Tag: 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.

How to Incorporate More Heart-Healthy Foods into Your Diet

Diet and heart health go hand in hand. The American Heart Association notes that a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons to fight cardiovascular diseases, which the World Health Organization says kill more people across the globe each year than any other disease.

Men and women do not need degrees in nutrition science to create heart-healthy diets for themselves and their families. In fact, the familiar calls to “eat your fruits and vegetables” many adults recall from childhood lessons or nights around the family dinner table still bear weight today. A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is a hallmark of a healthy lifestyle. And supplementing such a diet with other heart-healthy foods is a great way to reduce one’s risk for cardiovascular disease.

Fruits and Vegetables

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that fruits and vegetables are healthy whether they’re fresh, frozen, canned, and/or dried. The AHA advises eating fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack, and that may require a little creativity as you sneak them into favorite dishes. For example, the AHA suggests replacing half the ground meat in recipes for burgers, meatloaf or meatballs with cooked chopped mushrooms. The mushrooms can be finely chopped with a knife or food processor, and then sautéed in some olive oil until they’re soft. They can then be mixed in with the lean meat, and the meal can be cooked as it normally would. At the breakfast table, add fruit to a bowl of cereal to make for a more flavorful morning meal.

Dairy Products

When purchasing dairy products, the DHHS recommends sticking to fat-free or low-fat options. Replace whole milk with fat-free or 1 percent milk and buy only fat-free or low-fat cheese. When snacking, reach for fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt or cottage cheese. You can even add fruit or vegetables to such snacks to make snack time even more heart-healthy.

Proteins

Healthy proteins are another way people can promote heart health with their daily diets. When choosing proteins at the grocery store, the AHA recommends choosing chicken and fish over red meats. That’s because red meats, which include beef and lamb, have more saturated fat than chicken and fish. Saturated fats increase blood cholesterol levels and can worsen heart disease, while the unsaturated fats in fish like salmon can actually reduce the risk for cardiovascular issues like heart failure and ischemic stroke. When preparing poultry, remove the skin, as most of the saturated fat in poultry is found just beneath the skin.

Grains

When buying grains, the DHHS recommends reading the ingredients list on the package before purchasing. Make sure whole wheat or another whole grain is the first item listed in the ingredients list, and choose only those products that say 100 percent whole grain. Instead of preparing white rice as a side dish, serve brown or wild rice, quinoa or oats.

A heart-healthy diet is easy to design and just as flavorful as less healthy alternatives.

Revive Summer-Ravaged Skin, Hair and Feet

Summer is typically full of fun, vacations and relaxation, but while the sun and surf may be refreshing for the mind, sometimes the body pays a price for all of those days spent soaking up some rays. But summer can be harsh on skin, feet, hair, and more. As the warm days wind down, practice some post-summer beauty tips to revive your skin, hair and feet.

Hair

Weeks spent diving through the waves or plunging into a backyard pool is excellent exercise and a great way to cool off on hot days. However, saltwater and chemical-laden pool water can turn tresses into a mess. One pitfall that plagues people who swim regularly is a green tinge that appears in the hair, which is most noticeable on people who have blond hair. Some people blame the chlorine in the water for the green tint, but the real culprit is copper, a common element found in commercial algicides.

The solution is to find a shampoo that chelates the metal. Speak with a salon professional or a supplier of salon products to find the right shampoo for you. It’s sometimes possible to prevent future green highlights by sealing the hair cuticle with a conditioner before swimming, and then thoroughly rinsing hair after exiting the pool.

Swimmer’s hair is another summertime phenomenon. Constant exposure to water and sunlight can leave the hair’s cuticles exposed and susceptible to damage. Leave-in conditioners may help counteract some of that damage. If that doesn’t work, speak to a stylist about what can be done to get hair looking healthy once again. He or she may suggest a fresh cut, new hair color and deep-conditioning treatments.

