<< Previous 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month.  One in three children in the United States is either overweight or obese.  Childhood obesity increases health problems for kids such as, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. These diseases were once only found in adults. Childhood obesity can be prevented by encouraging kids to eat healthy and get active. Most children do not grow out of being overweight, statistics show that being overweight as a child increases the risk of being overweight or obese as an adolescent and adult. Consider using a BMI (Body Mass Index) chart to learn if your child is at a healthy weight. Children grow at different rates, so it’s not always easy to know whether or not they are at a healthy weight.  Feel free to ask your child’s doctor or nurse about height and weight recommendations.

Children and teens should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The 60 minutes does not have to be done all at once and can be broken up into shorter segments. Be sure your child is doing different kinds of activity such as aerobic activity (running, biking, dancing), muscle-strengthening activities (climbing, body weight training), and bone strengthening activities (jumping rope, playing basketball).  Physical activity is good for every child and teen regardless of their age or body type.  Even if the child feels out-of-shape, or they haven’t been active in a while, you can still find activities that can work for them.  Encourage your children to start a comfortable level and add a little bit each day. Have your children choose activities they enjoy, urge them to do the activity with a friend. Limit screen time to two hours or less a day for kids age two and older. Screen time is time spent using a computer, smart phone, watching television or playing video games. 

A healthy diet can also help your child to remain strong, healthy and active.  Making smart food choices for the entire family, helps manage weight and lower risk of certain diseases. Be sure your children are getting enough vitamins, minerals and other nutrients by eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk products, seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, seeds and nuts.  Limit your child’s cholesterol, sodium, added sugars, trans fats, saturated fats, and refined grains.  Making small changes can make a big difference.  Set rules for food at home such as teaching your kids to ask before they help themselves to snacks, eat snacks at the table or in the kitchen (not in front of the television), serve snacks in a bowl, offer your child water or milk instead of soda or juice.

Another way to keep your child at a healthy weight is to make sure they are getting enough sleep.  Research shows that children and teens that don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk of being overweight or obese.  Teens need at least nine hours of sleep each night, school-aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep per night, preschoolers need between 11 and 12 hours of sleep every night, and newborns need between 16 and 18 hours each day.

Take the necessary steps to ensure your child is at a healthy weight.  Get ideas to help teach your kids to have a healthy body image, make good choices, and remain active. 

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Exercise-induced asthma (also known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction – EIB) is when asthma-type symptoms develop when you exercise. Exercise induced vocal cord dysfunction (EIV) is a condition that is often misdiagnosed as exercise-induced asthma. It occurs when the vocal cords in your throat close when they shouldn't, which limits your ability to take in air. A whining or high-pitched sound may release when you inhale if you have vocal cord dysfunction. Dr. Anita Gheller-Rigoni, Allergist and Immunologist with Aurora Health Care, Oshkosh, helps us better understand the two conditions.

Signs and symptoms of EIB are coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and difficulty breathing air out. In people who are physically fit, they may tire out of proportion to their level of fitness. Symptoms of EIB typically occur later in the activity and/or while resting. Signs and symptoms of EIV are wheezing from the upper airway, difficulty breathing air in, and a sensation of “not being able to get air in”.  EIV can be seen in people who are physically fit, but are restricted by limited air flow (short of breath “winded”). EIV signs and symptoms can occur in a person who have already been diagnosed with asthma, and is often hard to differentiate. Risk factors of exercise induced asthma are elevated for people who already have asthma and for people who have other allergies. Other risk factors include: having a blood relative with asthma, exposure to air pollution and pollen, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, exposure to chemical triggers, participating in winter sports, or participating in sports that you breathe harder or faster.  Dr. Gheller-Rigoni adds, “Type “A” personalities, being female, and having asthma that is not controlled, puts you at higher risk for developing exercise induced vocal cord dysfunction.”

