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Dr. Susan Reinhard, a registered nurse, senior vice president and director of AARP public policy institute, joins us this morning on behalf of AARP to discuss healthy living during the holiday season and beyond.

She is a nationally recognized expert in health and long-term care, with extensive experience in conducting, directing and translating research to promote policy change.

Q&A

WHAT IS AARP’S APPROACH ON HEALTH?

AARP’S HEALTHY LIVING INITIATIVE, WHICH I AM EXCITED TO BE LEADING, IS TO EMPOWER PEOPLE 50-PLUS TO LIVE THEIR HEALTHIEST LIVES POSSIBLE.

AARP WANTS TO HELP YOU TAKE A WHOLE-BODY APPROACH TO YOUR HEALTHY LIVING GOALS AND HELP YOU TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTH AS YOU AGE.

A WHOLE-BODY APPROACH TO HEALTHY LIVING MEANS IMPROVING HOW YOU EAT, SLEEP, EXERCISE, AND CONNECT WITH OTHERS AT EVERY STAGE OF AGING.

ON AARP.ORG/HEALTH YOU MAY FIND TOOLS, RESOURCES, AND INFORMATION RANGING FROM EXERCISE TO BRAIN GAMES, FROM COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS TO CONNECTING WITH YOUR COMMUNITY, FROM BETTER NUTRITION TO BETTER SLEEP.

HEALTHY LIVING IS AS MUCH ABOUT MAKING SMALL CHANGES TO YOUR EVERYDAY ROUTINE, AS IT IS ABOUT BIG LIFE-CHANGING BEHAVIORAL COMMITMENTS.

WHAT’S A SMALL CHANGE THAT PEOPLE CAN CONSIDER?

WALK 30 MINUTES A DAY.

AS PART OF OUR HEALTHY LIVING WORK, THIS PAST SPRING WE LAUNCHED A FIT AND FUN CHALLENGE TO PROMOTE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND FITNESS. THE CHALLENGE INSPIRED THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE TO WALK 30 MINUTES A DAY FOR EIGHT WEEKS THROUGH AN INTERACTIVE WEBSITE THAT ALLOWED PEOPLE TO MAKE THAT COMMITMENT, CONNECT AND SHARE STORIES, AND GAIN INSPIRATION AND TIPS FROM A LEADING FITNESS EXPERT. THE CHALLENGE ENDED FOR THIS YEAR BUT WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO START OR CONTINUE YOUR 30 MINUTE WALKS.

FOR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS, EXERCISE CAN BE A POPULAR ONE. HOW CAN WE KEEP UP THE MOTIVATION TO EXERCISE?

SOME TIPS ARE STOP MAKING EXERCISE ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK, WRITE DOWN EXACTLY WHEN AND WHERE YOU WILL EXERCISE, OR HAVE A PLAN B.

ALSO, PRIORITIZE CONVENIENCE. DAVID MAXFIELD, CO-AUTHOR OF CHANGE ANYTHING, SAYS “SET YOUR WORKOUT CLOTHES NEXT TO YOUR BED THE NIGHT BEFORE, AND KEEP EXERCISE EQUIPMENT VISIBLE AND NEARBY.

YOU CAN EVEN MAKE IT SOCIAL. YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO EXERCISE CONSISTENTLY IF YOU WORK OUT WITH OTHER PEOPLE.

FOR MORE TIPS ABOUT EXERCISING AND EXERCISES, GO TO AARP.ORG/HEALTH.

DURING THE HOLIDAYS PEOPLE TEND TO EAT MORE, WHAT CAN WE DO TO STAY HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS?

EAT BEFOREHAND. FASTING BEFORE A HOLIDAY DINNER CAN BACKFIRE. CYNTHIA SASS, A NUTRITIONIST AND AUTHOR OF SLIM DOWN NOW SAYS, “EAT REGULAR, OR SMALLER, MEALS BEFORE ANY FEAST.”

SHE ALSO RECOMMENDS AT ANY BUFFET TABLE, LOOK AT ALL THE OPTIONS BEFORE PUTTING THINGS ON YOUR PLATE. CHOOSE ONE OR TWO SPLURGE FOODS AND TRY TO BALANCE WITH OTHER LIGHT, HEALTHY CHOICES LIKE CUT VEGGIES.

