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Simple Ways to Live Better

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To Your Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Family Features) When it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle, some recommendations are fairly simple, such as exercising regularly and eating right. Many people, however, don’t know how much exercise they should get or which foods are the best choices. They also may not realize there are other ways to take care of your body and mind to promote better overall health.

Start on the path to healthier living with these tips from the wellness experts at Walgreens.

Exercise regularly.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least five days a week, and that’s because an active lifestyle can help you achieve far more than muscle mass or weight loss. Regular exercise can also contribute to mental well-being, and even something as simple as a walking break or two at work can provide health benefits.

Eat well.

The keys to a healthy diet are eating the right amount of calories for your activity level and eating a wide range of foods to ensure that you’re receiving all the nutrients your body needs. By prioritizing great taste and ingredient guidelines, such as minimizing hydrogenated oils, trans fats and artificial ingredients, Walgreens Nice! products help take the guesswork out of making healthier choices. In an effort to simplify healthy living, the line’s packaging, products and ingredient standards were updated, and offerings now include organic and gluten-free options in addition to traditional baking goods and other general grocery items.

Get enough sleep.

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being, and can help improve your mental health, physical health and quality of life. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours per night for adults and 9-11 hours for school-aged children. If you find sleep elusive, try implementing a bedtime routine to send signals to your body that it’s time to sleep, avoid screen time immediately before lights out and eliminate caffeine after lunch.

Manage stress.

Between juggling a career, family and other commitments, it’s easy to find things to stress over. Practices such as meditation and yoga can help to better manage stress. Setting aside time for a favorite hobby can also help relieve stress and focus on an activity you enjoy. Aside from mental and emotional impacts, stress can also impact your physical health, so it’s important to identify coping mechanisms that reduce overall stress.

Be social.

Making time to socialize with friends and family is an important part of living a long and healthy life. Even if your schedule is packed, try to block out time at least once a week to spend with family and friends.

Break bad habits.

Whatever their nature, work to break bad habits by first acknowledging the problem then working to replace the negativity with alternatives that make a more positive impact on your life. Even a negative attitude can bring you down.

To discover more ways to make healthy lifestyle choices, visit walgreens.com/nice.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

 

October 18, 2017 |

Chronic Conditions More Common in African-Americans

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(Family Features) Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke are among the most common causes of illness, disability and death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These chronic conditions and the factors that lead to them can be more common or severe in minorities, including African-Americans.

For example, African-Americans are 40 percent more likely than Caucasians to have high blood pressure, and the rate of diagnosed diabetes is 77 percent higher among African-Americans than Caucasians, according to the CDC. The average life expectancy among African-Americans is also lower, at 75.1 years, compared to 78.9 years for Caucasians.

Services like Chronic Care Management (CCM) can help people living with chronic conditions coordinate care services and lead to better outcomes and higher satisfaction.

If you are a Medicare beneficiary with two or more chronic conditions, ask your doctor about CCM and see if you’re eligible for connected care, including services such as:

  • At least 20 minutes a month of CCM services.
  • Personalized assistance from a dedicated health care professional who will work with you to create a care plan.
  • Coordination of care between your pharmacy, specialists, testing centers, hospitals and more.
  • Phone check-ins between visits to keep you on track.
  • Emergency access to a health care professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Expert assistance with setting and meeting your health goals.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Health Resources and Service Administration introduced the “Connected Care” campaign to help raise awareness about the benefits of CCM. The campaign has free resources, including an animated video that can help you learn more.

Talk to your doctor to see if CCM is available to you and visit Medicare.gov to learn more about the benefits of the program.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

October 11, 2017 |

5 Ways Pups Cans Improve Seniors’ Health

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(Family Features) Furry friends can play a significant role in pet owners’ lives. The old saying goes, “dogs are man’s best friend,” and research shows they may be more than that. In fact, they just might be the key to keeping seniors active.

According to a study conducted by the University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University in collaboration with Mars Petcare Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, dog owners 65 and older were found to walk over 20 minutes more a day than seniors who did not have canine companions at home.

The study documented three key conclusions:

  1. Dog owners walked further and for longer than non-dog owners.
  2. Dog owners were more likely to reach recommended activity levels.
  3. Dog owners had fewer periods of sitting down.

“Older adult dog owners are more active than those without dogs and are also more likely to meet government recommendations for daily physical activity,” said Nancy Gee, human animal interaction researcher at Waltham. “We are learning more every day about the important roles pets play in our lives, so it’s no surprise that pets are now in more than 84 million households. It’s great to recognize how pets can help improve seniors’ lives.”

Walking with your pup can help both the pet and owner get in shape. Pets can keep older adults active and even help them meet the recommended public health guidelines for weekly physical activity. According to the study, on average, dog owners more often participated in 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity and achieved 2,760 additional steps.

However, the benefits of pet ownership go beyond physical activity. It’s no secret that pets provide companionship. From reducing rates of stress, depression and feelings of social isolation, pets can play a significant role in improving people’s lives, which ultimately can make pet owners happier and healthier.

