(ARA) – Today’s baby boomers are growing older gracefully. And although more than 10,000 boomers each day will turn 65, most are not letting their age stop them from maintaining active and healthy lifestyles.
Here are a few ways to ensure that you (or the ones you love) stay healthy, active and safe:
* Maintain regular health screenings and immunizations. While it is important to have regular check-ups with your family doctor, it’s equally important to monitor vitals more frequently. Luckily, most local pharmacies offer free blood pressure and cholesterol checks, as well as seasonal flu shots.
* Fight against falls. Falls are the most common cause of hospital visits for those older than 65, according to the Home Safety Council. To help prevent falls in the bathroom – while maintaining stylish decor in your home – add new Grab Bars with Integrated Accessories from Moen Home Care. These unique products combine functional accessories, such as a shelf, towel bar and toilet paper holder, with the safety of a grab bar.
* Travel safety. Once you’ve updated your own bathroom with safety features, be sure that you are surrounded with these safety devices when you’re visiting others or on vacation. Products such as the Suction Balance Assist Bar from Moen Home Care offer a suction design that easily attaches directly to smooth, flat surfaces for a firm, secure grip in danger zones – and easily unlocks from the wall for convenient transport when traveling.
* Ensure help is a call away. Cell phones are not just for social uses, they are a valuable emergency response tool – and they don’t have to come with a pricey monthly bill. In fact, plans are available for as low as $10 per month without a contract to AARP members .
* Cease bad habits. Smokers will die 14 years sooner than non-smokers, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No matter if you’ve been smoking for years or decades, your body will be better off if you kick the habit.
* Instill healthy habits. Being healthy doesn’t have to involve major lifestyle changes. For example, swap high-fat or high-calorie versions of your favorite foods with lower-fat, lower-calorie versions. Or, stock your fridge with healthy fruits and vegetables for snacks. These small diet changes can make big differences in your overall health.
* Boost your activity levels. This doesn’t mean running a marathon – but it does mean getting your body moving. Walking, playing golf or any other enjoyable activity that boosts your heart rate is a step in the right direction.
* Keep your mind moving. Cognitive performance levels drop earlier in countries that have younger retirement age, according to a study published by the RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the University of Michigan. But if you’re no longer in the workforce – don’t fear. Just be sure to keep your brain busy by engaging in activities that combine social, physical and intellectual stimulation.
By following these simple tips, you can ensure the golden years will be happy, healthy and safe. For more information on Moen Home Care safety products, visit www.moen.com/homecare.
By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Did you know that if you belonged to The Sporting Club last year, you are one in 50.2 million people? That is what the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) announced as the total US health club membership number in 2010, a figure more than 10% higher than the previous year. Fitness club membership is growing and for good reason. We all want to improve and maintain our physical and emotional health and well being.
Regardless of age, we all need to be reminded of the value of exercise, and several prominent national associations have joined together for a universal health care call to action under this month’s, “Exercise is Medicine” campaign. In an attempt to celebrate the health benefits of exercise, physicians are being encouraged to become “exercise advocates” and patients are urged to talk with their doctors about “exercise prescriptions.”
Interestingly, May is also “Mental Health Month,” sponsored by “Mental Health America,” a celebration founded over 60 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health.
The mind-body “oneness” that exists is not only in these coincidental (?) national May celebrations. You know, and research backs it up, that when you think well, you feel well, and when you are feeling well, you have a greater sense of happiness.
After all, unless you live under a well hidden pile of rocks with no WiFi access, most adults know that proper exercise is essential for the prevention, management and treatment of many chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypertension and other medical and emotional problems.
I don’t know about you, but I believe that many docs, often out of shape themselves, are not educated enough to begin writing specific “exercise prescriptions,” assessing physical activity or going further than simply recommending more medically appropriate exercise. Instead of, “Ask your doctor if medicine x is right for you,” I suggest, “Ask your trainer which exercise is right for you.”
Most of us want our lives to be easier, healthier, happier, and we want to add increased longevity. Simply lifting weights or running on a treadmill won’t do it. Health, fitness and performance begin with a base of functional, tri-planar and integrated movement training, the type The Sporting Club’s GRAVITY trainers offer, among other types of core and functional training you see around the gym.
