National Sleep Awareness Week

                                                                              Hannah Roberts                                                                                    Winter Wellness Intern


National Sleep Awareness Week falls in March. Sleep plays an important role in maintaining physical health, mental health, quality of life, productivity, and safety. How you feel when you are awake depends on the quality and quantity of sleep your body is getting. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. In addition to getting enough sleep, regularity is key for an individuals’ sleep to be most beneficial for their body. Sleep is important for your brain to work properly, helping you to learn, problem solve, and cope with emotions.

On top of not feeling your best, not getting enough sleep can increase an individuals’ risk for various health problems. Ongoing sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Individuals who are sleep deficient are also less productive at work, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes. Lack of sleep can become a safety concern when driving or operating machinery.

The National Sleep Foundation provides the following tips for a good night sleep:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule – this means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day including weekends. Regularity makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  1. Relax before bedtime – incorporate a routine to wind down leading up to bedtime. Dimming bright lights and reducing stress or anxiety is important due to their ability to make it more difficult to fall asleep. It is also important to avoid alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, and heavy meals two to three hours before going to sleep, although a light snack 45 minutes before bed is okay. Avoid electronic devices because of the light they emanate stimulates brain activity.
  1. Exercise daily – exercising (not at the expense of sleep) improves overall health and can reduce stressors making it difficult to obtain quality sleep. Higher intensity exercises are best, but incorporating light exercise is better than no exercise.
  1. Evaluate your room – the optimal sleep environment is between 60 and 67 degrees. There should be no distracting noises or lights. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive, and that they are free from allergens that may disturb your sleep.

If you are having trouble sleeping do not hesitate to speak with your doctor. It can be helpful to record your sleep and the tips you have tried in a sleep diary to share with your physicians.

National Cancer Prevention Month

                                                                           Christina Falahee                                                                                           Wellness Coordinator


February is National Cancer Prevention Month. Most of us know someone or have been personally affected by cancer and know how terrible of disease it is. Educating yourself and your loved ones of the preventable actions you can take to lower the risk of developing cancer is very important.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has found that more than 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed and nearly half of all deaths from cancer in the United States can be attributes to preventable causes such as lack of physical activity, excess body weight, excessive exposure to the sun and smoking.

Below are seven cancer prevention recommendations from the American Institute for Cancer Research:

  1. Be a Healthy Weight                                                                                  Next to not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer. Aim to be at the lower end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range. Body Fat releases insulin, estrogen and other hormones into the bloodstream, which can spur cancer growth.
  1. Be Physically Active                                                                                    Physical activity in any form helps to lower cancer risk. Work toward achieving 45 to 60 minutes moderate-intensity physical activity daily.
  1. Eating a Diet Rich in Whole Grains, Vegetables, Fruits and Beans  Plant based foods which contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and other substance that can help protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer.
  1. Limit Consumption of Fast Foods and Other Processed Foods High in Fat, Starches or Sugars                                                                Limiting these foods helps control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight.
  1. Limit Consumption of Red and Processed Meat                                  Eat no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb. Eat little, if any, processed meat.
  1. Limit Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks                              Drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks.
  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption                                                                        Limit your consumption to one drink for women and two for men per day.

 

 

Top 5 Programming Ideas for Heart Health Month

                                                                          Toni Sperlbaum                                                                                           VP of Sales and Marketing


The American Heart Association (AHA) states that 1 in 3 women will die from a heart related incident.  They also are 11% less likely to receive bystander CPR than their male counterparts.  February is Heart Health Month, with “Go Red For Women” being the AHA’s movement to raise awareness of heart disease in women.

February’s focus provides a great opportunity for organizations to promote heart health to both their male and female employees. There are MANY ways for you to do this, most free or low cost. Here are our top 3

  1. Promote and Celebrate National Go Red for Women Day (Friday, February 1)
    Have a photo contest and encourage your staff to wear red! You can even have awards for best red accessories, most red overall, best decorated workspace, and more.  Don’t forget to post your #GoRed photos on your organization’s social media pages and @Health Plan Advocate. We will feature your organization on our sites too!  What a FUN way to show your customers and employees your commitment to wellness.
  2. Host a Lunch & Learn on Heart Disease
    There are many organizations (HPA included!) who can do an educational seminar on preventing heart disease and learning the signs of a heart attack. There are also a variety of CPR and AED classes available through organizations like The American Red Cross that could save a life.  Also consider hosting free and open blood pressure checks for your employees.  Education is essential!
  3. Host a Heart Healthy Potluck:
    Red foods, healthy foods, sugar free beverages and healthier desserts. Decorate the table with hearts and don’t forget the red plates and cups!  The AHA’s Heart Check Recipe Guidelines would be perfect to send out as a guide for what is considered healthy.
  4. Heart Healthy Testimonials:
    Do a call for testimonials from your workforce. Is anyone a heart disease survivor who is willing to tell their story? Celebrate their life!  Has anyone made heart healthy changes? Lost weight, stopped smoking, ran a race, or similar?  Feature them!  We learn best from others’ experiences and we get inspired by their successes.  Feature these stories in a newsletter, on your intranet, on a cork board in the break room, an Eboard, etc.  Better yet, if your CEO or executive and middle leaders have stories, focus on them.  Middle and upper management’s involvement in wellness is essential to your program’s success.  You can even have a photo contest of their heart healthy activities!
  5. Heart Healthy Scavenger Hunt:
    Around the lunch hour, come up with a quiz of 10 questions and post the answers somewhere throughout your facility so they have to walk around and search for the answers to your quiz, while getting some steps in! The quiz can consist of questions like “#1. What is a healthy blood pressure level?” and they have to find the “#1” posted on a wall or on the floor somewhere with the answer of “<120/80”. You can find more helpful stats here.

