Exercise your right to a healthy lifestyle

By Monica Cissell | December 29, 2023

We made it through the holiday season, and for many of us that meant indulging in heavy comfort foods, tasty baked goods and a few more libations and holiday cheer than usual. The cold weather may have been keeping us indoors and less motivated to exercise.

January is the time to get our diet and exercise routine back on track. There are some simple steps to eating smart and sticking to regularly scheduled physical activity. 

Eating healthy doesn’t mean giving up your favorite foods or cutting out snacks all together. But try smart swaps that replace some not-so-healthy ingredients with more beneficial ones. Verywellfit.com and the American Diabetes Association suggest these swaps:

• Bake with apple sauce or pureed fruit instead of oil and butter, at a 1:1 ratio. Great in muffins and quick breads.

 • Use evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream in recipes.

• Choose olive oil or avocado oil to pan fry or sauté foods instead of butter. 

• Add sparkling water to juice, soda or wine to decrease the sugar content.

• Use spices to enhance flavor and decrease salt content in dishes — such as cumin, chili powder and oregano in Mexican food.

• Buy whole-grain versions of bread, pasta, hot cereal, pizza dough and other products.

• Work in 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Add sweet potato to chili, use a cauliflower pizza crust, spread avocado on toast instead of butter.

You can find many more swaps in cooking online. To make exercise a part of your daily routine:

• Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity each day. If you’re short on time, try exercising in chunks of 15 minutes two times a day. 

• If you’re running errands, walk the perimeter of the store or park further out in the parking lot.

• Schedule your walk or other activity as you would an appointment or meeting. Or just check off exercise first thing in the morning. Walk in place in your living room while you watch your morning news or meet a friend in the morning for a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

Central Plains Area Agency on Aging offers several wellness programs led by Joe Samamigo:

• Strength and Stability Exercise Class, 10 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the Downtown Senior Center.

• Tai Ji Quan for Better Balance – 2024 schedule to be announced.

• National/Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program — 2024 schedule to be announced.

CPAAA is here to help and wishes you a happy and healthy New Year.

Monica Cissell is director of information and community services for Central Plains Area Agency on Aging.