Moving from core and balance stabilizing exercises to movement training in order to avoid compromising balance, and then to more traditional resistance training for hypertrophy, strength or endurance, and then perhaps to sport specific training, is a traditional integrated approach recommended by the American Council on Exercise. Cardio aerobic base training, then slowly adding increased duration, frequency and interval training for aerobic efficiency is the best preparation for training at high levels of cardio aerobic endurance.
Our club’s professionally educated personal trainers are well anchored in the healthiest prescriptive exercise programs, tailored to your unique health and fitness needs.
Where fitness psychology enters is on the emotional side. There is a well-known formula developed by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., pioneer of the Positive Psychology movement at the University of Pennsylvania. It is: “Pleasure + Engagement + Meaning = Happiness.” I would add, “+ Exercise.”
Here are the 10 tools “Mental Health America” suggests you use to enhance your emotional wellness. The overlap with the “Pleasure + engagement + meaning = happiness” formula is clear:
- Connect with others…people who feel connected are happier and healthier
- Stay positive…change your thinking and you change your feelings
- Get physically active…exercise definitely leads to a healthier and happier you
- Help others…serve others soup at a shelter instead of sipping your own martini
- Get enough sleep…being tired hurts your health and well-being
- Create joy and satisfaction…have a laugh, find a hobby, chill
- Eat well…the right foods fuel your mind, boost your mood and fight disease
- Take care of your spirit…prayer, meditation or just connecting deep inside of yourself enriches your life
- Deal better with hard times…write it out, talk it out, change your thinking, and get support
- 1Get professional help if you need it…don’t hesitate to seek professional help
So with May being “Exercise is Medicine” and “Mental Health” month, and research showing that exercise helps treat and prevent more than 40 chronic diseases including emotional upset, isn’t it time for a quick check-up with one of the club’s fitness health experts to see if you are doing all you can for your well-being?
Oh. One more point. May is also Family Wellness Month. Be sure you get your kids moving, active and healthy too, especially with physical fitness programming being cut in schools. Yep, our trainers can even help you design and implement a well-balanced family fitness program!
(ARA) – Everyone reaches for comfort foods and junk food when stressed out. You know you shouldn’t, but you probably feel you need something to help you during that intense period of time when stress is king.
“In moments of stress, people tend to reach for foods they know, sometimes even favorite foods from childhood. It is certainly not a time when we choose to experiment,” says Chef Odette Smith-Ransom, chef instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
If traveling, you may often search for a familiar restaurant or fast food place. It’s easier to reach for food that you know provides a level of comfort to balance out the uncomfortable moments of stress, Smith-Ransom says.
It all comes down to food choices where stress and food are concerned. When stressed, you are more likely to make a quick, bad choice. “The vicious cycle of guilt regarding our eating habits steps in and worsens the current stress situation,” Smith-Ransome says. “Add guilt to the situation, and the stress levels increase – compounding the problem.”
Chef Smith-Ransom warns that when stressed, one should stay away from caffeine and sugar. It’s easy to grab an energy drink or a candy bar because they’re accessible and in every convenience and drug store in America.
Once the rush is gone from sugary, caffeine-packed foods, you’re facing a crash unless you continue to eat and drink to keep your body in the high. Continuing to eat and drink these products will compound the situation even more because you then become sleep-deprived, which raises the levels of anxiety and slows you down.
The best way to attack bad eating choices during a moment of stress is to maintain your body and mind at equilibrium. Before an important interview, presentation or exam, try eating whole foods and complete meals, and forget about the bag of cookies. While these satiate the appetite at the moment, it certainly won’t keep your blood-sugar levels stable, making it difficult to cope with your initial problem: high stress.
“Eat dark, leafy greens, high fiber foods and lean cuts of protein as a complete meal,” says nutritionist and public health expert, Nicole Dowsett, a nutrition instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Charlotte. She recommends staying away from heavily seasoned foods and eating four to six small meals a day. “Take time to eat and avoid grabbing something on the go to just stuff your face.”
It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate with your mind that you are full. Making time to eat is very important. If you can, share meals with friends or loved ones, Dowsett says. Sharing meals helps you to take your time and deters you from making bad choices, or even worse yet, hiding your unhealthy food choices – which can lead to an eating disorder.
“High stress mixed with bad food choices can cause and increase behavioral issues, sleep deprivation, problems focusing, over-thinking tasks without developing a clear focus, inability to prioritize, reduced cognitive skills, heightened sensitivity and heightened emotions,” Dowsett says.
By making informed, careful food choices during times of stress, you can help ensure what you eat doesn’t add extra calories, fat and poor nutrition to your worries.
