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Have you heard the buzzing sound or felt the itchy bites? Mosquitoes armosquito-213805__180e around.  We used to think the itchy bite marks were just a pest.  Now, we hear more and more about diseases the mosquitoes are carrying.

Mosquitoes can carry serious diseases.  Some experts consider the mosquito the world’s most deadly animal.  Most mosquito-related illnesses occur in Africa.  In the United States the West Nile Virus is the most serious disease carried by the mosquitoes, but we may soon see Zika Virus, dengue fever and Chikungunya.  Thus, it’s important to take some precautions.

Most people have no symptoms with West Nile virus infections.  However, one in five people develop mild symptoms such as fever, headache, or nausea.  About one in 150 people get very ill.    Your dog also needs protection with monthly heartworm medication to prevent mosquito-borne illness.

How do you keep your family and yourself safe?  Following the three “D’s” are the best recommendation.

Drain:  With about 200 different species of mosquitoes in the U.S., the best way is to eliminate the breeding ground for mosquitoes.

  • Remove any stagnant water you have around your property such as potsbird-bath-179928_960_720, tools, trash cans, or other places where water has collected. Unclog roof gutters.
  • Empty water containers like flower pots, bird baths, wading pools or children’s toys, at least once a week.

Dress:  If you need to be outside sometime between dusk to dawn when mosquitoes may be active watch what you wear.   Mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing and may bite through tight-fitting clothing.

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants in light-colors which are loose-fitting.

Defend:  Use a mosquito repellent when you feel it is needed.  Label directions should be followed on repellents containing the three active ingredients below approved by the EPA  to pose minimal risk for human safety.  These should not be used on children under two months.  Check with your health care provider before using on children.   Put sunscreen on first about 20 minutes before applying repellent.   The three approved active ingredients in repellents are:

  • DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
  • Picaridin (KBR 3023)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-methane 3,8-diol, or PMD)

Since we do not have vaccines for most mosquito related illnesses, following the three “D’s” will help reduce your risk of getting a mosquito-borne illness.

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

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

References:

American Mosquito Control Association. (2015). AMCA Tells Mosquitoes to “Buzz” Off During Mosquito Control Awareness Week, June 21-27.  Available at http://www.mosquito.org/assets/AwarenessWeek/amca%20mosquito%20control%20awareness%20week%202015_press%20release.pdf

American Mosquito Control Association. (2016). Mosquito Prevention and Protection.  Available at http://www.mosquito.org/assets/Resources/mosquito%20prevention%20fact%20sheet.pdf

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Mosquito Bites Prevention.   Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mosquito-bites/basics/prevention/con-20032350

NIH News in Health. (2016). Block the buzzing, bites, and bumps.  Available at   https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/apr2016/feature2

 

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When my daughter was a toddler, she had a talking toy Bullwinkle Moose that said “walking is good for you!”  For years it was a bit of a family joke and every time we went for a walk, someone had to quote Bullwinkle.      walking_focus_destress

Now, science is firmly behind the concept that walking really is good for you!  Among others, the American Heart Association promotes the positive benefits of walking. The simple of activity of walking can:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipids profile.
  • Maintain your body weight and lower risk of obesity.
  • Reduce your risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer.
  • Reduce your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes.

What do you need to start walking?  Basically you just need comfortable supportive shoes and a safe place to walk.

The Mayo Clinic gives some suggestions for starting and maintaining a walking habit.

  • Set yourself up for success! Have a simple, attainable goal. Maybe the first week you plan to walk 5 minutes at lunch time.  Once that becomes a habit, gradually add time to your walk.
  • Track your progress. It can be very motivating to see how many miles you have walked in a week, month or year. You can record this in a journal, a spreadsheet or an online app.
  • Make it enjoyable. Some people like to walk alone, listening to music or just enjoying some “me” time. Others prefer to walk with a friend or two. Find out what works for you.
  • Vary your routine. Plan a couple of different routes – walk outside when possible or join others walking at the gym or local mall. If you’re walking alone, let someone know where you will be walking. Keep your cell phone in your pocket for emergency calls! If you have a light or whistle, take it with you.
  • If you miss a day or two, don’t give up! Remind yourself how good you felt when you were walking regularly and ease back into it.

While walking is a relatively low risk activity, you still want to think of preventing injuries to yourself. If you haven’t been active, start slow and gradually add to your time, distance and speed.  To avoid blisters, some studies have shown that synthetic fiber socks can be better than cotton socks which absorb moisture and increase friction. Shin splints (pain on the front of your lower leg) and knee pain can be prevented or minimized by wearing proper, supportive footwear and stretching and strengthening the supportive muscles.

Remember, every step you take helps you lead a healthier life. So, get up, lace on your walking shoes and get going!

walking shoes

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension, Franklin County rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension ,Pickaway County treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

The Mayo Clinic. Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261?pg=1
The American Heart Association.  Walking, Take the first step.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walking_UCM_460870_SubHomePage.jsp

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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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