“There is no clear cause of exercise induced asthma but it probably results from changes in the lungs triggered by the large volume of relatively cool, dry air we take in during vigorous activity,” states Dr. Gheller-Rigoni.  “Exercise induced vocal cord dysfunction can be caused by stress and anxiety due to muscle tension.” According to the Mayo Clinic, other factors that can trigger or worsen exercise-induced asthma are cold air, dry air, air pollution such as smoke or smog, high pollen counts, having a respiratory infection, and exposure to some chemicals. “People with these conditions do not need to avoid exercise, but more rigorous activities, that make you breathe harder, are more likely to trigger symptoms,” states Dr. Gheller-Rigoni.  “Also, exercising in cold weather can increase your symptoms because you are breathing in a lot of cold, dry air. However, with proper treatment, people can continue high-intensity exercise and cold-weather workouts without symptoms slowing them down.”

If you are experiencing coughing, wheezing or have chest pain or tightness during or after exercise, you need to see your doctor.  “People don’t know they have exercise-induced asthma because they think it’s normal for them to feel that way post-exercise,” states Dr. Gheller-Rigoni. “Many people who have this condition are in very good physical shape, but they feel like they are short on endurance, which is not the case.”  To receive proper diagnosis, your doctor will ask you for a detailed history of your signs and symptoms. Writing down when and where you are when you are experiencing these symptoms can be helpful to your physician.  If you already suffer from asthma and have an inhaler, your doctor may want you to bring it in to make sure you are using it correctly and to verify the inhaler has been primed.  Your doctor may do other tests to make sure your symptoms aren’t being caused by something else such as heart disease, lung disorders, or other allergies.  Lung function tests may also be performed to see how well your lungs are working.  The preferred test for assisting in the diagnosis of asthma is the lung function test (spirometry) in which the patient takes keep breaths and forcefully exhales into a tube connected to a machine called a spirometer. EIB can be diagnosed using an exercise challenge in which you perform a lung function test before and after you exercise.  The exercise is typically completed on a treadmill for about six to eight minutes. To determine other possible risk factors and contributing factors, your physician may also recommend an allergy skin test. During this test, your skin is pricked with purified allergy extracts to see if there is an allergic reaction. It is used to determine whether or not you have a reaction to other things besides exercise. 

Although the development of EIB is not preventable, some ways to avoid flare-ups of the condition include: warm up for 10 minutes before doing high-intensity exercise, do your best to avoid colds and respiratory infections, avoid your specific allergy triggers and air when exercising, learn to breathe through your nose to warm the air before it passes through your lungs, and keep your mouth and nose covered during exercise in cold weather. Also, if an inhaler is prescribed, using it 20-30 minutes before the activity and with a spacer (device that helps guide the albuterol into the lungs) can help. “Don’t avoid exercise if you have EIB or EIV!” exclaims Dr. Gheller-Rigoni. “Some studies speculate that exercise may actually be helpful in preventing the onset of asthma.”
 
 
 

Facts about the Flu Vaccine

This year, the 2018-2019 season, marks the 100th anniversary of the pandemic flu of 1918 that killed 875,000 Americans and 50 million people worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best available way to protect yourself and your family from flu. Flu vaccinations can reduce flu illnesses, prevent flu-related hospitalizations, reduce doctors’ visits and missed work and school. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the flu. It is estimated that 5.3 million flu illnesses were protected by the flu vaccination in 2016-2017.

Everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine every year, by the end of October, if possible.  Even healthy people need a flu vaccine.  Influenza is a contagious disease that can lead to serious illness. Pregnant women, young children, older people, and people with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are at increased risk of serious flu-related complications, so it is especially important for them to receive the flu vaccination. It is best to receive the flu vaccination before the flu season begins, as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

The flu vaccine is safe. Millions of Americans have safely received the flu vaccine over the past 50 years, and there is extensive research supporting the safety of seasonal flu vaccines. Every year, the Food and Drug Administration along with the Centers for Disease Control, work together and with other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for flu vaccines.

People need to get the flu vaccine every year. There are two main reasons why: 1) Flu viruses are constantly changing, so flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next. You need the current season’s vaccine for the best protection; 2) A person’s immunity from the vaccine declines over time, so annual vaccination is needed for the best protection.

This season, the following injectable flu vaccines will be used:
 
  • Standard dose flu shots – given into the muscle, usually given with a needle.
  • A high-dose shot for people 65 and older.
  • A shot made with adjuvant for people 65 and older.
  • A shot made with virus grown in cell culture.
  • A shot made using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that does not require the use of flu virus or eggs.
Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – or the nasal spray vaccine – is not recommended for use this season because of concerns about its effectiveness.

