Ever since wearable fitness trackers came out, this has been a debate. Is a fitness tracker necessary if you have a smartphone with a fitness app installed? The answer is it depends. Specifically, on these three things:
How you plan to use it: Unless you have your smartphone with you all day long, including bouncing up and down in your pocket when you are out running, it will not record steps. With a wearable fitness tracker, like any in the Fitbit® line, each move is tracked and counted. Just synch once a day with your smartphone to see all the data it collected during the day.
Another disadvantage of using your smartphone to track fitness is battery life. With a fitness app running in the background, the life of a battery charge is severely shortened. With most FitBit® devices, they can go four or five days between charges.
Where you plan to use it: Most smartphones are not waterproof, so taking them in the pool (plus where would you keep it!) is not a viable option. The new FitBit® Flex 2 is fully waterproof down to 30 feet, so it records activity while even exercising in the pool. Most serious joggers do not carry their smartphone with them while out running, so if using just a smartphone app, their running steps would not be captured. Wrist-worn FitBit® fitness trackers capture each step taken so you get an accurate picture of your fitness activity for the day.
What you want to track: Two common measurements people are now tracking are heart rate and sleep, both of which are not trackable using most smartphones. However three models in the Fitbit® line track this data (Charge 2, Blaze and Surge)
Heart Rate – Monitoring heart rate is important as you want to get your heart rate up into the target heart rate zone (220 – age times 70% to 80%) for maximum fitness benefit while at the same time not overworking your heart. The PurePulse® feature on all three models noted above not only heart rate but also heart rate zones so you can see the benefit you are getting at a certain heart rate.
Sleep Monitoring – Not only will these trackers tell you how long you slept but also how well by tracking how many times you were awake and or restless. You can even set a wake-up alarm that will vibrate on your wrist when it is time to get up.
While smartphones can do some of the same things as wrist-worn fitness trackers, they usually cannot do them as efficiently or as comfortably. The best combination is to use both – track data with a FitBit®, and analyze the downloaded data in the FitBit® app on your smartphone.
It’s been proven many times over that exercising can help you look and feel younger, but exactly what kind of exercises should you be doing? Broken down into two broad categories, it should be a mix of cardio and strength training.
Doing anything that raises your heart rate qualifies as cardio training. So whether you ride a bike, walk, jog, play tennis or swim laps, all of it gets your blood flowing faster. This gets more oxygen to your cells and more carbon dioxide out.
In a study done at McMaster University in Ontario Canada, researchers had one group of mice run in a wheel while the other group did nothing for exercise. What they found in the group that exercised is that every aspect of their health and appearance improved versus the control group that did nothing.
But that was only part of the story; they also found that the control group’s fur started graying and balding. In the group that exercised, their fur did not gray, nor did they experience balding.
In another study – this time on humans -the doctor then took another skin sample from each and did a comparison study after 3 months of exercise. Importance of exercise was demonstrated in a published study by the National Institute of Health linking skin health to exercise and diet. What he found was the group that exercised had improved skin; both their inner and outer layers had significantly improved. So much so that he concluded their skin was of the same age as a 40-year old.
As we age, we lose bone density, muscle mass, and tone. By using light weights or resistance bands, but doing many repetitions, you can slow the loss of bone, keep muscle tone and maintain mass. Heck, you can even build muscle mass after age 65 with the right program!
The second aspect of looking and feeling younger is eating the right foods. Stay away from fast and processed foods, and diet soda.
Instead, focus on eating lean meats and fish, whole grains, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Each of these foods adds something special to your diet, so to have a complete nutrient plan you need some from each group.
The other half of eating right is portion control. As we get older, our metabolism starts to slow down, so we don’t need as much food as we once did to maintain our current weight. Read labels to see how much a portion really is as packaging can leading you into eating more than one serving.
Doing cardio, strength training and eating right is as close to the fountain of youth as anything we have. Exercising on a consistent basis not only increases endurance and stamina, but it improves muscle tone and skin. With exercise and healthy eating, you’ll look years younger than you really are, have more energy and in general feel better and have a more youthful outlook on life.
A big step toward eating better lunches can be to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. There are several powerful vegetables one can add to improve your health according to WebMD. Here are hints on how:
- Add fruit and nuts to salad; top with a low-fat dressing.
- Add chopped tomatoes, pineapple or avocado to tuna and chicken salad.
- Create fruit skewers with sliced pineapple, cantaloupe or bananas dipped in lemon juice and toothpicks. Pack low-fat yogurt for dipping.
- Spread peanut butter over a whole grain tortilla; top with crushed whole grain cereal and a whole banana. Roll up and enjoy.
