Category: Healthy

Self-improvement Strategies to Make Resolutions a Reality

Self-improvement is at the heart of the majority of New Year’s resolutions. Individuals resolving to read more or live a more active lifestyle or travel are all attempting better themselves.

Resolutions can be hard to keep, as the hectic pace of daily life can make it hard to find time for new activities. Individuals who want to see their resolutions through to the end can try utilizing various self-improvement strategies to help them achieve their goals.

Share your goals with others whom you respect.

Resolutions may involve intensely personal goals, but sharing those goals with people you respect can have a profound effect on your ability to achieve them. A recent study from researchers at The Ohio State University examined the effects of sharing target goals with others. In the study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, 171 undergraduates were asked to move a slider on a computer to the number 50 as many times as they could within a given time frame. After doing this, they were asked to do it again but this time they were asked to set a specific goal regarding how many times they could do it within the allotted time. Someone identified as a “lab assistant” then went to check on their goals, but the assistants were presented differently to different groups, and one group was not checked on at all. One assistant was well-dressed and introduced as a doctoral student, while the other was casually dressed and identified as a community college student. Researchers found that those who shared their goals with the doctoral level assistant reported feeling more committed to their goal and in fact performed better than participants in the other groups. Researchers concluded that individuals who share their goals with people they respect are more likely to commit to those goals than people who keep their goals to themselves.

Start small, but don’t stay small

Setting small goals may not make individuals feel like they’re en route to the dramatic changes they feel they need. However, research indicates that incremental goals can provide the early motivation people need to achieve larger goals. However, researchers at Peking University in China discovered that, while incremental goals helped people make more early progress, that progress waned if they did not eventually transition to their larger goals. Individuals can use their early successes to instill the confidence that makes them believe they can achieve their larger goals.

Change your perception of setbacks

Many a New Year’s resolution has fallen by the wayside due to setbacks. For example, someone who aspires to lose 20 lbs. may be trying to lose one pound per week for 20 weeks running. If an individual fails to lose that pound in a given week or even gains weight, that setback may compel that person to abandon the larger goal. But instead of seeing and even accepting that setback as a sign of failure, individuals should see it was a learning experience that can ultimately help them achieve their larger goal. In the weight loss scenario, individuals who fail to lose a pound in a given week can examine their habits over the previous seven days. Identifying why an incremental goal was not achieved can reassure individuals that they will know how to avoid those same pitfalls in the future.

Self-improvement strategies can help individuals making New Year’s resolutions see those resolutions through to their successful conclusion.

Healthy Hobbies Families Can Enjoy Together

Resolutions to get fit might garner the bulk of people’s attention come New Year’s Day. But resolution season also marks a great time for busy families to commit to spending more time together.

Hobbies can bring people together, which makes them an ideal outlet for families who want to spend more time with one another. Families on the lookout for hobbies they can enjoy together can consider the following activities.

Hiking

Hiking is a family-friendly activity that’s free and ideal for individuals who also want to turn over a healthy leaf as the new year dawns. The cardiovascular benefits of hiking are well-documented and include lowering hikers’ risk for serious ailments, including heart disease. But the exposure to nature that hiking provides can benefit entire families. A 2015 study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning found that hiking can help to reduce feelings of anxiety. Hiking trails run the gamut from flat trails that are ideal for families that include young children to more challenging trails that require a little climbing.

Cycling

Cycling is another healthy, family-friendly hobby. The experts at MD Anderson Cancer Center note that cycling builds muscle, helps people maintain a healthy weight, releases endorphins that can make it easier to relieve and manage stress, and improves balance. Both adults and children can reap those rewards. When cycling with young children, parents can look for flat cycling paths that won’t discourage kids or require them to do more than their bodies can handle. Older children and teenagers can handle more challenging paths, and parents of children in these age groups can even consider incorporating mountain biking into their cycling routines.

Cooking

There are plenty of family-friendly hobbies that can be enjoyed at home. Cooking is one such hobby, and it can have some surprising benefits for youngsters. According to Nemours KidsHealth®, cooking can be a great way for parents to reinforce basic math skills kids are learning at school. Older kids who don’t need such lessons can benefit from cooking with their parents by learning to prepare nutritious meals that can lay the foundation for healthy eating habits throughout adulthood.

Painting

Painting together as a family can benefit both adults and children in unique ways. Harvard Medical School notes that studies have found that artistic expression can help people with depression and anxiety. Young children, including preschoolers, also can benefit from painting, which helps them develop both their fine and gross motor skills and improves hand-eye coordination. Parents of adolescents should know that painting has also been found to be a productive outlet for teenagers to express themselves, and the process of seeing a painting project through from inception to completion can boost confidence and self-esteem.

As the new year dawns and resolutions are made, families can look to various hobbies they can engage in together to make the year ahead both happy and healthy.

