Add Some Mindfulness to Your Movement

Mindfulness to Movement.jpg

Are you struggling to fit physical activity into your routine? Try a different approach, and be mindful about your movement. 

It’s no secret that engaging in regular physical activity offers a number of health benefits – from decreasing the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, to promoting better sleep and improving mental health. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around four out of five adults in America fall short of weekly physical activity recommendations (CDC, 2015a; CDC, 2014).


Both the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that adults between the ages of 18-64 aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate level activity. This includes brisk walking, mowing the lawn with a push mower, water aerobics, or riding a bicycle on flat terrain; or 75 minutes of vigorous level activity, such as playing sports (i.e., tennis or soccer), jogging, riding a bicycle on a path with inclines, or hiking (CDC, 2015b; WHO, n.d.). Additionally, adults should incorporate two strength training sessions per week targeting all major muscle groups (CDC, 2015b; WHO, n.d.).


People often have a desire to be more physically active, but there are many barriers that can get in the way. A survey given to adult women found that lack of time, fatigue/lack of energy, no one to exercise with, lack of a place to exercise, pain/discomfort, and lack of motivation, were all barriers to engaging in physical activity (Adachi-Mejia & Schifferdecker, 2016). In order to reap all the health benefits exercise has to offer, finding ways to overcome barriers and increase physical activity levels is essential. However, the way we approach exercise may also have a significant impact on health (Calogero & Pedrotty, 2007). According to Calogero and Pedrotty (2007), mindless physical activity involves exercising solely for the intent to lose weight or change body shape, adhering to a rigid exercise schedule with no flexibility, and/or exercising to compensate for calories eaten. This type of exercise promotes a disconnection from the body and how it feels and it may involve continuing to exercise when sick or injured or in extreme weather conditions (Calogero & Pedrotty, 2007; Tribole & Resch, 2017). This type of exercise may promote disordered thinking patterns around exercise and eating, and it and may lead to injury (Calogero & Pedrotty, 2007).


In contrast, to encourage a healthy relationship with exercise, Calogero & Pedrotty (2007) and Tribole & Resch (2017) recommend mindful exercise, which involves paying attention to the process of engaging in physical activity and listening to your body, rather than focusing solely on the desired end result. This involves tuning into the physical sensations in your body as you are moving including your heart rate, breath, and the feeling of your muscles as they contract and relax (Tribole & Resch, 2017). Mindful physical activity has the following characteristics:

  1.     It revitalizes the body, rather than drains it of energy;
  2.     It allows you to connect with your body and its sensations so you can respond to them, instead of encouraging you to “push through” an activity that may cause discomfort;
  3.     It helps with managing stress, rather than contributing to it;
  4.     It is fun and enjoyable, which makes you want to continue (Calogero & Pedrotty, 2007; Tribole & Resch, 2017).


A critical step to becoming more physically active is finding enjoyable physical activities. A systematic review of several studies found that people who reported enjoyment during exercise were more likely to engage in exercise in the future (Rhodes & Kates, 2015). Additionally, thinking outside of the box and recognizing that physical activity does not have to be done at a gym or on sports team, may be useful. The World Health Organization acknowledges leisure activities that involve movement such as dancing and gardening, household tasks such as mowing the lawn, and play with children or pets as movement that contributes to total physical activity (WHO, n.d.). Additionally, activity can occur in a large chunk of time or it can be spread out in small increments (i.e., 10 minutes at a time, four times per day) (WHO, n.d.).

Still not sure where to begin? Tribole and Resch (2017) recommend taking time to think through the environment and types of activities that would be most enjoyable to you. Here are some questions to ask yourself (Tribole & Resch, 2017):

  1.     Would I rather exercise alone or in a group?
  2.     Do I prefer to be outdoors or indoors?
  3.     What would I enjoy doing that is realistic given my current level of fitness?
  4.     Do I want to choose an activity that makes me feel more relaxed or energetic after I finish?
  5.     Is there a new activity I am interested in, but haven’t tried before?
  6.     How can I see physical activity as part of my self-care routine?
  7.     What is the best time to fit exercise in my schedule?

