Get Movin’

December 10, 2010 in Health, Weight Management by Mary Ireland

As Dr. Grandma mentioned last week in her blog The Boring Tortoise Technique, research findings indicate that excess body weight has a negative impact on your health. These new findings make starting your exercise program now – before the holidays - even more important. You probably don’t need to calculate your BMI to determine if you are overweight, but if you are curious, you can use this BMI calculator.

One of the places that you might want to start making changes is in your television watching habits. A Wall Street Journal article last January, reported that Australian researchers found that even if you exercise regularly, your risk of death increases the longer you spend watching TV. Now I don’t think they factored in dying from boredom, violence or the shock factor of just how stupid some television programs are – that is another thing altogether. The study found that participants who watch more than four hours of TV a day were 46% more likely to die of any cause and 80% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than people who reported spending less than two hours a day in front of the tube. Participants who watched between 2 and 4 hours of TV were 19% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, the average American woman between the ages of 50 and 69 spends 8 hours a day sitting. I know this is accurate for me – just working at a computer all day and then reading, watching TV (yes, me too) or resting gets me off of my feet at least 9 or 10 hours a day. The study found women who had routine activity during the day, including heavy lifting or carrying and/or walking to work most days were 20% less likely to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. In another study, women who sat for at least 9 hours a day and who did not engage in vigorous activity at least 20 minutes three times a week were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the uterine lining than those who sat for less than three hours a day.

So, I get the point, I need to be on my feet and moving around more. I think that some of my friends intuitively know this. I have one friend who eats pretty much what she wants – she does exert portion control – but doesn’t exercise; she burns off excess calories keeping her house clean. I’m envious on those two fronts – it would be nice to not have weight worries and to have an immaculate house 24/7. I guess this is one area that I can blame on a combination of nature and nurture -- I was never an overly active child and never discouraged from watching TV. I probably watched as much TV as any of the kids today. As a result, I love my down time. Okay, so I have something that I can start working on right now to make my life/health better.

If you are not that much into housework or if you need something to do after your house is clean each day, you might look into getting a Wii. Last spring was the first time I ever played Wii games and I have to say it was really fun. I played tennis and bowled with friends. In addition to being on my feet and improving hand-to-eye coordination, these games involve the social interaction aspect that is supposed to be really good for keeping my brain active. There are Wii Fit exergames that can be used to improve balance and strength as well as cardiovascular fitness. These exergames track your progress -- I think they can be very motivating.

Another option is getting into the great outdoors. Last year, the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, launched its Prescription Trails program to target the high rates of diabetes in the community. The program is designed to promote healthy lifestyles for families. It includes a trail guide that physicians can hand to their patients and actual prescriptions for nature. “Of course, this is not the only answer to the obesity epidemic,” says Michael Suk, an orthopedic surgeon and former health adviser to NPS (National Park Service), “but it sure is a good start. All these insurance companies focus on prevention, but no one thinks of the free public land resources that we have at our disposal.”

So we have available an entire arsenal of activities to combat a sedentary lifestyle – just to name a few: aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, housework, Wii games and Wii exergames and getting out in nature. Be inventive; discover what compels you to get off the couch and engage in life. I encourage your to mix it up for variety and a more rounded experience. Getting out in nature is my personal favorite - it inspires me and I can combine it with aerobic exercise; but I know too, the housework and the resistant exercise must be done and bring with them a great sense of accomplishment. Perhaps the most important thing is to just start doing something and build from there.

Last week, I forgot to include a picture of Dr. Grandma's squash gift basket with her Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Recipe. So this week, I am including the basket -- which is absolutely adorable -- with my own Apple/Butternut Squash Soup Recipe.

Apple/Butternut Squash Soup

Squash soup has so many nutrients and is warming on cold nights. I like the flavor and sweetness the apples combined with the punch of the curry.


3 ½ to 4 pound butternut squash (Other winter squashes will work equally well.)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 large carrots peeled and sliced
2 medium apples cored and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 clove garlic minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup Dr. Grandma's Delight
3 cups water
salt and pepper to taste.


Poke holes in squash. Don’t skip this step, as the explosion of a roasting whole squash can cause serious damage to your appliance. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil; bake in oven at 350 degrees F, until it yields with a mitted hand (approximately an hour or two, depending on the temperature and shape of the squash.) Remove from the oven and cool until easy to handle. When cool, cut in half; scoop out the seeds and strings and cut into chunks.

Heat olive oil in skillet. Add carrots, onion, apple, ginger and garlic. Cook until tender. Mix in curry, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook for 2 minutes. Add water, Dr. Grandma's Delight and squash. Heat on medium, stirring periodically until beginning to boil. Using a hand held blender, food processor or blender, puree until smooth. (Be sure to follow the directions for blending hot ingredients, to avoid injuries.) Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Acorn, Big Mama and Butternut (almost hidden) Squashes with a little sparrow.

Cut the squash.

Bake until soft and brown.

Remove the skin.

Remove the seeds and strings.

Combine onion, carrots, apples, and garlic with heated oil.

Cook until onions, carrots and apples are tender.

Add curry, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Cut the squash into chunks.

Add squash, water and Delight.

Heat to boiling.

Puree the ingredients.

Serve - delicious!