Every day, preventive actions to help prevent the flu include avoiding close contact with sick people, limiting contact with others if you are ill, covering nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, washing hands often with soap and water, using alcohol-based hand rub if water is not available, avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

For more information about the flu vaccine, contact your primary care physician or a local pharmacy.
 
 

Body Positivity

Healthy relationships with our bodies and food are important factors to our overall health. Often individuals will have a negative self-image because they strive to have the body of the model, athlete, or actor that they see on television. In order to put a stop to the comparison, it is important to know what a positive body image is and how to achieve it. Be cautious of social media, remember that comparison isn’t realistic and social media can be the main platform for you to engage in comparing yourself. Always remember how far doing something nice for you can go – take time to relax, go for a walk, read a book. Whatever makes you happy deserves time in your routine.
 
Equally as important as maintaining a positive body image is your physical health. Today we consume so many processed foods and mindlessly eat without considering what we are actually putting into our bodies. Eating healthy does not have to be hard or painful. Following a few simple rules can put you on the path to success:
 
  • Stress fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk products.
  • Include lean meats, poultry and fish – as well as beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • Incorporate foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.
A healthy diet doesn’t have to be restrictive. Are you in love with pizza or do you always crave donuts? You don’t have to give up your comfort foods completely, just be aware and eat them less often and try smaller amounts. Take it one step at a time and you will have no problem keeping a positive body image and maintaining a healthy diet!
 
The National Eating Disorder Association recommends the following steps to Positive Body Image:
  1. Appreciate all that your body can do.  Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams.  Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
  2. Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like.  Read your list often.  Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep.  When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel.  Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person.  When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts.  See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.  It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person.  You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones.  The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you. 
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body.  Work with your body, not against it.
  8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.  Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body.  Protest these messages:  write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message
  9. Do something nice for yourself--something that lets your body know you appreciate it.  Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax.
 
Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others.  Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.
 
Healthy relationships with our bodies and food are important factors to our overall health. Often individuals will have a negative self-image because they strive to have the body of the model, athlete, or actor that they see on television. In order to put a stop to the comparison, it is important to know what a positive body image is and how to achieve it. Be cautious of social media, remember that comparison isn’t realistic and social media can be the main platform for you to engage in comparing yourself. Always remember how far doing something nice for you can go – take time to relax, go for a walk, read a book. Whatever makes you happy deserves time in your routine.
 
Equally as important as maintaining a positive body image is your physical health. Today we consume so many processed foods and mindlessly eat without considering what we are actually putting into our bodies. Eating healthy does not have to be hard or painful. Following a few simple rules can put you on the path to success:
 
  • Stress fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk products.
  • Include lean meats, poultry and fish – as well as beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • Incorporate foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.
A healthy diet doesn’t have to be restrictive. Are you in love with pizza or do you always crave donuts? You don’t have to give up your comfort foods completely, just be aware and eat them less often and try smaller amounts. Take it one step at a time and you will have no problem keeping a positive body image and maintaining a healthy diet!
 
The National Eating Disorder Association recommends the following steps to Positive Body Image:
  1. Appreciate all that your body can do.  Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams.  Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
  2. Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like.  Read your list often.  Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin deep.  When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful regardless of whether you physically look like a supermodel.  Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of your body.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person.  When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts.  See yourself as you want others to see you–as a whole person.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.  It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person.  You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones.  The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you. 
  7. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body.  Work with your body, not against it.
  8. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.  Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body.  Protest these messages:  write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message
  9. Do something nice for yourself--something that lets your body know you appreciate it.  Take a bubble bath, make time for a nap, find a peaceful place outside to relax. 
Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others.  Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world.
 
 
 

Have a Ball at the Oshkosh Y Tennis Center

We are so excited to share with you a NEW benefit that will bring even more value to your Oshkosh Community YMCA membership. Beginning September 4, your Oshkosh Y membership will include the Oshkosh Y Tennis Center! Tennis Memberships were previously a separate cost, but not anymore!

