HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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weight that you can maintain for the rest of your life.” The program also stresses key components of behavior change such as finding your inner motivation to lose weight. It also emphasizes healthy foods and movement.


Another popular diet is the Jenny Craig Diet, which is often found at the top of lists of best diet programs. Emphasizing prepackaged meals low in calories and fat, Jenny Craig’s approach focuses on choosing low-fat foods that are rich in water, fiber and protein to fill you up. You consume about 1,200 calories per day on this program, mainly by eating a menu of 70 different prepackaged foods at first. Once you reach your target weight, you begin transitioning to home-cooked meals. You also receive one-on-one counseling sessions with a Jenny Craig consultant and a personalized eating and exercise plan. Studies show participants who stick with the plan achieve significant weight loss. However, the program is costly with an enrollment fee and food tallies of $15 to $23 per day.


Be sure to do your research and consult your primary care physician before trying any new diet, commercial or otherwise.


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COMMERCIAL DIETS AND WEIGHT LOSS

WW members can access thousands of free recipes on the company’s Web site or mobile app. (There is a pocket guide for people who don’t have a smart phone.) You can cook your own meals or buy WW packaged foods. The WW Dining Out Guide shares the nutritional lowdown on meals at hundreds of restaurants and includes tips on making healthy substitutions. It also lists Smart Points values for menu items.


Many studies affirm the efficacy of the WW program. One study praised WW’s emphasis on fruits, vegetables and foods high in whole grains and low in trans fats. It also received high marks for fiber, which helps you feel full longer. Still, Weight Watchers may not be for everyone. You must be wiling to track your foods, which some find tedious and time-consuming. It may be too expensive for some or too lenient for those who struggle with self-control.


The Mayo Clinic Diet is a long-term weight-management program created by a team of weight-loss experts at the Mayo Clinic. Its chief features help you reshape your lifestyle by adopting healthy new habits and breaking unhealthy old ones. The goal is “to make simple, pleasurable changes that will result in a healthy

JEAN JEFFERS




Jean is an RN and a freelance writer. She is a staff writer for Living Well 60 Plus and Health & Wellness magazines. Her Web site is at

www.normajean.naiwe.com

Are you tired of all those excess pounds and want to lose weight? There are numerous commercial weight-loss programs from which to choose. U.S. News & World Report ranked some of these programs, based on certain criteria, from easy to follow, nutritious, safe and effective for weight loss to protective against diabetes and heart disease. Two commercial diets tied for the top spot: Weight Watchers and the Mayo Clinic Diet.


People still use Weight Watchers (WW) to help them shed pounds, but the program is now focused on inspiring healthy living and improving overall well-being. The program consists of a calorie- restricted, portion-controlled plan with behavioral support in the form of weekly meetings and online tracking. WW utilizes a points system. You can generally eat what you want; there are no off-limits foods. Fruits and vegetables garner 0 points.


WW’s new Beyond the Scale program emphasizes eating healthier, adopting fitness that meshes with your lifestyle and “developing the skills and connection to tune in and unlock your inner strength.” You can choose the $20 starter fee or spend more, depending on whether you want access to the chat service and online digital tools and/or receive personal coaching. The WW diet focuses on what you eat and making lifestyle changes, but it also emphasizes group support.