Nurse shares tips on getting more active with local chamber members
Last week’s Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce luncheon was all about fitness — even if not everyone opted for a salad.
As attendees dined on gyros and fries, guest speaker Ericka Mulder, a nurse practitioner with the Anchorage Women’s Clinic, discussed ways people can combat obesity and live healthier lifestyles. While eating right is important, she said getting active can provide a wealth of health benefits.
“We’re just not engaging in enough physical activity,” said Mulder, who pointed to statistics showing Americans have obesity rates approaching 40 percent.
Mulder said exercise has many benefits beyond weight loss that include everything from better mental health to the improvement of long-term medical conditions.
“Exercise can really play an important role in decreasing the burden of a chronic disease,” she said.
While it’s no secret that exercise is good for people, many still fail to get off the couch, and finding motivation is often the most difficult part, she said. But getting active doesn’t have to mean joining a gym or climbing a mountain, it can simply mean taking small steps toward becoming more active.
“A lot of times I will tell my patients to go walk outside at lunch,” she said. “We’ve just become so wrapped up in our everyday routines that we forget to go out and go for a walk.”
Mulder suggested several strategies for people having a hard time getting motivated. She said setting simple goals is key, as is making activity part of your daily routine. Tracking goals and activity levels works well for some folks, she said, as does having a partner to help with motivation.
“Having someone who keeps you accountable is great,” she said.
Mulder suggested making exercise fun by joining community events such as fun runs or going ice skating. There are also numerous hiking, running, biking, swimming, skiing and other clubs and organizations that can help get people active.
“There’s all these groups available and people don’t even know they’re there,” she said.
Mulder’s speech wasn’t the only exercise-related event on the chamber’s schedule Wednesday. The group also heard from Shawn McTaggart, the new manager at the still-under-construction Planet Fitness location in Eagle River.
McTaggart told the chamber the new gym will begin hiring in October or November, with memberships likely going on sale before the holidays.
Chamber meetings are held twice a month at noon the Matanuska Alehouse on the Old Glenn Highway in Eagle River. The next forum is Aug. 21.
Following Mulder’s speech, chamber executive director Debbie Rinckey asked what Mulder would suggest for people who are finding old habits hard to break.
“I guess today wasn’t the day I should have decided to have French fries,” Rinckey joked. “…What do you suggest for people like me?”
Mulder said taking the first step is crucial and reiterated that people can incorporate fitness into their daily routines and use friends to keep themselves accountable.
“It has to be a habit — that’s the hardest part,” she said.
Mulder said she’ll sometimes spend a few minutes at work exercising between appointments and stressed that anyone can find time to be active if they really set their mind to it.
“It has to come from within,” she said.
Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274