How Hiking Is Good for Body and Mind

From WebMD.com  |  By Kara Mayer Robinson

Excerpt: "Hiking outdoors has plenty of perks: nice views, fresh air, and the sounds and smells of nature. It's good for you, too. Benefits include

  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Stronger core
  • Improved balance
  • Mood boost: "Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety," says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society. "Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that."

For the complete article, click here.

Sean Cowan, Going the Distance

Sean Cowan, a longtime Mission Ambassador, Ultra Marathon Runner and Survivor is taking great strides to raise awareness and funding of the programming provided by Mission to cancer survivors everywhere.  Sean is an advocate of running as a healthy means of staying active and connecting with others at any level.  To join Sean's running group locally or virtually click on the link provided and connect with others who wish to put some miles behind them.

Mission Running Group with Sean Cowan

Want to really get moving? Go to sleep.

From Shape.com  |  By Adam Bornstein

Excerpt: " Even with the very best diet and fitness routine, if sleep is off, you're wrecked. Here's why: No matter what your fitness goals are, having some muscle on your body is important. But sleep (or lack thereof) is the enemy of muscle. Scientists from Brazil found that sleep debt decreases protein synthesis (your body's ability to make muscle), causes muscle loss, and can lead to a higher incidence of injuries. Just as important, lack of sleep makes it harder for your body to recover from exercise by slowing down the production of growth hormone—your natural source of anti-aging and fat burning that also facilitates recovery."

For the complete article, "Why Sleep Is the No. 1 Most Important Thing for a Better Body," click here.

Don't Just Sit There

From Harvard Health Publications | By Julie Corliss

“According to a study about the health hazards of sitting too much, more than half of the average person's waking hours are spent sitting: watching television, working at a computer, commuting, or doing other physically inactive pursuits. But all that sitting could be sending us to an early grave-even those folks who exercise up to an hour a day, say the Canadian researchers who did the study.

The health hazards of not moving much are wide ranging, says Dr. Joanne Foody, who directs the Cardiovascular Wellness Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. ‘While we often think of the dangers of inactivity in terms of worsening cardiovascular health, there are a myriad of negative effects,’ she says. The current study documented higher rates of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cancer-related deaths in very sedentary people. An unrelated study has linked more sitting and less activity with an increased risk of developing dementia.”

For the complete article, click here.

Some Like it Cold

Say it with us: winter is here. For some of us that means it’s time to hide inside until the days are a little longer and the flowers are in bloom. But did you know that spending time outside in the cold can be really, really good for your health? You do now.

Rethink Rural wrote about five reasons we should spend some time out in the cold during fall and winter.

Cold air helps us sleep better, boosting immunity

Nearly every doctor, scientist and health expert agrees, the best natural remedy for boosting immunity is NOT mega-doses of vitamin C or more Echinacea, it’s getting enough sleep. At least 8 hours a night to be exact. Sadly, Americans are chronically deprived of sleep, sleeping 30-45 minutes less per night than other nations. Though sleep aids and therapies may have their place, one of the best ways to ensure a quality night’s sleep is to open a window and let in the cool, fresh air. Why? Before it’s time to sleep, your body temperature naturally drops, signaling your sleep system. And, as this University of Pittsburg study concluded, cooler temperatures help your brain wind down to sleep.

 Cold temperatures can help you burn more fat and calories

As reported by the Endocrine Society, long-term exposure to mildly cooler temperatures can help your body produce more beneficial brown fat leading to enhanced metabolism. Brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue, is a beneficial type of fat that burns energy and glucose to produce heat. It is prevalent in babies and small animals, and helps protect from diabetes and obesity.

Cold temperatures can help reduce inflammation

Just like an ice pack helps soothe strained or sore muscles, science says cold temperatures can help reduce exercise-induced inflammation. Olympians have reported to use the extreme cooling technique known as cryotherapy to help them recover faster and alleviate soreness.

Cold fresh air supports a healthy respiratory system and encourages exercise

In the winter months pollen counts and pollution are naturally lower. If you have children who suffer from bronchial issues, the winter can be a perfect time for them to get outdoors more and breathe in all the benefits of fresher, cleaner air. Likewise, those who suffer from seasonal allergies (or just can’t take the summer heat) are more likely to benefit from outdoor exercise in the winter, when pollens and humidity are at their lowest. As we’ve written about before, outdoor exercise has numerous advantages compared to indoor exercise including enhanced calorie burning, stress-reduction and increased small tendon and muscle strengthening.