Skin

Many people now know of the damage ultraviolet rays can do to unprotected skin. In spite of that widely held knowledge, skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in the United States, where the Skin Cancer Foundation says more than 3.5 million skin cancers are detected annually. The best protection against skin cancer and skin damage from the sun is to use sunscreen and remain in the shade as much as possible. However, sometimes sunburns and blotchy suntans prevail.

Moisturize the skin with a penetrating product as a first recovery step. Aloe is an item found in many healing skin balms and lotions.

Although it can be tempting to tear off portions of peeling, sunburned skin, the peeling is actually a natural part of the healing process and should not be disturbed. The dead skin acts as a protective layer while fragile, tender new skin grows underneath. Use a mild soap and lukewarm water when showering. Moisturizer can keep the damaged skin moist and make peeling less noticeable. Some have found that spraying the skin with a solution made of vinegar and water can reduce the itching associated with peeling skin.

If any part of the skin does not heal or looks strange, visit a dermatologist.

Feet

Walking barefoot or in flip flops or sandals is common during summer. But flimsy sandals offer little protection against the sun as well as any dangers on the ground. Once summer is over, many people find their feet have paid the price, with calluses, blisters and dried-out skin.

Find a spa or nail salon that provides paraffin wax treatments. These treatments use warm, oil-based wax to provide pain relief and skin-softening benefits. The heat in the wax increases circulation and relieves pain and stiffness. Paraffin works by increasing blood supply to the skin while also opening pores and trapping moisture from underlying layers of skin.

Pedicure treatments also can provide some relief for your feet. Soaking and massaging the feet and addressing any calluses can help feet recover. Think about also applying a deep moisturizer to the feet and then covering them with cotton socks, which can be left on while you sleep, and you may discover the following morning that you have woken up with softer, smoother soles.

Summer is a fun time of year, but one that takes its toll on the human body.

A few simple tips can recharge the body and have a person looking refreshed and revitalized.

Tips for a Healthy School Year

Students are most likely to get sick when school starts because being at school put children’s immune systems to the test, offers The Mayo Clinic. Young children who are in close proximity to others in large groups tend to spread organisms like bacteria and viruses that cause illness. Breaking the cycle can take some work, but it’s possible to make this a healthy school year.

Encourage handwashing

Frequent handwashing is a great way to prevent illness. Handwashing habits are essential for school-aged children and should be taught as soon as possible. Children should wash their hands after they use the bathroom and before they eat. If they’ve been playing outside or have interacted with children who are sick, handwashing can help remove some of the germs lingering on their hands. Antibacterial wipes are another option, but they may not be as effective as washing hands with warm, soapy water.

Stop (some) sharing

Sharing develops good manners and can foster new friendships. But children should be discouraged from sharing food, drinks and other personal items. Once the item has been placed in a child’s mouth, it should not be shared.

Take a sick day

Rare is the student who will never come down with an illness. When kids get sick, keep them at home. Schools may have guidelines indicating when it is acceptable for children to return to school, and it’s important that parents adhere to those guidelines so illnesses cannot spread around the school.

Promote adequate sleep and nutrition

While adults may need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, children often require more. The National Sleep Foundation recommends eight to 13 hours of sleep a night for school-aged children. Begin adjusting sleep schedules during the latter part of summer vacation so that children can readjust to their regular sleep schedules. Parents also should feed kids nutritious diets consisting of a variety of foods. Avoid high-calorie junk foods, reserving such items only as special treats every so often.

Donate cleaning supplies

Some schools may be underfunded and may not have enough supplies to keep all of the classrooms and surfaces clean. Parents can help by donating cleaning wipes and sprays so that students and teachers can thrive in clean, healthy environments.

Local Dining Spots Foster Community

Dining out is a great way to celebrate life’s milestones or simply reconnect with friends and loved ones.

