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There are many different facets of health. We think of health as eating well and exercising, yet health also includes our social interactions and connections.

We all tend to get busy in our lives and lose contact with our friends and family. July is a perfect time to build stronger social ties with family and friends and reach out to others.  Social Wellness encourages us to develop better communications with our friends and family and to spend time nurturing our relationships and ourselves.  Respect yourself and others and develop a solid social support system.  Check in with your family and friends.

On-line social networking has grown because of our need to be connected. It allows us to read status updates and get a glimpse of what is going on with our friends and family.  Yet, it is important to have a full conversation to maintain social wellness.

Grow your social network. Consider your interests and hobbies and you are bound to meet new people that share the same interest.

Social Wellness is important including:

  • People who have strong social networks live longer
  • People with healthy relationships respond better to stress and have healthier cardiovascular systems
  • Healthy social networks improve the immunes system’s ability to fight off infectious disease

Reconnect this month with your friends and family to strengthen your bonds and improve your social wellness. Be Well!

References: https://www.butler.edu/health-wellness/social                                                    http://www.fsap.emory.edu › Workplace Resources › Wellness

 

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

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

 

 

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OSU Extension 4H clubs Highland Youth Garden Groveport ButtoneersDo you enjoy gardening? Growing your own healthy fruits and vegetables?  Looking at the beautiful flowers that you have grown? I’m sure many answered yes to these questions, but if I ask, “Do you enjoy weeding your garden?” I would probably receive a different answer!

June 13th is actually National Weed Your Garden Day!  Who would have imagined that there is a day dedicated to such an unpopular pastime!  However, the background for this day provides several good reasons that we should devote a day (or more!) to weeding our gardens.

First, weeding can lead to healthier crops.  The weeds compete with your desirable plants for water, sunlight and nutrients. This is especially important when the plants are young. If you can have your soil weed free before planting you are off to a good start.

One of the best tips for having a weed free garden is to stay in control.  Weeding for 5 – 10 minutes each day can help you keep ahead of the fast growing weeds. Be careful not to let any weeds produce seed. You can mulch between the plants to help prevent weeds from sprouting.

Weeding can also help lead to a healthier you.  Did you know that you can burn calories and work some of your muscles simply by weeding your garden? If you’d like to improve your shoulders, arms, thighs, and butt muscles, gardening could be for you!

Here is a simple calculator to help you determine how many calories you can burn while weeding. As an example, an average slice of cheese pizza contains 272 calories.  If you weigh about 150 lbs. and weed in the garden for about 45 minutes, you could balance out that slice of pizza!  You can also increase the intensity of your weeding session to have a cardiovascular workout.

So if you want healthier fresh fruits and vegetables from your own garden and the bonus of a more fit body, take the time to regularly weed your garden.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County. Rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Candace J. Heer, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Morrow County, heer.7@osu.edu

 

Sources:

https://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/days-2/national-weed-your-garden-day-june-13/

https://www.fitwatch.com/caloriesburned/calculate?descr=weeding%252520garden&mets=4.5

https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/1993/11-10-1993/exer.html

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I had a recent health issue that reminded me to pause and take time for my health. My knuckle on my right hand hurt and was swollen. Yes, it bothered me every day but I did not think too much about it. I saw a bone and joint specialist and they took x-rays. I was to follow up with them but a different health scare (which required a minor surgery) became the priority for me. That health event turned out fine and I moved on with my life. The holidays came & went and I still had discomfort in my hand. Fast forward to a visit with my primary care office. I mentioned my finger was still bothering me. The nurse practitioner looked in my test results and said, “No wonder it still hurts, your finger was broken”. I went back to the specialist and they buddy taped it to my other finger. My finger feels better but it is still swollen and I tape it most days. I will follow up with the specialist next week and will see the next steps.smallstepsournationshealth_infographic

Why do I share this story? Because even though I spend part of my workday promoting health and wellness through my job as a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, I missed an important health event in my own life. I decided to share this story in hopes that you will make time for your health.

What can we do to improve our health?

  • Eat more veggies and fruit. Research tells us that eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Move more. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. What if you think you don’t have time for 30 minutes? Break it up into 10-minute segments. Add variety to help keep it interesting.
  • Get a family doctor. Center for Disease Control and Prevention fast stats tell us that nearly 88% have a place to go for medical care. That is awesome news! If you do not have a primary care doctor, I would encourage you to get one. They get to know you, your body and illnesses and can assist you in maintaining your health status.
  • Do not ignore your body signals. Just like my broken finger, do not ignore signals from your body. My sister survived a heart attack – even though she had chest pain, she thought it was from her breast cancer reconstruction surgery.

There are other things that we can do to improve our health. Reduce stress, quit smoking, get adequate sleep, control our weight, monitor blood pressure, know our numbers (cholesterol & glucose) and get routine health screenings. Now that I’ve shared my little story, what can YOU do to “Make Time for Your Health”?

Post your comments on this blog.