Acute exposure to cold has an immunostimulating effect

It seems counter-intuitive, but acute exposure to cold air actually revs up your body’s defenses. How the heck does this work? When your body gets hit with a blast of cold air, like during a brisk walk or outdoor playdate, it perceives this as a stress and temporarily increases its natural killer cells to compensate.”

So whether you’re hitting the slopes, going for a hike, or just taking the dog for a walk, getting outside during the cold winter months can have a seriously good impact on your health. How are you getting outside?

Essential WFH Workouts

For many of us, a workout has always been part of our daily routine. But now, those daily schedules are anything but routine. It’s unlikely that we’re in the gym on the way to work or getting together with a group to play basketball, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find ways to stay in shape, all from the comforts of home.

Sharp Magazine put together eight exercises we can do while we work from home (or while we’re on the go, watching TV, almost any time). Here are our six favorites, we love them because you don’t need a single piece of equipment — besides your body.


You know it, you hate it, but there’s a reason it’s the first on our list. Pushups activate every muscle in your body. Start with your chest nearly touching the floor, then push upwards, keeping your head, glutes, and heels in a straight line. Fifty daily reps will go a long way.


Start in a standing position, take one huge step forward, then lower your upper body until your knee is at a 90-degree bend. Repeat with the opposite leg. Your glutes and calves will thank you later. 


High school teachers used to use wall squats as punishment, but they’re phenomenal for your thighs. With your back flat and your feet hip-width apart, lower yourself until your knees bend at 90 degrees. Hold it for a minute — if you can.


If you could hold it for longer than a minute, you’re some kind of hero – but a minute will suffice in helping you work your way to a six-pack. The plank is a core strength exercise that strengthens your spine and abdominal muscles – it should be an essential part of your at-home workout routine. 


A side plank is similar to a regular plank in terms of setup and benefits. In a side plank, form matters a little more. Make sure your hips are in line with the rest of your body for a more intense muscle stretch.


If you’re looking to burn fat, the burpee is your friend . A cardio-forward full-body exercise that’ll help you look #shredded without leaving your bedroom.”

If you’re looking to get some work in while working from home, you’ll do well to create a regimen using these bodyweight exercises. You’ll see results without ever leaving home.

Creating an Exercise Routine for Cancer Patients

Recently, the benefits of exercising both during and after cancer treatments has begun to be promoted by oncologists and their teams. Some studies have shown it can fight treatment-related fatigue and even help improve the chance at survival for some.

Beginning to work out with cancer can be tricky, it’s not as simple as going for a run or lifting some weights. Cancer.net put together five tips for starting an exercise routine.

1. Learn about the physical activity recommendations.

For adults, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. The guidelines also recommend 2 days of full-body strength training.

2. Use a variety of exercises.

There are different types of exercise. An effective exercise plan will include a variety of types of exercise to have the best benefit for the whole body.  

  •   Aerobic training. Activities like walking and running are great aerobic exercise. But activities of daily living (ADLs), such as laundry, bathing, dressing, or cooking, may be your starting point.
  •   Resistance training. Although resistance training is one of the most important types of exercises during and after cancer treatment, it’s not done enough. Movements such as standing up from a chair or toilet, climbing stairs, and carrying grocery bags all require muscle. Resistance exercise, which can help reduce fatigue and improve body function, will make these tasks easier.
  •   Core training. Core training is the basis of movement. The muscles around the middle of your body, from just under the ribs to a few inches below where your hip bends, are your core. These muscles are used in every single movement your body makes, even rolling over in bed.

3. Train for your life by using functional fitness.

Think about the movements that you need to accomplish in your life and train for them. For example, if you need to bring laundry from one level of your home to the next, start by moving an empty laundry basket or small pile of towels multiple times to activate the needed muscles. If you find it difficult to carry groceries, train with a sack that has just a few small canned goods.

4. Remember to refuel your tank.

Hydration and food, especially protein, is key to recovery after exercise and resistance training. Exercise also has a powerful role in improving the quality of sleep, which also aids recovery. If your body cannot recover properly from new physical exertion, it can be harder to stick with your exercise program.

