exercise for seniors during coronavirus pandemic

Exercise for Seniors: 5 Tips to Help You Stay Active During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Exercise is an important part of healthy aging, but seniors are facing new challenges when it comes to staying active during the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing and “Safer-at-home” guidelines make it more difficult to stick to your typical exercise routine, like going to a gym or your community center. And the fact that you’re staying at home more often means there’s a good chance you’re moving less.

The National Council on Aging says daily movement can help improve many aspects of your overall health, including blood pressure, weight management, back pain and even your emotional health. So how much exercise should seniors get? The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend healthy older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Older adults with chronic health conditions who may not be able to meet that guideline should still do their best to maintain regular physical activity.

Cancer diagnosis? Check out these articles with exercise tips for cancer patients:
Why Cancer Patients Shouldn’t Skip Exercise
How Exercise, Diet Boost Cancer Survival Rate

150 minutes of exercise might sound intimidating, maybe even overwhelming, especially given the obstacles posed by the pandemic. We hope the following tips will offer you some motivation and make it easier for seniors to stay active while at home.

  1. Sit Less

    Staying at home naturally means you’re not getting out as much. That means you’re probably not moving as much either.  A great way to stay active while at home is simply remembering to sit less.

    Turning off the television will give you one less reason to sit. Keep the TV off and work on those home projects you’ve been meaning to finish. Find some fun activities like gardening or just taking a walk around the block.

    When you do watch TV, take advantage of the commercial breaks and take a lap around the house. You can even use those 2-3 minutes to get some chores done like doing the laundry or emptying the dishwasher.

    If walking or standing is difficult for you, there are many exercises you can do while seated. Here’s an article from Silver Sneakers with four effective chair exercises. It even includes video demonstrations to help you do them.

  2. Make a “Move List”

    Planning out your daily exercises makes it much easier for seniors to stick to their goals. To make your “Move List,” ask yourself how you plan to get moving today. The list can include things like:

    • Get the mail
    • Take a walk
    • Yard work
    • Put on some music and dance

    Build those activities into your daily schedule. Will you take a 20-minute walk before breakfast to get the day going? Maybe you’ll get the mail after lunch.

    This video from the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) can help spark some ideas on how to get exercise with items you might already have around your house.

  3. Mix It Up

    Variety is very important to avoid your exercise routine becoming mundane. There are four types of exercise on which seniors should focus: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. The NIA offers some great ideas to work on each of these areas, along with important safety tips.

    Improving your health in each of these areas comes with many benefits:

    • Endurance: Makes things like climbing stairs or dancing easier
    • Strength: Makes lifting groceries or carrying grandchildren easier
    • Balance: Helps prevent falls and related injuries
    • Flexibility: Makes common tasks like getting dressed and driving easier
  4. Develop an exercise routine

    If you have fallen out of your exercise routine, getting back into the habit can be difficult even in normal times. The new challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic don’t make it any easier, but there are a few things you can do to get the ball rolling. As a first step, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends speaking with your doctor before increasing your activity level. They even offer some important questions seniors should ask to help tailor an exercise routine to their needs and abilities.

    Once you’re ready to begin, make a list of fitness goals. Goals can be short-term, like finding an exercise buddy or getting more comfortable walking shoes. You should also set some long-term goals like lowering your blood pressure or losing weight.

    A great way to start making progress toward your goals is to write out your exercise plan. This will help keep you accountable and give you a clear roadmap to maintaining an active lifestyle. Try this interactive Activity Planner from the Department of Health and Human Services to help you get going.

  5. Overcome Excuses

    At some point, you’re bound to have one of those days where you just don’t feel like exercising. Here are some of the most common excuses and ways you can overcome them.

    • I don’t have time. If you find yourself feeling too busy to get moving, make it part of your day. Scheduling your daily exercise means you are making time for it, helping to hold you accountable.
    • It’s boring. Try to find physical activities that you enjoy. It might be dancing, gardening, or taking a walk with your neighbor. Just be sure to practice safe social distancing when exercising with others.
    • It costs too much. You don’t necessarily need expensive equipment to stay active. If you’re strength training, use household items like water bottles or soup cans as weights. There are also plenty of free workout videos available online. Check out this playlist from the NCHPAD for ideas for home workouts, both seated and standing.
    • I’m too tired. Once you get moving, you may actually feel less tired. Physical activity can help reduce fatigue. Exercising can even help you feel less anxious and stressed.

Remaining active while staying home is very important. We hope these tips help you find an exercise routine that works for you. If you’d like more information about exercise for seniors, the NIA has some great ideas for staying motivated, as well as safety tips and tracking tools to help you stick to your routine.

Fight Cancer with Your Fork

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Content and information provided by Casey Coffey, MS, RD, LDN at Provision CARES Proton Therapy.

