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Personal Wellness

Wellness is a personal journey and is different for everyone. It is a healthy combination of body, mind, and spirit. Wellness can be divided into three groups: physical health, mental health, and spiritual health.

The Wellness Councils of America has reported these 21st Century Wellness Statistics:
 
  • The typical person spends 95 percent of his/her day indoors.
  • As many as one-third of Americans are prescribed anti-depressants.
  • Over 50 percent of Americans claim to get a poor night’s sleep.
  • The typical American eats one or more meals outside their home.
  • The average person consumes their body weight in refined sugar each year.
  • On average, people receive 50 to 100 emails a day and countless text messages.
  • An ever-increasing number of Americans are considered either overweight or obese.
Components of physical health include: eating a variety of healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, exercising every day, getting enough rest, and not smoking. Eating a varied, well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from each food groups daily, in the recommended amounts. It is also important to choose a variety of foods from within each food group because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients. Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and every system in your body depends on water as it flushes toxins out of vital organs and carries nutrients to your cells. Everyone should drink enough water so they rarely feel thirsty and enough to urinate every two hours. Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week and two or more days of muscle strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups per week. Children and teens need 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day.  Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. How much sleep and your quality of sleep play a key role in hormonal activity tied to your appetite.  Smoking harms nearly every organ of your body and is highly addictive. Consider researching programs to help you quit smoking if you do.

Mental health factors include: stress reduction, keeping your mind active, learning new things, thinking positively, and surrounding yourself with encouraging people. When not handled properly, stress can have negative effects on your body including: increase heartbeat, headaches, still neck and/or tight shoulders, back pain, fast breathing, increased sweating, and upset stomach. Stress is a normal part of life and many things happen to us daily that put stress on our body and mind.  So, it is up to us to make sure we are reacting to the stress in the best way possible and that we are also healthy in mind, body and spirit to be better prepared for the stress that comes along each and every day. Keep your mind active and learn new things such as reading, writing, working crossword puzzles and other puzzles. Stay curious and involved — commit yourself to lifelong learning. Attend lectures and plays, enroll in courses at your local community center or community college, play games and garden. Choose to surround yourself with positive people who give you encouragement and don’t bring you down.

Spiritual health involves the following: experiencing the joy of living, pursuing meaning in your life, relaxing and finding peace, finding others who share your belief, and celebrating life and healthy living. Everyone should take time to explore their own sense of meaning and purpose which may involve thinking through ways we receive meaning in our life, or talking through your purpose with important family or friends. Some people use practices that allow them to focus on the meaning in their lives that include meditation, prayer, or yoga. Celebrating personal success and healthy living is also beneficial to keeping us motivated to live our best life possible.

Wellness is a journey to help us establish peace and harmony in our life. Consider creating your own personal wellness plan this year for a healthy body, mind and spirit.

Parents and Exercise

Finding time to exercise is hard for anyone, but finding time to exercise when you are a parent can be an even bigger challenge. No matter what phase of parenting you are in, making exercise a priority is often very difficult. However, experts claim that when you abandon physical activity, you are not just hurting yourself, but your children too. 

WebMD has come up with some great tips for parents to incorporate exercise into their daily life:
  1. Be Active All Day. Move around all day by walking to a neighbor’s house, taking the stairs, parking farther away, and remaining active while at home.
  2. Defy the Myth of Time. Exercise in small time frames, you don’t need to work out for hours at a time. Aim for 30-45 minutes per day, but keep in mind those can be broken up into 10-15 minute segments. A 15-20 weight workout can have big benefits.
  3. Define Your Priorities. Use exercise as “you” time, substitute the long-term goal of exercise and health for something short-term like going for coffee or shopping.
  4. Cultivate Social Support. Have someone you trust watch the kids while you exercise. Consider putting together a network of friends to trade off child care with.
  5. Establish Family Fitness. Exercise with your kids! Go to the park, go on bike rides, hike, swim, ski, or sled together. If you have younger children who still nap during the day, consider fitting in fitness while they sleep – do lunges, squats, push-ups and crunches.
  6. Set Goals. Set realistic, short-term goals for yourself. Experts say the very first step to staying fit or regaining fitness is to want it.
  7. Put In The Effort. Fitness does not happen overnight, there is no quick fix. Exercise eventually gives you the additional energy you need to complete your parenting tasks at home.
  8. Be a Role Model. Pass a positive trait to your children. Kids tend to emulate their parents’ behaviors.
Here are some easy ways to burn 100 calories around your home:

