Nutrition Corner: Be active, feel better

November 3rd, 2015 2:00 pm

Feeling a bit run down? Being more active can help us feel better. The Center for Disease Control tells us that regular physical activity helps to improve overall health and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.

How active do we need to be to improve our health? Health professionals recommend that adults ages 18 to 64 get a total of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week and two days of strengthening activities. If you work full time outside the home, it becomes a bit more challenging now that daylight savings time is here and it gets darker earlier. We like to fit it all in on the weekends, however, it’s best to be active during the work week, also.

Here’s an example of what the physical activity recommendation looks like over one week:

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday — 30 minute brisk walks each day. Wednesday — weight training. Thursday and Friday — 30 minute brisk walks each day and Saturday — weight training. For some folks, this seems doable, for others it is out of sight.

Weight training, or muscle strengthening, activities increase skeletal muscle strength, power, endurance and muscle mass. As we age, we naturally begin to lose muscle mass if we don’t use our muscles. Here are some ideas for weight training activities: lifting weights, doing push-ups and sit-ups, working with resistance bands or heavy gardening. Moderate aerobic activities include brisk walking, swimming and biking.

The time can be divided throughout the day. If you’re keeping track of time, it can be divided throughout the day. For instance, the 30 minutes of brisk walk can be a 10-minute walk on your lunch break and a brisk walk to and from your car by parking further away from work.

If you’re just starting out, start slow and gradually increase. After a few weeks, increase how often and how long you are active. Also, find a friend or family member to get you going and keep you on track.

Health professionals tell us there are many great rewards to being more active. Being active in the darker hours is doable, but may take some creativity.

If you would like the handout — 10 tips to help adults include physical activity into their lifestyle — call our office at 1-888-825-1701 and we’ll mail a copy to you.

Meanwhile, after dinner, prepare the next night’s dinner by putting together this crockpot recipe. In the mornin, simply plug it in and set the controls.


3 T olive oil, divided

1 t ground cumin

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 15-ounce cans white kidney beans, drained, and rinsed under cold water

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

½ cup minced cilantro leaves, (optional)

2 t dried oregano

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Lightly spray 4- to 6-quart slow cooker with vegetable oil cooking spray. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook until no longer pink on outside, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove and place in slow cooker. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and cook onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper, oregano and cumin 7 to 8 minutes or until soft. Place in slow cooker. Add white kidney beans and broth. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low heat setting 7 to 8 hours or until the chicken are very tender and shreds easily. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with a fork. Return to slow cooker and stir to combine. Add salt to taste. To thicken chili, mash some of beans against side of pot with back of a large mixing spoon. If desired, garnish with cilantro and cheese. Makes 6 servings.

Mary R. Ehret Nutrition Corner R. Ehret Nutrition Corner

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at