Category Archives: Insomnia

What to Do to Get Started Walking

In my last post we looked at eight reasons why you should walk for your health: to lose weight; for heart and brain health; to get happy endorphins flowing, for more energy and general well-being. Hopefully, you were inspired to include walking as part of your daily activities. Today, we are going to talk about what to do to get started walking.

There are a few important things your should do to get started with a walking routine that will lead to a healthier life:

Check with Your Doctor

Image by wavebreak_media
Image by wavebreak_media

Starting any kind of exercise regimen should include a physical check up by your doctor. You want to make sure that what you have planned will be good for you – and not detrimental in any way.

Chances are your doctor will be completely supportive of your plan, but s/he may want to check your heart, your blood pressure and other vitals before you begin just to make sure your body can handle increased physical activity.

He may also request that you return for a follow up after a specific period of time, to make sure everything is going well.

Start Slow and Steady

For anyone starting a new physical exercise routine, starting out slow and steady is a good idea.  It is important to let your body adjust to the rhythm and energy you will be exerting.  This is particularly true if you are not accustomed to exercise, are terribly out of shape, and/or have been living a sedentary life for quite a while.

Start as slow as necessary – just be sure that you are moving your body a little each day, and that you are committed to increasing your time or distance every three or four days.

Listen to your body. Trying to do too much too fast can create serious problems.  You could strain muscles, have muscle cramps, feel weak from too much exertion . . . and also take away your motivation to continue walking daily.

Do what you can each day – be persistent – stay with it. I promise, you will begin to enjoy the process and your body will thank you.

Have a Schedule that Works for You

For most people it is a good idea to have a walking schedule. Each day after you have finished your walk, check it off. This reinforces the feeling of satisfaction that comes from having accomplished something important.

You may want to buy a special calendar for this purpose and write out your walking goals for each week.

Set up your schedule – start slow and gradually increase how far you walk or how long you walk. You can choose which of those things you want to use as your measure. For me, it is how long I walk.

If you are a complete novice at walking (and exercise), start with 5-10 minutes at a time for 3 to 5 days.  Then, increase it by 2-3 minutes and gradually add more days.

Continue until you reach a level that seems a good length of time for you.  My recommendation would be to work up to 30 minutes if at all possible; with 15-20 minutes at least 5 days a week as your minimum goal.

A Healthy Diet Is Part of the Plan

Image by klenova
Image by klenova

Walking is wonderful for your health, but you should also be eating healthy foods as part of your new routine. Even if you walk everyday (which is great), but continue to fill up on fried, fatty, sugary, processed foods, it will be more difficult to sustain the energy you need to walk regularly and for any extended period of time.

Feed your body fresh, whole foods, lean protein for energy, fruits and vegetables, and lots of whole grains. These foods will keep you feeling satisfied, they are good for your body, and provide the energy needed for walking (and everything else you want to do).

Do what you need to do the get started walking. Then, plan your new walking routine beginning today – and stay with it for the long-term! 

Walk for Your Health

Image by Poul-Werner Dam
Image by Poul-Werner Dam

When you see (or hear) the words: Walk for your Health, you may flinch and think, “Enough is enough!” Everywhere you turn there are articles, research, advice from fitness experts, etc. that tell you to walk for you health.

You know that walking is good for you – I know that walking is good for me – even doctors agree that walking is good for us.  And yet . . . many people are resistant.

In spite of that resistance, I’m going to join the voices and give you eight reasons why you should walk for your health.

A 15- to 20-minute daily walk can do all of the following:

  1. Promote Weight Loss

A healthy diet coupled with a daily walking regimen is a great way to lose those extra pounds you have been carrying.  Even a few times around the block will burn extra calories. But, if you are serious about weight loss, a 30-minute brisk walk five days a week will do wonders.

  1. Increase Energy

I hear people complain about being tired all the time. If you are one of those who feel that way, walking can be the answer to your problem. It may take all you have to get started – and you may feel like you are dragging when you first start, but stay with it.  The more you walk, the more energized you will feel, which leads to being more physically active – which leads to greater productivity in your life.

  1. Improve Your Mood

Exercise releases endorphins (happy chemicals) in your brain that make you feel better.  When endorphins flow freely, tension is released, stress dissipates and depression and anxiety begin to fade.

