Staying Healthy on the Go
In this Fox 8 House Call series, Cone Health experts discuss staying healthy while on the go, including:
Eating on the Go Doesn’t Mean Fast Food and Vending Machines
Being on the go has become the norm for many of us these days, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice eating healthy foods because you’re in a hurry. Our bodies need food for wellness, energy and mental clarity. Instead of grabbing a snack or meal from the drive-thru or vending machine, it can be helpful to plan ahead, especially if you know you’re going to have a busy day.
A good rule of thumb when thinking about what snacks to pack is to eat a rainbow. Include a variety of colors in your snack pack with fresh veggies and fruits like apples, grapes, broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and yellow, green and red peppers. To save time, you can also buy a fruit or veggie tray and portion it out in individual bags.
Think about pairing these with a protein. Examples include apples or celery with peanut butter, or a banana with a piece of string cheese. Low-fat or Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and nuts are also good choices.
If you don’t have time to plan ahead and have to stop by a drive-thru, there are still some healthy options to choose from. Consider ordering a salad or sandwich with grilled chicken instead of fried, or choosing a side salad, fruit parfait or baked potato instead of french fries.
Donetta Floyd, MS, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian with Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Education Services. She completed her undergraduate work at North Carolina A&T State University and North Carolina Central University, and master’s degree at North Carolina Central University.
Time Is Not an Excuse Not to Exercise
While several medical institutions recommend 150 minutes of exercise a week, this can feel like an impossible task for individuals with busy schedules. If you’re new to exercising, the idea of going from nothing to more than 2 hours of activity can be discouraging, but don’t let it deter you. Instead, start slowly and decide on what you can fit into your schedule each day. Set the time that you’ll start and how long you’ll exercise, and write it down. Writing down your goals or adding them to your calendar can help you hold yourself accountable and make sure you follow through.
It’s OK to start slowly. If you can only commit to 5 minutes at a time in the beginning, do it! Every little bit counts. Once you get in the habit of exercising, you can start to add more time or different exercises to your routine. Even in small doses, physical activity can improve your mood, help you sleep better and reduce stress. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion created the Move Your Way campaign to highlight the physical activity needed to stay healthy, and provides great information for parents and adults.
You don’t need to go out and buy a gym membership to exercise; it can be as simple as scheduling time to walk around your neighborhood. Find a type of movement that you like and fits into your lifestyle. It can also help to find a friend to work out with and who will keep you accountable. The most important thing is that you start moving.
Before beginning any exercise routine, it is always important to consult with a health care professional to approach fitness in the safest, most beneficial way.
Jeremy Schmitz, MD, is a sports medicine specialist with LeBauer Sports Medicine at Elam and LeBauer Grandover Village, and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. He completed medical school at the University of Medicine and Health Sciences, St. Kitts. Schmitz completed his family medicine residency and his primary care sports medicine fellowship at Cone Health.
Don’t Forget to Take Time for Your Mental Health
While many of us are often on the go, it’s important to change our mindset when it comes to prioritizing our mental health. Often, it’s one of the last things on our list of things to do. Your mental health affects your physical health and has a direct impact on your immune system. When you’re distracted from taking care of your mental health, your physical health often suffers. Stress, anxiety and negativity can cause things like a simple cold to last longer than it should.
Once you decide you’re worth it, identify what makes you happy and things that trigger your stress. Then, make a plan to incorporate things into your day that center around what makes you happy to avoid those triggers. For example, if you like to be outside, bring nature into your life as much as possible. This is as simple as opening your blinds more and rolling down your windows while driving if it’s nice out.
Think small and set goals to change your routine. For example, if you tend to overcommit, make it a priority to say yes to only 3 things each day. If you’re on the go, commit to using part of your daily lunch break to do something just for you. If you’re spiritual, use your morning commute as a time to pray or meditate. Taking small steps toward things that make you happy each day can make a big difference in your overall health.
Jenny Edminson, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and counselor at Cone Health’s Behavioral Health Partial Hospitalization Program. She received a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed her Master of Social Work through the Joint Master of Social Work Program between North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.