How Physical Activity Can Help in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a complex disease that affects millions of women across the globe each year. Though the American Cancer Society reports that only about 4 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States are under age 40, women of all ages can take steps to protect themselves against this deadly disease.

Exercise benefits women in myriad ways, and that includes lowering their risk for breast cancer. The ACS notes that researchers are increasingly linking exercise to a reduced risk for breast cancer. Though the reasons behind that link remain unclear, some theorize that the positive effects of exercise on body weight, inflammation, hormones, and energy balance could be why regular physical activity helps women reduce their risk for breast cancer.

Body weight and breast cancer

The National Cancer Institute reports that being obese after menopause can significantly increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. In addition, the ACS attributes the rise in hormone receptor-positive breast cancers to an increased prevalence of excessive body weight. Routine exercise is a highly effective way to lose weight and keep weight off, which in turn could lower women’s risk for breast cancer.

Being sedentary and breast cancer

Exercise is a not a sedentary activity, and that could be another reason why women who are physically active have a lower risk for breast cancer. The ACS notes that more than one study has linked sitting time to a higher risk of various diseases, including breast cancer. Researchers with the ACS analyzed data from 77,462 women, who they followed for an average of 15.8 years. None of the participants had cancer when the study started, but researchers found that women who sat for six or more hours per day during their free time had a 10 percent greater risk for invasive breast cancer than women who sat for less than three hours per day during free time.

Does physical activity really reduce breast cancer risk?

The human body is complex, and a host of factors, including those like age that women have no control over, can affect cancer risk. However, engaging in routine physical activity seems to be an effective way for women to reduce their risk for breast cancer. In fact, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation estimates that one-third of all breast cancer cases could be prevented with positive lifestyle choices that help women maintain a healthy weight, including exercise.

Routine physical activity can be a significant weapon in women’s arsenal as they continue their efforts to prevent and overcome breast cancer.

Essential Summer Skin Care Tips

Protecting and caring for skin should be part of people’s year-round health care regimens. Such an approach can help people look their best and also uncover any minor issues before they escalate into something more significant.

National Geographic says adults can carry eight pounds and 22 square feet of skin on their bodies. Skin guards a person from harmful chemicals, protects the body against extremes in temperature and prevents internal organs and other components from evaporating. The skin also guards against harmful sunlight.

Skin care is not seasonal, though efforts to protect the skin may need to be stepped up during the summer. The American Academy of Dermatology says one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetimes. In the summer, ultraviolet radiation levels are elevated and people often wear less clothing that exposes more of their skin. According to Dr. Ron Shelton, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, the bulk of sun damage to the skin happens in the summer. These skin wellness tips can help protect the skin and keep it looking its best when the mercury rises.

Lighten Up

Choose lightweight products for summer usage. This includes cleansers, makeup and oil cleansers. For instance, rather than an oil cleanser, choose a gentle, foaming option. Thicker products mixed with increased perspiration and humidity may lead to clogged pores and inflammation.

Lather On Sunscreen

Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more is recommended to protect the skin from UV damage. But it’s easy to forget to apply sunscreen. However, using a lightweight moisturizer with SPF built in reduces product usage and time spent caring for skin.

Utilize Vitamin C Serums

Hyperpigmentation can occur in summer. According to Omer Ibrahim, a board-certified dermatologist and co-director of clinical research at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, vitamin C serum can improve the appearance of fine lines, help with collagen production and also prevent hyperpigmentation.

Drink More Water

Higher temperatures and increased perspiration can lead to dehydration. That may cause headaches, dry skin and even lightheadedness. Drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day.

Stay in the Shade

In addition to using sunscreen daily, try to stay out of the sun as much as possible when UV rays are at their strongest, which is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. In addition, wear clothing that offers sunscreen protection.

It’s important to care for the skin daily, but especially so during the summer.

Eat Healthy at the Fair

Fairs, carnivals, rodeos, and roving amusement parks are popular summer attractions. Rides and raffles may attract the majority of revelers, but fairs and carnivals also are great places to enjoy mouth-watering food.

Fried dough, meats on sticks, pretzels, cotton candy, cheese steaks, and other aromas waft through the air at carnivals. However, fairs have not always been so great for people watching their calories. And while fairs might not be diet-friendly, it’s not impossible to adhere to one’s diet while visiting the fair.

Fill up at home

Prior to heading out to the fair, be sure to eat a filling, healthy breakfast. This will provide ample nutrients and decrease the likelihood that you will overindulge in less healthy fare while at the carnival.

Foods that are comprised of protein and fiber can help you to feel fuller longer. Pack a snack that can provide a boost of energy prior to indulging in any fair foods. Trail mix or a low-calorie protein bar may be enough to tide you over until you leave the fair.

