6 Brain Benefits of Walking

shutterstock_219757786You probably know the benefits of walking for building strong bones, improving heart health and losing weight. But did you know that walking offers benefits for your brain, too? Here are six ways walking can give your brain a boost.

  1. Stay mentally sharp. A number of studies suggest that walking helps ward off age-related memory decline.
  2. Lower Alzheimer’s risk. One study found that older men who walked more than 2 miles per day were half as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia compared to those who walked less than a quarter mile per day.
  3. Boost brain power. Taking a brisk walk not only gets your heart pumping, it may help focus your thoughts, too. In one small study, kids’ brain scans showed more brain activity after a brisk walk, specifically in the areas of the brain responsible for focus and attention.
  4. Lift your mood. Research suggests that fast walking at least 35 minutes a day, five days a week, can improve your mood and reduce mild to moderate depression symptoms.
  5. Spark creativity. A recent study suggests that walking—whether on a treadmill or hiking on a trail—boosted creativity by about 60 percent compared with sitting.
  6. Sleep better. Research suggests that a brisk mid-morning walk can help you get a better night’s rest.

Want to join a walking group or exercise class? Learn more about wellness programs available through Rex Healthcare. Visit www.rexhealth.com to view information about Rex Wellness Centers.

 

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Summer Breeze Smoothie

CaptureSmoothieThis smoothie is loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals for a low-calorie (and great-tasting) treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yogurt, plain, nonfat
  • 6 medium strawberries
  • 1 cup pineapple, crushed, canned in juice
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ice cubs
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Place all ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth. Serve in frosted glass.

Number of servings: 3. Per serving: 121 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 64 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 483 mg potassium.

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

 

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Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Chicken Tenders

Susan Ramsay (intern)-1Susan Ramsay is a Dietetic Intern at the Rex Wellness Center. She currently attends North Carolina Central University.

Getting kids to embrace healthy food choices can be a challenge! To start the process, try re-making some of their favorite foods with healthy substitutes. When they recognize the food they’ll be more likely to try it and won’t miss the added sugar, salt and fat that is usually added to fast food. These chicken tenders are crunchy and crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. They’re a delicious guilt free version of the classic. The tenders are coated in panko breadcrumbs and baked, instead of fried, which greatly reduces the overall fat and calorie content found in regular chicken tenders. The fiber in whole wheat slows the digestion of carbohydrate and provides vitamins and minerals not found in refined grains. You can serve them with your favorite condiment and kids and adults alike will love this twist on a classic comfort food.

Chicken

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 1/4 lb. (about 8) chicken tenders

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet lined with foil. Coat with cooking spray.
  2. Place the whole wheat flour in a medium bowl. In a shallow container, whisk together the eggs and Dijon mustard. In a separate shallow container, combine the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  3. Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Next, dip in the egg mixture until the chicken is coated. Last, roll the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, completely coating the outside.
  4. Transfer the chicken tenders to the prepared wire rack.
  5. Lightly coat the chicken tenders with cooking spray. Bake until the chicken is just cooked through and the breadcrumbs are starting to brown, 5 to 6 minutes per side.
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Fiesta Lettuce Wraps and Pepper Boats

Add colorful veggies to your plate with build-your-own lettuce wraps.

Number of servings: 4

lettucewrapsIngredients

  • 6 sweet, mini bell peppers
  • 8 lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup instant brown rice (dry)
  • 1 pound tilapia filets, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • 2 teaspoons Southwest chipotle seasoning (no sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 limes (divided)
  • ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream

For the salsa fresca:

  • ½ cup yellow corn (frozen or canned, no salt added)
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (minced)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Slice peppers in half vertically. Arrange lettuce and 8 pepper halves on a serving platter.
  2. Cook brown rice according to package directions.
  3. To make salsa fresca, dice remaining pepper halves, tomato and onion; mix with corn, garlic, jalapeño pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  4. Sprinkle both sides of tilapia filets with Southwest chipotle seasoning
  5. Heat 1½ tablespoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan, and cook for 3 minutes on each side (cook fish until it is opaque, 145°F). Flake with a fork and place in a serving dish.
  6. When rice is done, stir in remaining ½ tablespoon oil, juice from one lime, and ¼ tablespoon salt. Cut remaining lime into wedges.
  7. To serve, set out pepper-lettuce platter, rice, fish, salsa, fresca, sour cream and lime, and let diners build their own boats and wraps.

Per serving 350 calories, 12 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 28 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 370 mg sodium.

Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recipefinder.nal.usda.gov

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13 Ideas for 60 Minutes of Family Fun (and Fitness!)

