THREE local experts offer tips for healthy living
Naturalist: Immerse yourself in nature
By: Jenny Rigby, environmental planner, teacher, author and director of the Acorn Group
Irvine's open spaces are valued for their beauty. And is increasingly seen as a form of therapy—an antidote to stress and anxiety.
It turns out that while exercise generally manages weight and cardiovascular fitness, exercising outdoors in a natural setting reduces levels of stress hormones like cortisol, while increasing levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin.
In short, people feel calmer and happier after engaging in activities in nature. They also showed improved cognitive function and enhanced creativity.
You can add a variety of activities to your nature tour to deepen your experience. Here are some tips to get you started.
find a seat
Sitting is a place in nature that is close to home and is revisited over time. Temporary seating along the trail is also available.
Find a place to sit quietly and engage all your senses. In just a few minutes, you'll start noticing things like subtle sounds, aromas, textures, and shy wildlife.
Decoding bird calls
Birds sing. They also chatter, whistle, bark and trill. In a calm state, the bird sings a repetitive melody. In agitation, they make short, high-pitched notes to warn of danger, demarcate territory, and inspect or, in the case of chicks, ask for food. Actively listening to these natural sounds can help restore our focus and reduce stress.
use your deer ears
Have you ever noticed how the deer moves its ears so it can hear better? Try listening with your own deer ears. Place your curved palms behind your ears and push each ear forward while maintaining a tight seal. Turn to the sound and listen. How do your deer ears improve your concentration and listening skills?
Nutritionist: Eat Well, Feel Better
By Bita Hirsa, nutritionist and health educator at Kaiser Permanente Center for Healthy Living
Healthy eating really comes down to one thing: making smart choices. Here's how to get started.
1. Eat real food, not too much, plant-based. Reduce the amount of processed, packaged and processed meat you eat and increase the amount of natural food that nature provides us.
2. Start small and gradually establish a healthy eating pattern. Examples of small changes might be starting the day with a glass of water, adding some fruit to breakfast, starting lunch with a salad or vegetable soup, or replacing soda with water.
3. Don't forget to exercise. Movement is the closest thing we get to the fountain of youth. We recommend 30 to 60 minutes of moderate activity at least 5 days a week. Regular exercise helps burn calories, relieve stress, and regulate blood sugar and blood pressure.
4. Sometimes a coach or workshop can help. Kaiser Permanente's Center for Healthy Living offers a number of virtual workshops, including “Healthy Balance,” which focuses on how to lose weight through lifestyle changes. Visit kp.org/centerforhealthyliving or call 714-748-2714 to register.
Instructor: Mini Bands Get Muscle Burning
By Kevin Taylor, Fitness Instructor, Owen Orangetheory Fitness
One of the best workouts is also one of the safest and cheapest. All you need is some mini-bands, which you can buy online or at sporting goods stores.
Exercises with resistance bands are a great way to get the muscles working the way they should, maybe they've been riding and not pulling their body weight completely.
Because of their low impact, they are easy on the joints. They're designed to strengthen your core, which will make all your movements safer, whether you're running, bending over, or just getting things out of the cupboard. Here are some exercises to get you started.