Note: People with certain chronic health conditions should check with their doctor prior to beginning a physical activity routine (CDC, 2015a).

Brittany BingemanThis article was written by Brittany Bingeman. Brittany studied family and consumer sciences and nutrition/dietetics and she is passionate about health and wellness with a holistic approach. She enjoys teaching about mindful and intuitive eating to help people improve their relationship with food as well as other important family and life skills. Originally from Georgia, she enjoys spending time exploring beautiful southern Utah and the western states. She enjoys spending time with her husband, cooking, reading, listening to podcasts, hiking, jogging, and yoga. Brittany can be reached at brittany.bingeman@usu.edu or 435-634-5706.


Adachi-Mejia, A.M., & Schifferdecker, K.E. (2016). A mixed-methods approach to assessing barriers to physical activity among women with class I, class II, and class III obesity. Public Health, 139, 212-215. doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2016.04.013

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2015, June 4a). Physical activity and health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2015, June 4b). How much physical activity do adults need? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014, May 23). Facts about physical activity. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/data/facts.htm

Calogero, R., & Pedrotty, K. (2007). Daily practices for mindful exercise. In L. L’Abate, D. Embry, & M. Baggett (Eds.), Handbook of low-cost preventative interventions for physical activity and mental health: Theory, research, and practice (141-160). New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.

Rhodes, R.E., & Kates, A. (2015). Can the affective response to exercise predict future motives and physical activity behavior? A systematic review of published evidence. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49(5), 715-731. doi:10.1007/s12160-015-9704-5

Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2017). Principle nine. Exercise: Feel the difference. In J. Eastman (Ed.), The intuitive eating workbook: 10 principles for nourishing a healthy relationship with food (199-224). Oakland, CA: New Harbor Publications, Inc.

World Health Organization (WHO). (n.d.). Physical activity and adults: Recommended levels of physical activity for adults aged 18 – 64 years. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/


Exercise for a Happier, Healthier Life

Exercise.jpgWe all know we should be exercising, but the reasons why go beyond burning calories. Check out these seven functions that occur in your body when you are physically active.

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”



We all know the importance of exercise and keeping physically fit, but have you ever stopped to consider just what happens to your body when you get out and move? In a recently posted article, TIME magazine listed and described the following seven functions that occur in the body during physical activity:


1. Exercise helps new blood vessels develop in the brain, and triggers the release of chemicals that dull pain and lighten mood.

When thinking about physical activity, we often focus solely on the physiological benefits it offers – weight loss, muscle gain, metabolic boost, etc. However, it is important to remember that participating in regular exercise has been associated with decreased levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. The mental health benefits of exercise are equally as important as the physical changes that occur.


2. Moving quickly makes the heart pump more blood around the body. That oxygen helps muscles withstand fatigue.

The best way to prevent fatigue is to build up endurance by increasing aerobic exercise and interval training. As your endurance increases, your muscles will receive extra oxygen, which will allow you to exercise for longer periods of time and prevent lactic acid buildup.


3. Weight-bearing contractions make muscles grow and put pressure on the bones, increasing density.

Bones are critical to being physically healthy as they allow the body to move. They protect our most vital organs – most notably the brain and the heart. Regular exercise allows bones to become denser and can help to prevent osteoporosis or other bone damage.


4. The body is better able to burn fat for energy instead of carbs, causing fat cells to shrink.

The average human has between 10 billion to 30 billion fat cells, while those who are obese can have up to 100 billion. Although it is true that fat cells cannot naturally be removed, they can shrink overtime with exercise and a balanced diet. However, fat cells can always grow in size, so once you find a routine that works for you, stick with it!


5. Exercise revs up blood flow to the skin, delivering nutrients and helping wounds heal faster.

As you train on a regular basis, more capillaries and blood vessels will appear near the surface of your skin. This will undoubtedly help the skin appear clearer and more radiant as skin-improving nutrients are pumped throughout the body. Sweating is like a mini facial for the skin as pores temporarily expand and are cleared of built-up gunk. Follow your workout with a face wash to wipe away the excess dirt and ensure your healthiest and most luminous skin yet!