- Serve a delicious pineapple salsa with leftover grilled chicken, pork or as a healthy dip with fresh veggies and low-fat chips. Combine chopped fresh pineapple, red and green bell peppers, sweet onion slivers, lemon juice, fresh cilantro and one seeded finely chopped jalapeño. Each serving provides a boost of vitamins C and A.
- Stir in canned beans and fresh chopped tomatoes to low-sodium canned soup for a heartier lunch.
- Tomato and part-skim mozzarella chunks drizzled with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar is always a hit.
- Stuff whole grain pita with veggies and beans or fruits and nuts. Top with low-fat yogurt.
- Mix chopped tomatoes and herbs with cottage cheese for a dose of calcium, vitamin C and fiber or add chopped pineapple and banana to cottage cheese for a naturally sweet after-lunch treat.
Another cold and flu season has arrived, and it’s nearly impossible not to be affected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults have an average of two to three colds a year, and children have even more. And when one family member catches a cold, it’s likely the rest of the family will follow suit.
While there’s no universal cure for a cold, there are ways to help you feel comforted while you’re sick. Put on your softest PJs, snuggle under the covers and read these tips for staying comfortable this cold and flu season:
- Stay hydrated. Water, juice, clear broth, warm apple juice or warm lemon water with honey can help loosen congestion and prevent dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas, which can further dehydrate you when you’re sick.
- Soothe a sore nose. Noses can turn sore and red from tissue blowing, so use a soft, soothing tissue. Those with aloe may feel especially gentle. Don’t use pre-moistened wipes like diaper wipes or ones for removing makeup, as they contain fragrance, detergents, or other chemicals that may further irritate cracked, dry skin,
- Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can ease your aches and pains. If your head hurts, dimming the lights and placing a cool gel mask over your eyes can be extremely relaxing. And if you are feeling chilled, try snuggling with a heated blanket.
- If you have a sore throat, try ice chips, sore throat sprays, or lozenges, to soothe your sore throat pain. And don’t forget the ultimate comfort food for colds—chicken soup—which can help ease sore throat pain. Tea with honey is another good option.
- Try to keep your mind off being sick with family board games, playing cards, coloring books, crossword puzzles and the like. Watch your favorite movie or show, or listen to soothing music.
- Another way to pass the time is to take a relaxing bath. Add some Epsom salts to help with body aches and lavender oil to feel more calm and tranquil.
- Lastly, be sure to get plenty of rest. While eight hours is the recommended amount of sleep for most each night, go to bed even earlier when you’re sick, and be sure to nap throughout the day. Soft cotton sheets will help your body breathe more in bed, especially if you have a fever.
How To Protect Yourself From Future Colds
While most people recover from a cold within 7 to 10 days, it can spread from infected people to others through the air and close personal contact, such as shaking hands, or touching infected surfaces, like door handles or sink faucets.
Here are some tips to avoid catching a cold, whether it’s your first time or third:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash them for 20 seconds and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay away from people who are sick.
- Take zinc supplement to boost your immune system.
Your chances of developing heart disease come down to the number of risk factors you have for it. The more factors, the higher the chance of getting it. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most common risk factors of heart disease:
- Heart Blood Pressure
- Diabetes and prediabetes
- Being overweight or obese
- Being physically inactive
- Unhealthy Diet
- High blood cholesterol
- A family history of early heart disease
- History of preeclampsia in pregnancy
If you have a propensity toward high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, it may be genetic-related but even so, all three are controllable with the proper diet, exercise, and medication. Keeping them in check will lower your chances of contracting heart disease, however, you first have to know your numbers.
How does your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar stack up against the standards for each bodily vital? Getting an annual health check-up, will let you know your numbers, and help your doctor to prescribe treatment to get high numbers back where they should be.
As far as the risk factors of smoking, overweight, being sedentary and eating an unhealthy diet, all of these are also completely within your control. There are several programs available at your local pharmacy to help you overcome smoking, but none of them will work unless you are mentally prepared to quit.
Becoming more active by exercising and eating a healthy diet, the weight you want to lose will start coming off. Here again, losing weight, exercising and eating healthy are all things you have to want to do to improve your health and longevity … not the things others want you to do.
As long as you are at the doctor getting checked out, ask for your doctor’s advice on quitting smoking, losing weight, getting more exercise and eating a more healthy diet. All you need is the will and a plan to overcome them and those risk factors will be at or close to zero.
With all of the risk factors except the last three in your control, you have greatly reduced your risk of heart disease and lowered your chances of having a heart-related event. While you can’t control the last three factors, you can have an effect on the other seven.
Start taking the steps to lower your risk of heart disease today. Tomorrow may be too late to get a second chance.