Stay hydrated

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that mild dehydration produces similar symptoms to hunger. If you feel hungry after eating, your body may only need fluids and not food. Therefore, reach for water or a hydrating sports drink (particularly when it is hot outside) as a first step to abating hunger symptoms, especially if you’ve recently eaten.

Choose healthy food vendors

Look for vendors that offer things like yogurt cups, roasted vegetables, lean meats, and fresh fruits. Kabobs that include lean meats that are low in calories can make a great carnival meal. Corn on the cob without gobs of butter also can be a filling snack. Smart dessert options include fruit smoothies, water ice, frozen yogurt, and even a candied apple, which may be rich in fiber. A small dose of cotton candy, which is just 100 calories per ounce, can offer a sweet fix while you avoid deep-fried concoctions. Keep in mind that cheese curds can set you back 650 calories and a funnel cake 720 calories, according to the YMCA. It can take several miles of traversing the fair to burn all those calories.

Watch portion sizes

If you splurge on a treat or two, consider sharing it with a friend or family member to cut the portion size. A single bite of a calorie-rich food can be enough to satisfy a craving.

If you’re heading to a Renaissance Fair, giant turkey legs may be prime for the picking. Those legs, which may contain as many as 1,140 calories, are well beyond the typical poultry portion size of four ounces. Such food is best shared with others.

Pay attention to beverages

Before you fill up on lemonade or visit the beer tent, remember some beverages contain lots of calories. Weigh your options carefully. If you want a cold beer, you may need to skip that chocolate-covered banana.

Fair foods are delicious but often high in calories. Smart choices can ensure dining at a fair does not derail your diet.

5 Hobbies to Keep Your Body and Mind Healthy and Happy

As the pandemic continues to restrict many of the places you are able or inclined to go, finding ways to stay active is important for keeping the body and mind healthy and happy. Here are some ideas for new hobbies to try:

Learn a language: Bonjour! ¡Hola! With an array of online language classes and tutorials available at your fingertips, learning a new language is more accessible than ever. Start now while you fantasize about a post-pandemic vacation overseas.

Play an instrument: Learning to play an instrument is not only a great distraction for the current moment, it can provide you with years of joy as your skill develops. Consider starting your musical journey on a Casiotone keyboard. By connecting the keyboard to the free Chordana Play app, you can easily learn to play your favorite songs from downloaded MIDI files. Once you’ve mastered the instrument, the portability of the keyboard will come in handy, whether you play solo or join a band.

Become a home chef: From sushi to soufflé to dumplings, there are likely a range of dishes you have never attempted making at home. Tackle your culinary bucket list, one-by-one.

Go hiking: There is no better hobby for staying fit and communing with nature than hiking, which works every muscle of the body, boosts cardiovascular health and even improves mood and mental well-being. Track your hike using a wearable tech tool geared for outdoor enthusiasts, such as a watch from the Casio’s Pro Trek line. Quad Sensor technology packs all the measurements you need into one compact hiking watch, including a compass, altitude/barometer and temperature measurements, along with an accelerometer that tracks step count. Calorie calculations use both step count and altitude information to take upgrades and downgrades into consideration, and data is recorded by the Pro Trek connected app.

Volunteer: At a time when many people are struggling, consider volunteering your time to serve those in need. There are plenty of safe, socially distant volunteer opportunities, from delivering meals to the homebound, to video conferencing with socially isolated seniors to helping boost adult literacy via remote tutoring.

Amid the ongoing pandemic, staying busy and positive may take creativity. However, discovering new hobbies and pursuits you love can nurture the body, mind and soul.

Everyone Can Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19, Here’s How

As businesses and services reopen nationwide, the death toll from COVID-19 continues to rise, and experts warn that Americans must continue taking precautions to help stop the spread of the virus.

“In states across the country, the spread of COVID-19 is staggering and concerning. We all have a role to play in stopping the spread and protecting ourselves, our family and our neighbors,” says Susan R. Bailey, M.D., president of the American Medical Association (AMA). “The science is clear. We know what stops the spread of the virus – wearing cloth face masks, physical distancing and regularly washing hands — and it is on all of us to practice these steps. Without a vaccine for this novel virus, the only way to turn the tide and recapture a sense of normal is by working together.”

The AMA offers the following guidance and insights that can help keep you, your friends and your loved ones healthy and safe.

• Wear a cloth face mask: Take the simple steps that science has shown will help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a cloth face mask, maintaining physical distancing and washing your hands. The simplest tried-and-true methods are still the most important.

• Keep up with doctor visits: Before you decide to forgo routine care or screenings, talk to your doctor. Physicians are using telehealth services and have taken painstaking precautions to make their practices safe. Make sure you keep up with your vaccines, and don’t let something that in normal circumstances could be handled with an early visit to your physician land you in the hospital.

