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Summer Fitness

Many people believe they only need to train in the gym in the winter months when it’s cold outside.  Many people give all they have to the gym the first five to six months of the year and then lose their routine during the summer months, thinking that sports and staying busy will help keep them fit. 

Research shows that we will lose our fitness gains at the same rate we gained them. And, the older we get the more effort we need to put into improving our fitness. Even getting to the gym during the summer one day a week to get in a good resistance workout would maintain your strength level.

Stay on course this summer. Consider these ideas from the Mayo Clinic that can help you move more each day:
  • Limit daily screen time to two hours or less. Most people are not active and tend to eat while using a computer or watching TV.
  • Get on your feet as much as possible. Take regular breaks to stand up and move. Walk or bike to work or try a walking meeting.
  • Be creative by having contests with friends, march in place when talking on the phone, walk virtual trails on the treadmill on a rainy day.
  • Use a pedometer to record how many steps you take. Try to average 10,000 to 15,000 steps daily. One mile is about 2,000 steps. Record your pedometer readings using an exercise log or computer program. It may motivate you to follow your plan and it challenges you to move more!
  • Be flexible with your workouts. If 30 minutes is hard to schedule, try for two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
  • Add variety to your exercise routine by switching between running and swimming for cardiovascular exercise and weight lifting and Pilates for strength. Try summer classes for even more variety.
An exercise plan should include cardiovascular activities, strengthening exercises, flexibility exercises, and balance movements. Examples of cardiovascular activities include walking, biking, swimming, skiing, tennis and dancing.  These activities should be done for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. To strengthen muscles and bones, do two 15-30 minutes resistance training sessions each week using elastic bands or weights, push-ups or abdominal curls. Flexibility exercises can be done daily and include exercises such as gentle stretching, Yoga, Tai chi, and Pilates. Yoga and Tai chi are also great for balance movement.

Exercise and regular physical activity matter. It improves fitness, flexibility, balance, strength, and bone and heart health. It boosts mood and helps control weight. It also helps prevent and control diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

It is always better to stick to and follow your routine regardless of the weather. Many well-intentioned people never end up going back to the gym and lose their motivation to start again. Don’t let that happen to you!

YMCA Healthy Ways

The YMCA has five great ways your family can stay healthy and active this summer:
  • Eat Healthy
  • Play Every Day
  • Get Together
  • Go Outside
  • Sleep Well

At the Y, we believe small steps lead to big changes. With a balanced approach, even the busiest of families can discover ways to eat healthier and feel better.  A simple way to improve your family’s overall health is to explore your approach to fluids by cutting out the drinks with added sugar and adding more water, 100 percent fruit juice and low-fat milk to your family’s diet. If your family is currently used to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, begin working gradually to replace them with healthier options. Aim for at least five fruits and vegetable servings per day.  The delicious crunch of fruits and veggies can be part of every meal and snack your family enjoys throughout the day and is important for your family’s health. Everybody needs the vitamins, fiber and minerals these colorful foods provide in order to grow and stay strong, energetic and free from illness.

Play may be the best way to prevent childhood obesity. Playful movement is one of the keys to a healthy family home. There are many choices such as walking, gardening, vacuuming, let along fun things you can do such as swimming, going for a hike, shooting some hoops, or taking a pet for a walk. Try to get at least 60 minutes of activity to your day by adding 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there.

Take time to get together. Strong relationships are one of the cornerstones of health and well-being. Special one-to-one time helps develop and strengthen the important adult-child relationships in a healthy family home. Children need adult time and attention like they need healthy food and playful activity. When it is missing, kids will find other ways to ask for adult time and attention often resulting in negative behavior and stress on the relationship. Most of the time it takes some planning, but the thoughtful gift of your time is one of the things that will help your child learn, grow and thrive.

