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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Living’

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 (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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What’s in Your Breakroom?

breakroomIs there a breakroom in your office or place of work? If so, how would you describe it? Is it warm and inviting? Large? Small? Bright? Dark? Think about the food that you see on the counter tops, if any at all. Does your breakroom support people who are striving to make healthy choices? Or, like mine, is it a place full of tempting but unhealthy food that you try to avoid?

Research suggests that taking short breaks during the work day can improve focus and increase productivity, but the breakroom may not be the best place to take a breather- depending on the foods that are available there. A breakroom full of sweet treats can quickly sabotage the best diet-related intentions. A breakroom free of unhealthy choices, on the other hand, can support physical health while also promoting socialization and collaboration amongst coworkers.

If the food environment in your breakroom is less than ideal, consider making or advocating for the following changes:

  • Make sure that drinking water and cups are freely available to all. Water may be 2015-09-24 18.41.07 (1)accessible via a water cooler, drinking fountain, or filtered pitcher that is kept in the fridge.
  • Provide access to a refrigerator and microwave so that coworkers can safely store and prepare healthy lunches from home.
  • Celebrate special occasions, such as birthdays, with fruit instead of cake.
  • Use a potluck sign-up sheet, such as those created by the Growing Healthy Kids Columbus Coalition, for office gatherings where food will be served.
  • Get rid of candy dishes. Replace with bowls of fruit, if desired.Fruit Basket
  • Create a healthy snack cabinet.
  • Establish a “no dumping” policy to discourage coworkers from bringing cakes, cookies or other desserts from home.
  • Encourage your director or CEO to sign a healthy meeting pledge to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to supporting a culture of health in the workplace.

If it seems daunting to advocate for these changes, take heart in knowing that a growing body of research supports improving the office food environment to support the health of employees. Healthy meeting resources from the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association may assist you in making these changes. Once you speak up, you may be surprised by the number of coworkers who favor such changes. A healthier workplace has benefits for all!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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

References:

American Cancer Society (2009). Meeting Well. http://www.acsworkplacesolutions.com/meetingwell.asp

American Heart Association (2015). Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage toolkit. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_465693.pdf

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011). Brief Diversions Vastly Improve Focus, Researchers Find. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208131529.htm

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The dog days of summer are upon us. Heat and humidity can make it difficult to be comfortable, especially for those who don’t have air conditioning.  Extreme heat can even be deadly, causing heat exhaustion or heatstroke if not treated in time.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 600 people die from heat related complications each year.  This is more deaths than from all other natural disasters combined (flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes). Those who are most vulnerable include infants, children, the elderly, those who work outdoors, and people with chronic medical conditions.

Heat exhaustion is when the body overheats and can lead to heatstroke if the symptoms are not treated in time. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, rapid pulse, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, headache, and muscle cramps. These symptoms often occur when a person is participating in strenuous physical activity.  If a person is experiencing these symptoms, immediately have them rest, move to a cooler place and drink water or sports drinks.  Seek immediate medical attention if the symptoms don’t improve within an hour.

Heat exhaustion is preventable by taking some simple precautions. By planning ahead of time when a high heat index is predicted, you can stay as cool as a cucumber by following these simple tips:

summer heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stay hydrated and drink more water than you usually do. Avoid beverages with caffeine, alcohol, or high amounts of sugar. If you are physically active or sweating more than usual, try drinking a sport drink with electrolytes.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing in natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or hemp. These allow your body to breathe.
  • Cool off with water by soaking your feet in a tub of cold water. Keep a spray bottle of water in the refrigerator and mist yourself throughout the day. Take it with you when you leave the house.
  • If your house isn’t air conditioned, head to your local library, mall or community building. If your house has a basement, create a comfortable area where you can sit when it’s hot outside.
  • Create a cross breeze by positioning a fan across the room from a window. To cool the room down even more, place a pan of ice in front of the fan to generate a cool breeze.
  • Cool off your house or apartment by turning of lights and using heat-generating appliances at night, such as washers, dryers, and irons.
  • Dampen a towel or small blanket with cool water and wrap it around your body.
  • Take a cool shower.

lemons and ice

One extra note – remember your four-legged friends especially during the heat. Dogs and cats don’t have the ability to sweat like humans, so they will be affected differently by heat.  Give your pet a haircut and keep them indoors on hot days, providing them with water.  Limit outdoor activity or exercise and don’t push them too hard.  When they are outside, be sure they have a shady spot to lie in and make sure they have plenty of cool water to drink.  Avoid hot surfaces since your pet is basically barefoot.  If your dog doesn’t have much fur, you can use a special pet sunblock with zinc oxide to prevent burns. Never leave a pet in a parked car, even on cooler days.  The inside temperature heats up very quickly!  If you think your pet is overheated, get them into shade or air conditioning immediately.  Don’t submerge them in cold water; cooling down too quickly can cause problems.  Wet them under a faucet or hose with lukewarm water and let the air flow around them.  Offer small amounts of water to drink and call your veterinarian immediately.

Enjoy summer and all the fun activities it brings – picnics, swimming, gardening, and long lazy days…

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat Related Illness, https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html

WebMD, Green Tips for a Cool Summer, http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/green-tips-for-a-cool-summer.

City of Cincinnati Health Department, http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/health/news/excessive-heat-warning-issued/

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

Reviewed by: Liz Smith, M.S., RDN, L.D., Ohio State University Extension, SNAP-Ed.

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Beach

It is hard to believe that we are entering the second half of 2016. Where did the time go? Were you like most of us who set a New Year’s goal or resolution?

How are you doing with that goal? Did you achieve it and move forward with your new healthy lifestyle behaviors? Did you get sidelined by events in your life?

If this new habit is part of your routine, great! If not, is it still relevant? Do you need to revise your goal? Recently I encouraged program participants to set a SMART Goal. What is a SMART goal?

One of the best things you can do to start on your road to health is to set goals using the SMART method.  Let’s start by setting a SMART Wellness Goal. Make sure your goal contains all of these components:

S                  Specific – Walk 30 minutes

M               Measurable – 6 days each week

A                Attainable and Action-Oriented – I will walk (I have no limitations)

R                 Realistic – I already walk 15 minutes 6 days of the week

T                Time Specific – By August 15, 2016

SMART Goal: By August 15, 2016, I will walk for 30 minutes at least 6 days each week.

Another Example of a SMART Goal: By August 15, 2016, I will stretch for 10 minutes at least 5 days a week.

Take a few minutes to write down Your SMART Goal: __________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

Goal cropped 2

A great website tool to help you set nutrition and physical activity goals is SuperTracker which is available from the United States Department of Agriculture. Visit their website to get started with five simple goals. You will determine your goals and periodically receive encouragement thru your email.

Why should you consider your goals during vacation time? For many of us, vacation offers extra time to reflect on our lives and evaluate our progress. I consider my July vacation as a mid-point check-up. Are there things that I want to change to improve my health? Are there activities/projects that I want to accomplish before the year end? If so, taking a few minutes to pause and identify action steps & setting a SMART goal will help me achieve my goals.

Want a little more motivation? Check out Move it Monday for their Tip of the Week and suggestions for being more active.

Remember that even if you were derailed on your New Year’s Resolutions, it isn’t too late to start again! Write that goal and get started this vacation season!

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

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

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