A nutritionally balanced diet is very important anytime, especially during and after cancer treatment. Consider planning your meals using a balanced plate approach. Eating meals with a balanced plate is a valuable tool to control your portion intake of the different food groups. While each section of a balanced plate is important, your body needs more of some and less of others.

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Breast Cancer Fighting Nutrients and Where to Find Them

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Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. However, with today’s knowledge and resources, cancer diagnoses are gradually becoming fewer and fewer.

While cancer is not preventable, today’s nutritional science shows that a strategic diet can be one of the biggest factors in minimizing the risk of breast cancer. That’s right — research has repeatedly shown that certain foods can act as preventative medicines. In fact, changing what you eat and how you exercise can prevent up to 30% of breast cancer diagnoses.

No food item can prohibit cancerous cells from developing, but there are a few that can significantly lower the risks of developing cancer. Foods high in fiber, like beans, nuts, and whole wheat bread can help lower amounts of estrogen, reducing the risk of breast cancer. Additionally, foods like salmon, walnuts, and oysters can help produce Omega-3s, essential fatty acids that aren’t produced naturally in the body. These fatty acids help with inflammation, which can easily damage healthy tissue. Sulforaphane, found in arugula, cabbage, and broccoli, and carotenoids, found in carrots, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes, have both been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer in increased levels.

While no one cancer case is the same, those who have increased intakes of these types of foods and nutrients have been shown to have an overall lower risk of developing breast cancer. A well-balanced diet and exercise routine is important for a lot of things: physical strength, heart and organ health, and mental health.

This goes to show that the food you choose to eat and how you treat your body has more of an impact than people may originally think. Continue reading to learn more about what specific foods and nutrients can help thwart a breast cancer diagnosis.

breast cancer fighting nutrients

National “Eat Your Veggies” Day – June 17th

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Content and information provided by Casey Coffey, MS, RD, LDN at Provision CARES Proton Therapy.

With National “Eat Your Veggies” Day just around the corner, we wanted to give some advice when trying to incorporate more vegetables into your meals!

Most people do not realize that they’re not including nearly enough vegetables in their diet. On top of including vegetables in your diet, it’s important to realize that all vegetables aren’t created equal.

We like to encourage everyone to fill ½ of their plate with nutrient rich non-starchy vegetables in a range of color. Non-starchy vegetables contain very little naturally occurring sugar and are rich in fiber making them slow to digest. These nutrient dense colorful delights are packed with vitamins and minerals that are necessary for growth, restoration/repair, metabolic processes that occur at the cellular level. They also have magnificent cancer fighting properties! Some of our favorite non-starchy vegetables are below: (more…)

Summer Camp Round Up for Kids (& Kids at Heart)

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Content and information provided by Marriah Mabe, LCSW at Provision CARES Proton Therapy.

For many kids (and kids at heart), summer camps are one of the best parts of summer and are often a normal part of childhood.  As most families who have experienced cancer can attest, normalcy during cancer treatment is extremely important. However, when a cancer diagnosis affects a child or parent in the family, summer camp might not be an option due to a child’s medical needs or the lack of extra finances to pay for traditional summer camps. Fortunately, there are many camps specifically designed for children with cancer, siblings, or even the whole family. The camp experience can provide positive benefits that will last long after summer ends. Camp attendance may help lessen feelings of anxiety, depression, or loneliness and increase self-esteem, body positivity or coping abilities.

Camps and retreats such as the resources listed here are specially curated to provide a fun week of activities away from the hospital and appointments, while allowing those in attendance to meet other patients, survivors, or family members, and learn that they are not alone. Camps will often have full time care for campers, with most of the overnight camps offering on-site medical facilities staffed with oncology providers who can administer chemo or other medical care if necessary. However, if you are on active treatment for cancer, you will need to discuss your desire to attend a camp or retreat with your oncologist. (more…)

Healthy Memorial Day Weekend Recipe: Layered Chicken Taco Salad

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Looking for a healthy dish to take to your Memorial Day cookout? Look no further than Casey’s Layered Chicken Taco Salad!

Recipe provided by Casey Coffey MS, RD, LDN Registered Dietician for Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville.