5. Find an accountability partner.

Another way to make your exercise program consistent is to tell someone close to you what your exercise plan is. Then, empower that person to encourage you by asking you about it regularly, or even join you. Share your goals and ask them what theirs are.”

These tips can make it easier to create and stick to a better-for-you exercise routine. The key is to find workouts that are relevant to the specific life and battle of each cancer patient and go from there.

Easy Resistance Band Exercises

Not everyone has the space and equipment required to set up a home gym. But that doesn't mean that everyone can’t create a gym-quality workout at home or on the go. All it takes is one simple little tool: the resistance band. These stretchy bands are low in price but high in impact and wildly versatile. Use them to stretch, stabilize and build muscles with a series of bodyweight workouts. 

Here are a few of our favorite resistance band exercises from the experts at Women’s Health.

“Overhead Squat

How to: Wrap a resistance band around your forearms, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms overhead. Sit your hips back, bend your knees, and lower down until your thighs are nearly parallel with the floor. Push through your heels and rise back to start. That's one rep.


How to: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Wrap a resistance band around your feet. Grab the top of the resistance band with both hands, and stand up straight. Hinge at your hips and lower down, with a slight bend in your knees, until your hands go just past your knees. Slowly return to start. That's one rep.

Standing Obliques

How to: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Wrap a resistance band around your right foot, then stand onthe other end with your left foot. Bend your arms and place your hands behind your head. Bend your right knee and lift it toward your right elbow. Slowly lower back down to start. That's one rep. Complete all reps on your right side before switching to the left.

Bicycle Crunch

How to: Lie flat on your back, wrap a resistance band around your feet, and place your hands on the sides of your body. Bring your left knee toward your chest as you extend the right. Then switch sides. Keep your lower back firmly planted on the ground. That's one rep.

Plank Row

How to: Get into a high plank position, with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Loop one end of a resistance band around your left thumb, and hold the other end in your right hand. Keeping your core tight and hips stable, pull your right hand to your shoulder. Slowly lower back down. That’s one rep. Complete all reps on one side before moving on to the next.

No home gym? No gym membership? No problem. A simple set of inexpensive resistance bands can set you up with a whole body workout regimen that’s easy to commit to and as versatile as it is effective.

More Exercise For a Happier You

As temperatures cool and the days get shorter, it’s especially important to think not only about our physical health, but our mental health. One way to take care of our bodies while also taking care of our minds is a new exercise routine. According to a study by Yale and Oxford Universities, “regardless of age, race, gender, income or education levels, people who exercise regularly have higher self-reported levels of happiness.”

How can exercise make people happier? Here are eight ways.

Release Endorphins for Improved Mood

During and after physical exertion, the brain releases endorphins. These feel-good hormones reduce our sense of pain and produce a feeling of euphoria. Studies have also found that the more intensely you exercise, the higher your endorphin release will be.

Feel More Energetic and Refreshed

Exercise boosts your circulation, ignites your cardiovascular system and stimulates your central nervous system. All of these effects lead to an increase in alertness and physical energy. 

Breathe in Fresh Air

Studies show that the longer we go without being outside, the more depressed we feel. By spending time outside we can interrupt negative emotions and relieve stress.

Get a Better Night’s Sleep

A regular moderate exercise routine can help people to fall asleep and stay asleep, and even achieve deeper sleep for longer.

Socialize With Your Workout Buddies

Having someone else as committed to fitness as you are helps maintain accountability, and it can be fun too. 

Boost Your Confidence

As you begin a new exercise routine, you may start to notice physical changes in your appearance and your stamina. Whether you’re losing weight, gaining strength or developing your coordination, becoming a better version of you is always a confidence booster.

Enjoy Deeper Intimacy

As you improve your physical health, you might also start to enjoy deeper intimacy with your partner. You’ll have higher energy levels and be in better physical shape. 

Get Away From Daily Stressors

Going to the gym, heading to spin class or running track are all ways to de-stress and make more time for yourself. The more time you make for your personal health, the more energy and focus you’ll have to tackle your to-do lists. 

So as the seasons continue to change and, perhaps, our moods along with them, keep in mind that an easy way to remedy our mental health (and to feel healthier, fitter and stronger) is a little exercise.