40 minutes:
  • Iron clothes
  • Unload the dryer and fold the laundry
35 minutes:
  • Dust the house (102 calories)
  • Set the table and prepare a meal
  • Play catch with your kid(s)
  • Clear the table and wash the pots, pans, and dishes
30 minutes:
  • Wallpaper or paint a room (102 calories)
  • Sweep the floors
25 minutes:
  • Vacuum the rugs or carpet (119 calories)
  • Mop the kitchen or bathroom(s)
  • Refinish a piece of furniture
20 minutes:
  • Turn up the music and dance around the room (104 calories)
  • Ice- Skate
15 minutes:
  • Climb up and down your stairs (102 calories)
  • Sled in the park with the kids

Consider becoming healthier and more active this year for the benefit of your entire family.

Setting Goals for 2017

Along with singing “Auld Lang Syne” at the start of the New Year, making resolutions is a tradition for millions of Americans. However, while choosing a resolution is easy, sticking to it can be impossible. A 2014 YMCA survey found that less than a quarter of respondents kept their resolutions. Many (71 percent) tried, but stated that they fell short of their goals, while 40 percent confessed that gave up within the first few months, even weeks,                                             of the New Year!

This year, the Oshkosh YMCA is encouraging community members to give their New Year’s resolutions a boost by creating smaller, more manageable goals that can lead to success of a larger one. “Getting healthy’ is not a goal—it’s too broad. You can reframe that broad resolution into multiple, more manageable and measurable goals. If you aren’t active at all right now, try to incorporate activity into your routine three days a week, before telling yourself that you’ll work out every single day.

The Oshkosh YMCA also explains that reframing your goals in a positive way can help you stick to them. For example, you may want to limit your screen time in 2016, but that can be more manageable if you replace it with something positive like volunteering or setting special time aside for family. Try not to think about what you’re missing, but rather what you’re gaining. This can make a resolution feel more positive, and therefore more achievable.

The Oshkosh YMCA also explains that it’s important to not let yourself become discouraged by setbacks. Even though you may experience some missteps throughout the day—or even the week—that doesn’t mean you have to give up. Nobody got their bad habits over the course of a week, so you’re not going to change them in a week either! Change is a process and bad days are part of that process.

Below are four tips the Oshkosh YMCA recommends to help 2017 New Year’s resolutions stick.
  1. Start small. Break those big resolutions into small, achievable goals. Instead of cutting chocolate out of your diet for good, vow to only have it a few times a week. Or trade your two sodas a day for one soda and a glass of water.
  2. Take it one step at a time. Trying to change too many habits at once can easily lead to frustration. Instead of a New Year’s resolution, make a new month resolution. Focus on that one change for the month, and add another (small) change when the new month rolls around. 
  3. Choose a facility that focuses on a holistic approach to health. When it comes to adding healthy behaviors, like increasing physical activity, it’s important to find a facility that keeps you motivated. Before committing to a membership, take a tour of local gyms to find the best fit for you. Your facility should not be just a gym, but a community organization that offers more health, more hope, and more opportunity.
  4. Talk it out. It’s easier to stick to your resolutions if you have a partner or friend working toward similar goals. Team up with someone to set your 2015 goals and help each other establish a game plan dedicated to achieving them. Set specific check-ins to help each other out of slumps and to cheer each other during the high points.
For additional tips or to learn how to get involved with the Oshkosh YMCA contact 920.236.3380 or 920.230.8439 or visit www.oshkoshymca.org.
 

New Year's Resolutions

As you change your calendar from December to January, there’s always a bit of a thrill in the promise of a new year that’s full of potential. The New Year is chance to start fresh and say goodbye to any of the frustrations the previous year held—a perfect opportunity to make resolutions that will help strengthen one’s spirit, mind, and body.
 
However, many of us find our resolutions thrown out along with the holiday decorations. It’s no wonder—starting the New Year by making sweeping cuts to our diets and declarations that we’ll hit the gym seven days a week doesn’t exactly set us up for success! But by reframing resolutions and breaking them down into smaller, easy-to-sustain goals you’ll see big benefits in the long run.
 