Layered Chicken Taco Salad

Prep time:  20 minutes       Total time:  20 minutes

Serves:  8-10 people

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup riced cauliflower
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (11 ounce) can Mexican corn, drained
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1 ½ cups prepared pico de gallo (or diced tomato)
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (about 4 cups shredded meat) – can use canned chicken if preferred
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Monterey jack and cheddar chceese
  • 1 (14 ounce) bottle cilantro avocado yogurt dressing (about 1.75 cups dressing) (Bolthouse brand is good) – could also use ranch dressing of choice and add ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 (3.5 ounce) package tortilla strips (about 1 ½ cups) – tri-color is a great option for Memorial Day

Instructions:

  1. Layer half of each ingredient into a large salad bowl in the order listed above. Repeat layers with remaining half of the ingredients.
  2. Serve immediately or cover with plastic and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Leftovers can be stored in refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Maintaining a Healthy Nutritional Status When Diagnosed with Head & Neck Cancers

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Content and information provided by Casey Coffey MS, RD, LDN Registered Dietician for Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville

As we raise awareness of head & neck cancers during the month of April, it is important to be aware of the unique challenges that are at risk when diagnosed with head and neck cancer. Studies for patients who choose proton therapy treatment for head and neck cancers have shown less side effects during first 3 months after treatment and quicker return to normal function. The potential side effects for head and neck cancer patients make swallowing food and fluids difficult and sometimes painful. Malnutrition affects an estimated 40 – 80% of cancer patients – particularly those with gastrointestinal or head and neck cancers.

The four main nutritional goals for cancer patients include:

  • Strive to maintain a healthy weight
  • Consume foods and beverages for managing cancer and treatment-related side effects
  • Select and eat healthy foods that supply the body with fuel and nutrients for repair and healing
  • Reduce risk of cancer recurrence and the development of a second malignancy

Many patients do not realize the importance of nutrition while under treatment. Primary goals of nutrition therapy are to prevent or reverse nutrient deficiencies, preserve lean body mass, support the immune system, and minimize and manage the impact of nutrition related symptoms and side effects to maximize quality of life. Adequate nutrition is more than just maintaining body weight. The foods we eat contain nutrients necessary to support healing and restoration but also to support our healthy cells as well. Adequate nutrition has been shown to improve outcomes in cancer patients, improve strength and energy, avoid dose reduction or treatment breaks.

Make Every Bite Count.

Initially, it is recommended patients eat what they can tolerate while focusing on protein with each meal and including whole foods (minimizing the processed nature of foods). Why? Well, quality counts. High quality foods, which are those that are less processed, are more nutritious due to their higher nutritional value. As treatment progresses and possible side effects begin, the ability to swallow can become difficult. If difficulty to swallow becomes a problem for head and neck cancers, here are three ideas on how to maintain nutritional value through your diet:

  • Graze throughout the day on nutrient dense foods: Nutrient dense foods that have been fortified with protein and additional calories without adding volume and lots of sugar or highly processed foods. Some examples are olive oil, butter, coconut oil, coconut butter, peanut butter, heavy cream, half & half, or any nut butter.
  • Alter texture of foods to improve tolerance: focus on soft or smooth foods such as, bananas, watermelon, canned fruits, peach, pear, and apricot nectars, pureed or mashed vegetables, oatmeal, cooked cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt, milkshakes, custards, puddings, gelatin, macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs, and ground meats.
  • Avoid irritating foods, such as, citrus fruits or juices, spicy or salty foods, pickled or vinegary foods, tomato-based foods (salsa, spaghetti sauce, and pizza), rough or dry foods, hot spices (pepper, chili powder, nutmeg, cloves, and curry).

For more information about how to overcome nutritional challenges when diagnosed with head & neck cancers or to learn about proton therapy, contact our CARE Team at 865-229-4689.

 

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Fighting Cancer with Your Fork Recipe of the Month: Cauliflower Rice with Vegetable Stir-Fry

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Content and information provided by Casey Coffey MS, RD, LDN Registered Dietician for Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville

Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 package riced cauliflower (you can find this at Trader Joe’s or Kroger in the produce section)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped or thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups snow peas, trimmed
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce (or Bragg liquid aminos)

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in pan and sauté carrots, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 1 minute.
  2. Add bell pepper and onion, ¼ teaspoon salt, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add peas, sprinkle with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute.
  4. Place cooked vegetables in bowl and set aside while preparing cauliflower.
  5. Return skillet to head; add sesame oil, cauliflower and beaten eggs.
  6. Cook, stirring constantly, until eggs are evenly cooked and cauliflower has softened, about 2-4 minutes.
  7. Add cooked vegetables and soy sauce to cauliflower / egg mixture; cook 1 minute more or until warm through.
  8. Divide stir-fry among 4 bowls.
  9. Enjoy!!

Note: Stir fry chicken, shrimp or tofu with above to complete your meal.

9 Tips to Prevent Cancer

9 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

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“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” – Hippocrates

February is National Cancer Prevention Month and Provision CARES Proton Therapy is dedicated to providing educational awareness on cancer prevention and early detection. Along with regular screenings and physician check-ups, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the main ways to reduce your risk of cancer. There is no single food or food substance that can fully prevent or cure cancer.  However, there are a number of lifestyle adjustments you can do on your own to reduce the risk of cancer. A number of foods are rich in nutrients and provide long-term benefits to the body. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that promotes a healthy weight, a balanced plant-based diet, and movement on a regular basis is proven to reduce your risk for some cancers(more…)