Women’s Health Tips

Women's HealthLooking for the path toward a healthier you? It’s not hard to find. The journey begins with some simple tweaks to your lifestyle. The right diet, exercise, and stress-relief plan all play a big role.

Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet
There’s an easy recipe if your goal is to keep away problems like heart disease and strokes.

  • Eat more fruits and veggies.
  • Choose whole grains. Try brown rice instead of white. Switch to whole wheat pasta.
  • Choose lean proteins like poultry, fish, beans, and legumes.
  • Cut down on processed foods, sugar, salt, and saturated fat.

When eating healthy, flexibility often works best, says Joyce Meng, MD, assistant professor at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health. If you like to follow a strict diet plan, go for it. If not, it’s OK. “Find what works for you.”

Tricia Montgomery, 52, the founder of K9 Fit Club, knows first-hand how the right diet and lifestyle can help. For her, choosing healthy foods and planning small, frequent meals works well. “I don’t deny myself anything,” she says. “I still have dessert — key lime pie, yum! — and I love frozen gummy bears, but moderation is key.”

Exercise Every Day
The more active you are, the better, Meng says. Exercise boosts your heart health, builds muscle and bone strength, and wards off health problems.

Aim for 2 and a half hours of moderate activity, like brisk walking or dancing, every week. If you’re OK with vigorous exercise, stick to 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of things like running or playing tennis. Add a couple of days of strength training, too.

If you’re busy, try short bursts of activity throughout the day. Walk often. A good target is 10,000 steps a day. Take the stairs. Park your car far away from your destination.

Montgomery exercises every day, often with her dog. By adding lunges, squats, and stairs to a walk, she turns it into a power workout. “I also am a huge Pilates fan,” she says.

Lose Weight
When you shed pounds you’ll lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

Aim for a slow, steady drop. Try to lose 1-2 pounds a week by being active and eating better.

“It doesn’t have to be an hour of intense exercise every day,” Meng says. “Any little bit helps.”

As you improve, dial up the time and how hard you work out. If you want to lose a lot of weight, try for 300 minutes of exercise a week.

“Eating a healthy diet will go a long way,” Meng says. Start by cutting sugar, which she says is often hiding in plain sight — in store-bought items like salad dressing, packaged bread, and nuts. Try to avoid soda and sugar-laced coffee drinks, too.

Visit Your Doctor
Get regular checkups. Your doctor keeps track of your medical history and can help you stay healthy. For example, if you’re at risk for osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones, he may want you to get more calcium and vitamin D.

Your doctor may recommend screening tests to keep an eye on your health and catch conditions early when they’re easier to treat.

Keep the lines of communication open. “If you have questions, ask your doctor,” Meng says. “Make sure you understand things to your satisfaction.” If you’re worried about a medication or procedure, talk to him about it.

Cut Down Your stress
It can take a toll on your health. You probably can’t avoid it altogether, but you can find ways to ease the impact. Don’t take on too much. Try to set limits with yourself and others. It’s OK to say no.

To relieve stress, try:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Talking to a friend, family member, or professional counselor

Create Healthy Habits
If you make the right choices today, you can ward off problems tomorrow.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss every day.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit your alcohol. Keep it to one drink a day.
  • If you have medication, take it exactly how your doctor prescribed it.
  • Improve your sleep. Aim for 8 hours. If you have trouble getting shut-eye, talk to your doctor.
  • Use sunscreen and stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.Wear your seatbelt.
  • Take time every day to invest in your health, Meng says.

It paid off for Montgomery. She says she overcame health problems, feels good, and has a positive outlook. “My life,” she says, “is forever changed.”

Burn More Fat with These Simple Tips

1. COMBINE WEIGHTS AND CARDIO

Once you have a good postural base (no injuries or specific weaknesses) metabolic resistance training (think circuit training with higher reps and less rest between different moves) is
a hugely effective way to drop body fat. This combination of strength and cardio training works wonders if you want the best results in the shortest time. Just make sure you learn the correct technique before you speed things up – you need to keep your form as you move from one exercise to the next before you’ve fully recovered – otherwise you risk injury.

2. DO WHAT YOU’RE NOT GOOD AT

When you get good at doing something, you become more efficient, so you burn fewer calories doing the same thing. Great news if you’re training for long- distance events, but not what we’re after for shifting a few pounds.
If you want rapid fat loss, pick activities you’re not good at and do them repeatedly. So go running if you don’t normally run, or do weight training instead of treadmill running, for example. Once you get good at them, switch to something else and do the same.

3. DO UPPER-LOWER SUPER-SETS

One of the best ways to burn fat is to do super-sets that alternate between your upper- and lower body. Think squats paired with chin-ups. This allows you to tax your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems in a way that you couldn’t if you focused on just your upper or lower body. The muscles in your lower body can rest while you work the upper body and visa versa.

4. GET THE WEIGHT RIGHT

With higher-rep workouts, you still need to challenge your body within the given rep range. If a workout calls for 10 reps, for example, you should pick a weight you can do 10-12 reps with, not a weight you could do 25 reps with. This might seem obvious, but it’s a common mistake and big factor when it comes to results – or lack of them.