You and your family can now explore the amazing sport of tennis, pickleball and MORE! We offer open play, lessons leagues and more for ALL ages and abilities. Check out our Fall Program Guide HERE and register for classes, lessons, programs and events today! Continue reading to learn more about the Bongers Family and how they utilize the Oshkosh Y and the Oshkosh Y Tennis Center to encourage and educate their kids on the need for lifelong sports and healthy living activities.



 



Meet the Bongers Family!
Joseph & Desiree, Henry (10), Auden (8) & Eleanor (5)


The Bongers have been a Y family for years and are a great example of how our Y members and families can utilize all THREE of our facilities, including our Oshkosh Y Tennis Center, for youth development and healthy living. Here is their story!

Submitted by Joseph & Desiree Bongers

Desiree and I first joined the Oshkosh
Community YMCA after moving to Oshkosh
in 2005. Our initial motivation was simply
to have a place to exercise, but once we
started a family we began to use, and really
rely upon, many of the other services that
the Y has to offer.

Our son Henry was born in 2008, followed
by our daughters Auden in 2010 and
Eleanor in 2012. When our children were young, we utilized the drop-in daycare and we still use it frequently with our youngest, Eleanor. We started each of the children in swim lessons at the age of 3, and for years our Sunday afternoons included lessons at the 20th Ave Y. We also utilize other programs like the After School Kid’s Club, Summer Fun Club and Camp Winni-Y-Co. Our family also enjoys Y events throughout the year including the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dances, as well as the Family Nights.

In 2015, we enrolled Henry in the Midwest Tennis Summer Camp through the Oshkosh YMCA Tennis Center. He really enjoyed it and wanted to keep playing, so we enrolled him in lessons that fall. Desiree noticed that adult lessons were offered at the same time and also enrolled. I saw how much fun she was having and how much her skills had improved, and the rest of the family joined by early 2017. Now all five of us are at the Tennis Center on Saturday mornings working on our game!

One thing we’ve tried to emphasize to our children is the need for lifelong sports, such as tennis, swimming and running, and we feel that the Y is a perfect place to do this!

We are thrilled that the Tennis Center membership will be included in the Oshkosh Y general membership beginning September 4. Not only is tennis great exercise and a lot of fun, but it’s a great sport for families to play together and something that people of all ages can enjoy. Hopefully more families will give it a try now that there are no additional membership costs.

I really don’t know what we’d do without the YMCA. Not only is it an important part of how we stay fit, it also provides us with vital services like childcare throughout the year. It’s a great destination for us as a family and a safe and positive environment for our children. In addition to all of this, we’ve started an annual tradition of attending a family camp at the YMCA of the Ozarks in southern Missouri, so now we even vacation with the Y!

For more information, please see the front desk of either of our THREE facilities or visit our website at www.oshkoshymca.org.

Back to School: Choosing the Right Backpack!

A new school year is a great time to review backpack safety for parents and students.  Backpacks can be incredibly handy, but if worn or used incorrectly, can cause muscle strain, joint pain, and back pain. Backpacks are a better choice for students when it comes to choosing a bag, as the strongest muscles in the body – the back and the abdominals – support the weight of the backpack compared to other options such as shoulder bags, messenger bags or purses.  Dr. Jeff Krueger, Krueger Family Chiropractic in Oshkosh, states, “Improperly used or fitting backpacks can put undue stress on the body causing back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and even headaches.  In our practice, we commonly see middle and high school students develop back pain as a result of carrying all their books throughout the entire day.”

“It is important that both shoulder straps of the pack be utilized and adjusted to fit properly on the back, which will reduce the amount of stress placed on the spine. A backpack slung over one shoulder disproportionately shifts all the weight to one side and cause muscle spasms and pain,” adds Dr. Krueger.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents look for the following when choosing the right backpack:
 
  • A lightweight pack that doesn’t add a lot of weight to your child’s load (for example, even though leather packs look cool, they weigh more than traditional canvas backpacks).
  • The backpack should have two wide, padded shoulder straps; straps that are too narrow can dig into shoulders.
  • A backpack with a padded back, which not only provides increased comfort, but also protects kids from being poked by sharp edges on objects (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack.
  • A backpack with a waist belt, which helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body.
  • Backpacks that have multiple compartments, which can help distribute the weight more evenly.

