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Doctor Lee's Blog

Musings from The Doctor of Fitness: Fitness Trainer, Nutrition Expert, & Sports Medicine Physician

The purpose of this blog is to write informally for anyone who is interested in fitness, strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, sports medicine, and breaking fitness and nutrition news. If you'd like to reach me directly, you can contact me here. Feel free to take a look at my professional bio and my not-so-professional bio.

The Basics of Health Savings Accounts

on Tuesday, 22 May 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

One aspect of many health care plans that doesn’t get a lot of attention is health savings accounts, commonly known as HSAs. If your coverage has a high-deductible attached to it, an HSA may be just the thing to save your wallet from an unexpected (and unexpectedly expensive) medical bill.

An HSA is basically a savings account, but unlike ordinary savings accounts that you might open at a bank, the funds you place into an HSA are tax free. Like a savings account, you can contribute to them throughout the year. The only real catch is that you can’t use them to pay for that Florida vacation you’ve been dreaming about or a new car. Instead you must use them to pay for unreimbursed qualified medical expenses you incur. The list of what counts as a qualified expense is pretty broad, although as of 2011 you can no longer use them to pay for over-the-counter medications.

That’s not to say the funds are locked up. You can still access them if you choose to. If the funds are not used for qualified medical expenses, distributions are treated much like early distributions from an IRA for tax purposes, meaning you may have to pay a tax penalty when you withdraw the funds. And, like an IRA, you can keep your HSA account until you retire.

If an HSA sounds like it might be right for you, contact your employer and see if they offer the option. If you participate in an HDHP or high-deductible plan, you can also open an HSA on your own by going to your bank or financial institution.

Good luck and good health.

Why Walking is Good for You

on Tuesday, 15 May 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Have you ever been walking out on the foot trail and been passed by one of those sleek joggers in their fancy running suits? It can make you feel a little intimidated. They seem to be the ones getting all the great exercise. It isn’t too long before you’re counting calories and wondering how much more they’re burning than you.

It may surprise you to learn that it’s not that many. True, running burns more calories faster, but a 50-minute walk will get you the same calorie burn as a 20-minute run.

There are also some other benefits to walking:

Not everyone can run.Walking provides many of the same benefits as other forms of exercise without requiring the same level of physical exertion.

Walking is easier on your joints.Running may burn calories faster, but it also stresses your knees, ankles and hips. It’s the reason why walking is the first choice for older exercisers.

Walking is cheaper.To enjoy the benefits of walking you don’t need to spend a bundle on fancy exercise equipment. All you need to walk is a good pair of shoes, some comfortable clothes and the willingness to get started.

If all these other benefits weren’t enough, walking is a great way to start an exercise regimen. One of the mistakes many people make is that they try too much too soon, and then give up when the inevitable injuries hit. Walking is great to tone your body up so you’ll be ready to take on increasingly greater challenges.

Bonding With Your Baby

on Tuesday, 08 May 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

New baby? Happy Mother’s Day! Spending quality time with your new baby is one of the best things you can do for both yourself and the baby. In fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do. New research is showing that a strong mother-baby bond may help ward off disease, strengthen immunities and increase a child's IQ.

The creation of a bond between mother and child starts from birth, so there’s no such thing as getting too early a start.

Here are some ways you can create that bond:

Spend plenty of time with them so you can get to know their likes and dislikes. These preferences are formed very early on, and the better you know your child, the stronger your bond will be. It works the other way too, so now is the perfect time to hum your favorite Beatles song.

Reach out and make contact. A baby’s senses are limited at first, so touch is one of the most important ways they gather information. It becomes almost an early form of language. In a very real sense, when you hold them or bathe them, you’re talking to them.

Start the day with a smile. Facial recognition is one of the first things a baby learns, long before they can process other objects. So even if it is three o’clock in the morning, greet them with a smile.

Remember that bonding is a process. As your baby grows, that bond will continue to get stronger.

Recipes to Put a ‘Spring’ in Your Diet

on Tuesday, 01 May 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

Now that spring has come, you may have noticed your supermarket produce section looks a little more cheerful. The plums are bigger, the broccoli’s fresher and the cucumbers seem a lot less shriveled. Warmer weather means an abundance of food choices that were hard to come by during the winter months, are once again available to you.

Here are a few tasty ways to enjoy them.

Sweet and Sour chicken is a classic any time of year, but give it a spring twist with this sweet and sour chicken bowl.

Or take the traditional lasagna in a new direction with these alfredo roll-ups.

After months of dull brown, spring is the time to celebrate the return of green hills and trees, and what better way than an all-green salad?

You don’t have to give up your Vegan ways just because spring is here. If you’re looking for a vegetarian main dish or just a scrumptious side try these broccoli-cheddar rice cakes.

So what would you like to drink with this tasty smorgasbord of spring? In keeping with the warm summer season, how about some grilled pineapple lemonade?

And finally, what about dessert? Well, fruit is best when it’s in season, so take advantage of the season with some strawberry pie.

If you’re looking to put a little spring in your diet as well as your step, give these recipes a try today.

Making Exercise Fun

on Tuesday, 24 April 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

We all know we should exercise. From the health classes we take in school to the constant barrage of ads that come at us from all sides, the benefits of exercise are spelled out in glowing detail. 

So why don’t we exercise more? One reason is because it’s boring. Admit it. It is. Here are some ways to make exercise fun.

It’s more fun with two.Running on the treadmill or doing stomach crunches is a lot more entertaining when you have someone to talk to, and if that other person can push you and motivate you, so much the better. 

Games, anyone?That’s right, turn it into a game. Make your own challenges. Can you bike 3 miles before the 5 o’clock news is finished? How about 30 sit-ups during a commercial break?  The possibilities are endless. Consider fun alternatives such as Wii Sport and Wii Fit games.

Variety.It’s the spice of life, right? Why shouldn’t it spice up your workout? Vary your routine from day to day. Try some new things or add some variations to the old standbys.

Take up a sport.Pick up a racquet and play tennis, join a fencing club or a weekend baseball league. If you’re going to be bothered with a sport, you might as well become good at it, and now you have the opportunity to have some fun and get some exercise at the same time.

Who says exercise can’t be fun and healthy at the same time? Try these tips to get the best of both worlds.

Tips for a Lifetime of Learning

on Tuesday, 17 April 2018. Posted in Doctor of Fitness

 “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

~  Albert Einstein

It’s hard to argue with a genius. A lifetime of learning has many benefits. It can help keep your mind sharp as the years creep in. It can improve your mental awareness and quality of life, and even potentially stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s according to some research. So if a lifetime of learning sounds like just the ticket for you, here are some resources to help you along the way.

With the rapidly changing pace of our world, lifetime learning isn’t always a choice- sometimes it’s a survival skill. You never know what you might need. Here’s a list of some useful new skills that may help you overcome some of life’s challenges (or at the very least help you in that round of Final Jeopardy.)

If you don’t have the time or the funds to pay for formal classes, all is not lost. There are some great online learning resources available for little or no cost at Open Culture and Lynda. There are also plenty of other choices if these two don’t work for you. Plenty of colleges and universities offer free online courses too.

Learning means engaging with your world, and more learning can also help you obtain better outcomes when you do. There are organizations like Toastmasters International that can teach you how to better present yourself and achieve more.

The world is out there.  Live it, love it and take the opportunity to learn from it. 

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