Category: Healthy

Simple Ways To Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Sleep is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. The National Institutes of Health says good sleep improves brain performance and mood and helps reduce the risk of many diseases and disorders, including heart disease and obesity. In fact, sleep is as important for good health as diet and exercise.

Too often people do not get enough sleep or poor quality sleep. Sleep needs change as a person ages, with young children and teens requiring between nine and 10 hours per night. Most adults need at least seven hours each night. According to Dr. Kenneth Wright, Jr., a sleep researcher at the University of Colorado, a person can make up for a poor night’s sleep by sleeping in the next day, but habitual loss of sleep cannot be recuperated in a weekend.

Men need to focus on sleep to feel their best. These sleep strategies, courtesy of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NIH, can promote better sleep.

Be Consistent

The body will adapt to a sleeping schedule when you go to bed and wake in the morning at the same time each day. Try not to vary your schedule between weekdays or weekends, or even when on vacation.

Limit Exposure to Light at Night

The body naturally responds to darkened conditions by stimulating the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Too often people keep lights on at night or look at phones or watch television, which can adversely affect melatonin production and contribute to a poor sleep environment.

Exercise Each Day

Aim for daily exercise, which can make it easier to fall asleep at night. Avoid exercise a few hours before bed, however.

Spend Time Outside Each Day

At least 30 minutes of sunlight and fresh air each day can promote a better night’s sleep.

Watch Your Naps

Naps should be short and taken before mid-afternoon.

Skip Caffeine and Alcohol Later in a Day

Caffeine consumption can impede the ability to fall asleep because it is a stimulant. Although alcohol is a depressant and can make it easy to fall asleep, the sleep that is taking place after consuming alcohol, particularly late at night, will not be quality, restorative sleep.

Keep meals at Night Very Light

Heavy meals that force the body to spend hours digesting can interrupt sleep onset and quality.

Maintain a Dark, Cool and Quiet Bedroom

A dark, cool and quiet bedroom is a positive sleep environment.

If sleeping habits do not improve after making these changes, individuals should speak with a health care provider to determine if there is an underlying condition that is compromising sleep, such as restless leg syndrome or obstructive sleep apnea. Although sleeping pills can offer relief once in a while, they should not be seen as long-term solutions to sleeping disorders. Doctor can be useful allies in helping individuals get better sleep.

Tips To Maintain Your Commitment To Exercise

At one point or another, millions of adults across the globe have resolved to be more physically active. The benefits of routine exercise are too numerous to cite, but some of the more notable ones include a lower risk for chronic disease and illness, improved self-esteem and greater overall health.

With so much to gain from routine exercise, it’s no wonder so many people aspire to be more physically active. But it’s easy to lose motivation when aspiring to exercise more. Each year, one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to exercise more. In fact, Statista conducted a survey regarding New Year’s resolutions for 2023 and found that exercising more was the most popular resolution. However, a 2021 study published in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health found that 64 percent of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions within a month of making them. Exercising more requires commitment, and there are some ways to make it a little easier to maintain that commitment over the long haul.

Break It Up

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes that people don’t need to exercise all at once to reap the rewards of physical activity. If time is tight, break up a workout over the course of your day. Some strength-training exercises in the morning can be followed up with a brisk walk or run over a lunch break. This approach makes it easier to fit a full workout into your daily routine.

Employ The Buddy System

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that working out with a partner increases exercise motivation and encourages individuals to be more consistent with their exercise routine so they do not let their partners down. The authors behind a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology suggested the efficacy of the buddy system may require further study before researchers can definitively say it’s an effective motivation strategy for people who want to exercise more. But there’s no denying that many individuals feel that they are more likely to exercise with a friend than they are if they go solo.

Schedule Exercise Time

Busy professionals book work meetings, family obligations and other daily tasks in their schedules, and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends doing the same with exercise. Allotting time to exercise each day may decrease the likelihood that you’ll skip a workout, and once results start to manifest you may be more motivated to stay the course.

Identify What Progress May Look Like

It’s easy to become discouraged if a commitment to routine exercise does not produce visible results. But just because your abs are not becoming chiseled a month into a workout routine or the scale is not reflecting significant weight loss does not mean your routine is not working. As the human body ages, it becomes more difficult to transform it. So a workout routine that left you looking lean and chiseled in your twenties may not produce the same body in your forties. But that does not mean the exercise isn’t working and ultimately helping you get healthier. Adults are urged to speak with their physicians and identify what progress with a workout routine might look like for someone their age. Progress may look different than it did years ago, but if the end result is a healthier you, then that should be all the motivation you need to keep going.

