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. 

 

Christina Falahee

Wellness Coordinator

 

Share Life, Give Blood: World Blood Donor Day

 

Want to help save a life? Help spread the word of World Blood Donor Day!  People across the globe come together every year on June 14th  to thank blood donors for their voluntary, life saving gifts of blood and to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations for those in need. The theme this is year is “Blood Connects Us All.” Many countries still have a shortage of donors, meaning World blood Donor Day is vital to these countries to raise awareness of blood donation.

Why Donating is so Important

Millions of lives are saved around the world each year through transfusions of blood and blood products. When you donate blood, you can help someone suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and higher quality lives as well as supporting complex medical and surgical procedures.  It also plays an essential, lifesaving role during the emergency response to manmade and natural disasters.

How to Celebrate World Donor Day

  • Donate blood, a single donation can make a difference.

  • Spread the word via social media.

  • Thank those that have taken the time to donate their blood. 

How to Donate

Visit the American Red Cross website (https://www.redcross.org/give-blood) to find a location to donate and learn more about the donation process.

Blood Donation Facts

  • 108 million blood donations are collected globally, half of these are in high – income countries

  • Blood donation by 1% of the population can meet a nation’s most basic requirements for blood.

  • 62 countries collect 100% of their blood supply from voluntary, unpaid blood donors.

 

The Objectives for This Year

  • To thank those who have donated blood and to inspire those have not yet donated blood to start donating.

  • Highlight the need for year round blood donation, to maintain adequate supplies and achieve national self – sufficiency of blood.

  • Focus attention on blood donation as an expression of community participation in the health system, and the importance of community participation in maintaining sufficient, safe and sustainable blood supplies.

  • Encourage younger people, who might be nervous or unsure about donating, to feel encouraged to sign up and start donating.

 

How Employers Destroy Their Own Wellness Vision

Toni Sperlbaum                  VP of Sales and Marketing

As a wellness provider, we speak to companies about their wellness programs and making it the best and most effective it can be.  We talk about biometric health screenings for measurable data, health coaching for lifestyle change motivation, and programs like challenges and classes to educate and bring some fun and culture into their work environments.  Companies are desperate for their employees to make lifestyle changes, but they may be “shooting themselves in the foot”, for lack of a better metaphor.  Even with their desires for healthy employees and lower health care costs, I can’t tell you how many times we walk into a wellness meeting where pizza is being served, or you walk through the break room to find “Free Donut Friday”.

I want to preface this topic by saying that some of our readers are our clients, and you may feel like I’m referring to you – but we’ve likely already had the conversation before, and if we haven’t, then you’ve kept your tasty treats a good secret from your wellness provider!  My teasing is all in good fun, but there is some truth and seriousness to this topic where employers do need to re-evaluate their situations and realize Free Donut Friday is a direct mixed message to your employees and a huge step back from what you are trying to accomplish.

The most common “excuses” I hear from employers are:

  • It’s an additional benefit for employees that gets them excited – we want to do something special for them
  • Our staff would throw a fit if we got rid of Free Donut Friday – we’ve been doing it for 10 years!
  • There’s one HR employee who organizes this, or buys these on her own dime, and she would be so offended if we tried canceling it
  • Our employees don’t do well with change – there would be a revolution!

Some of these are a little silly, but they are real concerns and real reasons coming from employers.
What we typically try to preach to our employers is this:

Employees are all adults who can make their own choices, and we never encourage any organization to become wellness communists who take over the vending machines, replace all donut Fridays with apples only, or remove any of the “fun” of Free Donut Fridays altogether.  The main goal of employers should be to remove the barriers.  Provide the choice.  When only pizza is available, they are guaranteed to have the pizza (unless they have the willpower to forgo).  If you provide a variety of wraps, a side of fresh fruit or salad, AND pizza, at least they now have the option to make the healthier choice and you, as an employer, have removed the barrier.

