Exercise can help reduce stress

Many people are starting to recognize the ill effects of stress and use exercise and getting active as a way to help reduce the effects that stress can have in our lives. Often times we think we are too busy and stressed to make time for exercise but when we do we can reap the many benefits that come from moving our bodies.

Being active is often thought of meditation in motion. It can also boost the production of those feel good endorphins. Moving your body creates opportunity to release energy and it can help you feel less tired and sleep better. When we are stressed often times the first thing effected in our life is our sleeping habits. Being active is a great way to ensure a good night’s sleep. Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re downright out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Make the time for a little physical activity in your busy life. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress!

Are e-cigarettes better for me?

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes or vapors as they are more commonly known, are nicotine-delivery devices that sometimes look like cigarettes in shape, size and general appearance. They have become very popular in the past few years and are often thought to be safer than conventional cigarettes.

Some recent studies indicate that e-cigarettes may not be as safe as some think. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested the ingredients in a small sample of cartridges from the two leading brands of e-cigarettes. They found that the samples contained detectable levels of known cancer-causing agents and other toxic chemicals. The tests also found that there was no consistency in the amount of nicotine between different products with the same label. Some of the e-cigarette products labeled “no nicotine” still contained low levels of nicotine. Because these products are not regulated, there is real concern that users do not always know what levels of nicotine they are consuming or what other chemicals they may be exposing themselves to.

There is also cause for concern related to the secondhand e-cigarette aerosol that comes from e-cigarettes (incorrectly called water vapor by the industry), because it has been found to contain nicotine, ultrafine particles and low levels of toxins that are known to cause cancer. People exposed to e-cigarette aerosol can absorb nicotine (measured as cotinine), with one study showing levels comparable to passive smokers. FDA scientists have also found detectable levels of cancer-causing tobacco-specific nitrosamines in e-cigarette aerosol.

Do not be fooled into thinking the aerosol from e-cigarettes is safe just because it doesn’t smell like conventional cigarette smoke.

While more studies are currently being conducted on the safety, efficacy, and integrity of e-cigarettes, most public health professionals agree it is too soon to call e-cigarettes a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. Additionally, the dramatic increase of e-cigarette usage by youth and the ever present marketing of e-cigarettes to all populations have created concern with public health leaders.

To find out more information and the sources of the research discussed please visit our website.

Back to School!

Check out our Back to School page for information on how to keep your kids healthy from kindergarten to college!


Start the school year off healthy!

With the sound of school bells just around the corner, it’s important to refocus your efforts to ensure healthy eating with our kids. Providing healthful meals and encouraging physical activity are essential for your child’s growth and development, and will help your child build healthy habits for the rest of his or her life and improve their academic achievement.

Not sure how to keep your child excited about eating healthy and moving more? Here are some tips to get on the right track.

Start the Day Off Right
Don’t skip breakfast. Studies show breakfast eaters tend to have higher school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomachaches. They also score higher on tests, concentrate better, solve problems more easily and have better muscle coordination. If you are pressed for time, quick options include instant oatmeal topped with nuts or raisins, low-fat yogurt with sliced fruit or whole-grain toast with peanut butter.

Keep Lunchtime Interesting
•Plan lunch together. Encourage kids to pack their lunch with items they enjoy so they are less likely to throw their lunch away or swap with classmates.
•Try new foods. Pack exotic fruits such as kiwi, or allow them to pick fruits and vegetables they want to try at the grocery store.
•Celebrate special days. Plan lunch around special events. For example, pack an all-red lunch for Valentine’s Day or include a fortune cookie to celebrate Chinese New Year.
•Offer choices. Vary protein sources — tuna, peanut butter, turkey or beans — and offer different whole-grain items such as whole-grain bread, tortillas or crackers. Rotate whole pieces of fruit (banana, orange or grapes) and cut-up vegetables (celery, carrots or broccoli).

Get Moving
Regular physical activity is vital to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem. Kids are encouraged to be active for 60 minutes per day. Involving the family is a great way to spend time together. Hike together as a weekend outing, ride bikes after dinner, play catch after work or take the dog for a brisk walk.

Being Healthy at Work

Sometimes the biggest barrier to eating healthy is the people around us, especially our co-workers. Even though they might want the best for us, they can sometimes feel put off by our decisions to eat healthy or bring our lunch to work. Here are some tips to help you

Be open. Tell your co-workers your plans to eat healthier and exercise. Ask for their support and help.  By involving them they might be more likely to encourage and not discourage you. They will feel part of your plans and want to help you along your journey.

Make a plan. Start the day off knowing what you plan to eat for lunch and snacks. Stick to it! Don’t let others talk you out of your plans, instead invite them to join you.  Visualize following through with your plans and the conversations you might have with others to let them know you are not going out to lunch today. By practicing it in your mind, you will be ready to respond when the time comes.

Take it home. You don’t want to seem rude by refusing to eat the treats in your office. Instead of saying no, say Thank you, I will take it home and share it. That way nobody is offended and you don’t have to eat it right then and you don’t seem judgmental.

