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National Volunteer Week

During National Volunteer Week (April 10-16, 2016), the Oshkosh YMCA joins the nation in encouraging individuals to seek ways to give back, while honoring those who dedicate themselves to helping strengthen communities.
“Our volunteers are the soul of the Y; without their selflessness we couldn’t do the work we do every day to help kids, families and communities thrive,” said Tom Blaze, President and CEO of the Oshkosh Community YMCA. “By bringing people together from all walks of life around a shared purpose to do good, the Y is creating a stronger, more cohesive community. Together, we’re building a better us.”
As one of the leading nonprofits and volunteer organizations in the country, more than 600,000 people volunteer at the Y each year and here in Oshkosh more than 1500 volunteers give back through such activities as mentoring teens, coaching youth sports, serving on our boards and spearheading fundraising drives. These opportunities also help volunteers enhance their personal well-being and develop meaningful relationships – all while making an impact in communities they care about.
Here in Oshkosh, Y volunteers help make Oshkosh a great place for many families. Barb Marin and her husband Bob have been members of the Oshkosh Community YMCA for over 40 years. They joined the Y when their daughter began taking swimming lessons. In 1979, Barb first started volunteering in the aquatics department and on the racquetball courts. She enjoyed being a “deck mom” and assisting the swimming instructors. “Barb is a person of many talents and we are so fortunate that she shares them with us on a daily basis,” states Blaze. Over the past six years, Barb has volunteered countless hours designing and caring for the flower gardens and green spaces at out Downtown facility. Barb has also cleaned and prepared camp for the summer and will mend or sew anything that needs fixing. “On any given day, you will find Barb working on something at our Y,” adds Blaze.

National Volunteer Week is a great time to get involved and give back. Here are four ways individuals can take an active role at the Y and in their community:
  1. Help with Y fundraising efforts to ensure those in need can access essential programs and services to reach their full potential.
  2. Get involved with a Y mentoring or tutoring program to help youth learn new skills, build confidence and achieve their goals.
  3. Coach a sports team, teach a class or ask Y staff about other ways to get involved with a program of interest.
  4. Invite friends and neighbors to join you in contributing to a stronger community. 
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Oshkosh YMCA contact Siri Smits at sirismits@oshkoshymca.org.

Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month. It’s time to deal with your stress, learn how to cope with stress and help make yourself feel better. Stress is your body’s reaction to change. For me, just hearing the word “stress”, causes me to be stressed! But it is, however, our body’s reaction to change within our physical, mental and emotional well-being that can cause the stress to be either positive or negative. 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.

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. There are two types of stress, acute stress and chronic stress.  Acute, or short-term stress, is the body’s instant response to any situation that seems demanding or dangerous. Chronic stress, or long-term stress, is caused by stressful situations or events that last over a long period of time such as a difficult job or a health condition. Most of the time, our bodies will recover quickly from acute stress, however stress can cause problems if it happens too often or if we don’t have enough time to recover. Unfortunately, there are side effects to stress that are harder to manage such as weight gain, insomnia, depression, memory loss and reduced concentration. 

So, how can we better manage our stress? The Mayo Clinic recommends the following strategies for stress management: physical activity, relaxation techniques, meditation, Yoga, and Tai chi. Also, be sure to get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced diet, and avoid tobacco use and excess caffeine and alcohol intake. Exercise, in any form, is a wonderful stress reliever.  Exercise pumps up your endorphins (your body’s feel-good neurotransmitters) and gives you a natural “high” for your entire day. Exercise also helps you forget daily irritations and allows you to focus on your body’s movement versus the stress of the day. Regular exercise can also increase self-confidence and decrease symptoms associated with anxiety and depression, improve sleep, and improve your mood. Dr. Herbert Benson identified methods that anyone could use to activate what he called “The Relaxation Response”. These methods include: abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, body scan exercise, stretching, listening, focusing, meditation, visualization, deep relaxation, and vigorous exercise. If one of these techniques works for you and you begin to use it on a regular basis, it could be life changing. 