6. Exercise may protect telomeres, the tiny caps on the end of chromosomes. This appears to slow the aging of cells.

Think of telomeres as little caps that protect the chromosomes or cells in our body. Having short telomeres means that there is less protection of cells occurring. This has been associated with the onset of age-related diseases and muscle atrophy. Exercise leads to telomeres growing in length, which can help prevent diseases and the effects of aging, meaning that regular exercise can extend your life!


7. Exercise acts as a miracle drug.

Exercise – or any form of physical activity that gets your heart rate up, can lead to improvements in the body’s reaction to everything from chronic diseases and major illnesses to the common cold. Exercise can raise energy levels, allowing you to experience more stamina to enjoy all the things you love in life. Become regularly physically active to live life as your best self!

This article was written by Meredith Meppen, EFNEP Staff Assistant with USU Extension








Hike for Health // 4 Safety Tips

Hike for HealthA great way to be physically active in Utah is hiking. You can choose hikes to match the abilities of everyone in the family.  Hiking outdoors can help you get Vitamin D (don’t forget the sunblock), fresh air, and can reduce stress.

Before you head out, consider the following tips for staying safe as you hike.

  1.   Let someone know before you go.  Make sure to have someone expecting you after your hike.  Some trails may not have rangers checking for lost hikers every day.  Having someone who can inform them that you are missing can be lifesaving.
  2.   Do your research and gear up for the conditions.  Find out from experts what to expect on the hike.  Be prepared with the correct gear and supplies.  Lots of sun and no shade?  Make sure to have sunblock and a hat.  Lodged logs and rocks?  Be prepared to scramble or bring some climbing gear.  Check road and weather conditions with the local ranger station.  It is also important to be aware of weather forecasts in locations where rain may lead to a flash flood where you are hoping to hike.  Be willing to cancel a trip if the conditions are risky. There may be safer alternative hikes in the area.
  3.      Stay hydrated.  When temperatures are high, we lose more water as we sweat.  You may need to take more water than you think.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recommends that day hikers in the Paria Wilderness Area in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona pack at least a gallon of water per person in the summer.  Check with park service, forest service, or BLM officials to find out how much water is recommended for your particular hike.
  4.      Orient yourself on your way to help you get back out.  When hiking to a certain site, instructions often focus on how to get you there.  This can sometimes lead to people being confused about how to get back to the trailhead.  Stop and turn around (maybe even take a picture) to help you be more familiar with how the landscape will look on your way back.  Search for large land markers like mountain ranges that can help you keep going in the right direction — both in and out.

Safe hiking, and happy trails!

This article was written by LaCee Jimenez, Food $ense (SNAP-Ed) Coordinator with Utah State University Extension

Finding Motivation for Healthy Habits

healthy-habitsAre you working on healthy habits for the new year? We’ve got some tips on how to find the motivation you need to establish those healthy habits and meet your goals.

What Motivates You?

There are basically two types of motivation:  extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades and praise. This type of motivation arises from outside the individual, as opposed to intrinsic motivation, which originates inside the individual.

Extrinsic examples: working to receive a bonus, gaining a reward for an accomplishment, receiving recognition, changing habits based on how you think others may see your body or losing weight to fit into new clothes or look good for a beach vacation.

Intrinsic motivation is defined as performing an action or behavior because you enjoy the activity itself. Whereas acting on extrinsic motivation is done for the sake of some external outcome, the inspiration for acting on intrinsic motivation can be found in the action itself.

Intrinsic examples: losing weight because your body feels better, working because you enjoy making a difference, reading a book because you are curious about the subject, etc.

Intrinsic motivation is much stronger than extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation can empower individuals to reach their goals and can help sustain an active lifestyle.

The Power of Habit

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your HABITS,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”

-Mahatma Ghandi

Habit, combined with internal/intrinsic motivation, is where an active lifestyle begins. Before a new habit of physical activity can be born, individuals must believe that being active is good for them, then they must think about the benefits and build their intrinsic motivation. Next, individuals can vocalize their thoughts and establish goals and guiding principles for their actions.