It’s no secret that making a commitment to routine exercise can be difficult. But various strategies can increase the likelihood that individuals will stay the course as they seek to exercise more frequently.

Tips To Prepare For Flu Season

Influenza is more common than people may realize. Data from the World Health Organization indicates there are around one billion cases of seasonal influenza each year. Though only a small fraction of those cases result in severe illness, even a mild case of the flu can be unpleasant and disruptive.

The phrase “flu prevention” may be somewhat misleading, as the best people can do is reduce their risk for seasonal influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to do that is to get vaccinated against the flu each year. Each year’s flu shot is different, as researchers design the vaccination based on which strand of influenza they anticipate will be most prevalent in a given year. In addition to getting vaccinated, individuals can consider these tips, courtesy of the CDC, to protect themselves and others from the flu and stop the spread of germs.

  • Steer clear of close contact. Individuals who are sick can steer clear of close contact with other people in order to safeguard them from the flu. On the flip side, people who live or work with individuals who have the flu can avoid close contact as well.
  • Don’t be a hero. The CDC urges anyone who is sick with the flu to stay home until their illness subsides. Avoid going to school, work and running errands so you can help to prevent the virus from spreading.
  • Cover up. The CDC notes that the flu virus spreads primarily through droplets produced when people with influenza cough, sneeze or talk. When around others, cover your mouth and nose, particularly when sneezing or coughing. When you have to sneeze or cough, do so into the cradle of your elbow. Coughing into your hands could help to spread the virus, as germs can transfer from your hand onto surfaces others may touch, like doorknobs and handles.
  • Routinely wash your hands. Make it a habit to wash your hands regularly. When returning home, wash your hands before you do anything else. This is especially important when returning home from places where lots of people tend to congregate, such as grocery stores and restaurants. Lathering hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help get rid of germs. If soap and water is not available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. The CDC notes that germs spread when people touch contaminated surfaces or objects and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. It’s easy to touch your eyes, nose or mouth without even thinking about it, but make a concerted effort to avoid touching these areas to safeguard yourself and others from the flu.

Seasonal influenza can be a disruptive and potentially deadly force. Various practices can help people protect themselves and others from contracting the flu.

Activities To Strengthen The Heart

The heart is a vital component of the human body. Without a functional heart, life is simply not possible. As with other muscles in the body, it is important to give the heart a workout to improve its strength and vitality. Intermountain Health says an individual who dos not exercise is more than twice as likely to get heart disease as someone who does. UCI Health says heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death worldwide.

Exercise is an ideal way to strengthen the heart and reduce your risk for heart disease and other conditions. Certain activities are prime for boosting heart health.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise raises heart rate and gets the blood pumping throughout the body. Aerobic activity improves circulation, and over time it ensures the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood, thus potentially lowering blood pressure. Also, aerobic exercise can reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and can help those with diabetes to control blood glucose more readily. Aerobic exercises include brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis, and other activities that get the heart pumping. Aim for 30 minutes each day, for at least five days a week.

Resistance/Weight Training

Building muscle can help the body burn fat and boost metabolism. This type of training can use weights or the body’s own resistance. Improving muscle mass while reducing body fat and excess weight are heart-healthy steps to take. Strength training can be incorporated into a routine two to three days a week.

Balance and Flexibility Exercises

A person may wonder what flexibility and balance has to do with heart health. While there isn’t a direct correlation to how the heart works, these types of activities will help reduce the risk of falls or injuries to muscles and joints while working out. Inactivity is dangerous for the heart, so ensuring that physical activity can continue is important. Flexibility and balance exercises keep the body limber, and can be incorporated into daily workouts. Stretching, tai chi, yoga, and pilates can be included two or three times a week.

Healthy Eating

The foods people eat can affect heart health. Opt for lean protein sources and foods that include healthy fats. Salmon, avocados and olives are some options. Balance these foods with whole grains that are full of fiber, which can help a person feel fuller longer. Fiber also is essential for preventing atherosclerosis, a condition that causes hardening of the arteries.


Slowing down, performing deep-breathing exercises and meditation can reduce stress. That, in turn, can help prevent damage to the heart.

Strengthening the heart and maintaining its health involves various activities that can be incorporated into daily routines.