To learn about The Art Institutes visit www.artinstitutes.edu/nz.
(ARA) – For all the joys spring brings, you can find some not-so-fun harbingers as well – like sneezing, sniffling and itchy, watery eyes. When spring cleaning season arrives, allergy season does, too.
More than half of Americans test positive when exposed to one or more allergens, according to the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. And more than half of all homes in the U.S. have at least six detectable allergens in the air, such as cat and dog dander, dust mites, pollen or mold spores. As the weather warms, more allergens are present in the air. Reducing the amount of allergens in your home can help improve indoor air quality and reduce your exposure to allergy triggers.
But if your spring cleaning routine doesn’t specifically focus on allergen removal, and only moves dust around (sending allergens airborne), or incorporates products that can add pollutants to indoor air, it won’t do much to help minimize allergens in your home.
If you suffer from allergies and asthma, consult with your doctor on the best course of treatment, and tackle spring cleaning with these simple tips – from the asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program, by the nonprofit Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) – to help control the allergens that can exacerbate allergies and trigger asthma.
Make your home asthma & allergy friendly
Consumers spend nearly $18 billion annually on asthma and allergy medications. But they also spend more than $20 billion on non-medical consumer products marketed for people with asthma and allergies, according to AAFA. While demand for such products continues to grow, there is little to no regulation governing their product claims, the Foundation notes. AAFA’s asthma & allergy friendly Certification Program helps consumers evaluate and verify the allergen-reducing effectiveness of a variety of products, from cleaning supplies, air cleaning devices and vacuums to toys, bedding, home improvement products, paints, clothes washers and more.
Created in 2005 in collaboration with a leading testing and certification partner, Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), and top medical experts, the program independently tests and certifies products that are more suitable for people living with asthma and allergies. The products that have successfully passed testing are “certified” and identified by a distinctive certification mark on their packaging. You can learn about the certification process and certified products at www.aafa.org/certified.
Cleaning tips for maximum effectiveness
* House dust is one of the most common irritants for allergy sufferers. You may think dusting your home will help reduce allergens, but if you use a feather duster that simply lifts the dust off surfaces and into the air, you will actually increase airborne dust particles. Always use moist cloths or special dry cloths designed to trap and lock dust from hard and soft surfaces.
* Certain cleaning products can also contribute to airborne irritants, especially if they contain harsh chemicals, strong odors or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Choose products that contain none of these irritants, but also beware of “green” labels, as some of these solutions may be made with natural allergenic ingredients, too, such as lemon oils, tea-tree oils or coconut extracts.
* A vacuum that leaks more dust than it captures can make your indoor air quality worse. Use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter and tight seams and seals to prevent particles from leaking out while you vacuum. Also, choose a style that requires minimal exposure during canister emptying or bag changes.
* Pests become more active during spring and rodent dander and cockroach particles are common household asthma triggers. However, some pesticides may do more harm than good for people with asthma and allergies. If you have a pest problem, look for an exterminator with expertise in integrated pest management and who can advise you on traps and solvents that are safer for people with asthma.
* Cat dander is present in most U.S. homes, even where no cats have lived, studies have shown. Your spring cleaning routine should include freshening linens in your bedroom, where cat or dog dander can settle, becoming food for dust mites. Place mite-proof bedding on your mattresses and pillows. Wash sheets at least once a week in 130-degree water to kill mites and their eggs.
* Mold can grow anywhere in your home where moisture is present, and mold spores are a common asthma and allergy trigger. To remove mold and mildew look for cleaning products that help kill and prevent mold from returning. Also, keep household humidity below 50 percent and fix leaky pipes and cracks to reduce standing puddles of moisture where mold can prosper.
* Gather stuffed toys, where dust mites, mold and pet dander can accumulate, and wash them in hot water and dry completely before using again. Place stuffed toys that can’t be washed in the freezer for 24 hours, then rinse in cold water to remove dead mites, and dry completely. Use your spring cleaning routine to help turn this into a monthly habit.
* Lots of air passes through window areas, and airborne dust and allergens accumulate on all types of window treatments – which are rarely cleaned. In the family room and throughout the home, replace big, heavy linen drapes with more sensible window treatments such as wood blinds or flat screens that are easy to wipe and keep clean.
Spring cleaning season is a great time to adopt new allergy and asthma friendly cleaning habits and products. You can learn more at www.AAFA.org/certified.
