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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Living’

Vitamin D is well known for contributing to strong, healthy bones. Did you know that it also contributes to the health of many other parts of the body? Vitamin D is important to your immune system, muscles, heart, brain and respiratory system. It can help fight infection, keep your cells communicating properly and even fight cancer. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with aches and pains, tiredness and frequent infections, and it has been linked to a number of health problems including:

  • Bone Conditions (e.g. rickets and osteomalacia)
  • Cancer
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Crohn’s disease

While most vitamins are obtained through the diet, the best way to get Vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunlight.  Your body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D each day with 15 minutes-2 hours of exposure to sunlight. The daily amount of sunlight needed for your body to produce Vitamin D varies by:

  • Skin tone – pale skin makes Vitamin D more quickly than dark skin
  • Age – our bodies have a harder time producing Vitamin D as we age
  • Location – the closer you live to the equator, the easier it is for your body to produce Vitamin D
  • Altitude –Vitamin D is produced more quickly at high altitudes when you’re closer to the sun
  • Weather – our bodies produce less Vitamin D on cloudy days than on sunny days
  • Air pollution – your body will make less Vitamin D if you live in a highly polluted area
  • Time of day – your body makes more Vitamin D if when your skin is exposed in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest point
  • Skin Exposure – the more skin you expose, the more Vitamin D you produce

Keep in mind that high sun exposure can increase risks for skin cancer.  Sun screen and protective clothing/hats are recommended for protection from the sun, even though reduced sun exposure may inhibit the body from producing Vitamin D as quickly.

In the fast-paced world we live in today, the average American does not consistently get exposure to the amount of sunlight needed to produce optimal levels of Vitamin D.  If you suspect you’re not getting enough sun exposure for your body to produce Vitamin D, you can get vitamin D through diet and supplementation.  The recommended dietary allowance (i.e. the average daily intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy people) is 600 IU. Foods high in Vitamin D include milk (120 IU per 8 ounce serving), salmon (450 IU per 3 ounce serving), canned tuna (150 IU per 3 ounce serving) and fortified orange juice (140 IU per 8 ounce serving).

Additionally, the Vitamin D Council recommends Vitamin D supplementation as described in the chart below:

Vitamin D recommendations Vitamin D Council
Infants 1,000 IU/day
Children 1,000 IU/day per 25 lbs of body weight
Adults 5,000 IU/day

According to the Vitamin D Council, Vitamin D toxicity can occur, but it is rare and unlikely: for example, a person would need to take a daily dose of 40,000 IU for a couple of months or longer to experience toxicity, or take a very large one-time dose such as 70,000 + IU. If you’re concerned about Vitamin D deficiency or toxicity, ask your doctor to test the level in your body.

Author: Brooke Distel, DTR, Dietetic Intern and graduate student

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, MPH, RD, LD, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Sources:

Brinkman, P. (2016). Keeping Sun Safe. Ohioline. http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hsc-7. 

National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements (2016). Vitamin D. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.

Vitamin D Council (2017). About Vitamin D. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.

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“I was just sittin’ here enjoyin’ the company.  Plants got a lot to say, if you take the time to listen.” – Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.

Are you looking to spend more time with your family?  Want to become more physically active?  How about needing to go to a place for peace, tranquility and relaxation?  Do you need to adopt better health habits?  Well, if you take the time to stop and “listen,” gardening just might be the activity you are looking for!

The health benefits of gardening include:garden pic

  • Increasing the chances of eating the amount of produce recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Consuming more plant-based foods which are associated with less risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  • Becoming more physically active to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
  • Strengthening bones and muscles.
  • Improving physical functioning in older adults: helps keep hands strong and agile.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Being around nature which has the potential to lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.

Research and studies show the following:

  • Gardening 3-5 times a week has been found to be a good strategy to combat obesity and lower stress.
  • Patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain taking part in horticultural therapy programs experience an improved ability to cope with chronic pain.
  • Children with attention deficit disorder who play in grassy, outdoor spaces have less severe symptoms than those who play in windowless, indoor settings.
  • Patients with clinical depression who participated in routine therapeutic gardening activities experienced a reduction of severity of depression and increased attentional capacity —benefits that lasted up to three months after the program ended.
  • Dementia patients who have access to gardens are less likely to display aggression or suffer injuries, and they display improved sleep patterns, balanced hormones and decreased agitation.

What are some additional benefits of Gardening?

  • Nutrition Awareness – Impacting positive food choices.
  • Environmental Awareness – Teaching children about their environment. “Gardens are often the most accessible places for children to learn about nature’s beaugard picty, interconnections, power, fragility, and solace.” (Heffernan, M. (1994).
  • Life Skills – Increasing appreciation for nature, responsibility and development of family involvement.
  • Health and Wellness – Improving the quality of life.
  • Community Building and Social Connections through Community Gardens – Developing positive and friendly interactions with neighbors.

Some final thoughts about Gardening

“Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized.” – Dr. Allan Armitage

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” – Alfred Austin

Yes, Eeyore, we need to “listen” because plants have a lot to say!