As few as 30 minutes – 60 minutes for your kids – is all it takes to meet recommended guidelines for daily activity. (Aim for more if you can!) Keep everyone active as you spend some quality time together as a family this summer. Here are some tips:

  1. FamilyFunMake the backyard your playground. Throw a football back and forth, kick a soccer ball around or go running with a rousing game of tug.
  2. Go fly a kite. Find a treeless spot, hang onto the kite string and let your child run with it until the kite is airborne.
  3. Ride bikes. Cruise around the neighborhood together as a family.
  4. Gear up. Keep inexpensive equipment such as balls, jump ropes and hula hoops on hand for active fun.
  5. Get the dirt out. Car not looking so spotless? Instead of taking it to the car wash, clean it together as a family. Or host a dog wash for your street.
  6. Pull weeds. Gardening is great exercise for the whole family. Bonus: Your yard looks great!
  7. Head to the pool. Do laps at the YMCA or a community pool to keep cool and fit.
  8. Scale the walls. A rock-climbing gym can provide a full=body workout the whole family will enjoy.
  9. Have a ball. Organize community kickball, soccer, basketball, volleyball or softball games.
  10. Get your groove on. Put on some music and have a dance party. Or clean the house as a family, with tunes in the background to keep everyone moving.
  11. Create a tournament. Set up a relay race, obstacle course, beanbag toss, etc. Don’t forget prizes!
  12. Hit a bull’s-eye. Fill up water balloons and draw a chalk target ring on the driveway. (Fill a few extra for a game of water balloon dodge ball afterward.)
  13. Be cool. Let’s face it: Sometimes it’s just too hot out there. Head to the mall and walk in air-conditioned comfort.
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Wellness Wednesday: All About Cross Training

jenn_foggianoJenn Foggiano coordinates and leads the group exercise and health promotion programs for Rex Wellness Center of Garner. Jenn graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Kinesiology. She earned a master’s from Slippery Rock University and is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine.

Spring has kicked off with gorgeous weather!  As long as you can make it through without allergies, you have probably gotten a good start on all those outdoor activities like gardening, home projects, landscaping, and even exercising outside.  Although exercising outdoors is a great way to enjoy walking, running, biking and hiking, don’t drop your wellness center/gym membership yet!  When we move all of our exercise outdoors, we may likely fall victim to mundane and repetitive workout habits. Cross training should be incorporated into your year-round routine.

What is cross training? It’s a training routine that involves several different forms of exercise. It limits the stress that occurs on a specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways.

Here are some reasons to bring your workout inside a few times per week:

  • Injury prevention Using one set of muscles repeatedly can increase your risk for repetitive injury. It is important to give them a break.  By mixing up your routine, you will give your overused body parts a chance to rest and the under used a chance to strengthen. Try lap swimming or a Yoga class in place of your normal cardiovascular exercise.
  • 051115_crosstrainingBetter overall fitness You faithfully run several times per week and occasionally add in a fun run on the weekends and feel pretty fit, right?  But, a friend asks you to go paddle boarding and suddenly you can’t keep up and find yourself with muscle soreness for several days later.  By incorporating several different modalities in your fitness routine you can increase your performance and overall fitness.  Try adding a day of core work, some strength training and some different forms of cardio to mix it up!
  • Reduces exercise boredom  Doing one thing day after day, whether in your daily life, or in this case, your exercise regimen is sure to get old over time.  By incorporating a variety of activities you’ll keep it interesting, keep your body guessing, and will be more likely to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.  As the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life” even when it comes to exercise!  So why not commit to trying a new group exercise class?
  • Strength training Some of the benefits of strength training include disease prevention, increased stamina for activities of daily living, and an increased resting metabolism just to name a few. So needless to say it is very important to incorporate into your routine.  Maybe you have some strength training equipment at home?  Maybe a few dumbbells, or bands, but most of us do not have the wide array of equipment provided in a facility.  And let’s be honest – most of us with equipment at home do not use it at home.  It more often than not becomes a dust collector.The American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training at least two days per week.  So, bring your workout inside and lift!  Not sure how to get started? One of our nationally certified personal trainers would be happy to help you!

Rather than canceling your gym membership for the next 4-5 months because the weather is beautiful, keep it!  You will truly find value in your membership by cross training with equipment and classes you won’t have access to outside.  And remember, there will always be rainy days.  With a gym membership there are never excuses!

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Rex NICU Stories: Dad to Dad

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Rex NICU Stories: Mom to Mom

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Nurses Appreciation Week: The Heart of Nursing

Robin DealRobin Deal, BSN, RN, CCE is the Perinatal Services Manager for Lactation Services at Rex and has over 36 years of nursing experience in women’s health.