Then comes action. Until action occurs, the belief is only a wish. Motivation comes from looking at the things you want and realizing what it takes to get them.

Strategies for Success

Here are some strategies to help you stay motivated and improve your wellness:

  1. Get support. Tell your family and friends you are trying to make changes, and ask them to encourage and support you. Invite them to participate in your healthy activities.
  2. Celebrate your successes. Recognize the changes you have already made and be proud of the person you are becoming.
  3. Focus on the benefits. Make a list of the possible positive outcomes and review the benefits of living an active lifestyle.
  4. Expect setbacks. Understand that there are times when you will falter, and this is normal.  Don’t expect perfection. Forgive yourself and move forward.
  5. Be patient. Remember that change is hard and it takes time to form healthy habits.
  6. Have fun! Do something you love. Add variety to your workout and your diet.
  7. Search for inspiration. Notice others who have made changes and be inspired by their hard work and dedication. Realize that you can do it too!
  8. Plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks ahead of time. Keep tempting foods out of the house/office.
  9. Schedule a workout time. Have a set time to exercise.
  10. Look for healthy options when eating out. Choose a meal that is nutritious with low calories.
  11. Eat small meals/snacks every 2-3 hours to keep you from getting hungry and to maintain blood sugar levels.
  12. Exchange processed foods for whole foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
  13. Change your thinking. Think like an athlete.
  14. Always have your workout gear ready.
  15. Enjoy your favorite foods in moderation.
  16. Log/track your food and exercise.

And when you feel like quitting, think about why you started!

This article was written by Cindy Nelson, Utah State University Extension assistant professor

Ritualize to Revitalize in the New Year

ritualizeHave you ever thought of your daily routines as rituals? Learn more about ritualizing to achieve your goals for the new year.

January brings the season of fresh starts – our calendars start again, we set new goals, we reflect on the past and look ahead to the future. In many ways, we put a lot of pressure and expectation into the January’s of our life – pressure to create change and improve ourselves and our surroundings, pressure to somehow put off all our imperfections once and for all and become new, improved versions of ourselves.  By February.

Just like how the cold, harsh realities of winter often hit in January we, too, may experience harsh realities when we try and change our behaviors and put so much pressure on January.  What if we didn’t? What if we were able to streamline our goals, dreams and desires into a plan that didn’t create the cold turkey abruptness that 12:01 a.m. on January 1st represents in our lives? One tip that may just revitalize your 2017 is to consider the power of ritualizing in your life.

First, what is a ritual?  One historical context we have for rituals is religious ceremonies where certain words or actions are performed in designated locations, in particular orders, or within a set of specific guidelines.  One might expect the result of religious rituals to be things like deep connection or personal enrichment; you might think it’s the religious component of a “religious ritual” that makes us experience those feelings.  One stream of thought is that it’s actually the ritual and not necessarily the religion.

According to Borten, P. & B. (2016) “Ritual brings order, specialness, context and focus to our lives. The opening and closing, or the initiation and conclusion of a ritual aligns our intentions with our actions, and it sets the stage for the action to be as effective as possible.  Ritual grounds us in the present; it rescues us from dwelling on the past and worrying about the future.”  In this context, rituals don’t have to be connected to religion at all; the principle of order or repetition can be applied across many elements of our lives.

Another word you might relate to this concept is “routine” – you might have a “morning routine” or a “bedtime routine” where you do the same things in the same order every time. Think for a moment about what that process offers to you – predictability, stability or a sense of grounding.  Why do we have morning or bedtime routines in our families?  Do you find that it helps things run more smoothly if you’re able to find more enjoyment in your personal interactions and are less on edge or anxious?  In what other areas of your life would you like to have those feelings?

