(Family Features) You are never too old (or young) to take part in activities that enrich your physical, mental and emotional well-being. No matter your age, there is no better time than now to start.
To help do just that, consider these tips from the Administration for Community Living:
- If you don’t usually exercise, choose a low-impact activity that you can do a little at a time. Walk for 10 minutes in the morning, sign up for a tai chi class or learn gentle stretches, for example. Remember, it is wise to consult a health care provider before beginning an exercise routine.
- Exercising is less of a chore when you do it with people you enjoy. Gather a group of friends or join a class. Some senior and community centers even offer free or low-cost options.
- Good nutrition is vital. Keep an honest record of what you eat. If you have a condition like diabetes, consult your doctor before changing your diet. Nutritionists can be excellent resources, whether you have special dietary needs or not.
- Eating healthy foods and staying active may reduce physical health risks, and you also can exercise your mind by reading, playing games, taking a class or simply being social.
- Second or even third careers can be personally and financially rewarding. Determine whether you have the skills needed for something new. If not, seek out classes or training, and remember to ask whether financial assistance is available.
- Express yourself through the arts. Learn to paint or draw, dust off those dancing shoes, take an acting class or finally write that novel. As a bonus, studies show the arts can improve brain health.
- Keep expanding your knowledge and growing by learning a new language or taking a computer class. Or, if you’re more an adventurous type, maybe you’ve always wanted to travel and discover other cultures.
- Consider using your experience to serve others. Volunteers meet a range of community needs, from mentoring at-risk youth and providing job training to helping families recover from disasters. Find opportunities by visiting local organizations or charities.
- Pick and schedule service activities that match your skills and interests. If you are handy, assisting with a nonprofit housing organization may be most rewarding. If you enjoy working with kids, contact a local school to talk about ways you can help.
- If you want to help others more informally, consider helpful tasks like driving neighbors to appointments, babysitting for working parents or tutoring kids in your neighborhood. If you are a member of a spiritual community or club, ask if there are outreach programs that need assistance.
Increasing your well-being – physically, mentally and emotionally – can be made simpler by finding activities that fit your personality and interests. Visit oam.acl.gov to find more information and resources to engage at every age.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (couple walking)
June 13, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) When it comes to becoming an elite athlete, there are differing opinions on what it takes to win gold.
Sports analysts and commentators often reference sprint times, body weight, height or age as differentiating factors, but Dr. Steven Stein, CEO of Multi-Health Systems and emotional intelligence expert, has a different idea.
Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way people perceive and express themselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.
Using The Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 model to test emotional intelligence, Multi-Health Systems found athletes around the world often score high in self-regard: the ability to know their strengths and weaknesses; self-actualization: doing what they love and continually trying to improve; and flexibility: their ability to learn, change and take direction.
Self-regard is the ability of an athlete to know his or her strengths and weaknesses. For elite athletes, it can also translate into confidence.
“Confidence, as part of self-regard, can be a key differentiator among medal winners,” Stein said. “At the highest level of many sports you have a number of athletes with near-equal skills and talent. Often, having the right mental toughness can make that millisecond or single point difference among judges.”
Self-actualization reflects comfort with who you are and what you are doing. For example, competition at the international level takes years of preparation and practice, and may require personal, social and familial sacrifices.
“Self-actualization allows an athlete to continue to learn and improve, as many athletes start out with a vision that helps define their passion,” Stein said. “For example, you frequently hear stories of athletes who come from challenging childhoods – deaths of parents, early injuries or difficulties with school – who commit fully to their sports, find success and go on to become role models for others in both athletics and overcoming adversity.”
Flexibility is a person’s ability to change and take direction, and for an elite athlete, it means learning from a bad performance instead of getting frustrated. It is one of the better predictors of the ability to be coached and succeed, and Multi-Health Systems found that it is especially important in both professional and amateur athletes.
“Sometimes, high-level draft picks in various sports who have difficulty taking instruction don’t make it as professional players,” Stein said. “Great athletes are often great learners, and when athletes think they already know what’s best or don’t listen to coaching, it can derail their performance.”
Learn more about emotional intelligence and the role the mental side plays in becoming an elite athlete at mhs.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
June 6, 2018 | admin
Study focuses on early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and tracking it over time
(Family Features) Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death overall in the United States and affects more than 5 million Americans. According to experts, this number could triple to nearly 16 million people by 2050. A momentous scientific study focused on early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, and tracking it over time, seeks healthy volunteers without memory problems, as well as people who have mild memory problems and those who have been diagnosed with mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.