• Be mindful that re-opening is not the same as a return to normal: When indoors, wear a mask, even in restaurants and stores that are open. Consider dining outdoors whenever possible. Stay connected with friends and family, but do so in a physically-distant and safe manner, including small outdoors gatherings where masks and hand sanitizer are used.

• Take time to clear your head and rest: With many people working from home or working under more stressful conditions, it is important to take mental health breaks. Get up and move, take a walk outside, step away from the computer, and take days or hours off from work.

As the death toll from COVID-19 continues to rise, physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders, researchers and public health experts want Americans to know that it is within their power to help stop the spread of the virus.

The Potential Medical Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has long been part of Eastern practices and recommended by alternative health practitioners. With the widespread adoption of yoga, breathing exercises and general mindfulness, meditation has become much more mainstream and something many traditional physicians now recommend to their patients.

According to the yoga equipment supply company Gaiam, meditation is an approach to training the mind that is similar to the way athletes train their bodies. Many meditation techniques exist, and the term meditation refers to an overall discipline rather than one specific activity. People who have been meditating for some time may be able to rest their brains for extended periods of time. Some may need to work up to it. Others practice focus-specific meditation, which makes them focus on a sensation or a particular object to tune out other distractions. Another option is open-monitoring meditation, which involves paying attention to all of one’s surroundings. Instead of reacting, you just notice things as they are.

The brand-building company Buffer says that meditation produces measurable changes in the brain. Modern technology like MRI scans show a decrease in beta waves during meditation. Those waves normally indicate that the brain is processing information. Meditation helps to slow or stop that processing. Meditation has been long studied as a way to induce relaxation and help alleviate stress. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response.” In Benson’s words, this is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.” Meditation helps achieve that.

Meditation may produce many different health results. Some are immediate, and others are cumulative. Here are some changes a person may see:

• better focus while not meditating

• reduced anxiety

• lower blood pressure

• lower blood cortisol levels

• greater feelings of well-being

• reduced feelings of stress

• ability to cope better with challenging situations

• potential benefits on immune system function

Meditation is a skill someone learns with practice. It’s never too early or too late to learn how to meditate. Online courses and neighborhood studios can help people get on the road to wellness through meditation.

How to Wear Cloth Face Coverings

In an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where it can be difficult to maintain social distancing measures. That means people are advised to wear cloth face coverings while shopping for groceries or in any other settings where it might be difficult to stay at least six feet away from other people. In recognition that the notion of wearing face coverings while in public is foreign to many people, the CDC issued instructions on how to wear such coverings to ensure they provide as much protection as possible.

How to wear cloth face coverings

The CDC notes that cloth face coverings should:

• fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

• be secured with ties or ear loops • include multiple layers of fabric

• allow for breathing without restriction

Additional guidelines

The CDC says face coverings should be avoided by certain people. Such coverings should not be placed on children under age two. In addition, people who have trouble breathing, those who are incapacitated and people who cannot remove coverings without assistance should not wear them.

The CDC also notes that cloth face coverings does not refer to surgical masks or N-95 respirators. The CDC urges everyone to reserve such supplies for health care workers and other medical first responders. Cloth face coverings should be routinely washed. A washing machine should be enough to clean these coverings.

When removing cloth face coverings, do so carefully. The CDC urges people to avoid touching their eyes, nose and/or mouth when removing their face coverings. Once the coverings are removed, people should wash their hands immediately. Cloth face coverings can help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While wearing such coverings is a simple gesture, it’s also one that can save lives. More information is available at www.cdc.gov.

Preventive Care Involves Safeguarding Mental Health

Preventive care is often looked at through the needs people need to do to protect their physical well-being. For example, a healthy diet and routine exercise, while beneficial to mental health, are often viewed as lifestyle choices that can make people feel better physically. But taking steps to protect one’s mental health also is vital to a long, productive life.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that positive mental health and mental wellness can have a profoundly positive impact on a person’s life. Positive mental health can help people realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life and make meaningful contributions to their communities.

What can I do to protect my mental health?

Learning to recognize the early warning signs of mental health problems can help prevent such problems from escalating and compel people to seek help. The DHHS advises anyone feeling these signs or recognizing these signs in others to seek help for themselves or their loved ones:

• Eating or sleeping too much or too little

• Pulling away from people and usual activities

• Having low or no energy

• Feeling numb or as if nothing matters

• Unexplained aches and pains

• Feeling helpless or hopeless

• Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual

• Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared

• Yelling or fighting with family and friends

• Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships

• Persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head

• Hearing voices or believing things that are not true

• Thinking of harming yourself or others

• An inability to perform daily tasks, such as taking care of your children or getting to work or school

Taking steps to protect one’s mental wellness is a vital component of preventive care. More information about mental health is available at www.mentalhealth.gov.