According to the American Psychological Association, the top two sources of stress are job stress and financial stress. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace costing American industry more than $300 billion annually. Here are some tips to reduce work related stress: have a “to-do” list, be helpful to your co-workers, develop a genuine friendship with your boss, be on time and prepared for meetings and appointments, focus on actionable items, delegate work, reward yourself, listen to your favorite music as you work, be the master of your time, focus on what you love about your job, and unwind after a day of hard work. In the past, the Oshkosh YMCA held “Financial Peace University” classes (developed by Dave Ramsey) to teach community members about financial stress management; the seven baby steps of this program include:

 1) Start an emergency fund
 2) Pay off all debt
 3) Put three to six months of expenses into a savings account
 4) Invest 15% of household income into pre-tax retirement
 5) Begin a college fund for your children
 6) Pay off your home early
 7) Build wealth and give.

If you feel like you could benefit from a stress management program, contact your Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) or contact your doctor.  

Summer Camps 2016

Do you remember your best summer ever? Did you stay all day with your friends at the local pool? Did you head to the local park and play basketball? Or was your best summer the summer you discovered your favorite literary heroes and followed their adventures from the comfort of your own backyard? For most, your best summer ever was probably a combination of all of these—some exploration, activity and education.
Summer is the ideal time to get children out and exploring but for some, the end of the school year means no access to recreational and educational activities which help them learn, grow and thrive. Studies show that children can experience learning loss and even gain weight twice as fast than during the school year. For parents and caregivers looking to keep their children’s minds and bodies active, the Oshkosh YMCA is offering multiple summer camp options to give youth an adventurous, active and healthy summer.
YMCA camp programs provide a fun and unique experience that gives children and teens the opportunity to explore the outdoors, meet new friends, discover new interests and create memories that last a lifetime. The Oshkosh YMCA offers: Preschool Summer Camp (ages 4-5), Camp Winni-Y-Co (ages 5-11 as of 9-1-15), Summer Fun Club (ages 5-11 as of 9-1-15)  and Teen Adventure (ages 11-16).
“Summer camp provides a variety of opportunities to ensure that youth are learning and being physically active in the summer,” says Erin Baranek, School Age Director for the Oshkosh YMCA. “Campers learn how to be responsible and resourceful, work in groups, solve problems and make decisions that will help them grow as individuals—all while having fun and feeling like they belong. We want every camper to start school telling their friends that they had the best summer ever.”
Baranek says there are five reasons why children and teens should attend summer camp:
  1. ADVENTURE: Summer camp is all about a wide variety of new experiences and exploring the outdoors. YMCA camps have a new adventure for every child and teen. 
  2. HEALTHY FUN: Day and resident camps offer fun, stimulating activities that engage the body and mind, and also help children and teens learn the importance of nutrition to help improve their healthy eating habits
  3. PERSONAL GROWTH: While in the welcoming environment of camp, youth are encouraged to learn new skills, and develop confidence and independence by taking on new responsibilities and challenges. Camps offer cognitive learning and social-emotional development opportunities for achievement. 
  4. FRIENDSHIPS: Amidst the fun of camp games, songs, swimming, canoeing and talent shows, campers meet new friends and strengthen existing friendships. The bonds formed at camp are important and lasting for many youth.  
  5. MEMORIES: Summer camp is an unforgettable experience that will give each camper memories (and camp traditions) that will last a lifetime. Youth return to school with plenty of camp stories to share!  

A leading nonprofit committed to nurturing the potential of youth, the Y has been a leader in providing summer camp for over 130 years. The Oshkosh YMCA continues to give youth an enriching, safe experience with caring staff and volunteers who model positive values that help build their kids’ character.
Registration for the upcoming camp season for Y members began Monday, March 7. Activity Members can begin registering Monday, March 14 at either Oshkosh YMCA location. The Oshkosh YMCA encourages parents to give their kids the gift of camp. And, to ensure that all youth have the chance to experience camp, the Oshkosh YMCA offers financial assistance to those in need. Additionally, if you’d like to help send kids to camp, you can donate to ymca.net/ForaBetterUs or www.oshkoshymca.org.
For more information, visit www.oshkoshymca.org or contact Eric Davis at 920-230-8967 or ericdavis@oshkoshymca.org.

