Walk Your Way to Fitness

Photo by Clarita courtesy of morguefile.com

“Mom, is there a shortcut?” my daughter asked. She was about 8 at the time.

“We can do it! We can make it the whole way,” I replied as we walked around a large group of people. We were finishing the second mile of three in a fundraising event.

“Mom, can we stop and rent a car to drive home? My legs are getting tired!” she said a little later. She could see a car dealership in the distance.

“Sorry, we can’t rent a car. We’re almost there. We only have a mile to go,” I noted to my daughter, who’s usually a trooper. I slowed my pace a bit to accommodate her shorter legs.

“How about taking a taxi?” she teased, this time with a smirk on her face.

I glanced at her and decided to distract her.

“Do you know why walking is good for you?” I asked.

“Walking keeps your heart strong!” she said.

“Yes, that’s right. Does walking do anything else?” I asked.

“It keeps your muscles strong,” she noted.

“Yes, that’s true, too. I’m thinking of something else, and I’ll give you a hint. Do you remember what osteoporosis is?” I asked.

“That’s when you have weak bones. Oh, yeah, walking keeps your bones strong!” she exclaimed.

By now we had made it to the end of our bone-building, heart-healthy walk without a shortcut or vehicle rental.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 10 million people in the U.S. are estimated to have osteoporosis and 34 million have low bone mass. Women are more likely to get osteoporosis. However, about 2 million men have it.

About 1.5 million bone fractures are linked to osteoporosis every year. The hip, spine and wrist are among the most common bones that break.

Some things put us at higher risk for osteoporosis, such as having a small frame, a family history of osteoporosis, low bone mass, being postmenopausal, low calcium intake, vitamin D deficiency, smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, being physically inactive and/or using certain medications, such as corticosteroids.

To keep your bones strong, consider these recommendations:

  • Get weight-bearing physical activity. Try to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, every day.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Eat a calcium-rich, varied diet based on the recommendations at www.choosemyplate.gov.
  • Visit with your health-care provider about bone health and the possibility of bone density testing.
  • Visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation at www.nof.org for more information.

Here’s a calcium-rich “3-A-Day of Dairy” recipe from the Midwest Dairy Association.

Confetti Quesadillas

12 soft corn tortillas
1 c. (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 c. (4 ounces) shredded part-skim colby cheese
1/2 c. fresh corn kernels or black beans
1/2 c. coarsely chopped cilantro
1 red bell pepper, finely minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced

Yogurt Dip (for topping)

2 c. plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 c. finely minced cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt

Make the yogurt dip ahead of time and refrigerate. Line a large strainer with a clean coffee filter or paper towel and place over a mixing bowl. Pour in yogurt and let sit until some of the liquid has drained and the yogurt has the consistency of sour cream, which takes about one hour. Transfer to small mixing bowl. Stir in salt and cilantro and refrigerate.

To make quesadillas, preheat large skillet over low heat. Line up six tortillas. Divide cheese, corn, cilantro and peppers among the tortillas, then cover with another tortilla. Place a tortilla on the dry skillet and warm until cheese is melted and tortilla is slightly golden, which takes about three minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden, which takes about a minute. Cut into wedges and serve. Repeat with remaining quesadillas. Serve with a dollop of yogurt topping. Makes six servings.

A serving has 209 calories, 6 grams (g) of fat, 25 g of carbohydrate and 30 percent of the daily recommendation for calcium.

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