National Eating Healthy Day is November 4

National Healthy Eating Day

Today is “Move! Monday” here at Walkingspree and Friday’s are all about Eating Smart with our Eat Smart blog posts.   But this Monday we wanted to make sure that everyone is aware that Wednesday November 4, 2015 is National Eating Healthy Day.

The American Heart Association sponsors this special day in the United States.  Every year, millions of health minded or trying to be health minded people make a pledge and join together and work towards living a healthier life by making healthier eating choices.

You can celebrate this day in your workplace, school, community or family.   Have fun with it and forward this post to your friends so you can spread the word and share ideas!

Here’s a few tips from the American Heart Association:

  • Set a goal or make a pledge to commit to a healthier lifestyle. Post your goal on your fridge or bathroom mirror as a daily reminder of your commitment.
  • Challenge your family, friends and co-workers to join you and set their own goals.
  • Host a heart-healthy dinner party, cooking demonstration or recipe tasting. Visit heart.org/SimpleCooking for resources.
  • Visit a farmers’ market to learn more about the options for purchasing affordable fruits and vegetables in your area.
  • Provide a healthy snack for co-workers, your child’s classroom or a nearby community center.
  • If you or a loved one need help changing your diet, make an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist.
  • Commit to get fit and participate in the Heart Walk. Ask family and friends to join you. You’ll have fun and raise funds to save lives from two of America’s leading killers — heart disease and stroke. Find details for your local event at HeartWalk.org.

The bottom line? Eating healthier is a great way to help prevent disease and many other health issues.  For example, did you know that more than two-thirds of American adults and one in three children and teens are overweight or obese? This puts them at risk for heart disease and stroke as well as many other chronic illnesses and conditions. Eating healthier is an important way to help maintain a healthy weight and prevent disease.

Spread the word, tell your friends and join us on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 for National Healthy Eating Day.   Learn more at heart.org/NationalEatingHealthyDay

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The 2015 National Walking Summit is Here

The 2015 National Walking Summit is Here

The 2015 National Walking Summit will kick off Wednesday October 28, 2015.  It will take place in Washington, DC and there are already nearly 500 registered participants.  There’s a packed schedule of events and this is a great opportunity for the walking movement to take a giant step forward.

The National Walking Summit endorses safe, walkable environments.  They believe that these environments “do not just happen they are made by hard work and coordinated commitment.”   The National Walking Summit is a wonderful opportunity for national organizations, companies, agencies, and local partners to get together and  share best practices and stories.  It’s also a great way to increase visibility of these key issues, build support between and amidst federal agencies, and create momentum for doing the work to support more walking friendly environments.

Learn more by visiting the National Walking Summit’s website.   You can register to attend and be apart of unique events like the Walk and Talk Workshops and the Everybody Walk training.

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Which Diet Type is Best?

Which Diet Type is Best?

It seems like there is always a new diet or nutrition program vying for our attention.  Sometimes it is difficult to determine what is a real diet versus what is just a fad.

It turns out that other people wonder the same thing.  U.S. News and World Report decided to put together a compilation of the Top-Rated Diets Overall.  Here’s what their website tells us:

U.S. News evaluated and ranked the 35 diets with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against diabetes and heart disease. The government-endorsed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)snagged the top spot.

To take a look at all of the Top-Rated Diets, just visit the U.S. News and World Report’s website.

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Your Chair Is Killing You: Five Steps To Take Back Your Power

The evidence is in — your chair is killing you. Many American workers sit more than 15 hours each day. Think about it for a second. You get up in the morning, drive to work, sit all day long at work, drive home, eat dinner, watch TV and surf the Internet before bed. This degree of excess sitting is not what our bodies were designed to do. That’s why we’re here: to help you move more!

Studies in agricultural communities, where people move naturally, suggest that our bodies are designed to move all day and only use a chair for a well-deserved rest. People were never designed to be crammed into chairs: sitting all day long is lethal.

Lethal sitting is associated with many chronic disease and conditions — diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer (especially breast cancer) and depression, to name only a few. The chair addiction has to stop. Declare war on your chair — get up!

There are five weapons you’ll need to escape chair bondage.

1. Know what makes you more likely to sit, and plan an alternative.

If we don’t go to our favorite stores, we won’t spend money. If we don’t buy cookies and have them in the house, we’re less likely to eat them. If we don’t prioritize a yoga class at 4pm this, we’re less likely to attend it. Or, if we get home on Friday without any weekend plans, we are unlikely to get off the couch.

Inform your colleagues that from now on, your Thursday meeting will be “walk and talk.” Put a red sticker on your phone to remind you that every time you get texts or a call, you will get up and out of your chair. Dust off the treadmill from the basement and put it in front of the TV. Where sitting stimuli are present, make alternative options easily accessible and even preferable.