Go outside, grow outside. Good things happen when we unplug and go outside together. Kids and adults benefit from contact with nature as well as unstructured play and exploration. A growing body of research is pointing to the fact that time spent in contact with nature is good for everyone, but that it’s particularly important to the healthy development of children. Nature engages all senses, helps children to develop curiosity and creativity, reduces stress and fosters a sense of wonder and desire to explore and learn.

One of the best ways to raise healthy kids is to make sure they – and you – get enough sleep.  When children do not get enough sleep it can cause moodiness and impact their ability to learn in school. Additionally, recent studies have found links between sleep and obesity in children. It may seem strange, but the more hours that kids sleep the less likely they are to become obese.

Make your family’s health a priority this summer. For more information on how your family can stay healthy, visit www.oshkoshymca.org.

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!

Summer Eating with the Plate Method

Choose to eat well this summer by using the Plate Method. This method makes it easy for healthy adults to remember how much of each type of food to eat at every meal.  The Plate Method uses a 9-inch plate and can include smaller plates or bowls for some types of food.
For each meal, the Plate Method includes:
  • Half a plate of non-starchy vegetables, fruit or both.  Non –starchy vegetables include asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, greens, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, onions, peppers, spinach, summer squash, tomatoes and turnips. Choose whole fruits, fresh or frozen.
  • A quarter of a plate of whole grains, breads or starchy vegetables. Examples include 100 percent whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas, brown rice, and oatmeal. Examples of starchy vegetables are corn, green peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and yams.
  • A quarter of a plate of protein-rich food. Food high in protein includes poultry, such as chicken and turkey without skin, fish, and other seafood.  Other high protein animal sources include eggs and lower-fat cheeses. Good protein sources that are non-animal include legumes, such as lima beans, kidney beans, and black beans. 
Other inclusions of the Plate Method are dairy, low-fat and non-fat milk and yogurt; healthy fats like olive or canola oil, nuts, and olives; and water and other low-calorie drinks when not drinking milk.

The Mayo Clinic recommends the following daily meal plan as an example of using the Plate Method:

  • Strawberries (non-starchy vegetables/fruit)
  • Cooked oatmeal and graham cracker squares (whole grains/starchy vegetables)
  • Low-fat cottage cheese (protein)
  • Skim milk (dairy)
  • Pecan halves (healthy fat)
  • Lettuce, sliced tomatoes, raw celery, carrot strips, and a small apple (non-starchy vegetables/fruit)
  • 100% whole-wheat bread (whole grains/starchy vegetables)
  • Thin-sliced turkey (protein)
  • Reduced-fat Swiss cheese (dairy)
  • Reduced-fat mayonnaise for the bread and reduced-fat salad dressing for dipping (healthy fats)
  • Water (drink)
  • Mixture of cooked vegetables and green grapes on the side (non-starchy vegetables/fruit)
  • 100% whole-wheat spaghetti noodles and a 100% whole-grain dinner roll (other whole grains)
  • Tofu or chicken, sliced and grilled; soy nuts (protein)
  • Black olives and olive oil to sauté the vegetables (healthy fats)
  • Water (drink)
It’s important to maintain a healthy diet during the summer months, as warmer months can cause us to get off track with exercise and eat more due to summer picnics and parties.  Take advantage of all the fresh produce that is available.  Be smart about cold treat choices and look for healthier alternatives for summer treats such as lower-calorie ice cream or sorbet.  Also, watch portion sizes when eating ice cream treats and other fun summer desserts.  Stay hydrated with water by using a reusable water bottle and keep it with you at all times. Try to avoid summer drinks that are high in calories and sugar. Pack and be prepared whenever possible. Have water in a cooler with sandwiches on whole-grain breads, pita chips, hummus, fresh fruits and veggies, and yogurt.  Consider shopping at the Fresh Produce Bus this summer at the Oshkosh YMCA on Tuesdays from 10:00-11:00 a.m. at both locations, alternating each week. Check out www.oshkoshymca.org for a complete schedule.

For more information on the Plate Method, go to www.choosemyplate.gov.

