Help Reduce Your Risk by Breaking a Sweat

Breaking a sweat while exercising regularly may help reduce stroke risk.


American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report

July 18, 2013


Study Highlights:

- Breaking a sweat while working out regularly may help lower your stroke risk.

- Inactive people were more likely to experience a stroke or mini-stroke.

- Regular activity seems to lower stroke risk by reducing blood pressure, weight and blood sugar.


DALLAS, July 18, 2013 — Breaking a sweat while working out regularly may reduce your risk of stroke, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

In a study of more than 27,000 Americans, 45 years and older who were followed for an average of 5.7 years, researchers found:

One-third of participants reported being inactive, exercising less than once a week. Inactive people were 20 percent more likely to experience a stroke or mini-stroke than those who exercised at moderate to vigorous intensity (enough to break a sweat) at least four times a week.

Among men, only those who exercised at moderate or vigorous intensity four or more times a week had a lowered stroke risk.

Among women, the relationship between stroke and frequency of activity was less clear.

“The stroke-lowering benefits of physical activity are related to its impact on other risk factors,” said Michelle McDonnell, Ph.D., study author and Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences at the International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia. “Exercise reduces blood pressure, weight and diabetes. If exercise was a pill, you’d be taking one pill to treat four or five different conditions.”

The study — the first to quantify protective effects of physical activity on stroke in a large multiracial group of men and women in the United States — supports previous findings that physical inactivity is second only to high blood pressure as a risk factor for stroke.

Study participants were part of the Reasons for Geographic and Ethnic Differences in Stroke (the REGARDS study). They were divided relatively equally between black and white and male and female, with more people from the “Stroke Belt” states in the southeast. The stroke belt is an area of the country where strokes are more common (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia).

The study included self-reported data on the frequency of exercise, but not how long people were physically active each day.

“We can tell you how much your stroke risk improves for each cigarette you cut out or every point you reduce your blood pressure, but we still need good studies on the amount you can reduce your risk of stroke by taking up exercise,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell also noted that the weak relationship with physical activity and women observed in this study may be because women can get the benefit with less vigorous exercise such as walking, which was not the focus of this analysis.

The American Heart Association recommends healthy adults (ages 18-65) get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week, or at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week, for a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. Adults should also get at least two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities that involve all the major muscle groups.


Co-authors are: Susan L. Hillier, Ph.D.; Steven P. Hooker, Ph.D.; Anh Le, M.S.; Suzanne E. Judd, Ph.D., and Virginia J. Howard, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke funded the study.

Please visit the American Heart Association ( for more info.

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Exercise Increases Positive Emotion

Many research studies support that exercise boosts positive feelings and regular physical activity is related to lower rates of depression.

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

1. Exercise improves self-esteem.

2. Exercise causes the release of endorphins in your body. Endorphins reduce your perception of pain and trigger positive feelings.

3. Exercise reduces feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

4. Exercise improves the length and quality of your sleep.

4. Exercise stimulates greater energy levels.

Research has found that exercise contributes greatly to managing depression. Since social support also helps with easing depression, it can be beneficial to join an exercise group that addresses both physical activity and building social support.

You’re more likely to continue an exercise program if you pick activities you enjoy. Here are some questions to help you decide:

  • What physical activities do I find fun?
  • Do I prefer group or individual activities?
  • What programs best fit my schedule?
  • Do I have physical conditions that limit my choice of exercise?
  • What goals do I have in mind? (For example: weight loss, strengthening muscles, improving flexibility, or mood enhancement)

Moderate physical activity for at least 20 to 30 minutes (3 times per week) is recommended and more is better (especially when it comes to reducing feelings of depression). Start slow, go at your own pace, and gradually work your way up. If you feel pain, stop. Exercise should be enjoyable and pain is not a marker of progress.

Also, it helps to plan a routine that is easy to follow and maintain. When you start feeling comfortable with your routine, then you can start varying your exercise times and activities.

Many individuals experience immediate benefits from following an exercise routine. However, for others, it may take time to notice improvements, so don’t give up!


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Physical Activity is Important

Below is some great information from the American Diabetes Association about physical activity. Enjoy!

Wondering why physical activity is so important?

Regular activity is a key part of managing diabetes along with proper meal planning, taking medications as prescribed, and stress management.

When you are active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin so it can work more efficiently. Your cells also remove glucose from the blood using a mechanism totally separate from insulin during exercise.

So, exercising consistently can lower blood glucose and improve your A1C. When you lower your A1C, you may be able to take fewer diabetes pills or less insulin.

Physical activity is also important for your overall well being, and can help with many other health conditions.


Regular physical activity:

  • lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
  • lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke
  • burns calories to help you lose or maintain weight
  • increases your energy for daily activities
  • helps you sleep better
  • relieves stress
  • strengthens your heart and improves your blood circulation
  • strengthens your muscles and bones
  • keeps your joints flexible
  • improves your balance to prevent falls
  • reduces symptoms of depression and improves quality of life

You’ll see these benefits even if you haven’t been very active before.


For more information about diabetes and/or physical activity, please visit the American Diabetes Association website at


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Fruits and Veggies: Drink Up!