Take advantage of the opportunity (you have ALL of February to do it!). Just a little bit of planning ahead can get your employees excited and having FUN all while learning and bringing awareness to the dangers of heart disease.

 

 

January: National Blood Donor Month

Todd Freitag                                                                                     Sales/Wellness Coordinator


January is national Blood Donor Month, and it just so happens to be the time of the year we give blood less. Blood donations typically drop off during and immediately after the winter holidays, which makes January a critical time for the American Red Cross. The Red Cross needs to collect more than 13,000 donations every day to keep the blood supply ready and available to meet the needs of about 2,600 hospitals, clinics and cancer centers across the country.

National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. During the holidays and the end of the year, we all become overwhelmed with holiday parties, visiting friends, shopping, wrapping up end of the year deadlines and personal goals; not allowing time to donate. Not only do busy schedules play a role, but Mother Nature herself can wreak havoc on times of donation, forcing cancellations of many blood drives. We like to think that during the holidays, we are all taking breaks to relax and unwind, but those in need of blood and platelet donations are in need no matter what time of year.

Every two seconds of every day, someone needs blood. The reason to donate is simple…it helps save lives. Blood is essential to life for several important reasons including the fact that blood circulates through our body and delivers essential substances like oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells. It also transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. But did you know that donating blood has it’s health benefits for the donor?

  • Blood donation helps in lowering the risk of cancer. By donating blood the iron stores in the body are maintained at healthy levels. A reduction in the iron level in the body is linked with low cancer risk.
  • Reduced risk of hemochromatosis; a health condition that arises due to excess absorption of iron by the body. This may be inherited or may be caused due to alcoholism, anemia or other disorders. Regular blood donation may help in reducing iron overload.
  • Regular blood donation reduces the weight of the donors. This is helpful to those who are obese and are at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health disorders.
  • After donating blood, the body works to replenish the blood loss. This stimulates the production of new blood cells and in turn, helps in maintaining good health.

Before you donate, a health professional will ask about your current and past health, including some very personal questions, to make sure that you can donate. You will be asked these questions every time you give blood, because the list of who can give blood may change, or your health may change. Having a long-term illness, such as diabetes, doesn’t mean you can’t donate. You may be able to give blood if your health problem is under control. But you shouldn’t donate blood if you feel like you’re getting a cold or the flu.

The Increasing Cost Of Diabetes In America

                                  Emily Zoeller, EP-C,CHWC                                      Wellness Coordinator & Health Coach

Diabetes – it affects more than 30 million people in America, with 84 million additional people who are prediabetic. This is a costly problem that is growing at an alarming rate. From 2012 to 2017, the cost per year for a diagnosed diabetic in America rose, about 133.5% rise in cost over the 5 years.

Not only is it expensive for the person diagnosed with the condition, but also for the insurance plan, and costly on the person health. For those with Diabetes, they cost the insurance plan 2.3 times more than someone without diabetes.

Even though costs have risen for this disease it itself, there is also other factors to consider – Associated conditions like neuropathy, amputation, liver disease, vision issues, and more.

In 2017, 4,110 people a day were diagnosed with Diabetes, and watching your diet and exercise can significantly help to avoid prediabetes, and therefore diabetes. So, what can be done to help now?

Physical Activity: Get out and get active! Haven’t exercised in a while? Some exercise is better than none. Start small, gradually working your way up in time and intensity.

Be Mindful of your Nutrition: Watching your sugar and carbohydrate intake. Watching your daily intake of sugar can be harder than you think. When looking at nutrition labels, use this tip to get some perspective: for every 4g of sugar in a product, that will be one teaspoon of sugar. Try switching out simple carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates.

Know Your Numbers: Stay connected with your physician. Having a relationship with your physician can be very important. Knowing your Glucose and A1C values are essential.

5 Ways to Get Active This Summer

 



Rachel Lawton
Spring/Summer Wellness Intern

If you’re stuck in a rut with the same old workout routine or lacking the motivation to even workout in the first place, maybe it’s time to try something new! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends healthy adults get around 150 minutes of physical activity per week. But, here’s the good news: this does not have to mean spending 150 minutes in the gym! The daylight lasts longer in the summer and the weather is beautiful, so why not take advantage and enjoy the outdoors while simultaneously improving your health? Here are a few non-traditional ways to get those active minutes in by yourself or with family & friends!​​ 

  • Spend a weekend camping – incorporate in physical activities while you’re there. Swimming, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, or biking are all great forms of exercise!​​ 

  • Go to the beach! For people who enjoy walking or running, adding the uneven surface and consistency of the sand is a great way to tax new muscles and add a challenge to your regular routine. Bonus… a beautiful view.