Although back pain is caused by a number of things, it can be caused by kids carrying too many things in their backpacks all day long.  Most doctors and physical therapists recommend kids carry no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight inside their backpack. When a backpack is too heavy, and incorrectly placed on the shoulders, the weight can pull the child backward.  To compensate, the child may bend forward at the hips or arch their back, which can cause the spine to compress unnaturally.  This can lead to shoulder, neck, and back pain.

The American Occupational Therapy Association gives the following suggestions for students when loading a backpack:
 
  • Load the heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack).
  • Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
  • Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.
  • If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can hand carry a book or other item outside the pack.
  • If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

According to Kids Health, here are some additional tips to help to help decrease injuries due to backpacks:
 
  • Encourage kids to use their locker or desk frequently throughout the day instead of carrying the entire days’ worth of books in the backpack.
  • Make sure kids don’t carry unnecessary items – laptops, cell phones, and video games can add extra pounds to the backpack.
  • Encourage kids to bring home only the books they need for homework or studying each night.
  • Ask about homework planning. A heavier pack on Fridays might mean that a child is procrastinating on homework until the weekend, making for unnecessarily heave backpacks.
  • Picking up the backpack the right way can also help kids avoid back injurie. As with any heavy weight, they should bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting a backpack to the shoulders.

If your child has back pain or numbness in the arms or legs, consider talking to your doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor about treatment options. Dr. Krueger explains, “We encourage parents to talk to their children about ergonomic issues such as posture and backpacks. A child who is educated early in life on these issues will typically deal with less musculoskeletal problems later in life.”  Dr. Krueger adds, “We offer free backpack checks to students of all ages.  Simple modifications to backpacks at the start of the school year can prevent extra stress that can cause unnecessary pain and problems over time.”
 

Living with Arthritis

Roughly 54 million people have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Getting arthritis diagnosed and learning strategies to reduce its impact can make living with the condition more manageable. Arthritis is a general term referring to many rheumatic diseases that cause pain, stiffness and swelling in joints and other connective tissues. More than 100 types of joint diseases can affect supporting structures such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and other parts of the body.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis is a common condition of aging. Osteoarthritis results from the breakdown of cartilage in the joints and the subsequent growth of bone spurs that become inflamed. Degeneration of cartilage may lead to a total loss of the cartilage cushion between the joints, often affecting the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees. People with osteoarthritis usually experience joint pain and limited movement.

If you have pain, stiffness or swelling in or around a joint for more than two weeks, it’s time to seek medical advice. Only a trained medical professional can tell if you have arthritis. Describe your symptoms in detail, so your health care provider can provide an accurate diagnosis. Ask for a specific diagnosis on which type of arthritis you have, since there are more than 100 different types of arthritis.

There is no single treatment program that applies to all people with arthritis. Treatment plans include various medications for pain relief (depending on the type and severity of symptoms), rest and relaxation, proper diet, and instruction on the proper use of joints, as well as other pain relief methods, such as acupuncture. Depending on the patient’s specific condition, additional treatment recommendations may include the use of heat and cold; joint protection; use of assistive devices, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and hydrotherapy or massage therapy.

Exercise helps lessen pain, increase range of movement, reduce fatigue and feel better overall. Your health care provider, a physical therapist, or other trained health professional can teach range-of-motion and strengthening exercises that are good for arthritis. Exercising in the water can build strength and increase range of motion, while the water’s buoyancy reduces wear and tear on achy joints.

Every extra pound you carry around translates into added stress on your knees and hips. Excess weight can mean more pain, no matter which form of arthritis you have. It can also contribute to and aggravate osteoarthritis, while increasing your risk of gout.

A warm bath before bed can relieve muscle tension, ease aching joints and help you get a good night’s sleep. The benefits of massage vary from person to person, but may provide decreased pain and increased circulation, energy and flexibility. Early treatment can often mean less joint damage and less pain. Your provider might recommend a combination of treatments, such as medication, weight management, and exercise, use of heat or cold, and methods to protect your joints from further damage.

In recent years the FDA has approved a number of new drugs for different types of arthritis. If your current arthritis medication isn’t working as well as you’d like, ask your provider if there are newer treatment options. If other treatment options haven’t helped, your provider may recommend surgery, especially if you’re having difficulty performing everyday tasks. Surgery can smooth out and reposition bones, replace arthritic joints and remove loose pieces of bone or cartilage from joints.

