Woman doing indoor yoga (photo by iStock)
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio: Sept./Oct. 2023

Yes, yoga could be for you. Here is how to get started. Also, a dietitian shares advice for making exercise and healthy eating part of your daily routine. 

Stretch Out
Yoga really is for everyone. Here is how the practice can benefit your health and how you can get started.

Yoga is not just for the super flexible or the seasoned yogi; it has the power to provide long-term health benefits for everyone.

“From a medical standpoint, yoga brings oxygen into the body and muscles, and it creates space so you can reduce inflammation,” says Karen Raisch-Siegel, executive director at LifeWorks of Southwest General, Middleburg Heights.

If you’re sitting at a desk most of the day, yoga can stretch areas of the body that weaken with sitting all the time, namely the hip flexors.

“If you think about it, when your legs are at a 90-degree angle for a sustained period, you are shortening that muscle that connects to your torso, so yoga can help with that and improve posture,” Raisch-Siegel explains.

Balance is another yoga bonus, as is deep breathing for meditation, which improves mental health and elevates mindfulness.

“Yoga can shut down your mind, which can result in better sleep too,” Raisch-Siegel says.

If you’re not sure about braving a yoga class full of other people, try out a yoga app or an online video to get acquainted with the different stretches. There are seven different types of yoga. Traditional Hatha yoga is centered on sustaining poses and deep breathing, while hot yoga occurs in a space that is 90 to 108 degrees and involves more cardiovascular fitness. The yoga experience also varies by instructor, Raisch-Siegel points out.

“Try a class and see how it feels,” she says. “And if it’s not your thing, maybe check out another class to see if that instructor speaks to you.”


Salad with walnuts, leafy greens, tofu and peaches (photo by iStock)
Healthy Habits 
Proper nutrition and regular exercise can help prevent disease. Because Sept. 27 is U.S. National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, we asked an expert her advice on both. 

We’re not getting any younger. We can, however, get healthier, and the payoff is longevity and independence. Sept. 27 is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, a reminder that nutrition and exercise matter at every age. With awareness comes a healthy focus on fitness and diet — improving wellness and decreasing the likelihood of disease by eating good foods and staying active. Kacie Vavrek, staff dietitian with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, shares how to take a realistic approach to what we eat and how we move.

Pile on the greens. A plant-based diet can prevent chronic disease, improve heart health and reduce inflammation. “Plant-based doesn’t mean vegan or vegetarian, and you can still eat lean meat,” Vavrek clarifies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate Plan recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-fourth with lean protein and one-fourth with high-fiber, whole-grain starches. 

Eat the good carbs. Ever cut carbs from your diet to lose weight? It doesn’t really work, Vavrek says. “Carbs do not cause weight gain or loss; it’s about total calorie intake,” she explains. Refined flours and sugars are empty calories that will leave you hungry faster because the body digests them quickly. You want to avoid or limit those, Vavrek advises. Whole-grain fiber keeps you fuller for longer and deserves room on your plate. “With fiber, you tend to eat less,” she says.  

Keep moving. “As we age, we have different responsibilities and priorities in life and don’t have as much time for physical activity,” Vavrek says. Whatever you do, keep moving. “It doesn’t have to be a certain exercise as long as you are staying active,” she adds. “Do whatever exercise you will keep doing.” Aim for a mix of cardio, weight-bearing moves to maintain bone health and stretching for flexibility, she advises.

Set realistic goals. Completely overhauling your diet with a promise to work out daily is an all-in attitude, but it likely won’t last. Start small and build from a realistic foundation. “Begin with a few goals rather than overwhelming yourself,” Vavrek says.