Diabetes Alert Day

Tuesday, March 22, is American Diabetes Association Alert Day® and as the leading community-based provider committed to improving the nation’s health, The Oshkosh YMCA is encouraging people in Oshkosh to learn the risks of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes and steps they can take to prevent the disease.
  • An estimated 86 million people, one in three adults, in the United States have prediabetes, yet just 10 percent of those individuals know they have it.
  • Having prediabetes means a person has elevated blood glucose levels that are not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. People with prediabetes are at risk for not only developing type 2 diabetes, but also heart disease and other conditions. 
On American Diabetes Association Alert Day, we encourage all community members to take a diabetes risk assessment by visiting ymca.net/diabetes. If you are at risk for prediabetes, it’s best to meet with your primary care physician to discuss your options.
  • The Y is a leading community-based organization committed to improving the nation’s health.  In communities across the country, the Y helps people achieve well-being, reduce their risk for chronic disease and reclaim their health when they are living with one.  
  • In Oshkosh the Oshkosh Community YMCA is on the forefront of preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes through our YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program, showing measurable results.
About Type 2 Diabetes:
  • Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed more often in adults, and type 1 diabetes is diagnosed more often in children, but the rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing rapidly for both adults and children. 
  • Adults with diabetes or prediabetes are at higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke than other groups of people.
  • People who are overweight, inactive and over the age of 45 are at risk for the disease.
  • If a person is at risk, a diabetes screening conducted by a health care provider can confirm if a person has diabetes or prediabetes. Medicare covers the cost of screenings for beneficiaries. 
  • Individuals can reduce their risk for developing diabetes. Research has shown that modest weight loss and regular, moderate physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes among adults at risk. 
  • Medical expenses for people with diabetes are more than two times higher than for people without diabetes.
  • The average medical expenses for a person with diabetes are $13,700 per year.
  • In 2012, the total cost of diagnosed diabetes was $245 billion; $176 billion was in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.
African-Americans and Diabetes:
  • African-Americans have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to non-Hispanic whites. 
  • According to the CDC, the risk of a diabetes diagnosis is 77 percent higher for African-Americans when compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • 4.9 million African Americans (13.2 percent) ages 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes.
Hispanic/Latinos and Diabetes:
  • Hispanic and Latinos have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • According to the CDC, the risk of a diabetes diagnosis is 66 percent higher among Hispanics/Latinos when compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • 12.8 percent of Hispanics/Latinos ages 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes.
  • Among Hispanics/Latinos, diabetes prevalence rates are 8.5 percent for Central and South Americans, 9.3 percent for Cubans, 13.9 percent for Mexican Americans, and 14.8 percent for Puerto Ricans.
For more information about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, contact Dan Braun at danbraun@oshkoshymca.org.

Salad Club at the Y!

Research continues to show that poor lifestyle habits increase medical expenses and reduce productivity for American business. A study done by Tufts University reports every obese employee costs an average of $1400 more per year in medical expenses and every smoker increases spending by $579 a year in medical expenses and 7.6 percent loss of productivity. Eliminating three health risk factors – poor diet, inactivity, and smoking - would prevent 80 percent of heart disease and stroke incidents, 80 percent of type 2 diabetes cases, and 40 percent of cancers. Larry Chapman of Chapman Institute reports that implementing a workforce health program could improve employee health and reduce absenteeism by as much as 28 percent.

Do you work in a corporate office job that every time you turn around someone is bringing in birthday cake for a co-worker, adding candy to the front desk candy jar, or doughnuts for the staff on Fridays? Add stress, being stuck to a chair and computer for eight or more hours per day, and numerous cups of coffee in the afternoon for a pick-me-up and you’ve got a sure recipe for weight gain.