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

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

Sources:

Cancer Prevention Recommendations,  American Institute of cancer Research.  http://www.aicr.org/can-prevent/what-you-can-do/10-recommendations.html

Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults, American Heart Association. http://heart.org/healthyliving/physicalactivity

Treber, M. (2016) I thought it was just my compression bra, I didn’t think it could be a heart attack. https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/09/06/i-thought-it-was-just-my-compression-bra-i-didnt-think-it-could-be-a-heart-attack/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is it possible that living around more green spaces can improve or help your health?  It can walk in parkhelp you live longer according to a 2016 analysis by Harvard School of Public Health researchers in a study of 100,000 women.  Women living in the areas with the most greenness in an area within a tenth of a mile had a 12% lower rate of death compared to women who lived in areas with the lowest level of greenness.  Women in the highest area of greenness had a:

  • 13% lower rate for cancer mortality
  • 35% lower respiratory disease-related mortality
  • 41% lower rate for kidney disease mortality

So why do researchers think green space may improve your health?  They think it is a combination of factors which include:

  • Lower levels of depression
  • Increases social engagement
  • Higher levels of physical activity
  • Lower levels of pollution

When examining why people in green spaces might have lower levels of depression it is believed people who live in greener areas are more likely to go outside which exposes them to sunlight.  Being exposed to sunlight helps people make more Vitamin D.  Depression is associated with lower levels of Vitamin D.   Participating in social activities and being with friends can help decrease feelings of loneliness and depression.  Experiencing nature and being outside has shown to increase feelings of well-being.   Some research links images of nature with an increased positive mood.

Higher levels of physical activity helps a person be more fit and usually healthier.  Exercise is good medicine.  The women who lived in greener spaces were more physically active in this research study. flowers-113503_960_720

Trees, plants, grass and flowers all help reduce pollution.  Plants reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter which helps lower pollution.  Those women who lived near the highest amount of vegetation saw a reduced rate of death from respiratory disease by about one-third.  Plants can help clean up our air and help us breathe cleaner air. gravel-road-1031726__340

All this is good news if you live in green spaces with heavy vegetation.  Be sure to take the opportunity to get outside, walk or bike around your neighborhood, find friends or family members to walk with you, and enjoy being outdoors.

If you don’t live in an area with much vegetation check to see if you can plant some trees, plants and/or bushes.  Put some potted plants on your patio or near your front door if it is outside.  Encourage your city or town to be a “Tree City” and plant more trees.   Go visit a friend or meet a friend in the park to walk and enjoy the outside.  Try taking a vacation in areas with heavy vegetation.

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

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Frates, E. (2017). Time Spent in “Green Places” Linked with Longer Life in Women, Harvard Health Blog.  Available at http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/time-spent-green-places-linked-longer-life-women-2017030911152

Mann, D. (2012).  Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Depression.  Available at http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20120627/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-to-depression#1

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Have you ever finished eating your lunch or dinner and could barely remember what you had just eaten? Could you identify the tastes and textures?  Has your stomach ever felt uncomfortable after you quickly gobbled down a sandwich or meal? Do you eat in the car or in front of the television or computer screen?

Many of us are often are distracted or in a hurry when eating and don’t give the simple act of chewing much thought. Does proper chewing of our food lead to better digestion?  Yes!  Healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients starts with the basic act of chewing our food. As you chew your food, digestive enzymes are released into the stomach to help your body convert the food into energy.

There are many benefits of chewing your food properly:

  • Absorb more nutrients – smaller particles are easier for our bodies to digest.
  • Enjoy and taste your food – proper chewing forces you to slow down and enjoy the flavors.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – it takes time for your brain to tell your stomach that you are full, so taking longer to chew each bite may help you control how much you eat.
  • Care for your teeth – the saliva that is produced from chewing helps wash away bacteria from your teeth and it gives the bones holding your teeth in place some exercise.
  • Reduce the risk of bacterial overgrowth in the colon – this can help prevent bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive problems.

 

So, how many times should you chew your food? That depends on what you are eating!

Its common sense that soft food like fruits and some vegetables break down more easily than a steak. Some experts suggest 5-10 chews for soft food and up to 30 for denser foods.

Here are some more specific guidelines for proper chewing:

  • Start with smaller bites
  • Chew slowly
    • Most of the food should be liquefied in your mouth
  • Swallow completely before the next bite
  • Limit the amount of liquids you consume while eating

The Harvard Health Letter discusses the concept of “mindful eating” where you can apply some of the ideas above to help prevent health issues and increase your enjoyment of food. This method also emphasizes the importance of limiting your distractions!  Turn off the TV and computer while eating and enjoy your food!

 

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Cavuto, K. (2015). 5 Reasons You Should Chew Your Food. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/03/10/5-reasons-you-should-chew-your-food

Mercola (2013). 7 Important Reasons to Properly Chew Your Food. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/31/chewing-foods.aspx

Harvard Health Letter (2011). Mindful Eating. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

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listIt’s hard to believe that we are approaching the beginning of 2017. This is the time when many of us make our New Year’s Resolutions.  Do you make a resolution or two each year? How successful are you at fulfilling your resolutions?

I recently saw a definition of a New Year’s Resolution as a “to do list” for the first week in January!

