Gardening & Living in Grand Style
Small changes can make for a healthier life...
by Michael Johnson
Utah State University Extension Agent, Grand County
Nov 03, 2016 | 1729 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Beyond gardening, Utah State University Extension programs provide information on issues such as health and wellness. Having made some changes in my lifestyle this year, and having seen positive benefits from increased regular exercise and reduced calorie intake, I thought I would switch it up and write about the benefits you can receive, too.

Certainly, many in our area are already on track due to their outdoor activities, so just keep it up, especially as you grow older. For others, perhaps you’ve become a bit too sedentary due to work and life issues. If you’ve considered becoming more active, know you don’t need a full-blown exercise program or have to deny yourself some pleasures — just find a system that works for you, meaning one you can enjoy truly.

It’s no wonder it’s easier to just sit back and take in more calories than you burn off these days, especially considering the wide variety of foods available, hectic schedules and the added stress of what’s going on in the world. However, it’s not just about weight loss, whether you’re perfectly sized or have added pounds.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising improves your overall health and can prevent or manage health problems such as type 2 diabetes, depression, some cancers, arthritis, heart disease and high blood pressure. Once exercising regularly you will see a boost in your energy as you gain improvement in your strength and endurance.

Exercising also helps you sleep better and can improve your mood. And in this day and time who can’t use a mood lift — right? So if you are feeling a bit down or stressed then go for a walk.

Other benefits include stronger bones that are helped by doing weight-bearing exercises such as jogging, running, walking or dancing. Exercising boosts blood circulation, which increases nutrients throughout the body, including the skin, and helps to detoxify the body. An added benefit of the increased oxygen and nutrients moving through your brain is improved brain function. For those of us who have lived through many decades there is always a benefit from having some of the brain cobwebs cleaned out.

There are many ways to exercise and it’s important that you find the one that fits you, meaning one you will do on a regular basis. Some people prefer the gym, bike riding, running or jogging, but for me it was walking — although I do use an elliptical fairly regularly. For some, what you choose might have to do with other health issues. That said, regardless of the aches and pains you need to get out and make it happen.

I have learned though that while it seems cool to do more and more, it’s not always the best because you can overdo it. After some trial and error I now have a mostly set distance and time, which I try to do six days a week. Keep in mind that it did take me some time to get to this point. So find what works for you and just keep at it.

A major component of any health and wellness program is healthier eating. Luckily, I grew up with a mom who loved to cook from scratch and after a very short time on my own I realized I needed to learn that myself. As such, meals when I cook are pretty healthy, but I did need to make changes with those highly enjoyable, higher-calorie items I liked.

Whether it’s a specific diet you choose or just changing what you cook and eat, it’s really about staying with it. So now I watch what I cook more carefully and have really cut back on the higher-calorie items with the goal of making this a permanent change. It’s a work in progress of course, and something I will have to stay on top of but I’m now closing in on 30 pounds lost this year, care much less about higher calorie foods and am antsy if I don’t get my walk in each day. Beyond that, I have improved energy and I think the brain synapses are a bit perkier these days.

The bottom line is we all benefit from caring well for our loved ones and ourselves and the sooner you get started the sooner you will see results. It’s not necessary to do triathlons, although for those who do, more power to you. Just focus on exercising 150 minutes a week, which could be 30 minutes five days a week or even 10 minutes three times a day for those five days. As you age, which we all do, it’s going to prove more and more beneficial to be in better shape, but regardless of your current age there is no better time to start than now. Believe me, if I can do it, you can too.

Thought for the day: “Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” —Buddha

Previous articles are available at The Times-Independent website, Have an idea you’d like Mike to consider writing about? Want more information about these topics? Call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 435-259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at

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