Army H.e.a.l.t.h. Arsenal
September, 2017

Sleep Corner

How music can help you sleep better

We have discussed several all-natural ways to aid in falling asleep and staying asleep in past newsletters. Let’s add one more to the! Music has been shown to be an effective relaxation technique and can be used as a sleep aid. Keep in mind, though, not just any music will do. So, how should we decide what kind of music to listen to? Go for songs that are familiar and that have a slow tempo. Some music apps such as Pandora have stations that are dedicated to music that is calming, so check out your favorite music app to see what playlists may already be available. Some other suggestions for using music to sleep include:

  • Instrumental versions of songs work better.
  • Music around 60 beats per minute is the goal as this helps to aid the body in slowing your heart rate.
  • Allow time for the music to or two songs will not cut it. Allow at least 30 minutes for the relaxing effects to kick in.
  • Be consistent. Use music every night to help program your brain to associate the music with bedtime.

So for those of us out there who would love a better sleep routine, this may be just the ticket!

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Low Impact Exercise

Low Impact Exercise

High impact exercises (like running) are hard on your joints. The constant pounding of your feet against the ground puts pressure on your joints with every step. For some, this type of exercise is impractical for the day-to-day; for others, it can be impossible. But cardio doesn’t have to stop at the point of impact. Low impact exercise, sometimes defined as exercise in which one foot is always in contact with the ground, is a way to get your heart rate up without putting strain on your joints. Whether you’re a high-impact exercise junky or someone looking for a different cardio solution, there are plenty of benefits to mixing some low impact exercise into your workout routine.

Why Use Low Impact Exercise?

For many people, high impact exercise just isn’t feasible. If you’re pregnant; if you’re older; if you have joint/bone injuries, arthritis, or stress fractures; or even if you’re just starting to add exercise to your routine, low impact exercise can get your heart rate up without putting too much strain on your body. Low impact exercises are self-paced and can be as rigorous as you want; however, in order to gain the same cardio benefits you do have to work a little harder. But that doesn’t mean it has to be hard to work hard. Many low impact exercises bring you out of the gym and into the world, making working hard more like playing hard.

What are some benefits of low impact exercise?

The most obvious benefit is that low impact exercise is easier on your body; however, it has preventative benefits as well. Exercises that decrease stress on the joints can also strengthen those joints, both minimizing and preventing joint and back damage sustained during high impact exercise. Low impact exercise’s focus on other parts of the body increases strength and flexibility, which helps to protect joints and muscles from tearing during high impact exercises. Low impact exercise also focuses on increased cardiovascular health and endurance.

What are some low impact exercises I can try?

The best low impact exercises are ones done in water. The water acts as a cushion for the body while also acting as full-body resistance bands, minimizing joint strain while maximizing cardio benefits. Exercises such as swimming laps or water aerobics can get your heart rate up while giving your joints a good rest. Not a huge water person? Rather hit the gym? Try machine-based exercises such as:.
  • Using an elliptical or stair-master. As opposed to the treadmill, these machines minimize the pounding on your joints while working out both arms and legs to get one’s heart rate up
  • Using a rowing machine. Your lower body staying put means no joint strain, while your arms get a fantastic workout
  • Typical strength training
  • TRX
Want to get out of the gym for a change? Low impact workouts can be found in a variety of outdoor activities such as:
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking. Same principle as a rowing machine, but this time with the added benefit of the outdoors
  • Rock climbing
  • Ballroom dancing. While not quite an outdoor activity, dance is a great way to get your heart rate up
  • Cross country skiing
A word of warning: low impact exercise is not without its own levels of risk. Just as with any other exercise, be sure to stretch thoroughly both before and after a workout in order to minimize potential injury to your muscles.

What can I do to make sure my low impact exercise grants me the same intensity as my high impact exercises?

Because low impact exercises are self-paced, it can be difficult to get the same level of cardio engagement as a high-impact exercise. In order to make sure you get the most out of your exercise, the best way is to engage the whole body. Try incorporating big, sweeping upper and lower body movements outside your usual range of motion to force the body to work harder. Additionally, push yourself to go faster for longer in interval training, and mix up the exercises you do.

Low impact exercise can be a great way to get your heart rate up without putting undue strain on your joints and muscles, thus preventing you from major injury. Regardless of why you try it, mixing in new exercises with ramped up intensity can give you the same benefits of high impact exercise without the strain.

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Q: What is the difference between Yoga, Pilates, and other similar exercises?

A: The main distinguishing factors between Yoga and Pilates (and other similar forms) is the purpose and origin of each.

The main focus in Yoga is to unite the mind and body together with the spirit through slow movement paired with the breath. Yoga originated in South Asia thousands of years ago and has evolved into many different types. Yoga is often referred to as a “practice”, acknowledging the continual growth and skill associated with continual repetition.

Pilates was created as a form of low resistance exercise, focused on strengthening the body with exercises originating from the core. This exercise routine was created in the early 1900s to improve strength and mobility. Pilates is referred to as a “workout”, as it often incorporates weights and additional resistance exercises.

Mindful Moment

Exercise your mind and body: Mindfulness is exercise for the mind. Physical activity is exercise for the body.

Bottom Line

Low impact exercise is a great option for many people-including those who are pregnant, elderly, or those who are injured. This type of exercise puts less stress on the body and focuses on cardiovascular exercise and endurance. There are many indoor and outdoor low impact exercises, such as elliptical, TRX, cycling, and hiking.

As with many things in life, the intention we put into things may affect the outcome. This is true for exercise too. The difference between yoga and Pilates is that yoga unites the body and mind. Whereas Pilates focuses on the body. Both are good forms of exercise, but understanding the difference between the two can help you decide if you are interested in incorporating them into your workout routine.

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Featured Recipe: Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 medium- large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of Cashew Cream Sauce*
  • 1 teaspoon of lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 of a medium red onion, finely diced (about 1 cup diced)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 an avocado, chopped (add just before serving)
  • handful of cilantro, chopped (add just before serving)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the sweet potatoes on a lightly greased baking tray and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a fork can easily be inserted into the flesh of the potatoes.

Prepare the cream sauce by whisking together the cashew cream sauce, lime juice, and black pepper. Set aside.

When the sweet potatoes have about 10 minutes left, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and then add in onion. Saute for 5 minutes until the onions begins to become translucent. Add in the spices stir and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Add the black beans to the skillet and toss to combine. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the black beans are fully heated through. About 5 minutes. Take off of heat and set aside.

Once the sweet potatoes are done baking, let cool slightly. Once cool, cut the sweet potatoes open and shred the flesh from the skin so that the inside is mashed and easy to scoop out.

Evenly spread the black bean mixture, avocado, cilantro, and cashew crema sauce on top of the 4 sweet potatoes.

Serve immediately and ENJOY!!

*Cashew, more like cash-EW: If you’re not a fan of cashew cream sauce, you could also use sour cream or plain Greek yogurt if not vegan

Nutrition Information:
Servings: 4      Calories: 258      Carbs: 50g      Sugar: 9g        Fat: 3g          
Protein: 9g       

Featured Exercise: Parachuters

Featured Recipe adapted from B. Britnell.