ANOTHER TIP CYNTHIA PROVIDES IS TO PHYSICALLY DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM THE BUFFET.

WHAT ARE SOME ACTIVITIES WE CAN DO FOR EATING HEALTHY DURING AND BEYOND THE HOLIDAYS?

IF YOU WANT A HEALTHY HEART AND A NUMBER YOU ARE HAPPY WITH ON THE SCALE, EAT BRAZIL NUTS, PUT DOWN YOUR FORK AT 6 PM AND WEIGH YOURSELF EVERY DAY.

THESE ARE FINDINGS FROM STUDIES AT THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION’S ANNUAL MEETING FOR ADVANCES IN CARDIO VASCULAR SCIENCE.

OTHER ACTIVITIES CAN BE TO USE A SMALLER PLATE TO CONTROL PORTION SIZE, USE SPICES/HERBS TO FLAVOR FOOD INSTEAD OF SALT, AND READ PACKAGED FOOD LABELS TO MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES AS RECOMMENDED FROM THE GLOBAL COUNCIL ON BRAIN HEALTH CONVENED BY AARP.

ASIDE FROM WATCHING WHAT WE EAT, WHAT COULD WE DO AROUND THE TABLE?

TALK ABOUT HEALTH. RECENTLY, THROUGH A TELEPHONE TOWN HALL CO-HOSTED WITH THE 100 BLACK MEN OF AMERICA, WE WERE ABLE TO REACH OUT AND CONNECT ON THE TOPIC OF PRE-DIABETES AMONG THE AFRICAN AMERICAN/BLACK COMMUNITY, A POPULATION AT HIGH RISK FOR THE CONDITION ACCORDING TO THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION. ONE IN THREE AMERICAN ADULTS HAVE PRE-DIABETES AND NEARLY 90% OF THOSE DON’T EVEN KNOW THEY HAVE IT, AS STATED BY THE C-D-C. TO LEARN MORE AND TAKE THE PREDIABETES RISK TEST, GO TO AARP.ORG/PREDIABETES.

WE HAVE LISTENERS FROM ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY THAT MAY BE TRAVELLING TO THEIR LOVED ONES THIS HOLIDAY. WHAT ARE SOME HEALTHY LIVING TIPS THEY CAN TAKE AWAY?

WHILE YOU ARE TRAVELING, STAY HYDRATED. USE EYE DROPS AND A SALINE NASAL SPRAY, SAYS SHARON BERQUIST, M.D. AT EMORY HEALTHCARE IN ATLANTA. SHE ALSO RECOMMENDS TO DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS, PARTICULARLY IF YOU ARE ON MEDICATION. HOT DRINKS ARE GOOD FOR HYDRATION AND THE STEAM WILL HELP MOISTURIZE MUCUS MEMBRANES, A BARRIER AGAINST BACTERIAL VIRUSES IN THE NOSE AND MOUTH.

IF YOU ARE ON A FLIGHT, BE AWARE THAT ALCOHOL CAN DEHYDRATE YOU. ALSO ON LONG FLIGHTS, GET UP AND WALK EVERY TWO HOURS TO LOWER YOUR RISK OF BLOOD CLOTS IN YOUR LEGS.

USE AN AIR VENT IF YOU HAVE ONE IN THE PLANE, TRAIN, OR CAR. THE AIR VENT HELPS CREATE AIR FLOW THAT WILL MOVE GERMS OUT OF YOUR SPACE.

ALSO TO HELP KEEP AWAY THE GERMS, BRING AN ALCOHOL-BASED GEL SANITIZER – ONE WITH AT LEAST 60% – TO USE ON YOUR HANDS AFTER TOUCHING SURFACES THAT OTHERS MAY TOUCH FREQUENTLY – LIKE A DOOR HANDLE.

WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE NEW YEAR FROM AARP?

LOOK OUT FOR ANOTHER FIT AND FUN CHALLENGE AND OTHER HEALTHY LIVING EVENTS, SUCH AS A TELEPHONE TOWN HALL. SO STAYED TUNED FOR MORE HEALTHY LIVING GUIDANCE, TOOLS, AND SOLUTIONS THAT WE CAN PUT TO USE AT AARP.ORG/HEALTH.

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