The prestigious Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative – or ADNI – funded by the National Institutes of Health, is one of the largest and longest running Alzheimer’s disease trials in history. Now in the third phase of trials, researchers are studying how quickly things like reasoning and the ability to perform certain functions change in the aging brain. Researchers need to better understand the disease progression in order to speed the pace of discovery in the race to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease.
“It is extremely important that more people get involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which affects nearly all of us in some way,” said Michael Weiner, MD, principal investigator of the study. “We need to know how Alzheimer’s disease progresses in order to discover new treatments that could significantly improve the way we treat it in the future.”
The study uses state-of-the-art imaging to monitor brain levels of two proteins called tau and amyloid, both of which are significant indicators of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers track cognitive function through computer tests at home and in a doctor’s office, which includes measuring changes in one’s ability to handle money, a common warning sign of the disease.
“One of the biggest challenges researchers face is finding people to volunteer to take part in studies,” said Weiner. “We can beat Alzheimer’s, but we can’t do it without volunteers. We need help.”
The ADNI Study needs 800 people to enroll in sites across the United States and in Canada. Researchers are looking for people between the ages of 55 and 90 who have normal thinking and memory function, as well as those who have mild memory problems and those who have been diagnosed with mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. No medication is involved.
Potential study volunteers can learn more by visiting www.ADNI3.org or by calling 1-888-2-ADNI-95 (1-888-223-6495).
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
May 30, 2018 | admin
New research suggests you can follow your heart.
(Family Features) New research suggests “good” fat may be good for your cholesterol. Whole milk may help raise “good” cholesterol and could be considered part of a healthy diet that’s also good for your heart, according to a new study from the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”[i]
When adults drank two cups of whole milk every day for three weeks, they had higher levels of good cholesterol that promotes heart health (HDL) and similar levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar (risk factors for heart disease) as when they drank the same amount of fat free milk for the same period of time. Based on these findings, researchers concluded whole milk can be part of a heart-healthy diet as long as calories are taken into account.
This study adds to a growing body of research that suggests whole milk can fit within a healthy diet, and some studies suggest it may have additional benefits for both adults and kids – including maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough vitamin D. Researchers followed more than 18,000 healthy-weight women for nearly a decade and found those who consumed more whole milk and full-fat milk products (1.3 servings every day) were less likely to become overweight or obese compared to women who didn’t consume any full-fat dairy at all, according to a study from the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”[ii]
Whole milk may also give kids a vitamin D advantage, according to another study from the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Kids who drank whole milk had higher blood levels of vitamin D than their peers who drank low-fat milk, even when the total amount of milk they drank was the same.[iii] Researchers believe this might be because milk fat helps kids’ bodies absorb vitamin D more efficiently.
Experts agree milk plays an important role in a nutritious, balanced diet, and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three servings of low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products each day. Many people are surprised to learn whole milk has the same essential nutrients as low-fat and fat-free milk, so no matter which type of milk you choose to pour in your cereal bowl, use in your smoothie or fill up your glass, you can rest assured that all dairy milk – from fat-free to whole – is simple, wholesome and naturally nutrient-rich.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
[i] Engel S, Elhauge M, Tholstrup T. Effect of whole milk compared with skimmed milk on fasting blood lipids in healthy adults: a 3-week randomized-crossover study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2018,72:249-254.
[ii] Rautiainen S, Wang L, Lee I, Manson J, Buring J, Sesso H. Dairy consumption in association with weight change and risk of becoming overweight or obese in middle-aged and older women: a prospective cohort study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016;103:979-988.
[iii] Vanderhout SM, Birken CS, Parkin PC, Lebovic G, Chen Y, O’Connor DL, Maguire JL, TARGet Kids! Collaboration. Relation between milk-fat percentage, vitamin D, and BMI z score in early childhood. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016;104:1657-1664.
May 23, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) It’s time to welcome fresh air, enjoy outdoor barbecues and run around at the park with family and friends. While embracing these warm activities, you may also face the dreaded symptoms of allergies.
However, allergy season doesn’t have to keep you indoors. Pediatric health expert Dr. Tanya Altmann offers these tips to help manage and prevent common symptoms.
Avoid the allergy: Avoid what you are allergic to as much as possible. If you are allergic to tree and grass pollens, limit your time outdoors. Consider taking part in activities without as much exposure to tree and grass pollen, such as gymnastics or swimming.
Spend time outside in the afternoon: While exercise and playing outdoors are important (and fun), try to stay inside during the morning hours when pollen counts are typically at their highest, and instead opt for outdoor workouts and activities later in the day.
Protect your face: Shield your eyes with sunglasses, keep your hair pulled back or wear a hat to prevent pollen from contacting your face.
Wash your pets: Your furry friends are also vehicles for transporting pollen. Wash them after being outside so they don’t bring pollen into the house. Talk with your veterinarian regarding the best practices for washing your pet.