Going out to lunch or buying lunch can be very costly, and very unhealthy. So, why not start up a salad club at work instead? In fall 2015, the Oshkosh YMCA downtown staff started a salad club that takes place every Thursday as part of their employee wellness program. Secelie Schaeffer, School Age Child Care Coordinator at the Oshkosh YMCA states, “Salad club has been such a healthy alternative to have in the professional work environment where quick and convenient eating may also mean high in sodium, fats, or carbohydrates. I don’t just speak for myself when I say that Thursday is the day that we look forward to in the office. It has been wonderful to see all of the creative ideas that people have brought each week!”
Once a week, a selected person in the group brings something that you would find at a salad bar, focusing on greens, lean proteins and veggies. Each person in the group brought a salad “fixing” such as croutons, seeds, nuts, dressings, etc. to keep at the YMCA and use each week for the salads.  Everyone’s salad looks different each week and people can choose what ingredients they want to include in their salad. Also, it’s a super fun way to try a lot of new ideas for a super healthy meal. 

The Society of Human Resource Management reports that currently 76.6 percent of employees do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. They also report that 63.1 percent of the current workforce is overweight or obese. Why not encourage your employees to start a salad club versus doughnut days at your office? 

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” ~ Thomas Edison

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is among the most common health conditions. It is estimated that one out of every 10 Americans report hearing loss. For many aging adults, hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions after arthritis and high blood pressure. Men have to deal more with hearing loss than women. Aging and chronic exposure to loud noises are significant factors that contribute to hearing loss. The latter is likely the reason that men report more hearing loss than women, as they often are the ones exposed to noise at work, at play (think hunting and trapshooting) and when doing yard chores. 

What are the most common signs of hearing loss? Typical complaints include accusing others of mumbling, difficulty understanding speech in restaurants and other noisy places, ringing in the ears, difficulty remembering, turning up the TV or radio in the house, and family members complaining they frequently have to repeat.

Where to begin when you suspect a hearing loss? Retired Oshkosh Audiologist Juliette Sterkens and hearing loop advocate for the Hearing Loss Association of America recommends you, and the person does the complaining about your hearing, each take the paper and pencil hearing test found on the web. http://www.betterhearing.org/check-your-hearing  “A questionnaire like that helps you hone in on the problematic situations”, she said.  “I also suggest that consumers read the fact sheets on hearing loss available to consumers on the www.hearingloss.org website” (www.hearingloss.org/sites/default/files/docs/Hearing_Loss_Fact_Sheet.pdf)

“The first step, acknowledging that there could be a problem, is usually the hardest one”, Sterkens said. “This doesn’t mean you have to like it but denying the hearing loss, is not going to make it magically go away”. Find a hearing health care professional who can do a comprehensive audiological evaluation (hearing test). An audiologist is a healthcare professional specializing in identifying, diagnosing, treating and monitoring disorders of the Hearing and Balance system portions of the ear. Most audiologists also dispense hearing aids. The other professional who can sell hearing aids is a hearing instrument specialist.  
An evaluation should include a battery of tests to determine the degree of hearing loss, type of hearing loss you have and whether a referral to a physician for medical treatment is indicated. Hearing loss is affected by many causes and it is important that serious medical issues be ruled out. Testing should include a thorough medical history, an evaluation of your hearing in a sound treated booth, and a speech-in-noise evaluation. Experts in the field of audiology agree that the speech in noise test is among the most important tests out there as it will tell the professional what kind of solutions are in your best interest.     

It is your hearing care provider’s job to make sure that you hear and understand in as many listening environments as possible. While hearing aids have improved significantly in the last decade, they do not restore hearing to normal. For those with or without hearing aids lip-reading and auditory training, a form of physical therapy for the ears that can be done on a home computer, can be helpful. Some hearing aids come with a wireless microphone for better hearing in the car or restaurant. And be sure to ask your hearing care provider about a telecoil in your hearing aids. The telecoil will give you access to venues equipped with hearing loops and other ADA mandated assistive systems. Loops are appearing in many venues in north-east Wisconsin and will help you hear in those places, but require your hearing aids have this low or no-cost telecoil feature.   

Need some extra help getting used to hearing aids? Consider joining a local hearing loss support group. “So often people think they are the only one struggling with their hearing loss and hearing aids. You can learn so much from others’ experiences. How do they handle traveling, meetings, appointments, going to the hospital, telephone conversations, hearing in theaters, and difficult family members or work associates?” Sterkens said. “Plus a great benefit? They meetings are also good for your sense of humor—an essential ingredient for coping with a hearing loss!”