1st Annual Oshkosh YMCA Kids Mud Run

Only one in three children are physically active every day and only six states require physical education in every grade, according to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. The Centers for Disease Control says that nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for 3 or more hours on an average school day.  The American Heart Association reports that 27 percent of young Americans are too overweight to serve in our military and approximately 15,000 potential recruits fail their physicals every year because they are unfit. 

The American Heart Association recommends all children and teens get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity every day. Physical activity for kids helps control weight, reduces blood pressure, raises HDL (good) cholesterol, reduces the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer, and improves psychological well-being, including gaining more confidence and higher self-esteem. 

How can parents promote more physical activity to their children? Consider increasing physical activity by reducing sedentary activity like watching television or talking on the phone. Encourage your children to choose activities they enjoy, physical activity should be fun for kids and teenagers. Be a role model for your child and provide them with plenty of opportunity for physical activity.  If a child can’t participate in physical activity for 60 minutes at one time, try to break it into two 30-minute sessions or four 15-minute sessions of vigorous activity.

There are three types of physical activity that children and teens should be getting every day: aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening. Aerobic activity should make up the most of the 60-minute activity session and includes exercises such as brisk walking, running, basketball, biking, soccer, swimming, and tennis. Muscle strengthening activities include gymnastics, push-ups, stomach crunches, pull-ups and other exercises at least three days per week. Children should also include bone strengthening exercises as part of their 60-minutes such as jumping rope and running. 

Give your kids something to train for! How about the 1st Annual Oshkosh YMCA Kids Mud Run? The Kids Mud Run is approximately a one mile course with 12 different obstacles including a climbing wall, water pit, tube crawl, mud hill, mud pit, swamp slide, hay bale wall, tires, hurdles and more! The Kids Mud Run will take place on Sunday, June 5 at 1:00 p.m. The run will start in waves based on the child’s age. The event is open to kids ages four to 13 and will take place at the 20th Ave YMCA. Registration deadline is May 27 and costs $20 for Members and $25 for Activity Members and includes a t-shirt. Day-of registration is accepted, but t-shirt size is not guaranteed. Day-of registration fees are $30 for Members and $35 for Activity Members. Participants are encouraged to bring a towel and change of clothes – the YMCA will NOT be open. The Mud Run will be held rain or shine and there are no refunds. 

For more information, contact the Oshkosh YMCA at 230-8439 or visit our website at www.oshkoshymca.org.

Adopt Healthy Behaviors During Older Americans Month

This May, the Oshkosh YMCA encourages older adults in the Oshkosh community to eat healthy, get active and socialize.

May is Older Americans Month and the Oshkosh YMCA encourages all adults 50 years and older in Oshkosh to get motivated and develop behaviors that are crucial to healthy                                                     aging, including healthy eating, increasing physical activity and                                               social interaction.

Adults 50 years and older currently make up more than 30 percent of the US population, and are soon expected to represent 45 percent of all Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that adults 50 and older have a 70 percent change of developing at least one chronic disease. While these numbers seem daunting, the good news is that making small lifestyle changes that include increasing physical activity, eating healthier and staying socially active can help older adults live better.

“As the nation continues to age, community-based organization like the Y provide the needed guidance to help them reach health goals, particularly when it comes to chronic disease prevention,” said Dan Braun, Active Older Adult Manager for the Oshkosh YMCA.  “Today’s older adults want to be more active, engaged and in control of their health.”

The Y offers many ways for active older to live healthier including National Senior Health and Fitness Day on Wednesday, May 25. Both Y locations will be free from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. for 55 adults aged 55 and older. Older adults are encouraged to visit the Y to see all we have to offer, including pools, fitness classes, pickleball and more!  National Senior Health and Fitness Day schedules are available are either Y location or at www.oshkoshymca.org.