Close windows: Keep bedroom windows closed to prevent pollen from entering. If you love the fresh air, open non-bedroom windows in the afternoon or evening when pollen counts are lower, or opt for indoor fans and air conditioning.
Wash pollen off: Bathe kids and change clothes after being outside to remove pollens from their hair, faces and clothing. Pollens are airborne and microscopic, so you can’t always see them. Wash hair at night to avoid sleeping in pollen.
Do your laundry: Pollen can linger on clothing, so try to wash clothes after they’ve been worn, especially after outside play. Use laundry products that are made without dyes and perfumes, such as Clorox 2 Free & Clear Stain Remover & Color Booster. They’re gentle for people who have sensitive skin or allergies, but tough on stains when paired with detergent.
For more ways to keep your clothes clean during allergy season, visit Clorox.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
May 16, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) Obesity, with corresponding ailments such as heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes, is a well-chronicled public health issue and has many communities looking for ways to positively impact their residents.
What can prove to have an enduring impact on improving community health is a broad coalition of stakeholders coming together to create a culture of wellness. For example, the City of West Chicago, with its Healthy West Chicago initiative, is a case study in how to galvanize a community toward collective better health. With these modifiable tips from Mayor Ruben Pineda, other communities can work to improve the health and quality of life for residents.
Have a champion
Every major civic initiative needs someone to drive it, someone to assemble and activate the right roster of influencers, experts and activists. Progressive leaders concerned about community sustainability and resident health, such as city council members or those in influential positions within the community, make good candidates to spearhead the plan.
To improve nutrition and increase physical activity in the City of West Chicago, Mayor Pineda reached out to community leaders in local government, education, health care, social services, faith-based entities, businesses and non-profits to initiate partnerships and secure funding to create the Healthy West Chicago Action Plan, a multi-year guide for promoting better health in the community.
Engage other community members
It is important to build awareness of your initiative and get buy-in from residents through consistent communication. One of the most important demographic segments to engage is children. Kids are open to change and are developing lifelong habits. They are also extremely influential with their parents, siblings and friends.
“The key to a sustainable, healthy future is to change the way the next generation thinks about nutrition and exercise,” Mayor Pineda said. “This makes the public school system critical to driving the behavioral changes that contribute to positive outcomes.”
Measure and adjust
Once your community’s health initiative is in action, assess it annually against the overarching plan and add, eliminate or improve components to continue the momentum toward a healthy community for generations to come.
Keep it fresh
A successful community-wide health initiative needs to continuously build on its momentum by adding new programs and participants. For example, Healthy West Chicago conducts sponsored activities such as free healthy cooking classes for students, a “Rethink Your Drink” campaign to educate community members about the harmful effects of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, weekly community walks with the mayor and a community garden initiative, which promotes organic suburban agriculture and benefits both the environment and local families. In addition, providing ongoing updates about programs and offering online tools, such as activity trackers and interactive walking route maps, are ways to build interest and retain participants.
For more information about how to implement a health and wellness program in your city, contact Mayor Pineda’s office at (630) 293-2200 extension 135, or visit healthywestchicago.com.
Photo of Mayor Pineda walking with students courtesy of Healthy West Chicago
Photo of woman gardening courtesy of The GardenWorks Project
May 9, 2018 | admin
(Family Features) If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffers from a chronic illness that requires using needles or sharps outside of the doctor’s office, you may question how to dispose of them safely. There is plenty of information available, but the proper disposal method may be different depending on where you live, work or travel.
To help ensure people who use needles and sharps at home or on-the-go know how to dispose of them easily and safely, NeedyMeds, a national non-profit organization that provides health care information to consumers, developed tools at SafeNeedleDisposal.org.
“Most people want to do the right thing, but they need specific, succinct information on safe sharps disposal,” said Richard J. Sagall, MD, president of NeedyMeds. “For local guidance presented in a way that is easy to follow, our website is a one-stop-shop.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sharps that are not disposed of properly may cause injury. In order to increase awareness and minimize risk, people who use sharps are encouraged to learn more about local regulations and disposal options.
In many states and communities, people who use sharps may dispose of them by following these three simple steps:
- Place used sharps in a strong, plastic container like a laundry detergent or bleach bottle.
- Seal the container with duct tape and label “do not recycle.”
- Place the sealed container in the trash, never the recycling.
“Some locations have different disposal regulations, which may require people in those areas to take used sharps to special collection points,” Sagall said. “SafeNeedleDisposal.org helps people learn how to get rid of used sharps safely, wherever they happen to be.”
To learn more about disposing used needles and sharps safely, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org.
May 2, 2018 | admin