  1. Provide Vitamin D

As a society we spend most of our lives indoors, which often results in a Vitamin D deficiency.  So, by walking on a daily basis (outside), you are not only getting all the other physical benefits we have discussed, you are also soaking up natural Vitamin D from the sun.

  1. Improve Balance

This benefit is more for the seniors – but can apply to everyone. Unfortunately, as we age, balance can be affected, which often leads to falls and serious injury. If you walk all your life, you will be building strong bones and sustain better balance as you get older.  If you are already a “senior” – it is never too late to start. Walking makes you stronger, improves your balance and lessens the chance of falling.

  1. Boost Your Immune System

If you are susceptible to colds and infections, you may have a weakened immune system – walking can help.  A small study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center suggests that exercise is not only good for your overall health, but it can boost your immune system and possibly help guard against cancer.

  1. Strengthen Your Heart

If you have a heart condition, are at high risk for heart disease, or simply want to be proactive about your health, it is wise to take action to protect and strengthen your heart.

Daily walking gets your blood pumping through your body, which helps your heart function more efficiently. It is a natural way to lower blood pressure and eliminate the need for medication.

  1. Improve Brain Function

The human brain is a miraculous organ that can be affected by your physical health. Walking reduces the risk for many diseases with dementia being at the top of the list. It also protects your cognitive ability and improves your memory.

Walk for your health – you will reap enormous benefits! Start today! 

Psychological Factors Can Affect Concentration

The last few posts have been about “brain fog” and potential physical causes. Today, I would like to broaden that discussion – specifically, your ability to concentrate and some related issues that may be the result of psychological issues rather than physical.

Do You . . .

•    Have a hard time concentrating?
•    Have episodes of short term memory loss, confusion, or dizziness?
•    Frequently lose your train of thought?
•    Have a hard time staying focused?
•    Have a hard time learning new things?

Everyone can answer yes to those questions occasionally. However, if you are having the problems frequently, over an extended period of time, they may be linked to psychological issues.

Possible Causes:

Depression

Web MD describes depression as follows:

Depression is a serious and pervasive mood disorder. It causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. Depression can be mild to moderate with symptoms of apathy, little appetite, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, and low-grade fatigue. Or it can be more severe.”

It affects everyone differently, but regardless of its intensity, it is difficult. When you add concentration problems, it can be hard to even deal with life.

Depression is not something to try to deal with on your own. You need to get professional help.

Insomnia

The human body requires sleep in order to renew itself. If you suffer from insomnia or sleep deprivation, your overall health may be at risk, and your mental health will also suffer. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. S/he may recommend taking Vitamin D or a natural sleep aid like melatonin – or possibly something stronger. Try to nip this early, rather than letting it become a chronic problem.

Anxiety

Anxiety can be caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress such as a trauma other significant events; plus, studies show that some people may be genetically predisposed to anxiety.

Anxiety creates mental anguish and it is difficult to think clearly.

General symptoms include:
  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Constant agitation
  • Excessive worry and mental tension
  • Plus others . . .

It is important to face the problem rather than try to live with it. There are medications that can help alleviate the symptoms and counseling from a trained professional can also help. If you suffer with anxiety, it is better to face the problem and get help, rather than try to live with it. It is not something that tends to go away on its own.

Emotional Conflict

Emotional stress from personal situations can cause serious side effects for your body and your mind.

Divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, difficult work situations, and trouble with your spouse or children are all types of emotional conflict that create intense stress. Because of the strong emotions involved, it is hard to not think about the situation all the time, which makes the ability to concentrate erratic.

The best thing is to find constructive ways to cope. Talking to someone helps – a counselor or a trusted friend. Getting your feelings out in the open can give some perspective and will help you explore your options on how to deal with them.  Keeping everything bottled up is not a healthy way to cope.

Trauma

Trauma as the result of a serious car accident, a physical attack, or death of a loved one can affect your ability to concentrate and think clearly. Everyone deals with trauma differently, but many struggle with frustration and anger, feeling overwhelmed with loss and grief, problems with concentration and sometimes mental confusion.

Since psychological factors can affect concentration, it is important that for all types of psychological issues that take care of yourself as quickly as possible and get professional help. It is important to do everything you can to keep you mind healthy and sharp.

** Please note the author is not a medical professional. Every effort has been made to include accurate information, but further research and the advice of a physician is highly recommended before following any of the advice listed.