Additionally, the Y offers the following on tips on how to jump-start your healthy living routine:
  1.  Have fun with your food. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring! Have fun with your fruits and vegetables by trying them fresh or frozen. Find a new recipe that uses a different source of protein or find a way to incorporate fish or bean into an old favorite.  Remember, as you age, it’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean meats to help your body get the necessary nutrients.
  2. Fill up on fiber and potassium, hold the salt. As you age, your body needs more fiber rich foods to help it stay regular. Aim for a variety of colorful foods on your plate to keep fiber rich foods a part of your diet. Additionally, increasing potassium along with reducing sodium or salt may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or fat-free mild and yogurt are good sources of potassium.
  3. Get active. Physical activity is safe for almost everyone, and the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things older adults can do for their health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age and reduce the risk for developing, or help manage, depression, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain kinds of cancers. For older adults who have chronic conditions that hinder their ability to be active on a regular basis, some physical activity is better than none, and older adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
  4. Tweak your routine. To get the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity, change your routine to 10-minute sessions throughout the day. For example, stand on one foot while brushing your teeth to increase balance, and do squats while washing dishes to increase strength. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther away. While watching TV, march during commercials or do some light stretching to break up sitting for long periods.
  5. Get social. Socialization is an important part of aging. As we get older, it’s important to be active socially to stay healthy. Take a walk with a friend or neighbor, join a book club or volunteer at your local Y. Social interaction provides meaningful engagement, builds relationships, enhances a sense of belonging and provides opportunities for involvement all resulting in greater bonds and stronger sense of community. Being connected to the community keeps you healthy!
For more information on National Senior Health and Fitness Day on Wednesday, May 25, contact Dan Braun at danbraun@oshkoshymca.org.

High Blood Pressure is Manageable

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. High blood pressure is manageable.  Uncontrolled high blood pressure can injure or kill you and that is way it's sometimes called "the silent killer". High blood pressure has no symptoms, so you may not be aware that it's damaging your arteries, heart and other organs. Possible health consequences that can happen over time when high blood pressure is left untreated include: Damage to the heart and coronary arteries, including heart attack, and heart disease, stroke, kidney, damage, vision loss, and memory loss. 

Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this: 117/76 mm Hg (read 117 over 76 millimeters of mercury). The top number is systolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number is diastolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.
The American Heart Association recommends the following guidelines for healthy blood pressure:

Blood Pressure Category             Systolic mm Hg                        Diastolic mm Hg

Normal                                          less than 120                             less than 80

Prehypertension                            120-139                                      80-89

High Blood Pressure Stage 1          140-159                                      90-99

High Blood Pressure Stage 2          160 or higher                              100 or higher

Risk factors for developing high blood pressure include:
  • Family History – if your parents or close blood relatives have had high blood pressure, you are more likely to develop it too.
  • Advanced age – as we age, we all develop higher risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
  • Gender-related risk patterns – a higher percentage of men than women have high blood pressure until 45 years of age. From ages 45-54 and 55-64, the percentages of men and women with high blood pressure are similar. After that, a much higher percentage of women have high blood pressure than men.
  • Lack of physical activity – an inactive lifestyle increases the chances of high blood pressure.
  • Poor diet – especially one that includes too much salt, contributes directly to high blood pressure.
  • Overweight and obesity – excess weight increase the strain on the heart.
  • Drinking too much alcohol – heavy and regular use of alcohol can increase blood pressure dramatically.
  • Stress – being in a stressful situation can temporarily increase your blood pressure, but science has not proven that stress causes high blood pressure.
  • Smoking and second-hand smoke – smoking temporarily raises blood pressure and increases your risk of damaged arteries.
  • Sleep apnea – a potentially a life-threatening sleep disorder in which tissues in the throat collapse and block the airway.  Sleep apnea is a risk factor for high blood pressure.
There are eight main ways to control blood pressure. They include: eating a better diet, including the reduction of salt; enjoying regular physical activity, it is recommended adults get no less than 150 minutes of activity per week; maintain a healthy weight; manage stress; avoid tobacco smoke; comply with medication prescriptions; limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day; and understand hot tub safety.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three US adults has high blood pressure. Make a point to get your blood pressure checked this May for High Blood Pressure Education Month.  It’s easy and painless. Blood pressure can be checked by a doctor and many pharmacies have free blood pressure screenings.