To reduce your chances of developing arthritis:

• Maintain a healthy weight and don’t smoke.
• Do regular, gentle exercise, including walking, stretching or yoga.
• Avoid repetitive motions and risky physical activities that can contribute to joint injury, especially after age 40.
 
 

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month.  A mother’s breast milk has numerous health benefits for both mom and baby. To begin with, it’s naturally produced to be the perfect nutrition for your baby, with disease-fighting antibodies.  The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends exclusively breastfeeding babies for the first six months of life, and then combining breast milk with the introduction of complimentary foods until baby is at least 12 months. The World Health Organization recommends even longer – through at least the age of two.  Rachel Juckem RN, IBCLC, Lactation Consultant at Aurora Health Care in Oshkosh states, “Breastfeeding has many benefits. It helps protect babies against asthma, childhood obesity, diarrhea, respiratory infections, ear infections, SIDS, and some childhood cancers.”

Here are just a few benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby:
 
  • Colostrum is like liquid gold. Colostrum is the thick yellow breast milk that is made during pregnancy and shortly after birth. It’s extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies to help protect your baby and build his or her immune system.
  • Breast milk provides the perfect nutrition.  A mother’s body naturally produces the perfect proportions of fat, carbohydrates, and protein every time your baby nurses. It even changes with your growing baby’s needs. Breast milk also provides crucial antibodies that can actually fight disease and lower the risk of your baby developing all kinds of diseases and chronic illnesses later in life.
  • Breast feeding satisfies a baby’s emotional needs.  The closeness of breastfeeding your baby promotes crucial bonding and skin-to-skin contact which is important for emotional and social development. Plus, it releases endorphins, which act as a natural soother and pain suppressant for baby.
  • Breastfeeding is associated with a higher IQ.  The latest study to support this was done in New Zealand, where an 18-year longitudinal study found that children who were breastfed had better intelligence and greater academic achievement.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of post-partum depression and stimulates healing.  It was reported in a study published in the journal Maternal and Child Health that breastfeeding can cut the risk of post-partum depression in half.  Breastfeeding stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin in the mother’s body. Often known as the “feel good” hormone, oxytocin also stimulates contractions, which cause the uterus to shrink more quickly to its pre-pregnancy size. This also shuts off the maternal blood-vessels that formerly fed the baby and discourages excessive bleeding.
  • Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower type of Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers. One of the reasons for the cancer-fighting effects of breastfeeding is that estrogen levels are lower during lactation – resulting in a lower risk of these tissues becoming cancerous. 
  • Breastfeeding costs less and is more convenient.  Formula and feeding supplies can cost well over $1,500 each year, depending on how much your baby eats. Breastfed babies are also sick less often, resulting in fewer missed days at work and lower health care costs.

Unfortunately, America is the one of the few developed countries without a law ensuring new mothers receive paid maternity leave. For some women, returning to work is often cited as the reason why they choose not to breastfeed, or to only breastfeed for a short time.

Through the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), large employers (more than 50 employees) are now required to provide moms and babies younger than 12 months with a reasonable break time for pumping, and a private place to pump, other than a bathroom.  Another result of the law was for most benefits plans to provide pregnant or post-partum women with comprehensive lactation support and counseling, by a trained provider, during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period.
 

Bike Helmet Safety

Stay safe and use your head.  Choosing the right helmet and wearing one every time is the smart choice.  Every year the estimated number of bicycle-related head injuries requiring hospitalization exceeds the number for all head injury cases related to baseball, football, skateboards, kick scooters, horseback riding, snowboarding, ice hockey, in-line skating, and lacrosse combined.  But 85 percent of bicycle related head and brain injuries could have been prevented by wearing a helmet.

Think of a thumbtack. When thumbtacks are used correctly, it’s the wall that’s pierced and not the thumb. The flat of the thumbtack spreads the force over a broad area of thumb and the point concentrates that same force against a vanishing small area of wall. The smaller contact point results in greater force and easier penetration. The same physics rule works by using a helmet to supply more space to decrease the impact energy to the head.

