Healthy Habits: How taekwondo keeps Dr. Xander Wehrens active

healthy-habits-wehrensTaking care of your health is a priority and nobody knows that more than physicians and healthcare providers.

It can sometimes be difficult to find ways to stay healthy, so we’ve asked members of our Baylor College of Medicine community to share what they do in their daily lives to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Xander Wehrens, professor of molecular physiology at Baylor, talks about how he uses martial arts to not only stay active, but also to relax.

Q: What is your go-to healthy breakfast?

A: I usually eat a simple breakfast consisting of coffee and a sandwich with peanut butter and a little brown sugar, or cheese spread. If I have time, I will make an egg white omelet with some ham and veggies, and have a Greek yoghurt on the side.

Q: What is your favorite type of exercise?

A: I practice taekwondo about 5 times a week. I started in high school and stopped practicing when I moved to the US about 15 years ago. Earlier this year I decided to start again after a long break motivated by my sons who had really gotten into it.

Q: What keeps you motivated during your workout? (music, tv, phone call, etc.)

A: The main motivation is to improve my skills as a martial artist overall. I am trying to get ready for my third degree black belt test, which is a more defined goal. Also, being able to keep up with and win from sparring partners half my age keeps me motivated to push my limits during practice.

Q: What activities do you do when you can’t fit in a full workout?

A: Practice martial arts at home, do a shorter workout with free weights at home, or go for a bike ride with the kids.

Q: What is your favorite healthy snack?

A: Greek yoghurt, protein bar or shake.

Q: What hobbies do you have to help you relax?

A: It might sound odd but martial arts and in particular sparring (free fighting) is relaxing, I guess it’s a good way to burn off stress. I also enjoy going to the opera, or trying to cook a new dish at home.

Q: What is your go-to Houston restaurant for a healthy meal?

A: This question is surprisingly not so easy to answer, because tasty food is often not super healthy. In general, I like French cuisine and Etoile is one of my favorite restaurants.

Q: Do you use a pedometer or Fitbit and what is your daily step goal?

A: I use the Fitbit One I received from the BCM wellness program.  My daily goal is 10,000. Unfortunately I cannot wear the device during my martial arts practice, so many steps are not counted during my peak activity time.

Q: What is your favorite health tip that you live by?

A: Find an activity that you are motivated to keep doing, because physical activity is important for your health. Don’t eat more calories than you burn at least on a long-term basis. Make sure you know your numbers – I mean weight, blood pressure and cholesterol, these are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease that you can modify with exercise and a healthy life style.

Additional Resources

Healthy habits: Substitutions can improve your diet

Dr. John Dawson shares his tips for a healthy lifestyle

See how Baylor stays fit with more healthy habits from members of our community

See how Baylor promotes a culture of healthy living and wellness

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