Research firm NPD Group found that, by the end of 2015, restaurant visits by consumers increased by 700 million compared to just five years prior. While chain restaurants invest heavily in advertising, independently owned restaurants do not have those same resources. Multi-unit chains also have more pull with suppliers and might be able to negotiate better deals, or can spread operational costs across various locations.

Too often diners are not aware of the vast array of tasty, well-priced and artisanal foods awaiting them just down the street. But dining out at local eateries can be beneficial in various ways.

• High-quality food: Many local establishments have complete control over their suppliers and menus. As a result, they can be picky with regard to the vendors they use and the produce, meats, dairy, and other ingredients that they select. Many small, independently owned restaurants team up with local organic farmers and distributors to supply a farm-to-table experience that many diners now enjoy.

• Freedom of experimentation: Although chain restaurants may have to meet approval from administrative boards and marketing departments before they can introduce new fare, independently owned restaurants can let their diners decide which foods remain on the menu and even adapt to community trends. Local restaurants may take pride in serving cultural or regional foods.

• Ability to customize: Independently owned restaurants may be more amenable to adapting recipes or making substitutions to meet diners’ requests. Skilled local chefs can think on the fly and modify recipes, which may not always be possible in chain establishments.

• Crowd control: Local restaurants tend to be smaller and more intimate than many chain restaurants. This can translate into a calm dining experience. When crowds are small, the noise level inside the restaurant may be muted and service may be fast because there aren’t as many tables to serve. Furthermore, local establishments, although concerned about making a profit, may be less worried about table turnover rate, preferring to let diners linger if it means repeat business.

• Familiar faces: Some diners enjoy being a “regular” at their favorite local restaurants. Local dining spots also become gathering locations for residents in the know, instead of passing-through tourists or commuters.

Much can be said about the advantages of patronizing local eateries. Men and women who want unique dining experiences can give local, independently owned establishments a try.

Potential Hazards In and Out of the Water

In warm weather, many people seek cooling relief in ponds, rivers, oceans, pools, and other sources of water. Swimming is a popular warm-weather activity, but it can quickly turn deadly if swimmers are not careful in the water.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that, between the years of 2005 and 2014, an average of 10 deaths per day in the United States were attributed to unintentional drownings unrelated to boating. About one in five people who die from drowning are children age 14 and younger.

The World Health Organizations says drowning is the third-leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. Drowning is a concern when in the water, but it’s not the only potential hazard.

Harmful Algae Blooms

Algae are plant-like species that are found all over the planet. Algae inhabit different bodies of water and can be important food sources for marine life. The CDC notes that, in certain circumstances, an overgrowth of algae may overpower water sources. Not all algae are harmful, but some blooms will produce toxins that can be dangerous to people and animals. Such algae may lower levels of oxygen in the water, killing plants and animals. Individuals are urged to avoid areas with harmful algae blooms and restrict fishing for food consumption during times of blooms.

Shorebreak

The National Ocean Services says a shorebreak is an ocean condition in which waves break directly on the shore. The power of these waves can cause injuries to the body, potentially hurting the spines of people who dive headfirst into the break. Others may be knocked over by waves and suffer injuries as a result. Swimmers should observe waves and ask a lifeguard about conditions before going into the water.

Jellyfish

Sharks elicit fear among many ocean swimmers, but smaller animals can be dangerous as well. Most jellyfish can sting, but not all have venom that hurts humans, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Around 70 species of jellies can harm or occasionally kill people. Ocean swimmers should take note of jellyfish postings at the beach and examine the sand as well. Wet tentacles can still sting, even on washed-up jellyfish.

Unsupervised Activity

It’s essential that swimmers exercise caution around any body of water. Because water can be unpredictable, it’s always best to swim with a friend and stick to areas protected by lifeguards. The Red Cross suggests preventing unsupervised access to water structures and maintain constant supervision whenever kids are around the water — even if lifeguards are present. Adults should avoid distractions and alcohol when supervising kids. Summer is a season to enjoy the water. Awareness, preparation and supervision can keep water-lovers safe.