Skip it. In the office there always seems to be treats or candy around. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it. We often get into a habit of thinking we must eat whatever is brought in. Just because there is candy in a dish on your boss’s desk doesn’t mean you have to eat it whenever you go into their office. Skip it! Bring your own healthy snacks from home to eat instead.

Don’t let other people or your environment get in the way of your goals! Make a plan and stick to it. Be sure and let others know that your health goals are important to you and that you want to be successful. Chances are you will find your co-workers to be the best support of all!

Be active and feel better!

Being active is not just about burning calories. Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better. Research has shown that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits. Some scientific evidence has also shown that even lower levels of physical activity can be beneficial.

Improving your mental health can help support a positive outlook on life. Research also shows that physical activity helps to relieve symptoms of depression & anxiety and leads to improvement of mood. Being active gets your blood flowing and releases neurotransmitters which are responsible for our energy levels and emotions.  Physical activity can leave you feeling invigorated sharp and full of energy. By making fitness activities social like taking a class with others, it can add another layer of benefit that can also improve your mood. Social interaction while performing the same activities is a great way to connect with like minded-people.
Don’t just think of exercise as a way to lose weight and look great—it can help you feel great on the inside too. Be active it just might change the way you feel!

Smoothies for Summer

Smoothies are a great way to add fruits & veggies and enjoy a refreshing treat! Check out these recipes below.

Choco-Banana Smoothie

1 cup fat-free chocolate milk or low-fat chocolate soy milk
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon peanut butter
4 to 6 ice cubes

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or a food processor; blend until smooth.
Tropical Breeze Smoothie

6 ounces passion fruit, guava, or other fruit-flavored fat-free yogurt *
1 Cup of berry fruit, frozen, canned or fresh.
1 small banana
1/3 cup uncooked, rolled oats
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup pineapple or orange juice
1/2 cup fat-free milk

1. Put yogurt, berry fruit,  banana, oats and ginger in a blender jar. Add juice and milk.
2. Whirl in the blender for about 30 seconds, or until mixture is smooth.
3. If the smoothie is too thick, add juice or milk to desired consistency.

Cooking Notes
* If using Greek yogurt, you might add more juice or milk. Another option: For less sugars, use plain, fat-free yogurt and sweeten with additional fruit if desired.

Stay cool outside

Don’t let this heat get you down. Find ways to exercise inside if possible. But if you are heading outside to be active during the summer, a few things to keep in mind:

Time of Day. Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day. Plan to go out early in the morning or later at night.

Wear loose, light-colored clothing. The lighter color will help reflect heat, and cotton/dri-fit material will help the evaporation of sweat.

Sunscreen. Protect your skin and keep from getting burned.

Stay hydrated. Before you go out, drink water. Take water with you. Take a drink every 15 minutes, even when you’re not thirsty. Be sure to drink more water when you are done.

Look for shaded trails or pathways.  Do what you can to stay in the shade and out of the sun. Parks are a great place to find grass and trees.

Check the weather.  before you start your workout. If there’s a heat advisory, meaning high ozone and air pollution, you might want to take your workout indoors. These pollutants can damage your lungs.

Get Wet. It never feels like you’re sweating while you are working out in the pool so choose workouts like swimming, water aerobics classes or running in shallow water.

Most importantly, listen to your body. Stop immediately if you’re feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous.

Watermelon “Cake”

Here is a favorite recipe of our Get Healthy team. It is refreshing and cool treat for a hot holiday weekend!

Watermelon Cake

1 watermelon, seedless, uniformly
½ container (8 oz.) frozen, non dairy
whipped topping, thawed
1 container (6 oz.) fat-free lemon
misc. fruit (strawberries, kiwifruit, and
blueberries) for decoration

In a small bowl, fold together the whipped topping and yogurt.
Cut a 3-inch thick cross-section from the watermelon. Cut between white rind portion and red flesh to remove rind. Lift up the ring of rind and remove. Pat watermelon dry with paper towels and place on flat plate.
Frost the top and side of the watermelon cake with the yogurt mixture. Decorate with fresh fruit. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (Can be refrigerated for several hours or up to overnight.)

Per serving:  87 calories, 1.5 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 19 g total carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 18% vitamin A, 20% vitamin C, 3% calcium, 2% iron.

A recipe from www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

Find the perfect fit!

Somtimes we think being “into fitness” means that we have to excel at every endeavor we try. Which is not possible!  Some activitiese leave us feeling energized and empowered (Hello running and Zumba!)  And others might make you feel defeated and embarrassed (Hello Insanity and tennis!) Exercise is not one size fits all.  Not every workout is suited to or even safe for everyone.  Sounds logical right, but when you hear your best friend swear up and down that hot yoga melted (not literally) the fat from her thighs, you feel like you must try it!  But if spin class is not your thing, you are not likely going to stick with it.  For exercise to be sustainable, you need to enjoy what you are doing.  It needs to feel good,  be something you desire to do, please your mind and get you closer to your goal whether you want to run a marathon or  just lose that baby weight.  So find what works for you, and it is OK if it is not the latest fitness craze or your friends sure fire weight loss workout! Do what works best for you!