is part of "The Monday Campaigns" in association with Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, and Syracuse University.
April 29 - Embrace Your Creative Side
Recent research shows that cultural activities, such as going to a museum exhibit or creating an art display, increase happiness and satisfaction in life while decreasing depression and anxiety.Activities that involve being active in the creative process are more beneficial than passive and receptive activities (i.e. watching television). This week, experiment with a creative activity that interests you–it can be anything from photography or painting to arranging flowers or singing.
April 22 - Get Out and Go
Outdoor activity may provide more benefits than staying inside. In a recent study, those who exercised outside reported a more enjoyable experience and left feeling more energized and less tense.Getting out into nature can also help you revitalize and ramp up your routine! Make the most of Earth Day by enjoying the outdoors this week. Bring one of your favorite indoor activities outdoors! You can try running, biking, swimming, even yoga. Or use this opportunity to try a completely new activity.
April 15 -Cut Your Meat Consumption Eating large amounts of red meat and processed meat (like bacon, deli meats, and hot dogs) has been linked to an increase in colon, rectal, and prostate cancer. Excessive meat consumption can also lead to other preventable diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
This week, start off with a Meatless Monday. See if you can swap red and processed meats for leaner sources of protein like beans, lentils or tofu.
April 8 - Believe in Your Buds We all had that one vegetable we refused to eat as a child, but times (and taste buds) change! Don’t let the past prevent you from getting the nutritional benefits of asparagus, lima beans, peas, Brussels sprouts, or your personal veggie villain. Our flavor profiles vary greatly with age: you may just find a new favorite in your former foe. Embrace your adulthood this week by trying a vegetable that you wouldn’t have touched as a child. Start slowly by adding it to a favorite dish. If it’s still not love at first bite, congratulate yourself for giving it a try anyway.
April 1 - Strategize to Subdue Stress There are many ways to beat stress, but you’ll find that some work better than others. Keeping a positive attitude, stepping out of the situation, enjoying a laugh, accepting that there are things we cannot control, and asserting your feelings instead of becoming angry or passive are all methods that can lead to less stress and a happier life. This week, consider which tools have worked for you before and perhaps try out some new ones. Having a few “go-to” stress-reducing techniques up your sleeve can make all the difference.
March 25 - Find a Fitness Friend Have fun staying fit by recruiting a friend or family member. You can plan to meet at the gym or park, go for a bike ride, or walk together. Add extra incentive by enjoying a sport together or setting up a fitness competition. Not only will you be helping someone else stay active, you’ll be more likely to stick with it yourself! Start this Monday by asking a friend for an activity date. Schedule a day and time that you can use for weekly meet-ups.
March 18 - Get Up-to-Date: Vaccinate It’s difficult to keep track of which vaccines you need and when you need them, but they’re crucial to staying healthy and avoiding disease. Many people think that they’re covered by their childhood vaccines, but it is possible that you never received some newer vaccinations or that your immunity has faded over time. Prevent unnecessary illness by getting your vaccination records in order this week. Bring them along to your next doctor’s appointment to ensure that you are up-to-date on all of your inoculations.
March 11 - Breathe to Beat Stress
Indigestion, changes in appetite, muscle tension, problems sleeping, a racing heart, dizziness, a clenched jaw, headaches, and aches and pains are all signs of stress. Giving yourself time to pause and breathe deeply when you encounter these stress signals can help you discover their cause and reduce their impact in the future. If you begin to notice any of these symptoms this week, slow down! Pause for a moment and focus on 10 deep breaths. Remember that most stress triggers are manageable and there are plenty of tools at your disposal.
March 4 - Go the Whole Way
Don’t depend on multivitamins to cover gaps in a poor diet. These isolated vitamins and minerals don’t provide the complex nutrient interactions of whole, unrefined foods. Unprocessed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and beans contain the antioxidants, phytonutrients, fatty acids, fiber and more that our bodies need to function at their best.
This week take one or two of your favorite processed foods and give them a whole foods makeover. Choose whole grain rice and bread over white, make a fresh fruit smoothie or replace instant soup with a batch of fresh vegetable soup. You’ll still be eating the foods you like while enjoying a nutri- tional boost!