Swim Programs Help Oshkosh Kids Have the Best Summer Ever

As swim season approaches, the Oshkosh YMCA encourages children and parents to have their Best Summer Ever by exploring the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind. In the Y’s swim programs, participants can enjoy water sports, enhance or learn new techniques, meet new friends and develop confidence, while also learning safety skills                                               that can save lives. 
“Swimming is not only a fun, healthy activity, but an important life skill for all children,” said Tracy Gilles, Downtown Aquatics Director for the Oshkosh Community YMCA. “Learning basic water safety skills is a great introduction to the world of swimming that often continues with swim lessons and competitive swim programs.”

As part of National Water Safety Month in May, the Oshkosh YMCA encourages parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming—beginning with water safety. Following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:
  • Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone.
  • Adults should constantly and actively watch their children.
  • Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.  
  • Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach.
  • Children and adults should not engage in breath holding activities.
In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing.
As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, the Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for more than 60 years. The Oshkosh Community YMCA continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose from including Parent/Child lessons (ages 6 months – 3 years), Preschool swim lessons (ages 3-5), Youth swim lessons (ages 6 and up) and Adult swim lessons (ages 18+). The Oshkosh YMCA also offers Adaptive Aquatic programming for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities. The goal of the program is to provide all ability levels an opportunity to learn new things or improve existing aquatic skills. The Oshkosh YMCA also offers private swim lessons for those that are interested in one-on-one instruction; this is offered for all ages. American Red Cross Lifeguard Training is also offered to individuals aged 15 and older who are interested in becoming a lifeguard.  Re-certification classes are also available. To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in all YMCA aquatic programs, financial assistance is available to those in need to help cover the costs.
To learn more about the Oshkosh Community YMCA’s swim programs, contact Tracy Gilles, Downtown YMCA Aquatics Director at tracygilles@oshkoshymca.org or Lisa Bifano, 20th Ave YMCA Aquatics Director at lisabifano@oshkoshymca.org.

Healthy Kids Day 2016

Did you know the average child spends seven and a half hours per day in front of a screen? Encourage your kids to “unplug” this summer! Advancements in technology are making it easier than ever for everyone, including kids, to have access to gadgets like computers, smartphones, tablets, and gaming systems. Schools across the country are making iPads in classrooms normal. The effects of technology are seen in younger generations in the form of obesity, irregular sleep patterns, and social issues. A study conducted by UCLA found that sixth-graders who went five days without exposure to technology were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids who had regular access to phones, televisions and computers. This means that the more exposure kids have to screens the less capable they are of perceiving emotions. Many students need access to technology to complete homework assignments; however, research from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center suggests kids between the ages of 2 and 10 spend less than half of their screen-time looking at educational material. Face-to-face interaction is vital in early development for language and emotional awareness. That need does not diminish after infancy. Although it is not plausible to extinguish the need for screen time entirely it is important to monitor and limit. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting entertainment screen-time for kids ages three to eighteen to just two hours a day and none for kids under two years old.


On Saturday, April 30, the Oshkosh YMCA is holding a free community event to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active. YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day®, the Y’s national initiative to improve health and well-being for kids and families, features activities such as a bounce house, obstacle course, healthy cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts, yoga, Zumba, swimming and more to motivate and teach families how to develop a healthy routine at home.   
YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, celebrated at nearly 1,300 Ys across the country, aims to get more kids moving and learning, so they can keep up the habit all summer long – a critical out-of-school time for kids’ health. When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles – or gaps – that prevent them from reaching their full potential, related to hunger, water safety, learning, safe spaces to play, and health. Each year, the Y helps over 9 million youth nationwide “hop the gap” and achieve more, providing a safe to place to learn, stay healthy and build friendships.