Here are some other things you can do to change your culture:

  • Write a formal policy (or informal policy) that any organization-sponsored meeting must provide a healthy option, and you can even go as far as creating a “menu” or “list” of ideas for what constitutes as a healthy option (see if your wellness vendor will help you with that!)
  • Develop a wellness committee. Even if you meet only 4 times a year, this committee will be a grassroots group of employees who will be the first ones to say “you’re making us do this health screening, you’re asking us to do health coaching and participate in this 5K, but feeding us bagels and hot cocoa every Tuesday? Something is not adding up.” They also will be your eyes and ears “in the field” to see what the true feelings and reactions of your employees are and come with ideas on how to best address.
  • Talk about it! Discussing at employee meetings will at least address the elephant in the room, and while discussing it may drum up some push back, take the opportunity to provide your reasoning and remind them what the company’s goals are for a healthier workforce. Communication and transparency is always key in helping everyone understand the overall goal.
  • Get your middle management on board. Have a meeting or even a special workshop where management can be involved in developing the policy or coming up with a list of healthy choices. Their buy in is essential because if your managers are the ones griping about the changes, your employee reactions are inherently pre-determined.
  • Develop a “healthy catering partners” list and post on an intranet or break room. When employees or managers are catering in, or just ordering in, they have a place to go to see the local healthy resources, how to order, and what the healthiest options on the menu are.

It’s a simple change that will send a loud and clear message, one that is consistent with your organization’s other efforts.

 

April is National Autism Awareness Month

 

         Jamal Mack  Wellness Coordinator

Charles Darwin, Dan Aykroyd, Mozart, all these individuals are notable names in history due to their accomplishments in life. They all are famous, adored by their fans and peers, and all suffer from the same condition that affects 1 in 68 American children. They all have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that leads to difficulty with social interactions and communications. It is often characterized by a child’s non-interest or difficulty with social interactions, restricted interest, and repetitive behaviors. Unfortunately, we have found neither cause or cure for this disorder but we are narrowing down risk factors to things such as: having a sibling with ASD, having older parents, very low birth weight, and certain genetic predispositions (Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and Rett syndrome).  These risk factors have given us insight on diagnosing ASD over the years and now we have a two stage diagnosing process which consist of a general developmental screening and a second more in depth screening should the child display any symptoms in stage one. The second screening process is conducted with at least 4 different child specialists such as a developmental pediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, a neuropsychologist, and speech language pathologist. All these professionals collaborate with their results to paint the most accurate picture of diagnosis for the child so they may get the most effective treatments.

Treatment for ASD usually begins as soon as possible after diagnosis with the primary form being behavioral, psychological, and educational therapy. If symptoms are severe enough, medications will be prescribed. Research has found that the best way to treat is a combination of medication and these therapies. The therapies focus on reducing challenging behaviors, increasing strengths, learning social, communication, language skills, and life-skills necessary for independent living.  Depending on severity of the condition with proper treatment people with ASD can still be functional adults and not just independent but thriving productive citizens, much like the examples I stated in the beginning.

Thought to be a child’s disorder, over the last 30 years we have begun to diagnose adults as well. Adults can be difficult to diagnose since symptoms sometimes overlap with other symptoms of mental health disorder such as anxiety or attention deficit disorder. As an adult receiving a correct diagnosis can be very helpful by giving closure to past difficulties, identify their strengths and obtain the RIGHT kind of help.

Communicating with a person with ASD may be difficult at times and may be frustrating but I encourage you seek more information about it by visiting the Autism society website at https://www.autism-society.org/ . On the website there are many different resources to give you more insight into the disorder and there is even a page that gives you information on Autism awareness events that are going on in your area so YOU can get involved and make a difference. Together, we can bring some order to world of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

https://www.autism-society.org/get-involved/donate/

 

April Alcohol Awareness Month!

What is alcohol? Where does it come from?

Alcohol is a pure, colorless, odorless and flammable liquid that comes from fruits and grains such as potatoes, wheat, and barley.

Alcohol is a legal substance that is considered a depressant, which means it slows body function down. One to two drinks may make you feel relaxed, but three or more may severally impair brain and motor function.

Short-term effects?

There are several factors that determine how quickly the consumption of alcohol will affect your body. Those include; how much is consumed over what period of time, your weight, sex and body fat percentage, and whether or not you have eaten.

Signs of intoxication can include:
Slurred speech, clumsiness, drowsiness, vomiting, headache, loss of consciousness and lapses in memory.

The stomach absorbs 20% of alcohol, the small intestine