Health Bites: Exercises & Breakfast- Quinoa Pilaf

February 8, 2016

Morning Exercises

Is your health worth 30 minutes a day? The benefits of exercising half an hour just 5 days per week include lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, sleeping better, warding off colds and flu, reducing stress, improving balance and flexibility, generally improving your health and losing weight. So, let’s get moving!

(Note: Please consult with your primary care provider before beginning an exercise program.)

Joining a fitness center is not necessarily needed. Here are some simple exercises that can be performed right at home.

Stretch and warm-up: Repeat each exercise 5 times.

1. Neck stretches: Move head side to side as though looking over your shoulder. Then move the head in a circular motion, first looking upon, then circle around, down and back up.

2. Shoulders: Roll shoulders forward then back. Raise shoulders up and then down. Then alternate rolling shoulders as if swimming.

3. Stretch hands to the sky, then bend and try to touch the floor.

4. Lean to side, bend one knee and stretch other leg. Switch and stretch other leg.

5. Arm circles out to the side, small then bigger; reverse direction of rotation.


1. Using a hand towel, grasp each end with one hand and pull in opposite directions up and down in front of you, sets of 10, then switch arms. Raise towel over head and pull side to side and then from front to behind head; rest in between.

2. Push-outs: Like a push-up, but stand and place hands on door frame or high dresser and push out; 3 sets of 10, rest in between.

3. Standing leg lifts, to the side, to the front, then to the back, 10 each. Switch leg and repeat. Total of 60 leg lifts.

4. Squats standing behind and holding on to chair; bend knees as much as is comfortable.  3 sets of 8.

5. Standing, using light hand weights (1-3 pounds), lift with arms extended out in front, thumbs together, up and down 10 times. Rest, repeat.

6. Crunches while standing: Bend to the front slightly, flexing abs, then stand erect and stretch. Repeat 10 times.

7. On the floor on stomach, lift head and feet flexing everything. Let go. Repeat 6 times.

8. On all fours, left knee to nose, then extend, 6 times; reverse; repeat faster

9. Sit on floor, “Indian style”, feet together; hold feet and bend forward and stretch 4 times.

10. Same position, except with legs extended to each side; grab knee, pull down chest toward knee, 6 times.

11. Breathe deeply, arm over to opposite toe like a ballerina, sit up and over again, 6 times; sit up tall, stretch, open arms and relax.

Aerobic, 20-30 minutes; Combine with or Alternate Days with Stretching

1. Stand erect then lunge forward with one foot with hand weights or cans of beans J, then step back. Do 2 sets of 10, rest between.

2. Go for a brisk walk, gently jog in place or on a rebounder, or walk on a porch with hand weights.

3. Go up and down on a step, inside or better yet, outside in the fresh air. Be safe and hold onto the rail!

When you finish your morning exercise routine, you may ask, “Is breakfast ready?” Start this Breakfast Quinoa Pilaf before you exercise, and it will be!

Breakfast Quinoa Pilaf (Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wa”)

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 cups water*

½ teaspoon salt

1 diced apple**

¼ cup raisins, golden raisins or dried cranberries

1/3 cup walnuts, pecans, sliced or slivered almonds

1.     Rinse quinoa in a saucepan with plenty of water. Drain into fine mesh strainer.

2.     Place rinsed quinoa, the 2 cups water and salt into the saucepan.

3.     Bring to a boil, then cover and turn to low heat. Cook for 20 minutes.

4.     Allow to cool slightly, then fluff with fork.

5.     Add remaining ingredients and toss to mix.

*Quinoa may be soaked in water overnight then drained in the morning; then only 1 cup of water will be needed for cooking. This will release the enzyme inhibitor and also reduce needed cooking time. Check after 15 minutes to see if the grain is uniformly a tannish color and tender.

**Fruit can be varied. Berries or diced peaches make a delicious pilaf!