A good bike helmet is made of dense crushable material that provides extra time and space to absorb impact energy in a crash. It is actually the sudden stop, not the fall that causes most brain injuries. Imagine yourself in a moving bus that comes to a sudden stop. Without a seat belt, your body would keep moving forward until you hit the back of the seat in front of you or the bus windshield. A helmet acts like a good driver applying a braking force, a few taps on the brake to slow down the bus before the full stop, giving your head and brain inside the helmet a little more time to come to a gentler stop.
Here are some helpful helmet tips:
 
  • Try the helmet on before buying and make sure it fits your head size and shape.
  • Wear it low, over your forehead just above your eyebrows.
  • Adjust the chin straps one at a time independently, and make sure the side buckle is placed below the earlobe on the side jaw bone.
  • Buckle snugly under the chin, not over the throat, and allow only two fingers to slip through the buckled strap.
  • Wear the helmet every time you ride.
  • Replace your helmet at least every five years, or when it’s involved in a crash.
A helmet can help protect you or your child from a serious brain or head injury. Even with a helmet, it is important for you and your child to avoid hits to the head. Consider wearing a helmet for recommended activities.
 

Stress Management

Tense shoulders, lingering headaches, exhaustion, food cravings – everyone has feelings of stress occasionally. For many, these are some of the most common symptoms. But as bad as these may be, the effect that long-term stress can have on our health goes far deeper. In fact, according to recent study by researchers at Harvard Business School and Stanford University, workplace stress, in particular, is as bad for your health as secondhand smoke.

When we’re stressed, our muscles tend to tense up, which is why we often feel it first in our shoulders and neck. It’s also why tension-related headaches and migraines are common.  Our brain also signals the nervous system to start producing epinephrine and cortisol. When these hormones are released, the liver produces more glucose – a blood sugar that provides the energy needed to react in a true emergency. But when stress is long-term our bodies don’t use all that extra energy, so the glucose gets stored in the liver and skeletal muscles as glycogen. When our glycogen stores are at capacity, all the leftover glucose ends up stored as fat in the body. This is part of the reason why it’s common to gain weight when we’re stressed for long periods of time. Well, that and whole carton of ice cream you just ate.

As if that weren’t enough, long-term stress can also mean long-term damage to your heart. Momentary stress triggers an increased heart rate as part of the body’s “flight or fight” response – a crucial function when our reaction is needed for survival. But when your body is stressed continuously for a long period, as faster heart rate and elevated levels of stress hormones can increase risk for hypertension, heart attack, or stroke.

We all experience varying levels of potential stressors. Your ability to tolerate each one without long-term stress depends on many factors. Some of those factors include:
  • Your support network - A strong network of supportive friends and family can be an enormous buffer. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.
  • Your sense of control- It may be easier to take stress in stride if you have confidence in your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges. If you feel like things are out of your control, you’re likely to have less tolerance for stress.
  • Your attitude and outlook – Optimistic people are often more stress-hardy. They tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, and accept that change is a part of life.
  • Your ability to deal with emotions – You’re extremely vulnerable to stress if you don’t know how to soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or overwhelmed by a situation. The ability to bring emotions into balance helps you bounce back from adversity.
  • Your knowledge and preparation – The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope.
Unfortunately, some of the common ways people deal with stress can only compound the long-term damage. Healthy stress management involves either changing the stressful situation when you can, or changing your reaction when you can’t.  Healthy ways to manage your stress include: exercise, social engagement, relaxation time at home, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of sleep.

Take the following stress quiz to see how well you handle stress in your life:
  1. I have people I confide in when I’m feeling under pressure who make me feel better.
  2. I feel comfortable expressing how I feel when something is bothering me.
  3. In general, I feel in control of my life and confident in my ability to handle what comes my way.
  4. I find reasons to laugh and feel grateful, even when going through difficulties.
  5. No matter how busy I am, I make it a priority to sleep, exercise and eat right.
  6. I’m able to calm myself down when I start to feel overwhelmed.
Each “yes” you answer represents an important stress coping skill. Each “no” you answer represents an area to work on to become more resilient.

Learn how to control your stress and take better care of yourself to minimize the effects long-term stress can have on your health.
 
<< Previous 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9