Home of American XC Skiers

Winter E-Digest: Principles for Staying Healthy (Feb 2015)

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 17:03 -- JD

The following is a translated and summarized from an article in the French endurance magazine “Esprit Trail”, March 2014. Translation and summary by Inge Scheve for AXCS membership.

The art of living long and staying healthy is not rocket science. In fact, simple is better – stick to a few key principles and good health is within reach for most. Basically, try staying away from processed and artificial products and look for natural products, stay active and sleep enough.

Watch your back: So often, when our backs hurt, doctors tell us stop exercising and we pop painkillers. However, gentle exercise is some of the best medicine. Gentle exercise keeps your whole body limber and often speeds up recovery. Try a trail run or hike at an easy pace, reduces monotonous jarring and increases wellbeing. Only a stress fracture requires total rest, but if in doubt check with your doctor. But avoiding back pain is better yet. Here are some of the typical: talking on the phone cradling the handset between your shoulder and your ear, watch TV at an angle, and place your newspaper or magazine on your knees when you read. These bad habits put unnecessary strain on your neck and back, but are easy to fix: Try using an earpiece when you talk on the phone. Place your easy chair so that you can see the TV without turning your head. And put a pillow or lap tray on your knees when reading.

Prioritize your sleep: Sleep is important not just for performance, but for overall health and wellbeing. During sleep, your body regenerates itself and restores the complex balances and body systems, and repairs the little tears and damages from exercise. Go to bed at a regular time each night, weekdays and weekends. Create a soothing night time ritual, and turn off all devices a while before you plan to go to sleep.

Caffeine can stay in the body for up to five hours. Most people know to limit coffee and caffeinated beverages after 6pm, but keep in mind that teas can also contain caffeine. Mint tea, fresh citrus fruits and fresh juices can also trigger body systems and cause you to have to get up during the night. Therefore, it might be a good idea to limit these kinds of beverages after 8pm.

Time your workouts: Physical exercise is good for health, and generally good for sleep, but intense workouts such as intervals can interfere with sleep. Your heart rate and body systems stay elevated for several hours after the end of a hard workout. Limit hard and intense workouts after 7pm.

Don’t get sick: Outside of being dealt some bad cards from nature, there is a lot we can do to prevent getting sick. For starters, a healthy lifestyle helps prevent many of the lifestyle problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

Little everyday habits also go a long way to stay healthy, such as keeping an eye on the temperature in your fridge and make sure its cold enough to keep your food safe. Also, clean out your fridge often. Fish, cold cuts, dairy-based desserts that are opened and dinner leftovers should be tossed after a few days. Wash your hands often, and always before you eat. Also, hugging everyone is an invitation to take over their germs. But here’s a paradox: showering too often can also make you sick. Showering breaks down your skin’s natural protection barrier so don’t overdo it.

And finally, you are what you eat: Aim for natural foods over processed foods, and practice moderation. Nothing should be off limits, but focus on healthy staples and listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Eat slowly and enjoy the food. And try to eat at regular intervals throughout the day. Read the food labels, the list of ingredients should be words you can pronounce. Watch for saturated fats, added sugars and sodium, and chemical ingredients and artificial preservatives. And do you have to buy a premade sandwich? You could easily assemble one from bread, ham and cheese or other fillings you like, add an apple and you’ve got a lunch.