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Want to stay in shape but don’t have a lot of time for your regular work-out routine? Then do a plank exercise!  Planks are one of the most effective exercises offering considerable results.  They take a short amount of time, no equipment, and offer many benefits including:

  • Not many exercises strengthen multiple muscles at the same time. There are movements that strengthen muscles in your arms or legs, but the plank exercise can help strengthen frontal upper and lower-body muscles and inner core strength, all at once.
  • Planks can also help improve mental strength. If you have a sedentary job, tension can build if you tend to slump forward. Doing planks can help stretch muscles that may become stiff during the day, contributing to stress. They may also help calm your brain, reducing stress.
  • Since plank exercises activate core muscles, they can help prevent swayback or flat back and improve your posture as a result.
  • Plank exercises can help increase flexibility in muscle groups, stretching and expanding your posterior muscles including the hamstrings and even the arches of your feet.

Plank Photo

Photo courtesy of Dana Dowling/Demand Media

How to do a Plank

A good plank requires proper alignment. Everything should be in a straight line, including your ears, shoulders, knees, hips, and ankles.  Here’s how to do a standard plank:

  1. Start on all fours, kneeling on your hands and knees. You can use a towel or blanket folded underneath your knees if you need padding. Make sure your hands align directly beneath your shoulders. Feet should be hip-width apart, toes can be curled under.
  2. Bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor. Your body weight should be on your forearms, not on your hands.
  3. Pull in your stomach, engaging your core muscles.
  4. Hold the position for 10 seconds, gradually adding time as you feel comfortable.

Sources: Women’s Health, 4 Secrets to the Perfect Plank, Roberts, A. October 28, 2014.

Huffington Post, Fix Your Form: How to do the Perfect Plank, June 5, 2012.

Livestrong.com, What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise? March 21, 2016.

Written by: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Spires, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension.

 

 

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I’m already late for work and now I’m in the middle of a traffic jam?  How am I going to get the kids to gymnastics, soccer and tee ball practices at the same time?  Everyone’s coming home at a different time tonight and we’re supposed to have supper together?  Make sure and schedule quality time for myself?  Really?  You’ve got to be kidding me!

Stress Management:  Rules for the Weary    stress taming

  • Stress is part of life.
  • Not all stress is bad.
  • Only you can prevent stress disorders.
  • Stress management is a lifestyle, not a technique.
  • As in life, success requires certain skills.
  • With practice and guidance, skills can be learned.

Coping with Minor Stressors

Research at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State’s internationally recognized center for the study of body-mind interaction, has resulted in key findings related to how stressors in marriage and care-giving impact health; how stress can lessen vaccine effectiveness; how stress can aggravate allergies and asthma; and the development of interventions that can lessen the effects of stress and promote health.

Try some of the following to help cope with stress:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Use meditation, relaxation exercises or breathing techniques.
  • Look at situations from a variety of perceptions.
  • Talk and share with friends.
  • Journal and clarify why things bother you.

Name it, Tame it and Bust that Stress!

  • List Priorities: Write down what is most important for you to do and then number from 1 to? With 1 being the most important for you to accomplish.
  • Plan Rest Periods: Schedule for “taking a break” in your daily activities.
  • Perfection: There is no perfect “anything”. Do the best you can and congratulate and reward yourself for it.
  • Exercise: (I think we talked about this earlier!) Try to exercise in your usual manner.  Or, start to exercise.
  • Childlike: Have FUN! Engage in playful activities.  Watch children play to remind yourself about “how to play”.
  • Spending: Be mindful of your spending.
  • Emotional Health: Talk with supportive people. Listen with empathy.  Use non-judgmental approaches.  Say “No” to avoid overdoing.
  • Gratitude: Be grateful for what you have and don’t dwell on what you don’t have.

One final thought about Taming Stress

In the words of Somerset Maugham, “It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”

Remember to always choose the “Best” for yourself!

stress taming 2

 

Written by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources:

Lisa M. Borelli LISW-S, Counselor, Ohio State Employee Assistance Program, The Ohio State University Health Plan, Columbus, Ohio.  Stress Taming.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Improving Your Health Through Stress Reduction.  http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/patient-care/healthcare-services/improving-your-health-through-stress-reduction

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Mindfulness Practices – Mindfulness practices can reduce anxiety, chronic pain, depression, insomnia and stress.  http://go.osu.edu/wexnermindful

onCampus.  February 11, 2016, 16th Annual Health and Wellness Guide, Wellness is a journey, Pages 7-18.  http://go.osu.edu/HealthWellnessGuide

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The news that some communities have lead in their drinking water has led to confusion and fear that there may be other sources of potential lead exposure, especially to our children. Pchildarents need to become detectives and use their normal due diligence to prevent lead exposure from becoming a problem.Young children are most at risk because they tend to put everything in their mouth.