Creating a new ritual or fine tuning an already existing routine in your life will take focused effort – just like those New Year’s resolutions you have made in the past.  Consider the bigger picture of what you want to accomplish.  Maybe your goals are related to improved health or losing weight.  Break your dream or goal down into manageable steps including when you’ll implement those steps, and be intentional about carrying out the process.  By recognizing that your immediate action is related to a bigger intention or goal, you’ll find more motivation and satisfaction in completing the task.  Let’s face it, putting on the exercise clothes every day might feel like a drag until you start putting them on with the intentionality of how that process is connected to something so much bigger.

Remember, every day is the start of a new year!

This article was written by Rebecca Mills, Extension assistant professor in family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development

Borten, P. & B. (2016) Rituals for Living Dreambook & Planner. Available at: http://www.thedragontree.com


Don’t Let Aging Get You Down // Mobility

Aging Mobility.jpg

This is the first installment in a three-part series on aging. Stay tuned for posts on nutrition and socializing. Whether you are aging yourself, or caring for an aging loved-one, this series offers some great tips to help you.

How can we prevent losing critical muscle strength as we age?  Habits shape our future and we need to decide what habits we want defining who we are.  It is easy to get into the rut of not exercising, and with that comes quick atrophy of muscle and bone strength.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout life is essential in preventing chronic illness and other issues while aging.  The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has published a book titled, The State of Aging & Health in America 2013.  It says, “More than a quarter of all Americans and two out of every three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions.”  Some of the factors they studied to attribute to America’s health include physical activity during the month, obesity, smoking, and regular medical checkups.

The book suggests,  “Mobility is fundamental to everyday life.” Decreased mobility is related to multiple health problems like depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer, injuries from falls and automobile crashes.  If you could live longer and healthier by exercising 20 minutes a day, would you do it?  It is easy to say yes, but I know for myself it can be hard if you don’t schedule it into your daily routine.  It is never too late to improve personal mobility; all that is required is gradual daily changes.


There are great success stories on the Strong Women: Lifting Women to Better Health website of women regaining strength they lost over the years.  These women show what is possible for not only women, but men also.

As adults transition into their 50s and 60s, they may change their regular exercise activities.  To maintain health, older adults need both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises. For example:

  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week (i.e., brisk walking).
  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).


  • 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week (i.e., jogging or running).
  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).


Balance Exercises

  • Tai Chi
  • Stand on one foot holding onto a sturdy chair; hold for 10-15 seconds
  • Walking heal to toe; take 20 steps

Stretching Exercises

  • Yoga
  • Shoulder rolls

Endurance Exercises

  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Raking leaves
  • Mowing the lawn

Strength Exercises

  • Weight lifting
  • Back leg raises while holding onto a sturdy chair
  • Side leg raises while holding onto a sturdy chair

Many more examples along with a virtual trainer can be found on the “Strong Women” website.  Also be aware of resources at your local recreation or senior center.  For example, the  Murray City Heritage Center has classes that provide different opportunities to keep an active lifestyle as you enter the 50s and 60s.

One thing to remember is that if you have been maintaining a healthy lifestyle by consistently exercising, it should be fine to continue as long as you follow guidelines from health care providers and professionals.


This article was written by Kirsten Lamplugh, Intern at the Salt Lake County USU Extension office, BS in Family and Consumer Sciences 

Staying Fit from 9 to 5


These quick tips will help you feel good AND look good at work.

Putting the Work in Workout

It’s early Friday morning when you stroll into work to finish up some projects before the weekend… only to find a whole new stack of projects on your desk!

Sometimes there is so much to do that you get completely buried in your projects. Unfortunately, heavy workloads like these can cause stress on your mind and body.

No matter how busy you are, it’s important that you take care of yourself and remember to regularly take a wellness break.

For every 60 minutes of sitting, you should stretch, move or walk for 3 minutes. This will keep your body happy as well as your mind. Your wellness breaks don’t have to be long or strenuous, just make sure your mind and body feel rejuvenated at the end of each break.

Click here to find a great Youtube playlist with over 15 minutes of instructional videos from USU Extension. These videos will help you unwind during a break or get some extra exercise during a crammed day!

Go ahead, take a break from work and check them out!

