I can remember my grandmother telling us how she used to walk several miles to school, and if she was lucky she got a ride in a horse and buggy. She was always healthy even in old age, when I knew her.

October is International Walk to School Month. Students in different countries, including the United States, will be walking to school this fall. The goal of International Walk to School Month is to promote bicycling and walking as viable transportation options to and from school. Why? According to a Talking Points bulletin from the National Center from Safe Routes to School:

  • 1 out of 5 children are overweight. Walking or biking allows students time for physical activity of which they need at least 60 minutes per day. More active children are less prone to becoming overweight and developing chronic diseases earlier in life.
  • Walking and biking to school gives children a sense of responsibility and independence. It also allows time to socialize with parents, friends and neighbors which enhances sense of community.
  • Walking and biking reduces traffic congestion and thus improves air quality.
  • Steady increases in gas prices and greater distances between school and home have strained school transportation budgets across the country. In 1980, the average cost of transporting a student was $466. After adjusting for inflation, the average cost per student in 2006 was $765! Walking and biking are low-cost alternatives.

Unfortunately, fewer children walk or bike to school than did so a generation ago. Today 16% of children walk to school today as compared to 42% in 1969. There are many reasons for this statistic including distance to schools, perceptions of crime, lack of sidewalks, school busing policies, traffic concerns and lack of motivation. Many students are not able to walk or bike even if they wanted to due to the distance between their schools and home. Schools are moving out to the edge of town where land is less expensive and more available. In 1969 about 45% of students lived less than a mile from school as compared to about 25% today. However, many students who live relatively close (<1 mile) chose not to walk due to one or more of the aforementioned barriers. Many of these barriers could be addressed during Walk to School events in October.

During the month, participating students could meet at designated locations and will walk with adult volunteers along designated safe routes to school. Students and volunteers could complete “walking audits” and identify barriers along the way (dilapidated sidewalks, barking dogs etc.) The audits could later be used to engage the community to address these barriers. After the walk, the school could offer a breakfast and celebration for participants and volunteers. Non-walking students might be able to participate in special walking activities during recess. To encourage walking throughout the rest of the year, students could be eligible for prizes if they walk or bike to school or if they participate in designated walking activities.

If you are interested in learning more about Walk to School you can visit the walk to school day website at http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/ready/about-the-events/walk-to-school-day. This website offers much of the information that your community would need to plan for a walk to school event.

Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Source: National Center for Safe Routes to School. Why Walk or Bicycle to School? Talking Points accessed from http://www.walktoschool.org/downloads/WTS-talking-points-2009.pdf

Do you follow the “5-second rule” when you drop food on the floor?  If you do, you may want to rethink your actions.

Different factors affect how quickly bacteria will be transferred.  These
include moisture, type of surface, and contact time.  It was found in some instances the bacteria began to transfer in less than one second.  Time to rethink the idea that you can pick up any food off the floor quickly, and it is safe to eat.koli-bacteria-123081__180

Researchers at Rutgers University tested four surfaces:

  • stainless steel
  • ceramic
  • tile
  • wood

Each of the surfaces were contaminated an Enterobacter aerogenes, “cousin” of Salmonella.  The bacteria were allowed to dry before food was dropped.

They used four different types of foods:watermelon-on-tile

  • watermelon
  • bread
  • bread and butter
  • gummy candy

The researchers replicated the scenarios 20 times each checking the bacteria transfer to food samples at less than one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds.  Each food sample was then analyzed for contamination.

Moisture seemed to increase the transfer of bacteria to food the most.  Watermelon contained the most contamination while gummy candy contained the least.  The longer the food was on the contaminated surface the more bacteria it contained. However, contamination from bacteria can occur instantly. 

Surprisingly, carpet had low transfer rates. Tile and stainless steel bread-on-carpethad higher transfer rates than wood which was variable.  Another study with tile found E. coli was transferred to gummy candy in less than 5 seconds with more bacteria transferred from smooth tile than rough tile. 

Next time, you drop some food on the floor you may want to think twice before you put it in your mouth.  Any food that has been on the floor may contain bacteria which may make you sick.  Is the food that important or expensive?   Would you be better off throwing it away?   It is always better to avoid infection or being sick.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County


Aston University. (2014). Researchers Prove the Five Second Rule is Real. Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences.  Available at http://www.aston.ac.uk/news/releases/2014/march/five-second-food-rule-does-exist/

Schaffner, D. (2016). Rutgers Researchers Debunk ‘Five-Second Rule’: Eating Food off the Floor Isn’t Safe.  Rutgers Today.  Available at http://news.rutgers.edu/research-news/rutgers-researchers-debunk-%E2%80%98five-second-rule%E2%80%99-eating-food-floor-isn%E2%80%99t-safe/20160908#.V_ZUJvkrKUk

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2003). If You Drop It, Should You Eat It?  Scientists Weigh In on the 5-Second Rule.  College News.   Available at http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/If-you-drop-it-should-you-eat-it-scientists-weigh-5-second-rule

The Live Healthy Live Well team is getting ready to kick off the Time Out 4 Health Wellness Challenge. Individuals who sign up for this challenge will receive email messages two times a week with encouraging tips and strategies to find time for health and wellness this fall. While taking a break from technology is not directly addressed through the challenge, doing so may free up time to improve mental, physical and emotional health.