Not only do pets serve as companions in their own right, studies have shown that dog owners can get to know their neighbors through their pets. Pets can even help facilitate the initial meeting and conversation, which may come as no surprise for many dog owners who have chatted with others while walking their dogs. For older adults who live alone or in a group facility, having a pet is also a great way to build relationships with others.

For more information on the benefits of pet ownership, visit bettercitiesforpets.com.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

October 4, 2017 |

3 Steps Toward Better Sleep

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(Family Features) With overscheduled days full of early-morning conference calls and endless to-do lists, it’s impossible to avoid the stress that comes with working hard. Hand-in-hand with all that pressure, a lack of quality sleep can lead to aches and pains, stiffness, sore muscles, tingling or numbness in your extremities, general fatigue, as well as an increased risk of getting sick.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. In fact, a survey by Mattress Firm showed a correlation between stress and those who receive less sleep than recommended.

Twice as many stressed people get fewer than five hours of sleep each night compared to those who are not stressed. What’s more, those who are stressed are five times more likely to experience insomnia at least once a month.

The proper amount and quality of sleep can have a dramatic impact on your life. If you’re stressed and experiencing trouble sleeping, these tips from the sleep experts at Mattress Firm can help ensure you’re getting the rest you need to improve your sleep health.

Minimize technology use before you head to bed. The survey found that quality of sleep is negatively impacted because of stress-induced technology use. For example, those who are stressed are 60 percent more likely to watch TV an hour before bed, more than twice as likely to post to social media an hour before bed, twice as likely to check email an hour before bed and more than 40 percent more likely to sleep with their phones next to their beds.

Ensure your body is getting adequate support. What felt comfortable to sleep on eight years ago may not provide the support your body needs today. Your weight, pressure points, ailments, etc. can change over the course of time, so it’s important to check the mattress tag. If it’s more than 8 years old, it is time to replace it. Another way to make sure your body has the proper support and alignment is to figure out your sleep position and select the right pillows to support your body. This can help alleviate tossing and turning, and provide a more comfortable night of sleep.

Avoid nighttime snacking. About 24 percent of extremely stressed people indulge in a snack an hour before bed, according to the survey. There are many food and drink options that encourage a good night’s sleep more than others, such as tryptophan-rich foods like dairy, nuts and seeds, bananas, honey and eggs. Conversely, foods and medications with caffeine and foods with high-fat content should be avoided. The foods you choose are important, but also pay attention to the timing of when you eat and drink. Even fighting stress with an afternoon espresso can affect your ability to sleep hours later when your head hits the pillow.

 

Find more ideas for relaxing and achieving better sleep at dailydoze.com, and follow #WorkHardSleepHarder on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

September 27, 2017 |

Healthy Living Habits that Work

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(Family Features) When it comes to advice about healthy living, there are opinions nearly every place you turn. Unfortunately, a great deal of that information is based on fad diets and trendy workouts that may deliver quick results but don’t promote a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

The medical community generally agrees that slow and steady is the way to win the race toward healthy living. Adopting a broad set of healthier habits can deliver results over time and foster a new way of living that promotes your overall health and wellbeing.

Aim for balance. A diet that combines healthy levels of protein and carbohydrates from all the food groups is the surest way to deliver your body the vitamins and nutrients you need for optimal health. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for an eating plan that is centered on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and reduced-fat dairy foods, rounded out by lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts for protein. When planning your meals, be sure to limit saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugar.

Know when to say when. Building a healthy lifestyle is about more than eating the right foods. It also means keeping your calorie count in check. That means keeping the amount you eat and the portion size in mind. Work with your doctor or a nutritionist to determine your body’s true caloric needs, which can vary depending on numerous factors such as your age, activity level and overall health. Then get smart about the portion sizes that will help you stay within those parameters. Initially, you may want to weigh out portions but soon you’ll be able to recognize and adjust your portions on sight.

Set your body in motion. Increasing your activity level not only helps burn calories and boosts your metabolism, it also helps tone your muscles and improve overall body condition by promoting healthy blood flow. The exact amount of exercise you need will vary depending on your goals, age and physical ability. You may need to work up to the optimal level, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week for most adults.

Replace what you lose. A strong workout may help you shed calories, but it also can deplete your body of essential fluids. Staying hydrated is crucial to keep your body functioning properly, from regulating your body temperature to providing the lubrication your joints and muscles need to keep you in motion. Rehydrating during and after exercise is important for getting the most out of your workout. For example, try incorporating an electrolyte beverage, such as Propel Electrolyte Water, which is the only water with enough electrolytes to help replace what is lost in sweat and supports hydration by stimulating thirst and promoting fluid retention. The 10 flavors contain no calories and provide B vitamins to support metabolism as part of a daily diet and antioxidant vitamins C and E. Learn more at PropelWater.com.