As a community-serving organization here in Oshkosh, we see how things such as getting involved in with the community and making lifestyle changes can change someone’s life for the better. Here are five New Year’s Resolutions the Oshkosh Community YMCA recommends for 2017:        
 
  1. Move More: It’s important for children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day (30 minutes for adults). Incorporate physical activity into your daily routines and spend more time walking to places instead of driving to improve your health and well-being.
 
  1. Swap a Soda a Day: It may be difficult, but cutting soda can do wonders for your body. If you can’t cut it entirely, resolve to swap one soda a day for a large glass of water instead. Once you’ve been able to swap one out, see if you can cut soda entirely.
 
  1. Schedule Family-Time: With work, school, and activities family-time may seem like an impossible ask, but see if your family can have a “screen-free” night with no phones, video games, etc. Instead, use that time to play a board game, play outside or visit with family and friends.
 
  1. Volunteer Your Time: Giving back and supporting neighbors can benefit everyone involved. Not only is it a personally rewarding experience to help others in need, but it’s also a way to meet new people or discover an interest. Find an opportunity in your community, such as reading to children at the library or distributing food at a local food bank.
 
  1. Put Extras to Good Use: Do you have extra canned goods or clothes that could benefit others in need? Clean out your pantry, closet or attic and donate extra items to homeless shelters or community outreach programs.
 
For additional tips or to learn more about how to get involved with the Oshkosh Community YMCA, contact Siri Smits at sirismits@oshkoshymca.org or visit www.oshkoshymca.org.

Group Exercise Class at the Y

Did you know the Oshkosh Community YMCA offers over 125 group exercise classes per week?  There are many reasons people choose group exercise over working out alone. Group classes are a great way to get started with exercise, as it offers a variety of training such as cardiovascular, muscle strength and conditioning, and flexibility in one workout. Group exercise classes at the YMCA also offer proper instruction with trained instructors, so participants can always be confident they are learning the correct technique to prevent injuries and maximize results, it also makes a participant more confident in learning the equipment. Going to a class with a friend or working out with strangers is great motivation for pushing personal boundaries; often, people will push themselves a little harder when the instructor is saying “Just three more, you can do it!” Group exercise classes are also great for meeting new people and making new friends. For those who like a “routine”, group exercise classes are great because they are scheduled so you need to plan for your workout and schedule your time accordingly. But, most of all, group exercise is fun!

The Oshkosh Community YMCA offers a variety of classes throughout the week. Group Cycling classes are a great non-impact workout conducted on a specifically designed stationary bike. The instructor takes participants through a 45-60 minute workout, which will leave them inspired to come back and train again. Muscle Conditioning is a strength and toning class that is a great compliment to anyone’s cardiovascular routine. Participants in this class will increase their muscle strength by using resistance tubing, bands, weights, stability balls and body bars. This class is suited for both the beginner and advanced exerciser. Pilates helps strengthen the entire body while increasing flexibility. This non-impact mat class is great for everyone! Zumba is for the dance lovers, it combines high energy and motivating music with unique moves that allow participants to dance away their worries. The routines feature aerobic and fitness interval training with a combination of fast and slow rhythms that tone and sculpt the body. Yoga is offered for all fitness levels so participants are able to increase strength, flexibility and inner peace while working at their own pace. P90X is an hour-long class featuring the same intense workouts seen in the P90X program. Cardio Kickboxing is a class where participants can enjoy punching, jabbing, hooking, kicking and jumping for their cardio workout.
 
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a common reason for people to quit exercising is boredom. When a facility like the YMCA offers a variety of classes and formats, it keeps participants motivated and interested, as well as gives them variety in instruction, music, and interaction. The Oshkosh Community YMCA is offering a variety of classes for 2017 including:  Tabata, Body Pump, Essentrics, R.I.P.P.E.D., Senior Aerobic Dance and more!
 
The Centers for Disease Control recommends adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and perform muscle-strengthening activity on 2 or more days per week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
 
The YMCA’s Group Exercise Director, Brandy Hankey, explains, “We have classes to meet the needs of everybody; all participants are encouraged to work at their own pace and make modifications as needed. Group Exercise classes are a great way to mix up your workout and try things you wouldn’t normally do on your own in the Fitness Center.”
 
For up-to-date YMCA class offerings, download the free Oshkosh Community YMCA app on your smart phone or tablet. For more information on YMCA Group Exercise classes, call 920-236-3380 or 920-230-8439. We hope to see you in class this coming year!

