Expert answers to your health and wellness questions by Grant & Cathy Pritchard
Question: How do you manage healthy eating while on vacation?
Answer: There’s no doubt that eating healthy can be very tricky when you’re on vacation. Whether you’re short on time or you want to experience all of the different foods available, it can be difficult to stick to a particular diet plan. And you may not be as familiar with the local foods, so knowing how nutritious they are becomes a real challenge. If you’re traveling by car, you can certainly bring your own snacks for the ride. This may help you avoid the need to pick-up costly convenience foods. If you’re traveling by plane, asking the flight attendant for low-fat or heart-healthy options can also help. It might be wise to book hotel rooms that have kitchenettes, and if that’s the case, you can always visit the local grocery store to get some fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthful items. And if the hotel has a continental breakfast, you can try to fill up on fruits or yogurt before you head out on the town. Be sure to visit sit-down restaurants instead of fast food establishments, since servers are generally better equipped to educate you about the food they’re serving. But in the end, just do the best you can, and remember that you’re on vacation. If you do deviate from your normal eating habits, just be sure to get back on track once you return home.
Question: Is it alright to start an exercise program at the age of 50, and if so, what types of exercise would be advisable?
Answer: First of all, it’s clear that individuals may need to do different exercises depending on their activity levels and overall health. And the sooner you start exercising, the more beneficial it will be in the long run. Being active can increase bone strength, improve cardiovascular function, and prevent numerous chronic diseases. Structured exercise can also increase mobility and stability, which can help prevent falls as you age. If you’re just beginning a workout program, it’s important to start slow and begin with the basics. It is also important to listen to your body. If you start to sense physical pain, make sure to stop immediately. And don’t forget to do a proper warm up and cool down. Keep in mind, it will take older individuals a bit longer to recover between workouts. As a result, light to moderate intensities are recommended. I would advise resistance training 2-3 times a week, along with some basic aerobic exercise as well. Walking and jogging are certainly reasonable exercise options, but swimming and biking will put less stress on the joints. In the end, it may be best to speak with a personal trainer so that he/she can create a customized workout program for you.
Question: I have trouble remembering to stretch after my workouts. Is it really that important, and if so, what am I missing by not doing it regularly?
Answer: Yes, stretching is a very important part of an overall fitness routine. In fact, it’s just as important as strength training and cardiovascular conditioning, though many individuals don’t adhere to a regular program like they do with these other forms of exercise. Stretching offers numerous benefits, including injury prevention, an increased efficiency of movement and improved blood flow and nutrient delivery to the joints. It also improves muscle coordination, overall balance and postural alignment. It can even help to alleviate muscle soreness and stress after a workout. These are pretty impressive results for just a few minutes of relaxation. Unfortunately, people always seem to be crunched for time, and stretching is usually the first thing to go. In order to make it a consistent part of your training regimen, you need plan for it. Reserve the last ten minutes of your session for stretching, and try not to let your schedule get in the way. After all, you wouldn’t normally cut your lifting or cardio sessions short, would you?
Be sure to visit sit-down restaurants instead of fast food establishments, since servers are generally better equipped to educate you about the food they’re serving. But in the end, just do the best you can, and remember that you’re on vacation. If you do deviate from your normal eating habits, just be sure to get back on track once you return home.