2. Keep track of your progress.

If we are trying to pay off my car or credit card loan, we keep track of our bank account. The second tool to reverse chair addiction is self-monitoring. Remember to wear your activity tracker from the second you get up in the morning until bedtime. Leave it on your bedside table to remember. You can constantly monitor your steps in the Walkingspree dashboard online or via the iPhone app, so you can see when you are doing great — and when you need to improve.

3. Create a reward system.

This is a fun one. Think of the power of Frequent Flyer miles, coupon clipping and the never ceasing series of reward programs. Most employers offer rewards and incentives through Walkingspree. These are great because you’re pushing yourself to earn the reward, while also improving your health. Double win! Need more motivation? Pay yourself! Put $1 in a jar every day you hit your step goal.

Reward systems are powerful. Earn it, love it! The movement of truth is now: get up (yes — do it now). Once you’re up, you’ll find that your new dynamic and vibrant life is joyous and (be prepared) a little addictive. Many members get the movement gig as if it’s a religion. Yes, happiness is a reward enough but also set yourself smart goals. Once your activity tracker shows you have increased moving time 20%, it is time to get that bike you lusted for.

4. Train your thought patterns to stop being so hard on yourself.

“How can I ever get myself out of debt because I’m a spender?” “How can I ever ask him out; he’s out of my league?” Will she EVER get up enough courage to ask him out? You know the answer!

We have heard this from members who are overweight, “I feel so bad when I go out,” or, “I feel ugly.” The reality is that this is ALL said by your internal voice. You must stop putting yourself down. Stick a pitchfork in that negative voice and toss it away. Get up, look at yourself in the mirror (yes, do it), smile and get out there and live life — vibrantly. If that bad negative voice dares even a whisper inside of you, tell it to get lost! You can stop being addicted to sitting! You are more than capable!

5. Get social support.

The human is a social animal. Social support is as critical to going for a walk at lunchtime, as it is for having healthy foods at home.

Social support is the final weapon of success. I cannot count the number of times by family, friends, colleagues or even strangers have lifted me up. If you are having trouble getting up, look for a friend to help you. If you see someone struggling to get up, help them. And … get some walking buddies through the Walkingspree platform! View and compare steps walked, send buddy gifts or messages and more.

Step by step we can get end lethal sitting and win the war against the chair. Get up and make it so!

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Can the Mediterranean Diet Reduce Risk of Depression?

Can the Mediterranean Diet Reduce Risk of Depression?

Eating smart has so many positive health effects.  Not all of them are related to weight.   Mental health is just as important as your physical health.  What’s really cool is that many studies have indicated that certain dietary patterns can reduce the risk of depression in adults. This connection appears constant across countries, societies and populaces.  A dynamic cohort study compared and established specific relationships between three diet quality scores and depression.  This study was undertaken in the SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) Cohort study.

You may be like some of us here at Walkingspree and asking yourself  ‘What is a dynamic cohort study exactly?’ We decided to give you an answer from the experts at  Nature.com.      “A cohort study is one in which a group of subjects, selected to represent the population of interest, is studied over time. Much like a cross-sectional study, information is collected about the outcome of interest and exposure to risk factors, but in cohort studies subjects are followed over time. Subjects are disease-free at the outset of the study and at distinct points in time, data are collected relating to health outcomes and exposure to risk factors.”

The definition also goes on to say that when a cohort study is dynamic, it simply means that new participants may enter the study over time.  For example, a new participant might enter the study if someone drops out.

So, in the SUN dynamic cohort study, they followed participants over a period of ten years.   University graduates were free of depression when the study began. Dietary intake was frequently evaluated from beginning to end. The study used three diet quality scores: Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), Pro-vegetarian Dietary Pattern (PDP) and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010). Participants were categorized as having depression if they reported a new medical diagnosis of depression by a doctor or began using antidepressant medication throughout follow-up.

So what were the results?  1,051 incident cases of depression were found among 15,093 participants from the SUN Cohort after a average follow-up of 8.5 years.

Scientists categorized how well participants obeyed a specified diet with a scoring system rating them on a  range of weakly following the diet to moderately following it to strict adherence.

Researches compared the scores of those who were eventually diagnosed with depression to those who were not over the study period.

The results indicated that the Alternative Health Eating Index-2010 and the Mediterranean diet were both linked to the highest decrease of depression risk. Each diet has a high amount of omega-3 rich foods and vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes.

What is really interesting is that people who appeared to benefit the most recounted only moderately adhering to either diet.    Those that were super strict about sticking to either diet didn’t seem to gain any extra benefit– as a matter of fact, depression reduction swiftly plateaued for the strictest followers of the diets.

If you think you’d like to try the Mediterranean diet or take a look at it, take at look at some of these resources:

Mediterranean Diet:  A heart healthy eating plan

How to Start the Mediterranean Diet:  10 Things to Know

Mediterranean Diet 101: A Meal Plan That Can Save Your Life

Mediterranean Diet Followers Less Likely to Develop Breast Cancer

How You Can Get Started on the Mediterranean Diet

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