Stress Busters // Finding Relief From Holiday Stress

holiday-stress-reliefAccording to the National Headache Foundation, people complain of a greater incidence of tension-type headaches and migraines between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Family stress, long lines and altered sleep and eating patterns play a key role. Consider these tips to reduce stress and tension this holiday season.

  • Exercise regularly. This helps you relax and let off steam. Also watch what you eat.
  • Try relaxation and stretching exercises such as neck rolls and slow, deep breathes to reduce muscle tension and headaches.
  • If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day and get it over with. The rest of your day will be free of anxiety.
  • Learn to delegate responsibility to others.
  • Forget about counting to 10. Count to 100 before doing or saying anything that could make matters worse.
  • Have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world.
  • Get involved with other people. Do something for somebody. Do something with somebody.
  • Say “no” more often. It’s amazing how much stress can be eliminated by giving up unrewarding activities, refusing inappropriate requests and turning down invitations from people you don’t enjoy.
  • Find humor in every disaster. You can usually find something funny if you look for it. No disaster is so bad that it couldn’t be worse.
  • De-clutter your life. Get rid of clothes you never wear, objects that collect dust, furniture you hate and activities you don’t enjoy.
  • Make friends with non-worriers. Nothing can get you into the habit of worrying faster than associating with chronic worrywarts.
  • Create order out of chaos. Organize your home and workspace so that you always know exactly where things are. Have a place for everything and everything in its place.
  • Become more flexible. Some things are worth not doing perfectly, and compromise can be found on some issues. Ask yourself if it will matter in five years.
  • Eliminate destructive self-talk such as, “I’m too old…, I’m too fat…”
  • Shun the superman/superwoman urge. Be realistic. Set practical goals and simplify.
  • Take a break. A change of pace, no matter how short, can give you a new outlook on old problems.
  • When a problem is beyond your control, learn to recognize and accept it.
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
  • Don’t rely on your memory. Write down appointment times, when to pick up your prescription, when projects are due, etc.  An old Chinese proverb states, “The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.”
  • Procrastination is stressful. Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.
  • Plan ahead. Don’t let the gas tank get below one-quarter full. Keep a well-stocked shelf of home staples. Don’t wait until you’re down to your last cup of flour to buy more.
  • Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work right. If such things as your alarm clock, wallet, shoelaces or toaster are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.
  • Be ready to wait. Reading a chapter of an e-book on your phone or keeping in touch on social media can make time spent standing in line or sitting in a waiting room almost pleasant. Everything takes a little longer than you expect, even if you already expect it to take longer.
  • Count your blessings. For every one thing that goes wrong, there are probably 10 or 50 or 100 blessings and things that go right. Count them!


By Margie Memmott, USU Extension associate professor, 435-623-3451, margie.memmott@usu.edu

Reducing Disabilities in Aging Adults

Healthy Adults

Reduce the risk of disabilities with healthy lifestyle choices.

Don’t Get Weaker as You Get Wiser

The risk of disability increases with age. Inactivity, poor diet and smoking, among other unhealthy behaviors, are associated with a wide range of chronic diseases, some of which can even lead to premature death.

New studies reveal that this kind of lifestyle affects everyone, especially older adults. Older adults often fear the loss of independence and disabilities and yet they sometimes submit themselves to unhealthy behaviors.

In a recent study found in The BMJ Journal, researchers in France reported that people who ate fruits and vegetables less than once a week, were physically inactive and who smoked or had quit smoking within the last 15 years, were more than twice as likely to develop a disability than their peers who did not participate in these lifestyles.

A disability is defined as “difficulty or dependency in carrying out activities essential to independent living, including essential roles, tasks needed for self-care and living independently in a home, and desired activities important to one’s quality of life.”

We are seeing our current population aging into their “golden” years with disabilities that are preventable. How can you avoid disabilities as you age?

The first step is to get moving. In the research, it was shown that one predictor of developing a disability was the fact that the person had a low or intermediate level of physical activity.

Low activity was defined as walking less than one hour a day and exercising less than once per week. High activity was considered the opposite. It was walking more than one hour a day and exercising more than once a week. Anything in between is considered intermediate.

