Expert answers to your health and wellness questions
Question: I usually skip breakfast, but I keep reading how good it is for me. What are the best options for breakfast foods?
Answer: Eating breakfast in the morning is a great way to jumpstart your day. It helps boost your metabolism and keeps you focused longer at work. Some say eating something is always better than nothing, and while this is generally true, there are some foods that are much more beneficial to include in the day’s first meal. Eggs are always a great way to get protein and healthy fats into your system, and also keep you feeling full longer. Whole grains are another crucial component to remember for your breakfast. Whole wheat toast with a sugar-free fruit spread is a healthy option that contains anti-oxidants and fiber. Fruits and vegetables should be incorporated when possible – they supply nutritious carbohydrates that keep the body energized and feeling awake. I’m assuming everyone is waiting for their beloved cup of coffee to make this list. Well, fear not, coffee is also a low-calorie option, assuming you’re not ordering a large caramel swirl sugar-filled latte. Adding some fat-free skim milk to black coffee is an excellent way to get your daily calcium requirements and it also contains numerous vitamins and minerals. Whether you eat your breakfast on-the-go, or make time for a formal sit-down meal, be sure to include healthy options, while still keeping your breakfast convenient to you.
Question: I work inside all day and don’t see much sun. Should I be supplementing with vitamin D?
Answer: It depends. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is absorbed in conjunction with calcium, promoting healthy bone growth. Vitamin D can be ingested through food or supplement, but it can also be produced by the body when in direct sunlight. The daily recommended amount of vitamin D is 10 μg. This is including any vitamin D absorbed from UV rays. Fortunately, that only requires a short amount of sunlight (about 15 minutes) to get the daily recommendation, depending on where you live and how intense the sun rays are. During the colder months, vitamin D can be ingested from foods such as: fish, milk, mushrooms, and fortified cereals. If all of those approaches don’t seem to work, supplementing vitamin D is a feasible option that should be discussed with your doctor in advance.
Question: All of my runs tend to be on flat ground. What are the benefits of running hills?
Answer: Hill running is one of the best workouts to consider when training for races. It helps build muscle, improve speed, and can take your endurance to a whole new level. Picking the right hill to run can sometimes be a chore – it’s important to find one that isn’t too steep or too flat. You should find a hill that is about a quarter mile long and steep enough to provide a challenge, but flat enough that you aren’t putting too much strain on your ankles and shins, causing injury. Always begin a hill workout with a short 5 to 10 minute warm up. Loosen the muscles so that they are primed for a strenuous run. On your first hill workout, aim for four repetitions – run up the hill, jog down, repeat. Gradually increase repetitions when you begin to feel stronger and ready. The results of hill running are both physiologically and biomechanically rewarding. An avid hill runner will likely have an increased oxygen capacity, stronger and more defined leg muscles, and improved stride length and frequency (increased length from running uphill, increased frequency from running downhill). Another benefit from frequent hill running is the ability to “relax” when running, keeping the upper body from tensing up. Running hills for every workout is not recommended and can enhance injury risk, but adding a hill workout every 7-10 days is a sure way to reach noticeable and satisfying results.
About the author: David Pohorence is the club owner/club manager/certified personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in Wesley Chapel, NC. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.