A good rule of thumb is to consume at least 5 servings of fruits/vegetables each day. That comes out to be approximately 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies daily. Smoothies can be a yummy way to incorporate more fresh produce into your diet while cooling you off in the summer heat. Read on for some healthy and delicious smoothie recipes…


Kiwi-Melon Madness

1 cup sliced kiwi

2 cups cubed honeydew melon

1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup ice


Berry Banana & Flax Fiesta

1 banana

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)

2 tablespoons flaxseed (ground)

1 cup ice


Tropical Mango Mamba

1 cup sliced mango

1 tablespoon shredded coconut

1/2 cup pineapple

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice


Fruit & Veggie Medley

1/4 cup cooked broccoli

1/4 cup cooked carrots

1 orange

1/2 cup sliced mango

1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/4 cup natural cranberry juice

1 cup ice


Smoothies are also great “mini-meals” after you exercise, especially if you’ve engaged in weight resistance training. Blend in extra protein for optimal muscle recovery.

PB and Banana Blast

1 cup milk (skim, soy, almond milk, etc.)

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 banana

2 tablespoons protein powder (optional)


The Green Giant

1/2 cup cooked spinach

1/2 cup cooked broccoli

1/4 cup mashed avocado

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup natural cranberry juice

2 tablespoons protein powder (optional)


For all recipes, you can adjust the consistency of the smoothie by adding more or less liquid/ice.



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Stay Active and Protect Your Heart

Maintaining an active lifestyle is one way to reduce your risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in America. Each year, more than half a million people die of heart disease, which accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths.

What are the risk factors?

High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. Approximately 49% of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.
Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

What can you do?

Lowering you blood pressure and cholesterol will reduce your risk of dying of heart disease. Here are some tips to protect your heart:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medications.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt; low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Take a brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
  • Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. Visit and www.smokefree.govExternal Web Site Icon for tips on quitting.
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Super Easy Ways to Cut Calories at Every Meal

Super Easy Ways to Cut Calories at Every Meal


You can lose 10 pounds per year just by cutting 100 calories out of your daily diet. That’s less than the calories in a can of soda! Below are some simple and easy ways to cut calories from your meals and not even notice it.



  • Use skim milk instead of whole milk with your cereal.
  • Fry your eggs in calorie-free nonstick spray rather than butter.
  • Choose turkey bacon instead of pork bacon or sausage.
  • Instead of a muffin, opt for whole grain toast topped with a little bit of natural peanut butter.


  • Use 1 tablespoon of mayo and 1 tablespoon of low-fat cottage cheese to make tuna salad.
  • Top your burger with onions, lettuce, and tomato and skip the cheese.
  • Cut out a slice of bread by making an open-face sandwich.
  • Mix salad with 1 tablespoon of dressing until every lettuce leaf is coated. This way, you’ll still get the taste without all the fat in extra tablespoons of dressing.


  • For meatballs, use 1/2 the amount of ground beef and use cooked brown rice for the rest.
  • Choose small whole grain tortillas with lean ground turkey for taco night.
  • Choose thin-crust pizza rather than deep-dish.
  • Opt for a light salad and a can of 100-calorie soup.
  • Eat twice your serving of veggies and cut 1/2 your serving of starch and animal protein.

Drinks & Dessert

  • Reduce your consumption of liquid calories. If you’re a big soda drinker, then cut out at least 1 can per day.
  • Choose fresh produce instead of the juiced version.  For example, skip the orange juice and just eat an orange.
  • Be mindful of your alcohol intake. Just cutting back by a few ounces makes a big caloric difference.
  • Opt for frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
  • Make your own popsicles by pureeing fruit and freezing it.
  • To help you stick to the serving size, buy individually wrapped items.
  • Experiment with substitutes. For example, in baking, you can replace butter by using applesauce or mashed avocado.
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10 Ways to Burn 100 Calories at Home

10 Ways to Burn 100 Calories at Home

Maintaining a home is full of opportunities to burn more calories, so take advantage of them! Just spending 20-30 minutes doing the activities below can help you shave off 100 calories AND you’ll check some items off your to-do list.


1. Vacuuming

2. Mowing the lawn

3. Cleaning out the garage

4. Raking leaves

5. Washing the car

6. Mopping the floor

7. Cleaning windows

8. Sweeping

9. Scrubbing the tub

10. Painting a room



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New Class!

We are happy to announce the addition of a class starting Tuesday, April 30th at 9:30am at the South Clairemont Recreation Center & Park. Class will be meeting at the gazebo next to the playground and will include aerobics, dance, muscle toning, and stretching exercises. Come meet our newest instructor Marta Santiago!

South Clairemont Recreation Center

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How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

A healthy heart starts with making healthy lifestyle choices. These choices include things like:


- Having a nutritious diet that is low in salt, saturated fat, and cholesterol

- Getting plenty of physical activity (at least 30 minutes daily)

- Maintaining a healthy weight

- Avoiding tobacco smoke

- Limiting alcohol

- Effectively managing stress


Establishing these lifestyle behaviors can reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and many other conditions. For more information, visit the American Heart Association at



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The Many Benefits of Strength Exercises

The Many Benefits of Strength Exercises


- Increase your muscle mass and strength

- Avoid muscle loss as you age

- Increase your metabolic rate

- Avoid a reduction in your metabolic rate as you age

- Improve your body’s ability to utilize glucose (that is, reduce your risk of conditions such as diabetes)

- Burn more fat and lose more weight

- Build stronger bones by increasing the mineral density in your bones


Regular exercise helps to reduce blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, increase energy, and improve cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercises and strength exercises are both part of a healthy fitness routine.




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