take the opportunity to enjoy the fall weather and take in the eerie sights and sounds of Halloween as you walk through a park, neighborhood or local trail.

Fit in fun on Friday!

Posted October 9th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Fit In Fitness Friday

While mom and dad may be tempted to leave the kids at home or in the gym daycare during workouts, family fitness can bring families closer together while reinforcing the importance of exercise.

Fall is the season for charity walk-a-thons, a great activity for the entire family. Community walk-a-thons are a great opoprtunity to participate for a good cause. Strollers and young walkers are usually welcome. For families with older children or grandchildren, more competitive 3K or 5K events are also available. Check out your local charities for upcoming events and get the whole family involved in exercising for a cause!

National women’s health and fitness week kicks-off

Posted September 28th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips

This national program focuses on the importance of women’s health and fitness with activities planned around the country. Here are a few guidelines for women on ways to improve their overall nutritional and physical health:

Eat healthy:
-Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.
-Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
-Eat a balanced diet to help keep a healthy weight.

Be active:
Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rates and that strengthen your muscles.
Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day. Include activities that raise their breathing and heart rates and that strengthen their muscles and bones.

Protect yourself:
-Wear helmets, seat belts, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
-Wash hands to stop the spread of germs.
-Avoid smoking and breathing other people’s smoke.
-Build safe and healthy relationships with family and friends.
-Be ready for emergencies. Make a supply kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

Manage stress:
-Balance work, home, and play.
-Get support from family and friends.
-Stay positive.
-Take time to relax.
-Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Make sure kids get more, based on their age.
-Get help or counseling if needed.

This is also a good time to take inventory of your current nutritional status and make necessary lifestyles. Also, be sure you make any annual health check-ups, including gynecological care, dental, vision and overall physical examinations to ensure that you are taking all necessary steps to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Staying Hydrated is Essential to Health

Posted September 15th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in The News-Press Column

You can improve performance by delaying dehydration

Hydration is often left out of nutrition, but it shouldn’t be. Staying hydrated is important not only to improving performance in sports and other activities, but it plays a vital role in helping maintain a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Necessary to the healthy function of all internal organs, water must be consumed to replace the amount lost each day during basic activities. Water is also proven to aid in weight loss. It helps you feel full so you eat less, quenches thirst without adding calories and allows your body to function at its top capability.

Keeping hydrated helps muscles look more toned, a look that many people desire. Being hydrated also helps your skin look and stay healthy.

Water regulates the body’s temperature, cushions and protects vital organs, and aids the digestive system.

In 2004, the Food and Nutrition Board released new dietary reference intakes for water. It is recommended that women consume 2.7 liters daily and men consume 3.7 liters through various beverages, 80 percent, or in food, 20 percent.

Active individuals need even more, particularly if they’re exercising in hot weather. This is especially important during the 24 hours prior to vigorous exercise. During exercise, our body produces more heat, causing sweat to cool us down. When we sweat out our water supply, we must consume more water to keep our core temperature down.

In one hour of exercise, the body can lose more than a quart of water, depending on exercise intensity and air temperature. If there is not enough water for the body to cool itself through perspiration, the body enters a state of dehydration.

For people who regularly exercise, maintaining a constant supply of water in the body is essential to performance.
Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Even small amounts of water loss may hinder athletic performance.

In a dehydrated state, the body is unable to cool itself efficiently, leading to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water, the body lacks energy and muscles may develop cramps. To prevent dehydration, you must drink before, during and after a workout.

During exercise, water is the best fluid replenisher for most individuals, although sports drinks help replace lost electrolytes during high intensity exercise exceeding more than 60 minutes. Keeping hydrated can improve performance by delaying dehydration and maintaining balanced blood-sugar levels during exercise. It also lowers the risk of catching a cold by boosting your immune system.

Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before the start of exercise. Drink 8 ounces of fluid every 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up. Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising. Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.

Water is your best option. Tea (non-caffeinated and unsweetened) and 100 percent juice, not cocktail drinks, are good alternatives if you just need something else. Sports drinks are also good for your body during and after exercise.

Coffee and alcohol don’t need to be nixed completely, but should be consumed in very small amounts. Two cups of coffee a day isn’t going to help your body and scientific evidence suggests alcohol consumption can interfere with muscle recovery after exercise and negatively affect a variety of performance variables.

As far as options that you should stay away from, soda is at the top of the list. While drinking one soda probably won’t hurt you, it provides little hydration. In fact, frequent consumption of soda can be more harmful to your body than any of the other drinks listed above, with the exception of alcohol.

In the end, staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and especially during exercise is highly recommended to support good nutrition and healthy living.

Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition and Sports Specialty in Florida. Contact her at info@elainehastings.com or visit her at AssociatesinNutrition.com.

Fit in fun on Friday

Posted September 11th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Fit In Fitness Friday

It’s Friday again, time to fit in fun for the weekend!

The most popular game in Florida is golf! Try putt-putt golf for the family, or take on an 18-hole challenge if you dare! It’s great exercise! Many courses offer summer specials, so you can enjoy the course on a budget. Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated in the heat.

Enjoy!

Fit in fun on Friday

Posted September 4th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Fit In Fitness Friday

It’s Labor Day weekend so it’s time to enjoy parties, food and fun but be sure to fit fitness into your holiday weekend plans.

Here are some ideas:

-Take a family walk around your community or local park.
-Hit the beach for a swim. Remember to wear sunscreen!
-Enjoy a Labor Day weekend swim party with friends and family!

Exercise is more fun when you involve your friends and family!