Monthly archive for March 2016

The Effects of Sitting :: Staying Active at Work :: FIT4U Challenge Week 5

Does this sound familiar? You sit all day at work, get in the car where you sit some more, then arrive home only to sit in front of the computer or tv. Sitting has been classified as one of the new cancers of the world. It’s a tough cycle to break because most jobs essentially require us to sit for long periods of time.

Research is finding that this new sedentary lifestyle is contrary to our biological needs and damaging to our well-being. The human body has evolved to be mobile, not sedentary. We sit an average of 9.3 hours a day, which is even more than we spend sleeping. Most scientists believe that anyone sitting more than 6 hours a day is at a heightened risk for many different problems. They say this much sitting may be as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day! Even if you exercise daily, some studies are finding that if you repeatedly sit for long periods of time at work, this habit will take years off your life.

“Sitting is so incredibly prevalent that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it. And because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not OK.”
– Nilofer Merchant at TED 2013

So what is this doing to our health? The infographic below touches on some key things that sitting does to our bodies, including lowering good cholesterol, burns fewer calories, and turns off electrical activity in the legs.

As the infographic sums up, sitting for long periods of time isn’t healthy. With all these factors, it could potentially  lead to heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

What can you do?

Quitting you day job so you can stand more isn’t going to fly. But, here are some helpful tips that’ll help you get moving at work:
– Park further away from your office building.
– Take a walking break in between meetings or during meeting breaks.
– Walk before your morning starts—you’ll energize yourself for the day.
– Avoid elevators and escalators—take the stairs instead.
– Designate 10 minutes of your lunch break for a quick walk.
– Ask your co-workers to join you on a before or after work walk.
– Walk to coworkers’ desks to speak to them instead of sending an email.
– Shake off the stress of your day by walking after work.
– Get out of your seat 5 minutes every hour, set an alarm if you have to.
– If you have the option, try to get a standing desk, one that will raise and allow you to work while standing.

We also created this great worksheet which demonstrates several ergonomic stretches you can do at your desk. Download it here.

See our previous FIT4U Fitness Challenges where we challenged our team to drink more water and eat more veggies, reduce their sugar intake, and reduce their meat intake.

Checking In For a Good Cause

We’re so excited to announce a new partnership, effective April 1, with Check-In Angels where you’ll get to help us support a great cause each month by doing nothing other than checking in on Facebook at Northern! Its so simple, yet so effective for those in need.

How does it work?
For every Facebook check-in at any Northern location, Check-In Angels will make a donation to a great cause. With thousands of Check-In Angels-empowered locations generating millions of Facebook check-ins every year, that’s a lot of good being done. It’s a simple and superb way to help those less fortunate, and the great cause changes each month. Here are some examples of how Check-In Angels has helped in the past.

Isn’t that amazing? And that’s just the last 6 months! If you want to help too, simply check in on Facebook next time you’re at Northern and you will be contributing to the cause!

Meatless Monday :: FIT4U Challenge Week 4

Most people have heard of the Meatless Monday trend, so for this week’s FIT4U Fitness Challenge, we wanted to see if our team could have at least 1 meatless meal this week. Seems easy enough, right? This week we’re taking closer look at the meatless trend to see if it really is healthier.
*For the purposes of this challenge, “meat” is referencing various types of beef, chicken, pork, and turkey. Fish was considered an acceptable meat to consume.

Health Benefits
You may have heard the news trends indicating that you should eat less red meat and more chicken and fish. But what happens when you eliminate meat from just one meal each week?
– When you eliminate foods rich in saturated fats (animal-based products such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin) for foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (plant-based oils, including soybean oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil; fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and trout), this reduces the risk of heart disease by 19% and your risk of a stroke by 6%.
– Some studies have link processed meat and red meat consumption to the increased risk of colorectal, gastric, prostate, and breast cancer.
– Recent studies have proven that reducing intake of meat can prevent long-term weight gain.
– Increased life expectancy is seen in those who consume less meat.
– Plant-based proteins have less fat and no cholesterol.

How Do Asian Countries Compare?
In many Asian countries, fish and beans are seen as the main source of protein rather than beef or chicken (as seen here in the United States). Most Asian countries consume almost twice as much fish as Americans do. Eating certain kinds of fish can help boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of some cancers and help lower your risk of heart disease. In this diet, fish and meat are seen higher up on a food pyramid (pictured), while having an emphasis on rice, vegetables, and fruits. While rice may be high in carbs, it provides more than 15 vitamins and minerals. Rice is also glucose-, sodium- and cholesterol-free, making it an excellent heart-healthy choice. The American or “Western diet” however is based more around animal products and processed food. The typical American diet includes a large amount of red meat. Red meats are high in saturated fat, and eating them has been linked to the risk of developing heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes.

So how does their health compare to ours?  The prevalence of obesity in the United States has doubled among adults, due to the high-calorie, nutritionally-empty American/Western diet in combination with a sedentary lifestyle. While Americans do in fact consume moderate amounts of fruits and vegetables, such foods aren’t always in the foundation of our diet. Vegetables in the standard American diet are often not included in meals or are served as a side dish. Some could argue that this has led to Americans’ having a higher incidence of obesity, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and high cholesterol and blood pressure. Conversely, populations that have plant-based diets, which emphasize fish and keep dairy and meat consumption to a minimum, have a significantly lower incidence of these chronic diseases and conditions.

What about Protein?
One of the biggest concerns people have in regards to reducing their meat intake is getting enough protein. This is really not an issue of protein, but rather a subject that most people aren’t as familiar with. Greek yogurt, tofu, beans, eggs, almonds, oats, seeds, cottage cheese, broccoli, and quinoa are all full of protein, and in some cases they have more protein than a serving of red meat. Spinach is a great source of protein, so throw a handful in a smoothie or eat some more lentils at dinner. There are so many ways to get your protein in without the meat.

Here’s a fun recipe to try :: Sweet Potato Tacos with Black Beans
– Sweet Potatoes
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– ½ medium red onion, diced
– 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/4″ cubes
– ½ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 chipotle in adobo sauce
– 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
– 1 tablespoon honey
– Juice from one lime
– 4 taco shells (hard or soft)
– extra cilantro, for topping

– Heat olive oil over medium heat in skillet
– Add onions and let cook until onions begin to soften, 3-4 minutes
– Stir in sweet potatoes and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes
– In a separate bowl, combine the chipotle, adobo sauce, honey, and lime juice
– Break apart the chipotle into small pieces
– Pour the mixture into the pan with the sweet potatoes and reduce the heat to medium-low
– Add beans and continue to cook until sweet potatoes have softened, 10-15 minutes
– Serve and add desired toppings like sour cream, avocados, and fresh salsa

See our previous FIT4U Fitness Challenges where we challenged our team to drink more water and eat more veggies, and reduce their sugar intake.

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