Heart Healthy Diet

February is American Heart Month, and as a leading community-based network dedicated to improving the nation’s health, the Oshkosh YMCA offers the following tips from the USDA to help families in Oshkosh reduce the amount of sodium in their diet.

  1. Think fresh. Most of the sodium Americans eat is found in processed foods.  Eat highly processed foods less often and in smaller portions – especially cheesy foods, such as pizza; cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli/luncheon meats; as well as ready-to-eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli and soups.  Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium.
  2. Enjoy home-prepared foods. Cook more often at home – where you are in control of what’s in your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.
  3. Fill up on veggies and fruits – they are naturally low in sodium. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables – fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
  4. Adjust your taste buds. Cut back on salt little by little – and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods. Your taste for salt will lessen over time. Additionally, keep salt off the kitchen counter and the dinner table and substitute spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods.
  5. Boost your potassium intake. Choose foods with potassium, which may help to lower your blood pressure. Potassium is found in vegetables and fruit, such as potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice and sauce, sweet potatoes, beans (white, lima, kidney), and bananas.  Other sources of potassium include yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice and milk.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture just released the final Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. It’s a 571-page draft report from an expert advisory committee, but there are some notable differences. To simplify a very complicated topic, the new guidelines focus on variety and good choices, and developing “healthy eating patterns”.  The top news of the new guidelines include: sugar, fat, cholesterol and protein.  Sugars, of course, are on the hit list as added sugars are bad for us, but make up about 16 percent of our calories, depending on total calories, but that’s 20 to 30 teaspoons per day! Swap sugars for something healthy like fruit, that way you’ll eliminate added sugars and get fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fat is fine, but you still need to be aware of saturated fats or anything that says “trans” or “hydrogenated”.  While there’s no hard limit on cholesterol anymore, the guidelines still say to watch out for cholesterol. The recent report also states that men and teenage boys in particular are eating more meat, poultry, and eggs than they need.

Bottom line, we eat too much sodium, saturated fat, refined grains and added sugars.  To eat better, follow these recommendations from the experts:
  • Eat lots of vegetables and fruit.
  • Eat plenty of whole grains and less refined grains.
  • Eat a variety of proteins like beans, nuts, and seeds. If you eat animal products, also have eggs and a variety of seafood and lean meats.
  • Eat less fatty meat or processed meat (to cut down on saturated fat and salt). Processed meat includes red meat and poultry products like deli meats, salami, bacon and hot dogs.
  • If you eat dairy, pick low- and nonfat dairy (for less saturated fat than whole milk).
  • Drink coffee and alcohol in moderation.
  • Consume much less added sugar.
For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit the Oshkosh Community YMCA at www.oshkoshymca.org.

Time for A Vacation?

Vacations make people happier, healthier and more productive, as cited by the Framingham Heart Study.  Yet on average, American workers who receive paid time off only use about half of it. Only one-fourth of us use all the vacation time we’ve earned, according to a survey collected by Harris Interactive. The survey also revealed that most of us – 61 percent – have worked while on vacation. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, this strong work ethic may in fact shorten our lives. Taking a vacation helps reduce stress; high levels of stress raise the risk of heart attack and stroke, weaken the immune system and lead to weight gain.

Taking time off also boosts productivity. According to Oxford Economics, before traveling, we have a burst of energy as we wrap up projects. Upon return, we’re more productive. Getting away helps people get a fresh perspective. We return feeling refreshed with an improved attitude.

Not all vacations are refreshing or stress reducing. Traveling with children has its set of challenges, and relationship issues do not travel well. Long lines at airports or failed hotel reservations don’t help either. It’s important to plan ahead, control what you can, so setbacks don’t ruin your trip.
Much of the pleasure in taking a vacation comes in the planning. A recent study of Dutch vacationers shows that looking forward to a trip boosts happiness for eight weeks – and that’s before leaving home! The same study found that post-trip happiness lasted two weeks at the most. However, a study done in Applied Research in Quality of Life read that compared to those who don’t take a vacation, those who do are happier.