Technology has many positive uses, but the overconsumption of technology can have a negative effect on health. In a webinar titled This is Your Brain Online: The Impact of Digital Technology on Mental Health, Dr. Scott Becker, director of the Michigan State University Counseling Center, discusses how the overuse of digital technology can impact sleep, memory, attention span, capacity to learn, stress, identity and relationships. Additionally, research suggests a direct association between screen time and obesity in both children and adults.

capture In a world where technology is everywhere all the time, deeply ingrained in all aspects of culture and society, how does one reduce technology consumption? A good place to begin is by taking time to consider how you use technology in your daily life. What aspects of technology could you minimize or live without? Maybe there are times in the evening or on the weekend that you could designate as screen-free, choosing to spend time outside, with family, or engaged in a hobby instead of a screen. In the workplace, try turning off email notifications or designating set times to check your phone, especially while working on important projects, to increase productivity and focus. Be deliberate about how and when you use technology to reap its benefits without suffering health consequences.

You may also want to try “digital detoxing”, the act of refraining from electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers for a specified period of time. Join others in a digital detox by pledging to participate in Screen Free Week, held annually in May, or the National Day of Unplugging, held on the first Friday in March. In the meantime, unplug and spend time outdoors, and don’t let any vacation time that you may have go to waste. Take time to refresh and recharge!

Author: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu


Michigan State University Extension (2015). This is Your Brain Online: The Impact of Digital Technology on Mental Health. https://mediaspace.msu.edu/media/t/1_77c64xn4

USDA Nutrition Evidence Library (2010). What is the relationship between screen time and body weight? http://www.nel.gov/conclusion.cfm?conclusion_statement_id=250317&full_review=true

October is Vegetarian Awareness Monthhealthyfood

Two years ago my daughter decided to become a vegetarian. Before I agreed to this lifestyle choice, our family doctor gave her a physical. He also took the time to talk to her about nutrition and suggested we have blood tests done to make sure she would not need to start taking supplements. Once she was cleared from the doctor, I started having discussions with her about eating more than just sweets. She also started grocery shopping with me each week. She picks out items for her lunch and snacks that she might need after school. During her freshman year in high school she started playing sports. My daughter and I also had another conversation about how food can fuel her energy levels when playing sports.

When making a lifestyle change such as becoming a vegetarian, take the time to talk to your health care provider first. Successfully moving to a vegetarian eating plan can be achieved if you take the time to educate not only yourself but your child also. Even though there are many resources on the web, make sure you take time to be sure they are credible resources. Visit this link for USDA resources.

When thinking of changing to the vegetarian eating lifestyle visit the ChooseMyPlate website.  Check out their “Top 10 Tips for Vegetarians”

  1. Think about protein
  2. Bone up on sources of calcium
  3. Make simple changes
  4. Enjoy a cookout
  5. Include Beans and Peas
  6. Try different veggie versions
  7. Make some small changes at restaurants
  8. Nuts make great snacks
  9. Get your Vitamin B12
  10. Find a Vegetarian pattern for you

Do not let the thought of changing to a vegetarian diet overwhelm you. You just need to plan out your meals in advanced. My daughter and I have realized that a lot of meals that I make with meat can also be made with extra vegetables.




Written by: Brenda Sandman-Stover, Extension Program Assistant, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Greene County, sandman-stover.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension,Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu


Sweet Spuds


Fall is the perfect season to remind everyone to consume more sweet potatoes. Like pumpkin, they are usually enjoyed on Thanksgiving Day and then promptly forgotten about until the following year. But this vegetable should be eaten as frequently as possible, because it’s a winner. If your only experience eating sweet potatoes has been the canned variety, you need to try fresh.  The flavor and texture is far superior to canned, and easy to prepare.


Sweet potatoes are actually edible roots. Technically, they aren’t even a potato.  Some people call them yams instead of sweet potato, but they’re not really yams, either.  This is one confused vegetable with an identity crisis.  But one thing you don’t need to be confused about is how good they are for you.