The Health Benefits Of Being In Nature

Nature enthusiasts are known to say that spending time in the great outdoors has a positive effect on their mental and physical well-being. Such an outlook is more than mere speculation, as it turns out spending time in nature provides a host of health benefits that might surprise even the most devoted outdoors enthusiasts.

Nature and Cognitive Health

A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias found that engaged persons with dementia in horticultural therapy-based (HT-based) programming solicited higher rates of participation than traditional activities (TA) programming. In addition, a separate 2013 study in the journal Dementia found that exposure to a therapeutic garden had a positive impact on quality of life for people with dementia. And it’s not just dementia patients who can experience the cognitive benefits of time spent in nature, as the Hagley Museum and Library reports that numerous studies have found exposure to nature improves cognitive function.

Nature and Vitamin D

The potential health benefits of vitamin D are increasingly drawing the attention of medical researchers, and for good reason. According to the Harvard Medical School, recent research has suggested that vitamin D may offer added protection against conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, heart attack, stroke, and depression. Exposure to sunshine can help the body generate vitamin D, thus providing further reason to spend time in nature.

Nature and Overall Well-Being

Given the aforementioned health benefits related to spending time in nature, it’s easy for even non-scientists to conclude that being outdoors has a profound impact on overall well-being. But non-scientists can rest assured that recent research has confirmed such conclusions. A 2019 study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that individuals who spent at least 120 minutes a week in nature were significantly more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who spent less time outdoors. Though the authors of the study cautioned that the exposure-response relationship was under-researched, and therefore likely needed to be studied more extensively, in the meantime individuals, after a consultation with their physicians and confirmation that it’s safe to get out more often, can aspire to spend at least 120 minutes in nature each week. The results may speak for themselves.

Nature has a lot to offer, and the benefits of spending more time outdoors may be even more significant than people recognize.

3 Treatment Options For Breast Cancer Patients

Millions of women worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Such a diagnosis is never welcome, but women should know that survival rates have improved dramatically in recent decades. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that, by the end of 2020, nearly eight million women were living despite having been diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in the previous half decade.

One of the reasons for the improved survival rates is the efficacy of various treatments. The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.® notes that doctors have various options to treat breast cancer, and they often devise treatment plans that include some combination of treatments. Though no one wants to imagine receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, understanding the potential treatments for the disease can help women and their families be more prepared should that day ever arrive. The following are three treatment options physicians may discuss with women as they begin devising ways to overcome the disease.

1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is used to treat various cancers, including breast cancer. Chemotherapy employs various drugs to destroy cancer cells or slow their growth. The drugs administered during chemotherapy are known as cytotoxic drugs and may be administered orally or intravenously. The NBCF notes that chemotherapy is offered to most patients, though doctors will consider a host of variables before deciding if chemotherapy is right for a given patient. Those variables include the type of tumor, its grade and its size.

2. Radiation therapy

During radiation treatments, high energy rays are used to kill cancer cells. Only cells in the part of the body that is being treated with radiation are affected, so patients needn’t worry that other parts of their body will be hit with radiation. The NBCF reports that patients diagnosed with Stage 0 (DCIS) and most diagnosed with Stage 1 invasive cancer or higher can expect doctors to prescribe radiation therapy. Women who have had a lumpectomy also are likely to be prescribed radiation. Two main kinds of radiation are generally considered for breast cancer patients. External beam breast cancer radiation treatment delivers cancer-killing rays through a large machine. Internal breast cancer radiation is a newer treatment that injects radioactive cancer-killing treatments into the affected area.

3. Targeted therapy

The NBCF reports that targeted therapy is commonly used in combination with traditional chemotherapy. Targeted therapy attacks specific breast cancer cells without harming normal cells, which is why it tends to produce less severe side effects than chemotherapy treatments. Targeted therapy employs drugs to block the growth of cancer cells in very specific ways. One example cited by the NBCF is the drug Trastuzumab, or Herceptin®, which is given to women whose breast tumors have too much of the abnormal protein HER2. Though the side effects of targeted therapies tend to be less severe, women may still experience issues like fever and chills, nausea, headaches, and other symptoms after drugs have been administered.

Expanding breast cancer treatments have done much to improve survival rates for patients. Women diagnosed with the disease are urged to play an active role in their treatments and ask any questions they might have before, during and after being treated.

How To Make Grilling Healthier

Summer is synonymous with many things, including family vacations and relaxing days at the beach. For foodies, perhaps nothing evokes the spirit of summer more effectively than grilled foods.

Grilling is a beloved tradition, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest way to eat. Traditional backyard barbecue fare like hot dogs and hamburgers likely won’t make physicians’ hearts flutter, but there are ways to enjoy the flavor of grilling without compromising a nutritious diet.

Replace burgers and hot dogs with healthy proteins

The occasional hamburger or hot dog won’t do much damage, but people who regularly grill should skip these summertime staples and replace them with healthy proteins. The American Heart Association reports that fish and skinless chicken breasts are healthy alternatives to hamburgers and hot dogs. Burger devotees can still enjoy their go-to grilled food, but replace ground beef with lean ground poultry, which contains less saturated fat than red meat.

Avoid overdoing it

Most people have overindulged at a backyard barbecue at one point or another. The relaxed, party-like atmosphere of the backyard barbecue makes it easy to snack on chips and other unhealthy fares before moving on to burgers and hot dogs. Hosts can do guests a favor by replacing snacks and sides like chips and potato salad with healthier fare like celery, fruit salad or chickpea salad. Keep portions of grilled fare as close to a healthy size as possible. The AHA notes that a healthy portion of meat is around three ounces and no more than six ounces.

Create a salt-free rub

There’s no denying salt makes food more flavorful. But that flavor comes at a high cost. The health care experts Piedmont note that excessive amounts of salt can contribute to inflammation from fluid retention and increase a person’s risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure. Salt may be a go-to for many grilling enthusiasts, but it doesn’t have to be. A salt-free rub made with chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and/or other spices is an effective and salt-free way to add flavor to meat, chicken, and fish.

Grill more vegetables

Grilled vegetables, whether they’re part of kebabs or simply grilled alongside the main course, add significant flavor and provide all the health benefits of veggies cooked in more traditional ways. The AHA notes that coating vegetables in a healthy oil like olive oil makes it easy to grill them directly over an open flame without sticking. Cooking in this way imparts that signature smoky, grilled flavor to vegetables.

This summer, grilling can be as healthy as it is flavorful. All it takes is a few simple strategies to make the menu at your next backyard barbecue one any doctor would love.

Summer Fun for Active Seniors

Seniors may have more time for leisure and recreation than working adults, and the summer months provide ample opportunities to get active. After months of chilly temperatures, seniors in various parts of the country may be eager to get outdoors and enjoy some fun in the sun.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults age 65 and older get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. There are plenty of ways for active seniors to meet this exercise goal and have some fun along the way. The following are some good starting points.

Join or start a walking club

Walking is a great way to stay in shape and work the mind as well. View new sights along the way by changing the route each time you go. Walking with friends can pass the time and provide the motivation to keep going.

Catch a sporting event

Attending a sporting event can be an entertaining way to spend several hours, and that includes amateur and recreational sports. Catch a grandchild’s swim meet or a baseball game for an action-packed way to connect with loved ones and get out.

Take a fishing charter

Casting a rod from a dock or pier is perfectly acceptable, but securing a spot on a fishing charter is a great way to spend hours out on the water enjoying the scenery and the sport of fishing. Plus, there’s the added benefit of enjoying the fruits of your labors by cooking the day’s catch for dinner once you arrive home.

Be a tourist

Many cities and towns have their own tourism boards and showcase interesting spots that have historical significance or appeal to other interests. Be a tourist for the day – even in an area with which you are familiar. Hop on a trolley or sightseeing bus to view the town as an outsider.

Spend time swimming

Swimming is a low-impact activity that can work the body in many different ways. Devote time to doing a few laps in the pool. Or make a day of going to a lake or another body of water to wade out and enjoy some strokes in nature. Stick to swimming areas that are monitored by lifeguards for optimal safety.

Tend to a garden

Gardening is a great form of light exercise that can produce rewarding results. If you don’t have a garden or enough space for one at home, many neighborhoods have community gardens in which you can secure a plot.

Visit a fair or farmer’s market

The warm weather months are a peak time for outdoor activities, including various community fairs and farmer’s markets. Chances are you can find a farmer’s market nearby most days of the week, but especially on the weekend. A town market or state fair is a great way to get out and walk, play games of chance or enjoy some live entertainment. Check your community calendar for local events.

Active seniors can embrace long, warm summer days to enjoy plenty of time away from home.

