February Fitness Tips

Michelle Walker, the Recreational Specialist at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for her photo in the base gym on November 2, 2011.  Michelle was hired to work at the base gym to train, educate and encourage McEntire’s airmen to remain “fit to fight” and excel in the new Air Force fitness standards. 
(SCANG photo by TSgt Caycee Cook)

Michelle Walker, the Recreational Specialist at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for her photo in the base gym on November 2, 2011. Michelle was hired to work at the base gym to train, educate and encourage McEntire’s airmen to remain “fit to fight” and excel in the new Air Force fitness standards. (SCANG photo by TSgt Caycee Cook)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

Sodium: How much do you need?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day.

Salt is composed of sodium and chloride, which are two electrolytes that help maintain fluid balance and the transmission of nerve impulses. In your intestines, sodium helps your body absorb chloride, amino acids, glucose and water. Sodium also helps your body regulate blood pressure.

Consuming too much sodium may lead to high blood pressure. For some people, excess sodium leads to fluid retention in the body, and this causes the heart to have to work harder. If your heart has to pump harder, your blood pressure goes up.

Sodium: Essential in small amounts

Your body needs some sodium to function properly because it:

  • Helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body
  • Helps transmit nerve impulses
  • Influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles

Your kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for optimal health. When your body sodium is low, your kidneys essentially hold on to the sodium. When body sodium is high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine.

 

What can be used in place of salt?

Herbs and spices are often recommended to replace salt, but to be honest, they all won't do the trick. You'll need those that are most flavorful and offer a nice flavorful bite like salt does. The best ones are: cumin, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, oregano, lemon peel, garlic and onion powder, and rubbed sage.

Most salt substitutes (including Morton Salt Substitute, NoSalt and Nu-Salt) consist of potassium chloride, which tastes somewhat like sodium chloride (table salt) but does not raise blood pressure

Stretches To Relieve A Tight, Sore Neck

Seated Clasping Neck Stretch

Use your hands to offer a deep stretch for the back of your neck and your upper back.

Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. Clasp your hands and bring both palms to the back of your head. Sitting with a tall spine, ground your hips firmly into your seat. From here, begin to gently press your hands down toward your thighs, tucking your chin into your chest. As you press down, use the heels of your palms to pull your head away from your shoulders. This will intensify the stretch even more. Hold here for at least 30 seconds, and then slowly lift your head up and release your hands.

Seated Neck Release

This gentle stretch targets the sides of your neck.

Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Extend your right arm next to your right knee or along the right side of the chair. Place your left hand on the top of your head and slowly tilt your head to the left. Apply gentle pressure with your hand to increase the stretch. To feel a deeper stretch, you can hold onto your right knee or the seat of the chair. This stabilizes the torso and allows you to isolate the stretch on the side of your neck. Hold on this side for 30 seconds, then slowly lift your head up and repeat this stretch on the other side.