We all want long, healthy and happy lives. For those who work out regularly, it’s a common reason that drives people to the gym. We think rationally, eat well and exercise so as to optimize our health, wellness and fitness. And we do all of this, simply to increase our longevity.
Along comes two professors from UC Riverside who brought together their twenty years of work on a brilliant EIGHT DECADE study in a new book, “The Longevity Project.” Professors Friedman and Martin are the authors. The science of longevity has been well published and this new book has some shocking findings that are important for those of us committed to improving our wellbeing and adding healthy years to our lives.
Here’s the single most important piece of advice the scientists offered: Throw Away Your Lists! That’s right, toss away the endless self-help resolutions about weight loss, increasing exercise, sleeping better, avoiding junk foods, and other health oriented lists. Those who live longest and healthiest, these researchers who looked at eight decades of research found, did not have tips and lists.
Instead, here’s what they did:
- They simply lived committed, meaningful lives.
- They worked hard.
- They achieved much for their families.
- They nurtured close relationships.
- They were persistent, responsible and successful.
- They were dedicated to things and people beyond themselves.
- They associated with healthy, active, involved people.
- They looked at new work assignments as opportunities to accomplish something worthwhile and started on their new tasks immediately—they did not see a greater workload as stressful.
- They were seen as conscientious, dependable, truthful, free of egotism, prudent and thrifty.
Interested in some of the myths the UC Riverside professors found?
- Take it easy and don’t work so hard and you will stay healthier
- Religious people live longer, so don’t miss any religious services.
- Thinking happy thoughts reduces stress and leads to long life. (Those who are healthier do tend to be happier and those who are happier do tend to be healthier, but not for simply thinking it.)
- Give your child a big head start in school and they will thrive for life.
- If you have hobbies like gardening, walking and cooking, you should take up more vigorous forms of exercise.
The authors of this very important book admit that the ability to predict health outcomes is limited on an individual basis. But if you want to find out if you specifically fit the profile of those who live long and healthy lives, the authors include many risk assessments and self-quizzes for you to identify patterns in your life that can lead to meaningful change.
You can take “tests” in the book that cover your “health-relevant” sense, how physically active you are on a scientific measure, how happy your marriage is, how healthy your job is for you, whether you are a “moody worrier” or a “gloomy Chicken Little,” and a host of other factors relevant to longevity. The tests are worth taking.
The book has received strong praise from Andrew Weil, MD, Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point), Publishers Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, and many other scientists and health professionals, as well as, alas, Oprah. I give it all thumbs up and suggest it is a “must read” for serious health and fitness professionals, and anyone who wants the latest on longevity.
I’ve never seen anyone actually fall asleep on the gym floor, but how often do you hear people complain that they’re so tired they don’t feel like working out? It’s one of the excuses I hear frequently.
So I began wondering about all of this tired stuff. Are they just not getting enough shut-eye each night? After all, not getting enough sleep negatively impacts our overall physical and emotional well being, causes physiological stress, and has been implicated as a cause of weight gain. In fact, current thinking among sleep researchers is that healthy, sufficient sleep is as important a factor in weight loss as are diet and exercise.
Insomnia and poor sleep can be debilitating to your daily life. It’s all you think about when you can’t fall, or stay, asleep through the night. Here are 10 natural, medicine-free tips for what you can do to get sufficient sleep for your health and well being:
- Herbal remedies including melatonin, valerian, chamomile, lavender, passionflower and lemon balm have been shown to be effective sleep aids due to their relaxing properties
- Magnesium supplements help relax muscles and can help induce a calming sensation
- Acupuncture helps many people improve their sleep
- Relaxation training to reduce mental stress, along with yoga, mindful mediation and biofeedback with relaxation tapes also create a calming feeling
- Exercise early in the day. It not only provides the body with more energy, but it also tires the body while relaxing the mind
- Nutritional changes such as cutting out caffeine (it can stay in your system up to 14 hours) and chocolate before bedtime and eating whole grain crackers or magnesium rich foods before bedtime can help induce sleep. Have a glass of red wine in the evening for adding melatonin to your body
- Be consistent in getting up earlier every day
- Stretch before going to sleep and add aromatherapy (lavender) with quieting music. Keep your bedroom about 68 degrees
- Get a comfy mattress. The Westin “Heavenly” mattress is, well, heavenly
- Try the “Escape” Mask by Dream Essentials