The next step to preventing a disability as you age is to stop smoking. This study showed that those who smoke or have quite within 15 years have a 26 percent higher risk of developing a disability than those who did not smoke.

Poor nutrition was close to smoking as far as developing a disability. In the study, this was determined by how many times a person ate raw and/or cooked fruits or vegetables. The results showed that adults who ate fewer fruits and vegetables, i.e. less than once a day, increased their risk of developing a disability by 24 percent.

Eating fruits and vegetables, while healthy, is only a part of a healthy diet. Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D., professor at Tufts’ University, Friedman School and author of the “Strong Women” series of books states, “Stick to whole and minimally processed foods, and emphasize the choices available on the perimeter of the supermarket – the produce and dairy aisles, for instance – rather than on the boxed, bagged and other packaged goods, many laden with added sugar, lining the center aisles.”

While things such as chronic conditions, trauma, body mass index and other health issues are certainly factors, the study still showed that more than two-thirds of the additional disability risks were directly linked to unhealthy lifestyles.

So get out and move at least once a week, take a walk and get other exercise as well. Remember what your Mama said, “Eat your vegetables,” and might I add, your fresh fruits as well. Help yourself become more active, eat healthy and perhaps you will lower your risk of having a disability.


Artaud, F., Dugravot, A., Sabia, S., Singh-Manoux, A., Tzourio, C., and Elbaz, A. BMJ (2013). Unhealthy behaviors and disability in older adults: three-city Dijon cohort study. URL found: http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f4240

This article was written by Christine E. Jensen, USU Extension associate professor, Emery County

How to Turn Daily Life Into Exercise

Physical Activity

Quick tips to help you fit exercise into your crazy life!

Getting Trim Without the Gym

Finding time to workout can be harder than the workout itself! However, exercise is extremely important and should be done each day. Daily exercise has the power to:

1. Boost daily energy
2. Improve one’s mood
2. Control weight
4. Promote better sleep
5. Combat health conditions and diseases

Here is list of some helpful ways to sneak physical activity into your life:

Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Fitting activity into a daily routine can be easy — such as taking a brisk 10 minute walk to and from the parking lot, bus stop, or subway station. Or, join an exercise class. Keep it interesting by trying something different on alternate days. Every little bit adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing.

Make sure to do at least 10 minutes of activity at a time, shorter bursts of activity will not have the same health benefits. For example, walking the dog for 10 minutes before and after work or adding a 10 minute walk at lunchtime can add to your weekly goal. Mix it up. Swim, take a yoga class, garden or lift weights. To be ready anytime, keep some comfortable clothes and a pair of walking or running shoes in the car and at the office.

More ways to increase physical activity

At home:

Join a walking group in the neighborhood or at the local shopping mall. Recruit a partner for support and encouragement.

Push the baby in a stroller.

Get the whole family involved — enjoy an afternoon bike ride with your kids.

Walk up and down the soccer or softball field sidelines while watching the kids play.

Walk the dog — don’t just watch the dog walk.

Clean the house or wash the car.

Walk, skate, or cycle more, and drive less.

Do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike while watching television.

Mow the lawn with a push mower.

Plant and care for a vegetable or flower garden.

Play with the kids — tumble in the leaves, build a snowman, splash in a puddle, or dance to favorite music.

Exercise to a workout video.

At work:

Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk or skate the rest of the way.

Replace a coffee break with a brisk 10-minute walk. Ask a friend to go with you.

Take part in an exercise program at work or a nearby gym.

Join the office softball team or walking group.

At play:

Walk, jog, skate, or cycle.

Swim or do water aerobics.

Take a class in martial arts, dance, or yoga.

Golf (pull cart or carry clubs).

Canoe, row, or kayak.

Play racquetball, tennis, or squash.

Ski cross-country or downhill.

Play basketball, softball, or soccer.

Hand cycle or play wheelchair sports.

Take a nature walk.

Most important — have fun while being active!
– See more at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity-tips#sthash.hgO0VDRk.dpuf