As we wind down 2017, we would like to extend our warmest holiday wishes to you. It’s our hope that you have enjoyed this holiday season surrounded by friendship and good cheer – and in the best of health.
If you’re anything like us, you are already making plans for the New Year. There is always something exciting about looking forward and setting new goals, both big and small. Not a fan of resolutions? You don’t have to “go all in” with a make-or-break resolution to make lasting changes or improvements. In fact, here are a few of the best ideas to consider if you want to do something positive for yourself in 2018.
Yes, we had to go there… However, this isn’t about a #TransformationTuesday photo or #BeachBody challenge. This is about engaging your body in different types of movement that will help you strengthen muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and cardiovascular health. Can you look back 10 or 20 years and remember how much energy you used to have, or how strong you used to be? If there’s a fountain of youth, it’s called…exercise.
So what does it take to be healthy? The US Department of Health and Human Services cites science-based recommendations of 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, which translates into 30 minutes of cardio, 5 times a week. You can start with an easy walk and eventually build up to a brisk walk, or even jogging when you’re ready. The secret is to MOVE. In addition to the benefits described above, pairing cardio exercise with a healthier diet helps you combat atherosclerosis while managing body weight effectively.
Once again, no surprise here. The trick with your diet is to consume more plants and fewer animal products. What’s in? Salads, cooked veggies, raw veggies, legumes (including beans and lentils), wild-caught fish, and lightly processed grains (such as oats and grits). Eating more of these nutrient rich foods is great for your body, providing necessary vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Another benefit of adding more of these foods is that they can help fill out your plate, reducing your reliance on meat, dairy and fried foods.
We’d love to see you quit some of these foods (for better health), but just a reduction would be a huge improvement for most individuals. If you need your daily serving of meat and poultry, stick to grilled, lean portions. Try to eliminate or minimize processed meats (ham, bologna, salami, hot dogs) and fried foods. You already know these are not “heart healthy” foods, but did you know they also increase your risk for gouty arthritis?
Snap. Crackle. Pop… It’s not just a breakfast cereal jingle, it’s also what many of us past age 30 experience when we try stretching our limbs. If you’ve ever spent 5 minutes talking to a yoga practitioner, you’ve heard them share the benefits of a yoga routine and how it has helped them feel stronger, more flexible, limber and less prone to weird aches and pains. You don’t have to join a hot yoga studio (unless you’re into that)… Make it a daily practice to stretch after getting out of bed every morning, or right before you exercise.
Investing a few minutes in this daily routine will bring many long-term benefits. You’ll stretch muscles, ligaments and tendons to make them stronger and more resilient, and you’ll improve joint health and mobility, helping protect them from wear and tear damage.
Even though these three points sound like they are all about overall health, you’d be amazed at how much they affect foot and ankle health. Lack of consistent exercise can weaken the structures of the foot and ankle, increasing the likelihood of imbalances, deformity, sprains, and even fractures. A poor diet can lead to gout (caused by a heavy consumption of meats, sweetened drinks and alcohol), as well as foot ulcers or neuropathy (related to diabetes). And stretching is great for everything from the toes to the calf, warding off Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and other sources of chronic pain.
Forget about making a New Year’s resolution…just set a goal for working these recommendations into your lifestyle one day at a time. It’s not about perfection, but about improvement. If you miss a day or two, pick up again and go for consistency. We would love to hear from you and find out what has worked for you!
Dr. Maislos and the entire staff at Houston Foot and Ankle Care wish you a happy, prosperous and HEALTHY NEW YEAR!