“The Y is so much more than sports, swimming, gymnastics and a place for kids to hang out. We support families in their efforts to instill healthy habits at home,” said Lisa Nething, Family and Special Events Director for the Oshkosh Community YMCA. “We know that it can sometimes feel like a challenge. So at Healthy Kids Day, we’ll encourage kids to stay physically and intellectually active all summer long, and give families tips they can easily replicate at home. It’s free and open to the community.”
In celebration of YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, the Y offers the following tips to help families develop healthy habits:
  • Try, try, repeat – There are many great tasting fruits and vegetables that many kids have never heard of, let alone tried. Grab a new fruit or vegetable and encourage everyone in the family to try at least a bite.
  • Play around town – Challenge the family to play on a different playground every week. Identify playgrounds at a variety of parks; expand definitions of playgrounds to include nature trails, a nearby stream, and a bike path.
  • Families at play for an hour a day – From walking to gardening, or swimming to shooting hoops, make playful movement a part of your family’s day. To get 60 minutes of moderate activity throughout your day just add 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there.
  • Foster a passion for reading – Read to and with your kids. Help children read at every age and every stage of their development.
  • Make sleep a priority – Doctors recommend 10-12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5-12 and 7-8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning, and other vital functions.
The Oshkosh YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day takes place at the 20th Ave Oshkosh YMCA from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. For more information, contact Lisa Nething at lisanething@oshkoshymca.org.


Alcohol Awareness Month

April is National Alcohol Awareness Month. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. states that alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States with 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffering from alcohol abuse or dependence. More than half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking, and more than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on alcohol. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 79,000 deaths per year are attributed to excessive alcohol use.  Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation and up to 40 percent of all hospital beds in the United States (except for those being used by maternity and intensive care patients) are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption.

Excessive alcohol use can lead to numerous health problems such as dementia, stroke, cardiovascular problems, psychiatric problems such as depression or anxiety, social problems such as unemployment and family problems, increased risk of cancers, liver diseases, and gastrointestinal problems. Common signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include: neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school; using alcohol in dangerous situations; experiencing legal problems due to drinking, for instance, getting arrested for drinking and driving; continued drinking during relationship problems with friends, family or a spouse; drinking to de-stress, for example, getting drunk after a stressful day.

What is alcohol? Alcohol that is typically consumed is ethyl alcohol and is produced by a fermentation of yeast, sugars and starches. It is a central nervous system depressant drug found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol, once consumed, is rapidly absorbed by the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream and then circulated to every organ in the body, including the brain. Once the alcohol is absorbed in the bloodstream, five percent is eliminated through the kidneys in urine, the lungs exhale five percent, and the liver breaks down the remaining 90 percent.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women tend to absorb more alcohol when they drink, and take longer to break it down and remove it from their bodies compared to their male counterparts.  Even when men and women drink the same amount of alcohol, women tend to have higher levels of alcohol in their blood than men, and the immediate effects of impairment occur quicker and last longer. Alcohol is metabolized by the liver at the average rate of one standard drink per hour. A standard alcoholic drink contains 14 grams of pure alcohol (0.6 ounces) such as: 12-ounces of better, 8-ounces of malt liquor, 5-ounces of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that if you choose to drink alcohol, do not exceed one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. The Dietary Guidelines also recommends the following people not consume alcohol: children and teenagers under the age of 21, individuals who can’t limit their drinking, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant, individuals who plan to operate a car or machinery, people taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that might interact with alcohol, people with certain medical conditions, and people recovering from alcoholism.

Drinking too much alcohol is dangerous at any age. We can all do our part to prevent alcohol abuse in our community. Make a difference by spreading the word about strategies for preventing alcohol abuse and encourage people to seek support if necessary. 
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