Health Trends for 2017!

Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine conducts a survey with thousands of fitness professionals around the world to determine health and wellness trends for the New Year. The survey will helps guide health and fitness professionals in programming efforts for 2017. The definition of the word “trend” is: a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving.

Here are the top health and fitness trends for 2017:
  1. Wearable technology – including activity trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, GPS tracking devices and smart eye glasses. 
  2. Body weight training – a very inexpensive way to exercise effectively.  Most people think of body weight exercises such as push-ups or pull-ups, but it can be much more than that and has become very popular all around the world.
  3. High Intensity Interval Training – HITT involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest and recovery. This type of workout typically takes less than 30 minutes to perform.
  4. Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals – many universities now offer degrees in health and fitness and clinical exercise programs.  Universities are becoming accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor statistics reports that employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow eight percent from 2014 to 2024.
  5. Strength training – weight training has become popular not only in gyms, but in cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation programs as well.  Metabolic disease management programs also include strength training programs for their patients.
  6. Group training – group exercise instructors teach, lead and motivate – group programs are highly motivational and effective.
  7. Exercise is Medicine® - is a global health initiative that is focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients.
  8. Yoga – comes in a variety of forms and remains popular due to the fact that it is reinvented and refreshed every year.
  9. Personal training – will continue to be an important part of the health and fitness community.
  10. Exercise and weight loss –  the combination of exercise and weight loss emphasizes the caloric restriction along with a healthy exercise program.
  11. Fitness programs for older adults – the baby boom generation is now aging into retirement and will be spending their discretionary money on fitness clubs.
  12. Functional fitness – using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power and endurance to enhance the ability to perform activities of daily living.
  13. Outdoor activities – hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and games will continue to be popular in 2017.
  14. Group personal training – same great service as personal training, but the cost if is split to each member of the group.
  15. Wellness coaching – the integration of behavior change with health promotion, disease prevention and rehabilitation.
  16. Worksite health promotion – these programs are designed to improve the health and well-being of employees.  With health care reform in the United States and rising health care costs, worksite wellness programs may become even more important in 2017.
  17. Smartphone exercise apps – are available in any platform and include audio and visual prompts and also includes exercise cues.
  18. Outcome measurements – efforts to define and track measurable results to prove that health and fitness programs actually work.
  19. Circuit training – a group of exercises that are completed in succession and in a predetermined sequence. Each exercise is performed for a set amount of time before the exerciser takes a brief rest and moves on to the next exercise.
  20. Flexibility and mobility rollers – devices include the deep-tissue roller, myofascial release, and trigger-point relief and are designed to massage, relieve muscle tightness, alleviate muscle spasms, improve circulation, ease muscular discomfort, and assist in the return to normal activity.

For more information on health and fitness programs to get you healthy and fit in 2017, contact the Oshkosh Community YMCA at 920.236.3380 or 920.230.8439 or visit us online at www.oshkoshymca.org.
 

Avoid Holiday Stress

The pressure of the holiday season can often leave us competing with ourselves, our neighbors, our in-laws, resulting in the perfect recipe for stress and burnout. Between finding the perfect gift, cooking precisely-timed family meals, or aspiring for decorations that put the Griswolds to shame – trying to plan the perfect holiday can leave us needing a vacation from our vacation.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Put down your to-do list and get off of Pinterest. It is possible to enjoy the holidays without the extra stress, and it involves reining in our expectations about what we think makes the perfect holiday season. The Cleveland Clinic gives the following suggestions for a less stressful holiday season:
 
  • Give gifts with less stress. Ask people what they want instead of pretending to read minds. Shop early so you can avoid crowds. Make and budget and stick to it.
  • Simplify get-togethers. Buy prepared foods instead of trying to attempt new recipes or Pinterest perfection. Cook and freeze foods ahead of time. Ask others to help bring dishes to pass. Consider using disposable dishes.
  • Manage demands on your time. Set priorities and let go of impossible goals. Pause to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
  • Enjoy the simple things. Go for a walk, build a snowman, tour the neighborhood and look at holiday decorations.  Volunteer to help others that are less fortunate.  Take time to reflect daily about the parts of your life that you’re grateful for.
According to a recent survey, workers in the U.S. will forgo an average of 12 paid vacation days this year. That’s not healthy for your stress level or job performance! Give yourself a break by using those days off and unplugging for a bit. Try removing cell phones from the front and center of your life during this holiday season. When you sit down to talk to a family member, turn the cellphone off. People used to go for long periods of time without distraction, multi-thinking and multi-tasking. Think about the amount of anxiety this could relieve from your life.