Why is lead such a danger to young children? It can cause lowered IQ, speech delays, hearing loss, learning disabilities, slowed or reduced growth, behavioral difficulties, brain damage, kidney damage, seizures, coma, and in some severe cases, even death.
Are your children in danger even if you know for certain you don’t have lead-based paint or water in your house or apartment? The short answer is–maybe. Many children’s products have been found to contain higher-than-safe levels of lead.

My one-year old granddaughter’s blood was tested recently and results showed a slightly elevated lead level. Her parents were sure they did not have lead-based paint in their home or lead in their water, so where was it coming from? Her doctor asked if she had been chewing on any sponge toys; unbeknownst to many of us some of them contain lead.

 
Since lead is invisible and has no smell, how can you tell if it’s in your home? Unfortunately, most home test kits are unreliable. Besides the sponge toy example, check out the following potential contaminants—you may find that you have some of these  in jewellery-1146720__180your home:
• Children’s jewelry
Children’s products made of vinyl or plastic, such as bibs, backpacks, car seats and lunch boxes, children’s caulk, or pool caulk
• Brightly painted toys (wooden, plastic or metal) imported from Pacific Rim countries (China in particular), especially non-name brand toys. Avoid if paint is peeliantique toyng or chipped.
Antique toys and lunch boxes with metal linings
Ceramic or pottery toys, dishes or cookware manufactured outside the U.S., especially if made in China, India, and Mexico
• Folk or home health remedies and certain cosmetics
• Candies from Mexico
• Artificial athletic fields made of nylon or a nylon and polyethylene blend can have unhealthy levels of lead dust

 
Items considered to be safe for children include:
• All toys manufactured in North American and European Union.
• Most plush toys
• Soy-based crayons or crayons made in the U.S.
• Books, DVDs and CDs.

 

What can you do?

• Check with your health care provider on whether your child should be tested for lead. Talk with your doctor about the results.
• Remove any possible lead containing items from your home. If you live in an older home (built before 1978) have the home inspected by a licensed lead inspector or check with the local health department on testing for lead paint.
• Clean up any lead dust if living in an older home.
• Remove items that may contain lead or lead-based paint, especially children’s jewelry and non-name brand toys made outside the U.S. Check the recall list for items that have been found to contain lead.
• Give your child healthy foods. Check out the OSU Chow Line article on “How Good Nutrition Can Combat Effects of Lead in Water”
• Practice good hygwash handsiene and wash your hands before eating and after playing outside or with pets.
• If you child plays on artificial athletic fields, check out this Mayo Clinic article on how to reduce exposure.
• Be cautious about items purchased at discount stores as most items are manufactured in China or other Pacific Rim countries.

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

Reviewer: Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Lead Hazards in Some Holiday Toys and Toy Jewelry. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/features/leadintoys/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Lead Poisoning. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tools/5things.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Toys. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/toys.htm

Mayo Clinic Staff, (2015). Lead Poisoning, Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lead-poisoning/in-depth/lead-exposure/ART-20044627

Robertson, A. Lead in Toys: Could It Be Lurking in Your Home? Available at http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/lead-in-toys-could-it-be-lurking-in-your-home

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Winter is here bringing high winds and freezing temperatures outdoors and warm, dry air indoors. The weather can take a toll on skin, removing moisture and causing skin to itch, crack, and bleed.  This can make skin vulnerable to infection, especially in older adults whose skin is thinner and more fragile.  Individuals with eczema and seborrheic dermatitis may also experience worse symptoms in the winter.

Maintaining healthy skin in the winter requires a different routine than in warmer, more humid months. To protect your body’s largest organ, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends some simple tips:

winter face 3

  1. Keep baths or showers short.  Limit your bathing time to 5-10 minutes using warm, not hot water.  Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser:  only a small amount is needed; avoid thick lathers.  Gently blot your skin dry with a towel.
  2. Moisturize immediately following your bath or shower. The moisturizer will be absorbed and work better if it’s trapped inside the skin.
  3. Use gentle skin care products that are unscented. Antibacterial or deodorant soaps and skin care products with fragrance, alcohol or retinoid can dry your skin.
  4. Apply cream or ointments:  they work better than lotion. Look for ones that contain olive oil, jojoba oil, or shea butter. Lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, mineral oil, glycerin and petrolatum are other ingredients that help relieve dry skin.
  5. Carry a hand cream with you. Apply it after you wash your hands.
  6. Use a non-irritating lip balm. Be sure to select one that does not cause your lips to tingle or sting.
  7. Be selective with laundry detergents. Use only those that are labeled “hypoallergenic”.
  8. Moisturize the air. Add a humidifier to add moisture to the dry air. Some home heating systems may have one built it.
  9. Always wear gloves. We lose heat (and moisture) through our hands. Be sure to always wear gloves when you go outdoors in the winter.
  10. Use sunscreen. Even in the winter, you should slather on sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 to any exposed skin. Sunscreen helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays that are present year-round.