How to Plan a Special Mother’s Day as Pandemic Restrictions Are Lifted

Mother’s Day has felt a little less than normal over the last couple of years. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of many Mother’s Day gatherings in 2020, and while things felt more familiar in 2021, this year may mark the most normal Mother’s Day celebrations since 2019.

Pandemic-related restrictions have now been lifted in many towns and cities. Though it’s best to confirm if any rules and restrictions are still in place before making any plans, individuals who want to make sure Mom has a special day can consider these planning pointers.

Revisit old traditions

There’s many ways to let Mom know she’s special, but after two years of living under the specter of a pandemic, few things might be as meaningful to Mom as a return to pre-pandemic traditions. Book a trip to a destination you’ve visited on Mother’s Day in the past. If possible, visit a locale where Mom spent her first Mother’s Day as a parent, ideally staying in the same hotel or rental home that hosted you back then. If it was once tradition to spend Mother’s Day in a big city, return there and enjoy a day that recalls pre-pandemic life.

Book a special trip

Millions of people canceled or postponed travel plans during the pandemic. Now that many places, including foreign countries, have lifted travel restrictions, families can feel safe taking off for parts unknown. Such a trip can be even more special if it’s a surprise for Mom on Mother’s Day weekend.

Make it a family affair

Even Mother’s Day celebrations in 2021 were likely smaller affairs than some moms might have preferred. If Mom spent some time wishing more family could be around on Mother’s Day over the last two years, make a concerted effort to include as many family members as possible this year. Encourage grown children to travel home for the holiday and invite Mom’s parents and siblings over to celebrate as well.

Get out of the house

A homecooked meal might have warmed Mom’s heart in recent years, but a day out of the house might be especially welcomed this Mother’s Day. Book a reservation at Mom’s favorite local restaurant so no one has any cooking or cleaning to do this year. Just be sure to book a reservation early, as the competition for a table figures to be especially stiff this year.

Start the day off with a spa visit

Moms might have put pampering on hold during the pandemic. Now that public health agencies have given the go-ahead to lift restrictions, a good pampering is undoubtedly in order. A Mother’s Day morning spa trip can start the day off right.

Mother’s Day celebrations in 2022 should feel more normal than they have in years. Families can capitalize on that by planning a day Mom won’t soon forget.

6 Ways to Better Yourself

Aspiring to continue to learn and grow is one of the keys to a fulfilling life. Sometimes it can be eye-opening to look in the mirror, examine oneself and figure out where there may be room for improvement.

Self-improvement is a noble endeavor, and there’s no limit to what one can achieve. These six strategies can serve as catalysts for change.

1. Make good habits even easier

Individuals can be their own worst enemies, procrastinating in regard to personal goals. Some habits require consistency, and they include exercising, waking up earlier, drinking and eating healthier, and reducing stress. One way to make sure you stick to healthy habits is to prioritize them and make a concerted effort to overcome your uncooperative side. Lay out workout clothes the night before if you want to exercise in the morning. Meal plan on the weekends and create healthy lunches to take to work. Set phone reminders to breathe and meditate several times during the day to calm stress. Eventually these habits will be as easy as brushing your teeth.

2. Read every day

Books have the power to educate, inspire creativity, strengthen cognition, and so much more. Think of reading a book as a daily multivitamin for the brain. Even if you can’t devote hours on end to reading, plan 20-minute sessions each day to tackle some pages.

3. Learn a new skill

One way to grow is to continue to learn new things. Many people like to explore new languages, not just for the potential for travel or employment, but also for personal betterment. Other skills to learn include baking, woodworking, accounting, crocheting, or anything that requires practice to master.

4. Boost positivity

There’s something to be said about maintaining a positive outlook no matter your positivity baseline. Rather than seeing what went wrong in a day, figure out what went right. Memorize positive words and personal reflections to help build stronger neural connections to positive concepts, which may help you become even more positive.

5. Overcome persistent fears

Fears reflect areas where you can grow and often indicate areas that need attention. Pick at least one fear to tackle. If that is public speaking, make a concerted effort to speak in front of a crowd, whether it’s during a work meeting or at a school function.

6. Make your bed each morning

Admiral William H. McRaven said that the first step to changing yourself and potentially the world is to make your bed every morning. You will have accomplished the first task of the day and it can give you a small sense of pride to tackle task after task. All it takes is one step to start a long journey.

Personal growth involves taking inventory and making gradual improvements and alterations in areas that require attention.