Use the holiday season to remind yourself of the things that matter most in your life. Take small amounts of time during the day to think about your life and your feelings. Try to take back some of the random, quiet moments we used to hold before the days of cell phones. Give yourself moments of alone time in the car and house. Make a commitment to make a change, for yourself, for the better.

According to a recent study by the University of Washington, viewing the natural world lowers your heart rate, even when you are dealing with stress-inducing situations. To bring some serenity inside, decorate for the holidays with natural novelties. Use a real wreath instead of a plastic one, or stack pinecones in a glass vase for a quick centerpiece.

Web MD gives a great suggestion for creating your own calm this holiday season. Choose a word that describes the holiday season you want to have this year; it could be Peace, Joy, Love, Happiness, or Serenity. Write it on an index card and tape it to your bathroom mirror. When things get hectic, a glance at your word will remind you of what you really want—and make it easier to cut loose anything that’s distracting you from your goal.

Stress less, enjoy more. Eat less, savor more. Spend less, give more. Slow down, embrace the joy in each moment.
 

Get Proactive About Your Health

When it comes to the state of health in America, the statistics speak for themselves. Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are all on the rise. So are depression and high blood pressure.

There are certainly lots of explanations for this trend. Unfortunately, some risk factors (family history or age) are out of your control. The best way to reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, and other major complications is to be proactive and take charge of your own health. It means you have to be responsible on an ongoing basis.

Get a checkup.  When was the last time you saw your doctor? For many, it’s been a while. Regular checkups are an important part of staying healthy.  How often you should go depends on your age and overall state of health. But if you haven’t been in some time, it would be a good idea to check with your doctor and see if you are due. 

Get moving. Exercise is good for so much more than controlling the numbers on the scale. Being active and moving more is also effective against stress, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.

Get hydrated. Something as simple as drinking more water can do amazing things for our bodies. It’s probably one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. Getting enough water helps: prevent dehydration, regulate body temperature, aid in removing wastes from the body, cushion joints, and protect sensitive tissues.

Get calm. There’s no denying that stress is bad for you. Its toxic effects can lead to serious health problems. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to combat it. Move and stretch throughout the day. Take a quick walk around the building and a two-minute stretch break to relieve stiff muscles and get your blood moving. Simplify your morning by getting up 15 minutes earlier. Packing a lunch or laying out clothes the night before can help you feel organized and in control before you head out the door. Breathe, when we stress, we tend to take shallow breaths, making us even more tense. When you start to feel overwhelmed, take a few deep, slow breaths. Ask for help, consider enrolling in a coaching program that focuses on reducing and managing stress.

Get to bed earlier.  Just like water, our bodies also need sleep to function properly. Most adults need between seven and nine hours a night, and many of us simply aren’t getting enough.

If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, it’s time to slow down and give yourself the break it needs. Put yourself on a regular sleep schedule and limit your caffeine intake at night. As your sleep habits improve, so may your general outlook and overall state of health.

Do yourself a favor and become proactive about your health!
 

Healthy Holiday Eating

The air is getting crisp and the leaves are changing colors here in the Midwest, and that means holiday season is right around the corner! With all the traditional holiday meals, treats, and parties this time of year, the holiday eating season can wreak havoc on our health. Avoid holiday weight gain with these savvy strategies for healthy holiday eating:
 
  • Plan ahead. Visualize what you will do at the event or party before you arrive and focus more on good conversation instead of eating.
  • Don’t starve yourself. Eat a healthy snack or meal before an occasion involving food to help curb hunger so that you don’t binge on less healthy options.
  • Bring your own. Offer to bring an appetizer or healthy dish to serve so that you know there is something “safe” you can enjoy without the guilt.
  • Buddy up. Make a goal with a friend so that you’re accountable to someone other than yourself!
  • Exercise. Sign up for a race, such as the Festival Foods Turkey Trot, or other fitness event to keep you motivated on exercise and to keep your body moving.
  • Limit leftovers. Make your home a safe haven and send your guests home with the unhealthier leftovers to help limit temptations after entertaining.
  • Make smart substitutions. Practice healthier versions of your favorite dishes by cutting the sugar in recipes or replacing unhealthy vegetable oils and refined flours with healthier alternatives.
  • Choose beverages wisely. Limit alcohol, which is high in calories and is often combined with added sugar in the forms of fruit punch, juice, and eggnog.
  • Maintain perspective. A single day of unhealthy choices doesn’t need to be a slippery slope of holiday overindulgence. If you overindulge, put it behind you and make better choices the next day.
  • Celebrate the true meaning of each holiday. Focus more on friends and family, and celebrating the true spirit of this season than on the foods that are served.
The Mayo Clinic recommends the following ingredient substitutions to make your holiday recipes healthier:
 