See a dermatologist if your skin does not improve. Reduce your chance of developing an infection that may develop with cracking, bleeding skin.

 

Source(s): American Academy of Dermatology, Dermatologists’ top tips for relieving dry skin, retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/dry-skin.

WebMD, Fighting Back Against Dry Skin, Fighting Dry Skin: Beat the Itch of Winter, retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/beauty/dry-skin-13/winter-dry-skin.

Web MD, Allergies Health Center, http://www.webmd.com/allergies/what-does-hypoallergenic-mean.

Author: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Hamilton County.

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Franklin County.

 

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christmas tree

As the holiday season approaches, requests are made to participate in “Secret Santa” at work, office parties, “Ugly Sweater” contests, and for the kids, “Elf on the Shelf”. Add to that list decorating, cooking, shopping and gift wrapping, inventory, and end of year reports at work. That’s a lot to juggle from now thru the end of the year. To help you stay sane, try a strategic approach to reduce stress, while still balancing work-life responsibilities during the holidays:

  1.  Set Priorities– Go through the task of ranking your priorities. Is your top priority family time? Volunteer work? After you establish your priorities, you will be able to say no to events that don’t make the list (or at least put time limits on your participation).
  2. Do a Time Study – For one week, keep a log of how your time is spent. Log general groups of tasks that include activities such as errands, housework, shopping, cooking, and so forth; then total your column times. Did the way you spent your time align with your priorities? If not, adjust your schedule to bring your life back into balance.
  3. Set Limits on Work Hours – This is easier said than done, but if work-life balance is important to you, then set limits on the hours that you are willing to work and enforce them. Maybe that means leaving the office no later than 5 pm, and/or no working on the weekends. As the holidays approach, it’s important to carve out extra hours for all of those seasonal tasks, as well as keeping time for you to exercise and relax. If you’re someone that usually works late hours, communicate the temporary change to co-workers.
  4. Get Help – Is cleaning the house, running errands or baking taking up a large amount of time? Consider sourcing out some of those chores. It may be a better use of your time to pay someone to do a few of those tasks – such as purchasing cookies from a neighbor that likes to bake. If you are not able to hire out, scale back your menu, have a potluck or rethink hosting every party.
  5.  Unplug – Turn off the social media and emails. Don’t check your work emails until you are back at work. If you can’t forgo checking emails, set limits for when you will check work email.
  6.  Get Moving – If exercise didn’t originally make your priority list, be good to yourself and schedule it back in. This will boost your energy level and improve your mood!

Work-life balance is an ongoing process. Keep your priorities on task and just do your best. Priorities will change as your life changes – especially during the holidays. Periodically reassess your priorities and take inventory of your work-life balance.
Written by: Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD. Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Donna Green, MA, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu
Sources: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/25-ways-find-joy-balance-during-holidays

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cowsYou may have noticed lately there is more “chatter” about the benefit of eating meat and/or dairy products from cows that graze on grass rather than grain products.  That’s because more and more people are looking at grass feeding as an important component of an animal’s food composition.  The quality of any food you eat depends on where and how it was grown—and that pertains to plant foods as well as animal foods. If you care about where your food comes from, shouldn’t you also care about where your “food’s” food comes from?

So what is a cow’s natural diet?  When our parents and grandparents were growing up, they ate beef from animals that primarily “grazed” or “browsed” in a pasture.  Grazing means eating pasture grasses such as bluegrass, ryegrass, Bermuda grass, fescue, and so forth.  Browsing is what a cow eats when it nibbles on leaves, twigs, and bark. Both of those food sources are compatible to ruminant animals.  Ruminant animals we eat include cattle, goats, sheep, deer, buffalo, and elk.  Their four-part stomachs allow them to slowly digest grasses, leaves, and bark. Basically they chew, swallow, partially digest the food in their first stomach, regurgitate it back into their mouth, and then chew again.

