National Physical Fitness Month | Ask the Nurse

Be prepared for a strong-willed person to be strong-willed.

by Christine Hammerlund, President of Assured Healthcare and "Mother"
Last segement in a four part series about Christine Hammerlund and her Mom.

For a woman who spent decades raising six children, three girls and three boys, and making every meaningful decision in her life, it doesn't make sense for her to give up that independence without a fight.

Sure, Mom was slipping and had been for years. But she was still the person who ran her family. There can be challenges, but caring for her now is among the greatest blessings I could have been given. These years will be important to me forever, and I don't plan to come up short for her.

Just because she now suffers from dementia, do not expect her too become some soft, pliant victim. She still will fight for herself. She's your mom, isn't she?

With my Mom, there was no doubt that resentment was part of the process. We had to take my mother's car away from her and she was upset about it for years.

She had a caregiver that came into her home two days a week. We increased that to three days a week and finally five days a week. She didn't think it was necessary. She would tell me that she ran out of things to talk to the caregiver about, and she had sent her home. My attempts to talk to her about it would turn her angry and defensive.

One important thing: Mom didn't want to be told what to do. Never did. Never will, I would guess. She wanted to be asked and still does. Sound familiar?

Sometimes the caregivers direct my Mom's activities for the day, not giving her a choice, and she balks at that. Understand that my Mom is not able to make decisions for herself but she wants to have a say, usually she'll go along with whatever I say as long as I say it respectfully.

I'd say that's what makes her Mom.


The Case for Physical Fitness

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by Christine Hammerlund, President of Assured Healthcare

Deciding to step up your physical activity is a great move for your health. It will take you to exciting destinations - like elevating your mood, increasing your energy, improving your sleep, and helping you manage stress.

Elevate Your Mood

With skyrocketing costs, hectic schedules, and the stressors of everyday life, it's easy to develop a glass-half-empty mindset. But daily exercise - aiming for at least 10,000 steps - can help you see your glass half full by:

  • Releasing endorphins - hormones that help boost your outlook
  • Alleviating depression and reducing anxiety
  • Balancing levels of serotonin, which creates a more stable frame of mind.

Increase Your Energy

Have you ever started your day energized and ready to go, only to be crashing by mid-afternoon? Many people experience this dip in energy. Not only is it a problem in how you feel, it also can hinder your work performance. You can beat the slump with consistent walking habits.
More effective than any caffeine drink, exercise can provide long-lasting energy. In a recent study, previously inactive people increased their energy by 20% and reduced fatigue by 65% through a regular workout routine. When you're physically active, your body actually responds by generating more energy.

Improve Sleep

Head outdoors and walk in the daylight - it can regulate your body's production of melatonin at night, allowing a deeper, more relaxing sleep. Studies also show that physical activity 3-4 hours before you go to bed can promote better quality sleep and a restful night.

Manage Stress

Everyone has stressors, and some may not be quickly or easily solved. In fact, some sources of stress may never go away. So what do you do? Get moving! Walking helps manage stress by:

  • Promoting a positive mindset; a good attitude is a serious force against stress
  • Giving you time to clear your thoughts and work through what's bothering you
  • Managing your instinctual fight-or-flight response and providing a healthy way to expel negative emotions.

Aerobic activity (walking, running, swimming, or cycling) and flexibility workouts (yoga or Pilates) both reduce stress.

A Winning Strategy

The physical benefits of exercise are well known - it's your biggest weapon against weight gain and helps prevent many conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. But exercise also offers benefits that can't be measured on a scale or by a doctor - like mood, stress, and energy levels. Improve your outlook and your health with a fun, flexible walking routine.