A half cup of sweet potato provides over 200% of your DRI of vitamin A for the day. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that provides the tools your body needs for the development and maintenance of healthy skin, hair, and mucous membranes. It also supports the immune system, reproduction, and oh yeah, vision. Want good eyesight?  Sweet potatoes are a better source of vitamin A than carrots.  They are also a good source of vitamin C, iron, thiamine, potassium (think about your blood pressure), vitamin E, and fiber.


Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, fried (like French fries) or steamed. Some restaurants offer a baked version as a side dish, usually with a brown sugar/butter spread. Those are incredibly good. But I also like to boil mine and make mashed sweet potatoes.


Are you a diabetic? Most diabetics steer clear of starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, but sweet potatoes contain compounds that can actually improve blood sugar regulation.  Depending on how you fix them, the glycemic index (GI) varies. The average GI value for a baked sweet potato is 94, but when boiled is only 46.


If you decide to mash, don’t try and peel the potatoes; they don’t peel as easily as white potatoes. Just cut the potatoes into chunks, cover with water and a lid, and bring to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until fork tender (about 40-45 minutes).


When the potatoes are tender, pour everything into a colander in the sink and let the steam and heat escape. Then nick the softened skin with a knife and just peel off.  Mash with a fork or potato masher and serve. For a little extra sweetness, try dribbling some maple syrup over the top. It will be like eating your vegetable and dessert at the same time!


Written by: Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County










We have heard that coffee is bad for you so many times in our lives.  However, it turns out that drinking 2 to 3 cups a day may prove to be beneficial for your health and does not cause an increased risk of death


Certain antioxidant substances in coffee may be associated with lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Researchers don’t always know exactly which of coffee’s ingredients are responsible for producing the health-boosting results but there is evidence that drinking coffee may help:

  • Safeguard the liver

-coffee appears to be protective against certain liver disorders, lowering the risk of liver cancer by 40% and cirrhosis by as much as 80%.

-drinking coffee is associated with a drastically reduced risk of type II diabetes. People who drink several cups per day are the least likely to become diabetic

-coffee is associated with a much lower risk of dementia and the neurodegenerative disorders Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

  • Promote heart health
  • Reduce melanoma risk

National Coffee Day is celebrated annually on September 29. All across the United States people will celebrate one of the most beloved morning beverages on this day. It is a popular morning favorite, but, it is also enjoyed throughout the day in a variety of ways: hot or cold and either black or with additives such as cream, milk, flavored syrups, creamers, sugar, and ice.

There are many deals for coffee drinkers on this day in September.  Check out this listing of National Coffee Day specials.  Use #NationalCoffeeDay to post on social media while you are enjoying an early morning, midday, or late night cup of coffee.


Writer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu


K-State University Research and Extension, http://www.johnson.k-state.edu/health-nutrition/agents-articles/coffee-health-benefits.html

National Day Calendar, http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/surprise/

Pennsylvania State University Extension, http://extension.psu.edu/health/functional-foods/health-nutrition-fact-sheets/whats-the-scoop-on-coffee/extension_publication_file

Rush University Medical Center, https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/health-benefits-coffee

Rock-a-bye Your Sleep Time


The process of getting healthy doesn’t start in the morning when your feet hit the floor, it actually begins with a good night’s sleep. My favorite health habit is lying in bed sawing off zzz’s, which you must admit is a lot easier (and more fun) than exercise or eating healthy. UNLESS you have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep.  Then you might rank it at the bottom of your efforts to get healthy.

How do you feel after a poor night’s sleep? Do you sleep well most nights? Hard to believe that something you do while unconscious is so important, but sleep is critical to your overall health.

A healthier sleep can be achieved by doing the following:

  • Stick to a schedule by going to bed and waking up the same time, even on the weekends. This helps regulate your body’s circadian clock, which in turn helps you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  • Try a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoiding bright light helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety (which can make it more difficult to fall asleep).
  • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
  • Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Worried about whether it’s OK to exercise during the evening? Studies show that for most people, exercising close to bedtime doesn’t appear to adversely affect sleep quality.
  • Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow. The life expectancy of a mattress is about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Check your pillow and make sure it is free of allergens that might affect your sleeping.
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals in the evening. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep.  If you can, avoid eating a large meal 2-3 hours before bedtime. Instead, try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you’re still hungry.
  • Slow down before bed. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing some kind of a calming activity, like reading. Avoid things that may disturb your sleep. That means phones, a tablet, computers or a television that emit blue light. Don’t read with backlit devices. Tablets that are backlit are more disruptive than e-readers that don’t have their own light source.





Author: Marie Economos, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Trumbull County, Western Reserve, economos.2@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu