Focus on Fitness: Cheers to a happy and healthy month – Lifestyle – The Ames Tribune

August — one of the best months of the year. I say that not only because it is in the summer (you all remember that this season is my favorite) but also because it is National Wellness Month — a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Although I have written about wellness in August just last year and in 2014, I think some points need to be repeated, especially this year.

This month focuses on being good to your self — practice self-care, manage stress, and promote a healthy routine. With us being in the fifth month of the coronavirus pandemic, can you think of a better time than now to strive to achieve wellness and balance in our lives? Many people have struggled with some or all aspects of well-being through these times. Read on as I offer some tips that you can incorporate into your daily lives.

Even though gyms have re-opened, many have restrictions in place and several members might be feeling a little uneasy going back to work out. What better time to be active with family and friends in the green spaces of our community than now! Try to walk more than 5000 steps and shoot for that ultimate 10,000. Plan your life to be more active — you may have extra time now so get some jobs done around the house that get your heart pumping.

Currently, your mental health might be suffering. Limit watching the news or spending time on social media. During the shut-down, I practiced yoga and meditation day and night which I found were great stress relievers. Think of the big picture — this a universal event with people all over the world having trouble with this “new normal” as you might be. You are not alone. Perform some deep breathing by inhaling through your nose and out through your mouth with a loud sigh as you release or breathe in for four counts and then exhale for four.

Stay away from bad habits. If you find yourself buying a pack of cigarettes or pouring an alcoholic drink more often, get back on the healthy trail. Staying well means eating well also. Try out some new recipes and entertain friends as you social distance. It is a great time of year to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables which can also be a way to keep hydrated. That does not mean you can back off on drinking several cups of water a day, though.

Another suggestion I found on WebMD is to try your hand at journaling about how you feel and what life is like during this wild time. When did we ever think that we would send our children off to school wearing masks or not see fans at Wrigley Field cheering on the Cubs or not enjoy a Sunday night band concert in Crapo Park? Your account of what life was like in 2020 will be something to look back on in the future.

And one of my faves — pamper your skin by purchasing a purifying facial sheet mask (very reasonably priced in stores). I found this to be a real rejuvenating treat as I enjoyed a cleanse of my face.

National Wellness Month is in full swing so jump into it by making some small changes, trying something new, and taking time to relax. This year, more than any in over 100 years, it is vital to practice healthy habits and do things for you and those you love. Promise yourself to choose wellness in August and keep it going all year long. Cheers to a HAPPY and HEALTHY month.

Julie Kirk is a fitness instructor at Great River Health Fitness. Her column appears in Living Well the second Tuesday of each month.

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