For the last eight years, I have served as an online mentor where middle or high school students can submit questions about nursing careers.  Most often they want to know about courses to take, degrees required, hours, salary, and many other aspects of the job itself.  My goal is to answer their questions but also provide encouragement to pursue their dreams whatever they are.  So I found it reflective this “Nurses Week” to receive a question that I think gets to the heart of nursing “What is it like to care for people?”

What a great question!  This question was one no student had asked before so it got me to thinking about what one quality nurses possess that identifies the “heart of nursing.”  While there are many wonderful characteristics that help define nursing, I think the one quality that reaches far above any other is caring.

042714_Robin_baby3There have been some wonderful nurse mentors in my career that have demonstrated this quality beyond measure.  My own mother, now retired, has demonstrated that attribute.  Today at 84-years-old, people frequently come up to her and thank her for the many years she “cared for them” or their family as patients of the family doctor where she worked for over 36 years.  They use the word “care” or some form of it to define what she meant to them. Even in retirement she worked in the local Medical Ministries organization to assist physicians in providing free medical care to indigent patients in the community.  She truly has a “caring heart.”

So what is it like to care for people?  Webster defines caring as “to be interested in or concerned.”  But is there more to this word than just Webster’s definition?  Absolutely!

Dr. Kristen Swanson has described caring in five basic processes:

  • Maintaining Belief is sustaining faith in a person’s ability to get through an event or life transition.  Nurses recognize there is personal meaning for each individual as they face daily challenges.
  • Knowing is the second caring process and is a true understanding of the effect the event has in their patient’s life.  It helps the nurse to identify the needs of their patient.
  • Being with is a process that includes both the physical and emotional presence that allows the nurse to share meaning and be attentive.
  • The fourth process, and I believe the key to caring, involves doing for others as they would do for themselves if it were possible.  This includes safety and actions in the best interest of the patient and anticipating their needs.
  • Finally, enabling is helping the patient and their family through events and life transitions.  It is the nurse who connects all of these processes together in providing quality care for patients and their families.

What is it like to care for people?  Every nurse I know will tell you that it is wonderful!  We gain so much from our patients and their families and each time we become a better nurse and even more caring.

050515_NursesWeek_2015

 

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National Hospital Week: Why I Love Rex

Robin DealRobin Deal, BSN, RN, CCE is the Perinatal Services Manager for Lactation Services at Rex and has over 36 years of nursing experience in women’s health.

As I think back over my thirty six years in nursing, twenty-eight have been at Rex and I can’t imagine working anywhere else.  Rex is like family and I love it!  From the co-workers who care for patients and the facility, to those who assist staff, volunteer and especially those who lead Rex, the atmosphere  is always supportive and caring, much like a family.

Robin with a brand new Rex patient

Robin with a brand new Rex patient

Quite often I talk about my “Rex Family” and how we daily encourage and support each other and our patients.  Working in Women’s and Children’s Services,  I continually see nurses, doctors, and other hospital co-workers provide excellent care and services to patients and their families.  From the smallest patients in the Special Care Nursery to the most critical in the units, the Emergency Department or in the towers, patients receive the very best from the Rex co-workers.

They go beyond providing for patients and families; they provide for each other!  Whether celebrating a wedding, new baby, college graduation or lifting up someone through difficult times, Rex Co-workers care for each other.  They donate time off to a staff member in need.  They provide needed items for someone who loses everything in a disaster.  They mourn the loss of co-workers and celebrate the new life of children and grandchildren.  They donate their time to organizations such as Safe Kids of Wake County, Open Door Clinic, and Hospice.  They run, bike, swim or walk in marathons to support the work of organizations like the March of Dimes, Angels Among Us, and the Susan Komen Race for the Cure.

042714_Robin_baby3For over 120 years, Rex has been an integral part of the community and has reached out beyond the Wake County borders to be the hospital of choice for many North Carolinians.  And just like most families, Rex has experienced a “marriage” with the UNC Health System, the “birth” of many new programs, services and facilities, and continues to grow in direction and opportunities to provide our community and surrounding areas with compassion and care.

The Rex Family has cared for several of my family members and me over the last 30 years.   It is the best place in the Triangle to work and when needed, to be cared for by wonderful people.   If you have been touched by Rex Co-workers, I hope you will share your story with us on our Facebook page in celebration of Hospital Week.   From all of us at Rex, thank you for making us your family hospital!

Robin and the birth  center management team

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