February 25 - Revive your Routine
Having a consistent fitness routine is the easiest way to make activity part of your daily life. When planning your exercise, aim for SMART moves (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely): pick a time, place and activity that fits into your life and stick with it! Find three places in your schedule this week where you can fit fitness. It may be in the morning, during your lunch break, before dinner or in the evening. Recommit to these times at the end of the week, or adjust your work-out schedule if need be.
February 18 - Love Some Legumes Who says healthy food has to be expensive? Legumes are one of the cheapest ingredients you can buy and are packed with fiber, protein, iron, potassium, magnesium and other nutrients. Plus, beans, lentils and soybeans – also available in low-sodium, canned versions – lend themselves to a variety of dishes and flavors, making them a tasty addition to any meal! Include healthy legumes in at least one dish this week. To get in the recommended 1.5 cups per week, make a pot of chili, some lentil soup or chickpea falafel.
February 11 - Stress Less for a Healthy Heart
When your body is stressed, it releases the hormone adrenaline, which increases your heart, breathing, and blood pressure rates. A faster heart rate and higher blood pressure make your heart work harder and can weaken artery walls if these symptoms persist over time. In this way, chronic stress may increase your risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in America. This week, investigate your stress levels and heart disease risk factors. If you often exhibit Type A behaviors (feeling rushed, impatient, irritated, angry or hostile), focus on reducing the frequency of these behaviors to stay heart healthy!
February 4 - This week Snack Smart, Snack Simple: Snacking can boost nutrients and help you eat less at mealtime, or it can add unnecessary fat, calories and sodium; it all comes down to what you choose. When selecting a snack, stay away from pre-packaged cookies and chips: even portion control bags are full of empty calories and additives that will leave you feeling hungry later. This week, swap your usual snack for fresh fruit, raw veggies, nuts, raisins, low-fat yogurt or plain popcorn. These low-calorie alternatives will help keep you satisfied until your next meal.
January 28 - Find Peace with a Pen
Situations and events that are distressing for many might not bother you in the least. Or, you may be sensitive to even minor stressors. The first step in managing stress is identifying your triggers. Knowing when, where and why stress occurs, along with your stress symptoms and how you cope, can help you reduce exposure or come up with successful strategies to alleviate the issue. This week, start a stress journal. At week’s end, reread your entries to identify common themes to your stress and then brainstorm some solutions.
January 21 - Start Slow, Go Steady
Physical activity isn’t just a way to lose weight; it’s an essential step towards a long, vibrant life! If you haven’t been active in a while, now’s the time to revamp your routine. Start out with smaller amounts of exercise at lower intensities and gradually progress to moderate-intensity activity to reduce your risk of injury. This week, work on your fitness routine and don’t worry about how fast or hard others are exercising around you. Remember that you’re never too out-of-shape to get active!
January 14 - Suds Up for Food Safety
Washing fruits and vegetables before eating them reduces the risk of foodborne illness. If fruits and veggies have a ridged or uneven skin, use a scrub brush to remove dirt from the grooves. Remember, even produce with inedible skin should still be washed as a first step.
This week, get into the habit of washing all produce thoroughly before serving. Be sure to start with clean hands and a sanitary work station.
January 7 - Get the Pros on Your Side Take the first step towards healthier habits by checking in with your physician. Your doctor can help you set realistic goals and connect you with the resources you need to start strong, stay focused and achieve long-term success. If you have a limiting health condition - like asthma, diabetes, arthritis, or heart, lung and kidney disease - it is especially important to consult with a professional before embarking on a new diet or fitness regime. You should visit your physician at least once a year, so make an appointment this Monday if it’s been awhile. Bring a checklist of the goals and issues you want to discuss so you don’t forget!
December 31 - Go for the Goal
What health goals do you want to accomplish in 2013? Whether you’re looking to move more, eat better, beat stress or just stay healthy, establishing both long-and short-term targets will help keep you focused. A long-term goal can be something to work towards, like getting 2 1⁄2 hours of activity each week or eating 5 servings of produce each day. Short-term goals are the smaller actions you take to build up to your objective.
Think about your long-term goal for 2013 this week, and brainstorm some smaller steps to get there. Then, take action each Monday: when you have mastered one step, move on to the next!
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