Written by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Pamela Bennett, Extension Educator, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, bennett.27@osu.edu

Sources:

The Ohio State University.  College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. News:  Chow Line:  Working in garden yields multiple benefits. https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/chow-line-working-in-garden-yields-multiple-benefits

The Ohio State University.  College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
News:  New OARDC Garden Will Help Study Links Between Plants and Health.
https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/new-oardc-garden-will-help-study-links-between-plants-and-health

 

Michigan State University Extension.  What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening?  http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/what_are_the_physical_and_mental_benefits_of_gardening

Cornell University.  College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.  Learn, Garden & Reflect with Cornell Garden-Based Learning.
http://gardening.cals.cornell.edu

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.    https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

 

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walking_focus_destressThe recent stretch of nice weather has hopefully inspired you to get outside and get moving!  Many of us tend to exercise less over the cold days of winter but now would be a great time to plan your activities for the coming months.

Probably the easiest, cheapest, and most accessible type of exercise is walking. It is an activity that most anyone of any age can participate in and enjoy. Walking provides so many benefits for our bodies. It can help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. It can help lower your blood pressure and help you control your type 2 diabetes. Walking can also help manage your weight and improve your mood!

The Mayo clinic shared information from The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute  who developed a 12 week walking schedule that can start you on the path to better health. But before starting this walking plan, talk with your doctor if you have serious health issues, or if you’re older than age 40 and you’ve been inactive recently.

At the beginning of your walk, take about 5 minutes to warm up your muscles. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for about 5 minutes to cool down your muscles. Don’t forget to stretch! Be sure and wear comfortable, supportive shoes.walking-shoes

There are many ways that you can work walking into your day:

  • Park farther from your office
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Go up or down a flight of stairs each time you go to the restroom
  • Walk your dog
  • Take your family to a local park
  • Walk over your lunch hour with a co-worker
  • When meeting friends for lunch or dinner, park farther from the restaurant

Always keep safety in mind when you walk outdoors. Walk with a friend when you can. Carry your cell phone, put your name and contact phone number in your pocket. Avoid dark and deserted areas, carry a whistle or pepper spray in case of an emergency, and don’t use a headset that might keep you from hearing traffic.

How can you add a walk to your day?

 

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20050972

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walk-Dont-Run-Your-Way-to-a-Healthy-Heart_UCM_452926_Article.jsp#.WK3TWPKlzdV

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/walking_helps_prevent_chronic_disease

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

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It is no secret that drug abuse is running rampant in Middle America. Over half a million Americans die every year from overdoses, accidents, illness, or other poor choices. I live in southern Ohio, an area that has been over whelmed with the opiate epidemic. I recently had the opportunity to attend an “Ohio State University Conversation on the Opioid Crisis” where I learned some things that we can all do to prevent the spread of drug abuse in our own communities. Here are a few things you can do to prevent drug use: family-eating

  • Have regular discussions with your children about the risks of drugs and alcohol. These discussions have been shown to result in a 50% reduction in use (Who knew?).  Be consistent, talk about the law, listen to what your children have to say, and control your emotions as you talk with them.
  • Have dinner together as a family – four or more times per week if possible. Research shows that teens who eat meals with their family are less likely to try tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs. Use mealtime as a chance to find out what your children are up to, who their friends are, what is going on at school, and to encourage improving grades and school work. Make conversation at mealtime positive and encouraging. Turn off the TV, put cell phones away, and take out earbuds so everyone can talk and listen.  (As a side benefit, if you prepare some of these meals together you will save money and teach your children to cook.)
  • Encourage children to be involved in extracurricular activities – sports, music, church activities, 4-H, Scouts, clubs, or volunteering. Not only should you encourage your child to be busy doing positive activities, but know where they are, who they are with, and when they will be home.
  • Decrease opportunities for exposure to addictive substances. Keep medication where children won’t happen upon it. When you finish taking the pain medication you were given after surgery, dispose of any that is left. Discuss this with older family members as well.  Literacy about medications and medication safety is key.
  • Set an example for children. Use prescription drugs properly, don’t use illegal drugs, never drink and drive, and if you drink, drink in moderation. If you used drugs in the past, explain the problems that it may have caused for you or other family members. Discuss why you wouldn’t choose to do drugs now.
  • Remember you are the parent! Monitor your child’s TV and Internet viewing, games they are playing, music they are listening to or purchasing, maintain a curfew, make sure adults are present when teens are hanging out and check in with them when they get home from school, and keep track of their school work (they give us access to those grades on the Internet for a reason). Recognize children for the positives – did they raise a grade, achieve a PR (personal best) in running or swimming, or finish all their chores without nagging? If they did, let them select the Sunday lunch meal, the movie you are watching together, or a new game to play together.

Parents and grandparents can have a powerful influence on protecting children from drug use and abuse. Take advantage of opportunities to talk about the risks of drugs and alcohol, and set an example for your own children and their friends. Volunteer to drive your child and their friends/teammates to events, or allow your child to invite a friend for family dinner on the weekend. When you have these opportunities – ask questions and listen, without criticism.

Sources:

Drug Free New Hampshire, http://drugfreenh.org/families

Start Talking Ohio, http://www.starttalking.ohio.gov/

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, http://www.centeronaddiction.org/

United States Food and Drug Administration, How to Dispose of Unused Drugs, http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm

National Institute of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/EasyToRead_PreventDrugUse_012017.pdf

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: James Bates, Assistant Professor/Field Specialist, Family Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, bates.402@osu.edu.

 

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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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walk-to-school

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

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sleeping

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.

Resources:

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips

https://sleep.org/

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-to-sleep-better.htm

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

 

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