Give yourself a break. Most experts agree it’s OK to indulge and enjoy your favorite treat occasionally. Skipping a day at the gym won’t end your efforts either. The key is to make those allowances an exception rather than the norm, skipping one day instead of three or eating a sliver of pie, not a giant slice. Rewarding yourself within reason is a good way to stay motivated and create a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

September 20, 2017 |

Make Lunchtime Fun Time

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Tips for creating back-to-school lunches

(Family Features) With school back in session, many families are beginning to focus on smarter eating habits. Packing your little learner’s lunch is an easy way to help ensure his or her diet contains enough protein and calcium.

By letting your kids play a role in planning and packing their lunches, while tossing in a variety of appealing, fun options, you can make sure your students are set up for success.

“For lunches, I like to include mini-foods, like blueberries, strawberries and Mini Babybel cheese, because there is no prep time needed and they are fun to eat with fingers,” said Amy Bellgardt, mother of two and founder of the lifestyle blog Mom Spark. “When lunchtime is easy and enjoyable, my kids are more likely to eat what we’ve prepared together.”

Bellgardt recommends these tips for creating tasty and fun back-to-school lunches.

Pick a theme

Coming up with daily or even weekly themes based on types of foods can be a great way to tap into your child’s creative side. For example, try Taco Tuesday with walking tacos, or send along several foods that are dip-able, like chicken strips and honey mustard, apple slices and honey, or carrots and ranch dressing. Another fun theme could be Breakfast for Lunch with eggs, mini-pancakes and yogurt.

“I love to make lunchtime more entertaining for my kids by serving them in themed bento boxes,” Bellgardt said.

Mix it up

For winning flavor combinations, pack small amounts of many kid-friendly items from different food groups like crackers, carrot sticks and grapes in colorful bento box-style containers. An option such as Mini Babybel cheese, a 100 percent real cheese with a rich and creamy taste, can be paired with colorful fruits and vegetables – as well as lunchtime staples like sandwiches – to create a balanced and tasty meal. A parent-pleasing choice, each serving of the snack cheese delivers at least 4 grams of protein and 15 percent of daily calcium needs in 70 calories or less, all in colorful red-wax-wrapped packaging with a signature pull tab.

Let kids help

Involving children in planning and packing their own lunches can be empowering. Place a note on the fridge to remind your kids what should go in their lunchboxes and lend a hand with the more difficult parts, such as slicing fruit and veggies or sandwich prep. Creating a routine with your little ones every night before bed can save you time in the morning, foster smart eating habits and create a sense of responsibility.

For more ways to make lunchtime fun, visit mini-babybel.com or find Mini Babybel on Facebook.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

September 13, 2017 |

Improvements for Independence

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Modifications to make your home more accessible

(Family Features) Being safe and comfortable at home is a large part of living well. Home modifications and repairs can help everyone, especially older adults and people with disabilities, maintain an independent lifestyle and prevent accidents.

Many older adults prefer to stay at home for as long as possible, but too often don’t think about whether their homes will meet their needs as they age. Making improvements for independence before they are needed is a good way to ensure that a home is ready for aging in place. Forward-thinking improvements may also help prevent falls, which often cause the need for long-term care.

Many changes, such as adding grab bars in bathrooms, can be done without a major redesign or full-blown renovation. Depending on your circumstance, it may also make sense to consider things like widening doorways and lowering countertop heights for someone who uses a wheelchair.

Here’s how you can get started:

Home assessment

Before making any changes, assess the entire home. This checklist can help identify areas that might need improvement. Everyone has different needs, but in general, a “no” answer may be cause for action.

  • Are exterior walkways and entrances well-lit?
  • Is there a step-free entrance to the home?
  • Are entrance doors easy to lock, unlock, open and close?
  • Does the main floor include a kitchen, bedroom and full bathroom?
  • Are doorways wide enough for someone using a wheelchair, walker or service animal?
  • Are hallways, staircases, bathrooms and the kitchen well-lit?
  • Is wall-to-wall carpeting secure and in good condition?
  • Are area rugs secured to the floor with grips?
  • Are walkways free from obstructions and hazards like cords and furniture?
  • Do stairways have sturdy handrails on both sides?
  • Can bathroom and kitchen cabinets be easily reached?
  • Is there a step-free shower entrance?
  • Are grab bars available in or near the shower and toilet?
  • Do showers have non-slip mats or adhesive strips?
  • Will smoke detectors provide visual as well as audio alerts?
  • Are telephones and emergency supplies easily accessible on all floors?

Cost and contractors

Minor improvements can cost between $150-$2,000, and major renovation costs vary depending on the job. However, many contractors offer reduced rates or sliding-scale fees based on income and ability to pay. Public and private financing options may also be available.

If hiring a professional, remember to get a written agreement with specific tasks, a timeline and cost estimate. Make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured for the specific type of work.

More information about home modifications, including financial assistance, can be found at eldercare.gov.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

September 6, 2017 |
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