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Posts Tagged ‘Wellness’

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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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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Do you follow the “5-second rule” when you drop food on the floor?  If you do, you may want to rethink your actions.

Different factors affect how quickly bacteria will be transferred.  These
include moisture, type of surface, and contact time.  It was found in some instances the bacteria began to transfer in less than one second.  Time to rethink the idea that you can pick up any food off the floor quickly, and it is safe to eat.koli-bacteria-123081__180

Researchers at Rutgers University tested four surfaces:

  • stainless steel
  • ceramic
  • tile
  • wood

Each of the surfaces were contaminated an Enterobacter aerogenes, “cousin” of Salmonella.  The bacteria were allowed to dry before food was dropped.

They used four different types of foods:watermelon-on-tile

  • watermelon
  • bread
  • bread and butter
  • gummy candy

The researchers replicated the scenarios 20 times each checking the bacteria transfer to food samples at less than one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds.  Each food sample was then analyzed for contamination.

Moisture seemed to increase the transfer of bacteria to food the most.  Watermelon contained the most contamination while gummy candy contained the least.  The longer the food was on the contaminated surface the more bacteria it contained. However, contamination from bacteria can occur instantly. 

Surprisingly, carpet had low transfer rates. Tile and stainless steel bread-on-carpethad higher transfer rates than wood which was variable.  Another study with tile found E. coli was transferred to gummy candy in less than 5 seconds with more bacteria transferred from smooth tile than rough tile. 

Next time, you drop some food on the floor you may want to think twice before you put it in your mouth.  Any food that has been on the floor may contain bacteria which may make you sick.  Is the food that important or expensive?   Would you be better off throwing it away?   It is always better to avoid infection or being sick.

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

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

References:

Aston University. (2014). Researchers Prove the Five Second Rule is Real. Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences.  Available at http://www.aston.ac.uk/news/releases/2014/march/five-second-food-rule-does-exist/

Schaffner, D. (2016). Rutgers Researchers Debunk ‘Five-Second Rule’: Eating Food off the Floor Isn’t Safe.  Rutgers Today.  Available at http://news.rutgers.edu/research-news/rutgers-researchers-debunk-%E2%80%98five-second-rule%E2%80%99-eating-food-floor-isn%E2%80%99t-safe/20160908#.V_ZUJvkrKUk

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2003). If You Drop It, Should You Eat It?  Scientists Weigh In on the 5-Second Rule.  College News.   Available at http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/If-you-drop-it-should-you-eat-it-scientists-weigh-5-second-rule

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sweet corna

 

One of summer’s greatest pleasures is enjoying a fresh ear of sweet corn at a backyard barbecue.   We eagerly await the corn harvest, and now it’s here!  Fresh sweet corn is available in most communities throughout the month of August.

Corn is a nutrient-rich vegetable.  One ear of corn is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and potassium.  Corn is also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin; phyto-nutrients that are linked to a reduced risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.  Corn has about the same amount of calories as an apple, but with one-fourth less sugar.

To reap the full nutritional benefits of corn, cook no longer than 10 minutes in boiling water to minimize nutrient loss. While boiling is the primary way most of us prepare corn, grilling is a popular and tasty alternative. Other ways to enjoy this nutritious vegetable include mixing it into pasta dishes, corn bread, soups and/or salads.

For a different taste, try seasoning corn with lime juice instead of butter.  Or combine cooked corn kernels with chopped scallions, red pepper, hot pepper sauce and lime juice as a quick salsa for meat, poultry or fish.

So what are you waiting for?  In a few weeks corn season will be over. Make plans to visit your local farmer’s market to pick up some sweet corn this weekend!

Written by:  Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu
Resources:  Summer Corn – More Than Delicious, Web MD

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