5. DO MORE IN LESS TIME

The best fat-loss workouts rev up your metabolic rate fastest. You need to stimulate as many muscles as possible, while also working your heart and lungs, in a way that’s even more intense than traditional cardio. Rather than counting reps, go for time. For example, try 40m of walking lunges, followed by five push-ups at the end, then sprint back to the start and repeat as many times as you can in 15 minutes.

3 MOVES FOR WEIGHT LOSS

Dumbbell thrusters

Perhaps the perfect combination
of strength and cardio training.
Do a full squat to overhead press (hold dumbbells just in front of your shoulders and press them up, locking out your arms as you stand up).

Burpee pull-ups

These work the heart and just about every muscle in the body.
Standing in front of a chin-up bar, do a burpee (from press-up position, jump your feet towards your hands, then jump up with arms up), pulling yourself up on the bar at the end (don’t worry if you can’t lift yourself all the way up). Lower and repeat.

Hill sprints or sled pulling

Brutally hard on the cardio system, but much friendlier on the joints.
If you’re bored with hill sprints, try sled-pulling intervals. They mimic running action without the impact on your joints. If you pull far enough and have very short rest periods, this might be the most horrendous, but effective, exercise ever!

Why You Should Run?

RunAs much as we love hardcore gym sessions, the change of seasons provides the chance to challenge ourselves with a whole array of performance goals. There’s nothing like a workout revamp to help rev up fitness levels, and this spring we’re all about stepping up the intensity of our regular workout with an outdoor running routine.

Getting out on the road to brush up on your running technique offers a completely different experience to pounding the treadmill at the gym – and we guarantee you’ll soon be bitten by the running bug. Read our guide to find out what could be in it for you.

1 Feel refreshed

A change of scenery and a varied workout – what’s not to get excited about? There are plenty of things to look forward to when you take your runs from the treadmill to the great outdoors, whether you’re running down winding country lanes or sprinting around the city streets.’ Due to the rhythmic nature of the activity, it’s easy to zone out, switch off from the outside world and let your mind wander. It could even turn out to be your most creative time of the day,’ says Energie Fitness Clubs and Ragdale Hall fitness consultant Dean Hodgkin. Now the mornings are becoming lighter, heading out for a run first thing offers the perfect start to your day.

2 Better your body

There’s no denying that taking your workout to the pavements is more taxing on your body, but thankfully the payoffs are plentiful. Without the natural momentum of the treadmill your muscles have to work harder, and so you naturally will reap some awesome rewards, like a more toned lower body and a slimmer middle. ‘Running is a great way to achieve below-the-belt toning – creating thighs and buttocks you can bounce coins off,’ adds Dean.

3 Boost levels of vitamin d

What’s running got to do with immunity? Well, quite a lot actually. Because the body can’t manufacture vitamin D (a nutrient that’s essential for fending off illness) on its own, we require exposure to sunshine to keep levels continuously topped up. If you feel like you’re constantly battling the sniffles you may be low in vitamin D, and thankfully, picking up the pace outside can help to restore levels and reduce your risk of getting sick. If you’re worried you may have a deficiency, consult your GP and ask to have your levels checked.

4 Burn more calories

Running is an effective and efficient way of burning calories, and as you’re working your body harder when pounding the pavements you’ll experience a higher calorie burn. ‘Even just a comfortable pace of around 6mph will burn around 300 calories in just 30 minutes, so it’s incredibly effective in all kinds of weight-loss programmes,’ says Dean. Not bad!

5 Challenge yourself

Whether you’re new to the running scene or already a running pro, setting yourself a challenge is a fantastic way to make sure you’re constantly making progress. ‘Most weight-loss and fitness programmes fall on stony ground because clearly defined goals were not put in place. Setting yourself a long-term target of running a half or even full marathon can be the ideal stimulus to keep you on track – and don’t forget how awesome you’ll feel when you cross the finish line,’ says Dean.

6 Improve joint health 

The transition from the treadmill to the outdoors can be harsh on your joints, but if you take your running workout to softer surfaces like grass or a running track, you can help to safeguard your body while making your legs stronger and keeping your bones healthy.

‘Osteoporosis is a very real health risk for women and a key preventative measure is to increase bone density by doing more bone-loading exercises – running being one of the most beneficial,’ explains Dean. Just don’t forget to warm up your muscles and cool down following your sessions.

7 De-stress the natural way

Need to take a break from everyday life? When you’re feeling wound up and in desperate need of a breather, simply pick a picturesque trail, grab your heart rate monitor and let your mind shift focus
as you get into your stride. ‘There are great mood-lifting, stress-busting gains to be made from exercising outdoors, as your senses will be far more stimulated compared with a gym environment,’ says Dean.

8 Slash your risk of disease

Running not only helps to improve your physical appearance and make you feel more energised, it could also lower your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes type 2 by reducing levels of blood glucose after eating. Win, win!