  • Use whole grain bread instead of white bread.
  • Instead of breadcrumbs, use rolled oats or crushed bran cereal.
  • Substitute applesauce or prune puree for half of the called-for butter, shortening or oil.
  • Use fat-free half-and-half or evaporated skim milk instead of cream.
  • Substitute fat free or low fat cream cheese for the full fat cream cheese.
  • Use egg whites or egg substitutes for a whole egg.
  • Substitute extra lean ground beef, ground chicken breast or ground turkey breast for ground beef.
  • Use whole wheat pasta instead of enriched, white pasta.
  • Replace white rice with brown rice, wild rice, bulgur wheat or pearl barley.
  • Use half the sugar recommended in baked goods. Add vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon to intensify sweetness.
  • Instead of using table salt, consider using herbs, spices, citrus juices, rice vinegar, salt-free seasonings mixes or herb blends.
It is important for everyone to maintain a healthy diet and stay active during this hectic time of year.  Take time to plan and prepare healthy gatherings for you and your family.
 

Great American Smokeout

The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout event takes place every year on the third Thursday in November. Encourage someone you know to use this year’s date, November 17, to decide to quit, or plan and then quit smoking that day. According to the American Cancer Society, by quitting – even for 1 day – smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) indicates about 40 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. While cigarette smoking rates have dropped over the last forty years, cigar, pipe, and hookah – other dangerous and addictive ways to smoke tobacco – are on the rise. Smoking kills people – there’s no “safe” way to smoke tobacco, per the American Cancer Society.

Smoking harms nearly every organ of your body and some of those effects are immediate.  Your brain becomes addicted; nicotine from cigarettes is as addictive as heroin and is hard to outdo because it changes your brain. When your brain stops getting the nicotine it has become addicted to, you develop withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiousness, and strong cravings.  Hearing loss may also occur when you smoke. Smoking reduces the oxygen supply to the inner ear which can result in permanent damage and mild to moderate hearing loss. Smoking causes changes to the eyes that can harm your eyesight, particularly for night vision.  It also increases your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Smokers develop many oral health problems like mouth sores, ulcers and gum disease. Smokers also have an increased risk of cancers of the mouth and throat. Smoking causes your skin to be dry and lose elasticity; a smoker’s skin tone may also become dull and grayish. Smoking raises your blood pressure, puts additional stress on your heart, and increases the risk of heart disease.  Smoking makes your blood become thick and sticky which causes damage to the lining of the blood vessels that increases risk for strokes and heart attacks.  Smoking can have many negative effects on a person’s lungs including inflammation in the small airways and tissues, chronic cough with mucus, emphysema, and increased risk of colds and respiratory infections.

Are you ready to quit? The first couple of days without cigarettes can be difficult. Be sure to tell your friends and family that you have decided to quit and ask them for support. Get the support your need by finding a quit program to help you. One of the main quit resources available is the Wisconsin Quit Line. The number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The Quit Line offers both free cessation medications and a quit coach to help make a quit attempt more successful.

Avoid smoking triggers such as people, places and things that trigger your urge to smoke. Throw away cigarettes, lighters and ash trays, drink water, hang out with non-smokers, go to places where smoking is not allowed, get plenty of sleep, and eat healthy. Reward yourself for every hour you are smoke free!

Within 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.  In 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood stream drops to normal. Within three months, your circulation and lung function improves, and after nine months, you will cough less and breather easier.  After one year, your risk of coronary artery disease is cut in half. In five years, your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half.  After 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s.

Consider using The Great American Smokeout as a day to help you quit smoking. For more resources and information about tobacco cessation visit the American Center Society at www.cancer.org and take the “Do you Need Help to Quit?” online quiz.  
 
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