For many people, unfortunately, this joke is their reality. Research shows that only 8% of those who make New Year’s Resolutions are successful in achieving what they have resolved. Some say that the reason our resolutions don’t work is that they are sometimes based on wishful thinking. Who doesn’t want to be happier, thinner, fit, more financially secure, etc.!  If only we could wave a magic wand and make it happen. Since that’s not possible, how can we help to ensure that the changes we want to see for ourselves are carried out?

The best advice for making positive changes in our lives is to be ready for the challenge.  There are  two basic strategies that can help you be successful:

1st Set realistic goals

  • Choose one or two achievable goals.
  • Don’t be overly aggressive with behavior change – take it slow!
  • Write them down. If you can see them each day, it may give you the motivation you need.

2nd Create an environment that will help you to succeed.

  • If you want to lose weight or become more fit, find an activity that you enjoy.
  • Ask others to help. A walking buddy can help you commit to that daily walk.
  • Enjoy a piece of fruit (or vegetable) every afternoon as a snack. This behavior helps you increase your fruit and veggie intake which may lead to behavior changes that encourage weight loss.
  • Don’t buy junk food – fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy food and snacks.
  • If saving money is your goal, be sure you know the difference between your “wants” and “needs”.
  • Increase your money management skills by taking a class on budgeting or finance.

As you are making these new habits a part of your life, it would be good to avoid places, people, and situations that you know encourage your old habits. Stay away from people who try to sabotage your plans for a healthier life. Start with a small change and once it becomes a habit, explore the next step that you can take to achieve your overall goal.

Set some milestone markers and reward yourself when you reach them. That first marker might be walking at least 3 days per week when your goal is 5 days.  Buy yourself something fun – maybe a new pair of funky socks.

Maybe most importantly, don’t expect perfection!  Remember, you want this to be a new-years-resolutionlifelong change. There will be times that you will slip back into old habits but don’t use that as an excuse to give up on your goals. Recognize your mistake, refocus and move forward.

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County

References:

http://moneysmarts.iu.edu/tips/basics/new-years-resolution.shtml

http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statisticshttp://extension.usu.edu/htm/news-multimedia/articleID=4157

http://extension.psu.edu/health/news/2016/be-successful-in-keeping-new-year2019s-resolutions

http://uwyoextension.org/uwnutrition/2013/01/31/new-years-resolution-solutions/

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_three_most_important_tactics_for_keeping_your_resolutions

 

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Did you know that giving gifts can be good for the gift giver? There are numerous research studies showing the health benefits to gift giver of improved physical and mental health. Giving can lower your blood pressure, heighten happiness, and improve our self-esteem.  While we are often on the lookout for that perfect gift for our family members, maybe this is the year to look for a gift that encourages wellness.

Several years ago our Blog featured an article that had many wellness gift ideas for adults, while those ideas are still wonderful we thought it might be time to focus on healthy gift ideas for children too. Here is a list to help you get started:

  • Board games are great – they typically promote family time, often include physical activity, boost math skills, and get everyone away from the TV.
  • Little ChefsChildren’s cookbooks and child size cooking equipment – purchase equipment they need to make the recipes in the book or give them their own grocery store gift card to buy the food they need for a couple recipes. I can still remember the year my daughter got an apron, tiny rolling pin and baking sheet when she was about 6 years old. She loved using them.
  • Play farms, farmer’s markets, or kitchens – these toys encourage young children to think about where their food comes from and how it is prepared.
  • Books – especially those that encourage physical activity. Almost any child’s book is a great gift for the family who reads together, but those that encourage activity are even better. Look for themes like hiking, dancing, soccer, or swimming. Books that encourage giving are also a positive addition.
  • Craft or electronic kits and building blocks – gifts that encourage creativity and building work the side of our brains that often gets neglected. They also promote problem solving and originality.
  • Bikes, sleds, hula hoops, or fishing poles – all encourage families to get moving. Don’t forget to get the necessary safety equipment like a helmet or shin pads.outdoor-play
  • Pay the registration fee for a child to participate in lessons – think dance class, soccer club, archery, or swim. You may want to check with parents before getting this gift or be prepared to help with driving the carpool.
  • Give a coupon for the child to pick a day at a city, state or national park. This may include hiking, canoeing, or participating in a class offered by wildlife personnel. Promise to go with them!
  • Seeds, herb gardens, or plants – they promote science, encourage children to learn responsibility, and can be used when cooking if they grow herbs or vegetables.
  • Help children pick wellness gifts for their friends or other family members – this encourages them to think about healthy options and helps them to promote wellness in others.

What gifts are you going to buy your family to encourage wellness and health? Comment below to let us know your ideas.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewers: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Fayette County, and Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Perry County.

Sources:

Harvard School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/12/03/healthy-gift-guide-17-ideas-for-giving-the-gift-of-health/

The Cleveland Clinic, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/11/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/

Ohio State University Extension, Live Healthy Live Well, https://livehealthyosu.com/2014/12/04/give-a-gift-of-wellness-this-holiday-season/

Purdue University, http://www.purdue.edu/uns/html3month/2006/061205T-DeHavenFitness.html

Penn State Extension, http://extension.psu.edu/youth/betterkidcare/news/2014/art-an-opportunity-to-develop-childrens-skills

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