  • Try a new sport like FootGolf – a combination of soccer and golf, this is played at a golf course facility on shortened holes with larger cups. ​​ The rules largely correspond to the rules of golf. ​​ You may be surprised that there are likely FootGolf courses in your area. Check out this video to see more! ​​ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eeNeo5wVF8​​ 

  • Spend a day around the house– Now this may not be the MOST fun option on the list, but you’re getting a two for one with the tasks you’ll checked off your list​​ at the end of your “workout”. Mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, washing the car, and vacuuming the house is enough to keep you up and moving for hours!​​ 

  • Try a new class! Look around your community. ​​ There are tons of summer programs, punch cards, or drop-in classes available. Everything from yoga, to boot camps, to dance, to recreational sports leagues. If you time it right, you may even be able to find some free options.​​ 

  • Visit an amusement park, the zoo, or the mall – You’ve never thought of this as exercise, but the large majority of the day is spent up on your feet!

Why is Physical Activity So Important?​​ 

Physical activity has an endless list of benefits. ​​ According to the Department of Health and Human Services, here are some of the biggest rewards you gain from being active:

  • Fight weight gain and obesity: obesity currently affects approximately 33% of all US adults and has a strong correlation with Type 2 diabetes

  • Disease prevention: physical activity can lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancer (the 3 leading health-related causes of death in the US)

  • Building overall strength and endurance: this one speaks for itself

  • Injury prevention: exercise helps to build bone, muscle, and joint strength which in turn lowers our risk of falls and other injury

  • Improved sleep: expending extra energy during the day can help you to be more tired when bedtime rolls around, promoting a better night’s sleep

  • Stress relief: working up a sweat can be a great way to let go of some of your daily stresses. If high intensity isn’t your style, many people find stretching or yoga to be a great relaxation technique as well

  • Increased energy: endorphins released during exercise tend to boost our mood and energy levels

  • Improved self-confidence: better mood and energy = higher self-esteem and more confidence!

  • Increased life expectancy: with all of these combined benefits, our life expectancy tends to rise with better health

Keeping all of this in mind, make it your goal this summer to get outside,​​ try something new, & get moving! Your body will thank you!

July is UV Awareness Month



Kenzie Opel
Spring/Summer Wellness Intern

Summer is the perfect time to talk about UV Safety. With all the time spent outdoors in the summer, how do we ensure we are keeping ourselves safe from UV radiation?​​ 

UV radiation is emitted from the sun as both UV-A and UV-B​​ rays.​​ UV rays only make up a small part of the sun’s rays, but they are the rays that cause the most damage.​​ UV-A rays are compiled of longer wavelengths that can reach to the middle layer of your skin whereas UV-B rays are shorter wavelengths that only reach the outer layer of your skin.​​ It is important to learn the risks associated with these rays to be able to take the proper precautions to protect​​ one self.​​ 

The harmful risks?

  • Cause vision problems, damages your eyes

  • Suppresses the immune system​​ 

  • Causes premature aging of the skin

  • Skin cancer! (Most common type of cancer)​​ 

Factors that affect the strength?​​ 

The American Heart Association states that the strength of UV rays are based on many factors. The time of day changes how strong the rays are. They are most damaging between 10am to 4pm. The season of the year can also affect this. The spring to summer months are when the rays are the strongest. ​​ July is represented as UV safety​​ month because it is right at the time when the​​ sun is​​ at its​​ all-time​​ high. The further you are from the equator means the less​​ exposure​​ there is. A higher altitude means​​ the more UV rays that can touch down to the ground. Cloud cover varies the exposure because sometimes it blocks the exposure and sometimes it causes the rays to be reflected. It is a good rule of thumb to take backup precautions on cloudy days.​​ It is important to keep these ideas in mind when deciding what precautions to take.

Precautions?

  • Cover up:​​ Be sure to cover your face with a hat or sunglasses. You can even wear long sleeve shirts, pants, etc. to hide your skin from the sun.​​ 

  • Stay in the shade:​​ It is recommended to spend more time in the shade between 10am and 4pm because this is when the sun is at its strongest. Even on cloudy days, the sun can still be harmful to your skin so it is important to take other precautions as well.​​ 

  • Choose the right sunscreen:​​ SPF stands for sun protection factor. This is required by the FDA to be shown on the label. It is recommended to use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to protect against both UV-A and UV-B rays. ​​ 

  • Use the right amount of sunscreen:​​ Many people don’t use the proper amount of sunscreen when applying throughout the day. It is recommended to apply one oz of sunscreen every two hours. They even suggest more frequently if you are sweating or spending time in the water.​​ 

Remember to be safe as you take in the rays and be sure to protect your skin and eyes from the damage.​​ You can learn more about how to keep yourself safe from UV radiation in the summer months at​​ https://www.cancer.org/healthy/be-safe-in-sun.html. The American Cancer Association offers plenty of tips and steps to take to protect yourself as well as information on the connection to health risks.​​