The majority of beef we eat today comes from cows fed a grain-based diet.  Their food sources consist of TMR’s (total mixed rations) and “concentrates.”  TMR’s may contain corn, silage, hay, soymeal, and other fillers. Concentrates include cereal grains, the by-products of milling or processing those grains, and the by-products of distiller grains. Today’s cows eat an amalgamation of many feeds mixed in the correct proportions to give the animal what it needs for its stage of growth or production.

usdaWhat’s the difference between grass-fed and pasture-raised?

Grass-fed –Animal is grass fed with little-to-no grain.

Pasture-raised – Animal is free range and eats primarily grass but may also may have been supplemented with grains in the winter when the pasture was snow covered.

How does grass-fed beef differ from grain-fed beef?

Saturated, poly-, and mono-unsaturated fat content in grass-fed beef tends to be a little less or about the same as grain-fed beef. Omega 3 fatty acids are higher in grass-fed beef, as well as CLA’s (conjugated linoleic acid). CLA is a type of fat that confers health benefits such as better blood sugar regulation, immune system support, heart health, and aids in weight loss.

Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences, after a thorough review of current research, found little evidence that grass-fed beef has any advantage for safety, human health, or impact on the environment over grain-fed beef. Both types of beef deliver the important factors of nutrition in the human diet of protein, iron, and zinc in equal proportions.

Cost and Convenience

Grass-fed beef, milk, and yogurt are more expensive than grain-fed beef, milk and yogurt. They are also a little harder to find.  Most franchise grocery stores carry both options, but smaller, independent grocers will probably defer to grain-fed. Some farm markets may specialize in grass-fed vendors, or, depending on where you live, you may be able to buy direct from the farm.  You’ll probably have to buy in bulk to decrease the price, and then will need a freezer to store the surplus.

Taste

I once worked with a woman who insisted she could tell what kind of grass a cow grazed on when she drank milk. She must have had a very refined palate, because all milk tastes the same to me.  But I was a kid who liked school cafeteria and hospital food, so what do I know? Both grain-fed and grass-fed food products can be really good or really bad, depending on your taste buds. Try out a grass-fed product for yourself (when you can get a good buy) and see how it tastes and if it is worth the extra expense to you.

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

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Sources:

http://agricultureproud.com/2012/09/27/ask-a-farmer-does-feeding-corn-harm-cattle/

http://extension.psu.edu/animals/beef/grass-fed-beef/articles/telling-the-grass-fed-beef-story

http://animalscience.tamu.edu/2013/12/07/ground-beef-from-grass-fed-and-grain-fed-cattle-does-it-matter/

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screen addiction
Has technology, or more specifically use of technology, become a concern for you? According to a recent study, most people spend five hours on their computer daily. They also spend four hours watching television and just over two hours on their smartphones or tablets. Those multiple viewings add up to over 11 hours spent every day in front of a screen.
Nearly 50% of the time spent on these electronic devices is dedicated to entertainment, such as listening to music or streaming television shows. The average American household has 2.9 televisions. Most of us have at least one computer and are connected to the internet. We go online to shop, pay bills, check the weather, watch videos, play games, download music, read, and connect.
In addition, Americans send more than a billion text messages each day. Last year, the average American cell phone user either sent or received nearly 400 texts per month.
Once a tranquil place to reflect and to look through books at the library, it’s most popular service is now the internet connection. The sound in the library is now the tapping of computer keys.
Do you easily succumb to a beep of a newly arrive email or text? If you do, then you are part of the increasing phenomenons in history – screen addiction.
Calculating Your Personal Usage
If you are sincere about reducing screen time, you need to take an honest look at your personal usage.
1. Count the number of screens in your life. Calculate how much time you spend on each screen. How was that time spent? Was a large percentage used for what you consider “important” (for example, paying bills), or “leisure” (just surfing the web)?
2. How many texts do you send and receive per day? How many of those texts make a valuable contribution to your life?
3. How much television do you watch?
4. How many times do you check your email?
Reducing the Addiction
On the weekend, consider implementing a day at home to unplug all gadgets. Imagine the increase in conversations and outdoor activities. Put a limit on your recreational internet use. Limit the number of texts you send each day. Check your email only once per hour or once a night. Enjoy your meals screen free.
Not only is spending too much time in front of a screen unhealthy, it also means we often miss out on the very real world that’s around us. Recently, a friend shared that her children have begun texting each other inside the house. If this is not the value system you envisioned for your family, start today to set boundaries to limit the amount of time everyone spends in front of a screen.
References:
http://www.psychguides.com/…/computerinternet-addiction-symptoms-causes-.

Written by: Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD,LD. Ohio State University Extension Educator, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

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