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 44 percent of people check their work messages while on vacation.  While staying connected may help us feel less nervous about being away, one-third of those surveyed feel the technology increases our workload and makes it difficult to stop thinking about work. To truly get away on your vacation, leave your laptop at home and turn off email notifications on your smartphone.

Studies also suggest that you can spread vacation happiness by taking a few shorter trips throughout the year rather than one long one. Don’t forget to consider travel time. A long flight with several connections can use up precious vacation days. Be sure to factor in time to recover from jet lag or road fatigue. When you return, try to take an extra day at home before going back to work to ease back into your routine.

If you are traveling with others, talk about what everyone wants from the trip. If it’s a family trip, get everyone’s input before committing to a plan. Take into account ages and personalities. Younger kids may have trouble adjusting to a lot of different settings. Teenagers may want more adventure and independence.

Remember, planning the trip is part of the fun! Hopefully, you’ll feel a little less stressed just thinking about that wonderful vacation!

National Donor Day

February 14 is National Donor Day. Organ transplantation is an accepted medical treatment for end-stage organ failure.  Someone is added to the national organ donation waiting list every 10 minutes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, every day, an average of 79 people receive organ transplants, however, an average of 22 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs. In 2014, 29,532 people received organ transplants.  People of all ages give and receive organ donations. Currently, more than 120 million people in the U.S. are signed up to be a donor and 121,272 people are waiting for an organ.

As of December 2014, the percentage of donor recipients who were still living 5 years post-transplant is as follows:
  • Kidney: (deceased donor) 83.4%; (living donor) 92%
  • Heart: 76.8%
  • Liver (deceased donor) 74.3%; (living donor) 81.3%
  • Lung: 55.2%
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has put together a list of facts to help people better understand organ, eye, and tissue donation.  Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. A transplant team determines at the time of death whether or not a donation is possible. Most major religions support organ donation and consider the donation as a final act of love. If you are sick or injured and admitted to a hospital, the number one priority is to save your life regardless if you are an organ donor or not. When matching organ donors to recipients, the computerized matching system considers issues such as severity of illness, blood type, time on waiting list, other medical information and geographic location. An open casket funeral is generally still possible for organ, eye, and tissue donors. There is no cost involved to donors or their families for organ or tissue donation. Every state provides access to a donor registry where its residents can indicate their donation decision.  Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs in the U.S., violators are punishable by prison sentences and fine.

Becoming an organ donor is easy. You can your desire to be a donor in the following ways:  register with your state's donor registry, designate your choice on your driver’s license, sign and carry a donor card, tell your family. Be sure to put your organ donation wishes in writing, include your wishes in your living will if you have one. If you have designated someone to make health care decisions for you, make sure that person knows your wish to be an organ donor. Tell your family you want to be a donor, as hospitals seek consent from the next of kin before removing organs, although this is usually not required if you're registered with your state's donor registry.

For more information on how to become a donor, visit the organ donation website at www.organdonor.gov.

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, and as a leading nonprofit dedicated to improving the nation’s health, the Oshkosh Community YMCA offers the following tips to help families in Oshkosh be heart healthy.

  1. Get Physical: Being physically active every day is fun and can improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play; for example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.
  2. Take a Snooze: Lack of sleep can be associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines for the whole family to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.
  3. Shape Up Those Recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food without sacrificing tastes. For example, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skip the seasoning packet use pepper and olive oil instead. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package, select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.
  4. Feeling the Pressure: According to the American Heart Association lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 3 adults (about 78 million people) have high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with your doctor if needed.
  5. Play Together: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or build a snow fort together in the yard or park. The Oshkosh YMCA offers many  ways for families to get involved and play together including: Wiggles and Giggles, Open swim, Dive-In Movie Nights, Family Nights, Mother-Son events, Father-Daughter Dances, Family Bingo and much more!

For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit the Oshkosh Community YMCA at www.oshkoshymca.org or visit either Oshkosh Y location at 324 Washington Avenue, or 3303 W. 20th Avenue, Oshkosh.  We look forward to seeing you at the Y!

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