How to live to be 100+

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Daily Exercise Helps Keep the Sniffles Away

Regular exercise can improve your mood, help you lose weight, and add years to your life. Still need another reason to hit the gym? A new study suggests that working out regularly helps ward off colds and flu.

In the study, researchers followed a group of about 1,000 adults of all ages for 12 weeks during the winter and fall of 2008. During that time, people who logged at least 20 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise—such as jogging, biking, or swimming—on five or more days per week were sick with cold or flu symptoms for just five days, on average, compared to about 8.5 days among people who exercised one day per week or less.

What’s more, regular exercisers tended to have milder symptoms when they were ill. Compared to the people who barely exercised, those who worked out frequently rated their symptoms about 40% less severe overall, according to the study, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. (Symptom severity was gauged with a standard questionnaire.)

Exercise is thought to boost the circulation of the virus-fighting white blood cells known as natural killer cells—the “Marine Corps and Army of the immune system,” says the lead author of the study, David Nieman, a professor of health, leisure, and exercise science at Appalachian State University, in Boone, N.C. “Exercise gets these cells out…to deal with the enemy.”

The increased immune activity brought on by exercise only lasts for about three hours, but the cumulative effect seems to keep disciplined exercisers healthier than most. “As the days add up, it adds up to improved protection [from] the viruses that can make you sick,” Nieman says.

Endorphins may also play a role, says Len Horovitz, MD, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. These feel-good neurotransmitters—the source of the so-called runner’s high—have “positive effects on the immune system, so it’s not surprising there’s a spike in immune cells,” says Dr. Horovitz, who was not involved in the study.

It’s also possible that people who exercise frequently tend to lead healthy lifestyles in general, and are therefore less likely than couch potatoes to get sick.

Nieman and his colleagues measured a host of factors besides exercise that could potentially affect a person’s susceptibility to cold or flu, including age, gender, diet, stress levels, marital status, smoking, and educational attainment. Of all of these, physical activity was most closely linked to the number of days a person spent sick, although some characteristics, such as being married and eating a lot of fruit, seemed to help protect against colds and flu as well.

“You can’t do much about your age, and you can’t do much about your gender. Here’s something you can really do,” Nieman says. “Exercise is the most powerful weapon that an individual has in their hand to reduce illness days.”

By Amanda Gardner, Health.com November 2010

CrossFit Chicago Women’s Classes-1 FREE Month!

Are you a person that likes to leave everything on the floor at the gym?  No, not literally, but physically…You push yourself to your max and had one of those workouts were your muscles shake, but you feel so accomplished and proud.

CrossFit Chicago can make this all happen and more!  And they now have Women’s Classes that are held every Monday-Thursday.   These classes are lower impact using mainly body-weight movements focusing on agility and cardio.  Think toned, tight, well conditioned body-but not beefed up.

Need another reason to CrossFit?  CrossFit provides a sense of community, and the support you receive from those around you is second to none.  From those just starting a workout regimen to ex-college athletes, you challenge yourself, and yourself only with the help of trained coaches. 

So why wouldn’t you want to give it a try, especially if it is free for a month?  CrossFit Chicago is generously offering Healthy in Chicago readers 1 MONTH free of CrossFit classes.  Start the new year off right and do one thing a day that scares you-challenge yourself and look good while doing it!

Email info@crossfitchicago.com to sign up today!

 Read more about the CrossFit workout here

Work Out for Free!

Thanks to the Chicago Park District, you can start your 2011 off right.  Work out for FREE January 2nd-9th at all Chicago Park District Fitness Centers.

The Chicago Park District has over 70 fitness center located across the city that feature state-of-the art equipment and a variety of fitness classes!  To find a location in your neighborhood click here.

Watch the video below to learn more!

Do you workout at a Chicago Park District Fitness Center? Share your experience and comment below.

Revamp Your Resolutions

 Revamp Your Resolutions

By Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN

Doesn’t it feel like less and less of us are making New Year’s resolutions these days? It could be because at times they’re nothing more than obligatory and far-fetched vows like these: “I won’t eat late at night anymore!” Or, “I’ll exercise every morning at 6am, no matter what.” They sound like empty promises, right? Even if your intentions are positive, if you have no plan as to how to achieve your resolutions, they’re likely to flop. Think about what’s really important to you and design a plan to go and get it. Here are some suggestions for realistic and achievable resolutions, along with ways to succeed:

 

  1. I will not stuff myself at every meal.

Plan: I will eat every 3-4 hours so I don’t get over hungry. I’ll carry around healthy snacks and remind myself that I’m keeping my energy and metabolism steady throughout the day.

  1. I will eat breakfast every morning.
    Plan: I’ll create 3 different simple morning meals so that I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat.
  2. I won’t raid the kitchen at bedtime. Plan: I will try other tactics to escape my cravings like brushing my teeth, taking a bath, or enjoying a cup of hot tea.
  3.  I will exercise 3-4 days per week, every week.  Plan: I will carry my exercise clothes with me in the car at all times. In addition, I’ll plan to do something different like a pilates or yoga class once a week.
  4. I will eat more fruit (this is my resolution!).
    Plan: I’ll keep fresh and frozen fruit in the house at all times. I’ll research what fruits are in season during the year and try one new fruit each month. (I even have an app on my phone that tells me what’s in season every month and how to enjoy it!)

 Once you’re following a plan, find ways to reward yourself for your hard work (not with food!). Buy a new exercise shirt or get a massage. In addition, forgive yourself for any mishaps. Resolutions are just goals to help you live a healthier and happier life. Focus on the positive, and the rest will fall into place. Happy New Year!

Sandy Sfikas is a registered dietitian, who in addition to seeing clients, is the editor of a international diabetes magazine. She has both a nutrition and journalism degree, and has worked in clinical settings as well as health clubs. She feels fortunate to have a career and clients that motivate her to continue to advance her knowledge of nutrition and wellness.

Is Cold Weather Running Bad for You?

The nip is in the air. Starbucks is serving their pumpkin spice lattes.  What does that mean?  Fall is here and the temperatures are dropping. 

As Chicagoan’s, many of us take our workouts outside during the warm months, not only to enjoy the weather but also to save on cash.   Now that it is getting cooler, most of us are thinking just how cold will we let it go before we move indoors.  Or do we brave it and run outside all year round?

So is their scientific proof that we should run inside when the thermometer dips past a certain temperature?

According to Runner’s World, it is not possible to have your lungs freeze while running outside.  Good news, right?  There have been no studies that show that running in temperatures below -40 degrees Celsius can be fatal to your internal organs.   You can experience painful breathing if you breathe in direct air under -40 Degrees, so it is suggested you filter your breathing through a scarf, or neck warmer.   However, you can cause harm to your extremities when not dressed appropriately for the weather.  Think fingers, ears, toes, frostbite on your face and more. 

Bottom line, if you are willing enough to brave it, running year round isn’t bad for you (unless for medical purposes, or if you have certain medical conditions).  Run away, just make sure you dress warmly for the weather.

Where to Buy Cold Weather Workout Gear in Chicago