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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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Many people go into a hibernation mode during the winter months, and end up gaining extra pounds after all the food and drink. Physical activity is important every time of the year, and the CDC recommends least 150 minutes a week of moderate activities (like brisk walking) and at least 2 days a week of strength training. Regular physical activity helps manage stress, weight gain, and can prevent the development of chronic disease. Many people workout at a gym during the winter months and don’t venture out much. However, there are many health benefits of spending time outside regardless of the season. Spending time in nature can boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve your moods, increase your ability to focus, increase your recovery from surgery, increase your energy level, an improve sleep.

Winter physical activity requires some precautions. During cold days, hats and gloves are the most important clothing articles since they protect body parts that are easily frostbitten. Around 30-40% of body heat is lost through your head. Dress in appropriate layers, so when you get hot, you can remove layers of clothes. Consider a tight inner layer made from synthetic materials such as polypropylene, which will wick moisture away from the skin. If walking on the roadside, make sure to have reflective clothing, especially during the darker winter months. Don’t forget to bring water, and drink fluids before and after exercising. You can become just as dehydrated in cold weather as hot! Don’t forget about sunscreen as well, if you will be out for long periods.

The best time to enjoy the great outdoors is in the winter! Go for a hike, snowshoe, cross country ski, sled, or just get outside! The cold air is refreshing, and will raise your metabolism to burn off some of those holiday calories. You can enjoy the solitude of many national and state parks. You may see wildlife like coyotes, owls, waterfowl, and other birds that you wouldn’t normally see when parks are crowded. Without leaves on the trees, you’ll have the opportunity for scenic views on the ridges of hilltops. Ice formations are spectacular in places with rock formations, such as the Hocking Hills. An added bonus- no bugs or poison Ivy!!!

Consider exploring a hiking trail nearby. In Ohio, we have the Buckeye Trail. The trail is about 1500 miles, runs around the perimeter of Ohio, and is marked by a blue blaze. The trail consists of 26 sections, each section named after a town or feature that it runs through. The trail traverses the diverse topologies and geographies of Ohio, including the southern and eastern Appalachian foothills, the western plains, and the northern Earie Basin. The trail also meanders through many small towns but also large cities such as Dayton where it passes through the Five Rivers Metro Park and aviation museums. Consider getting a fitness tracker like a Fitbit, and log in your steps or miles on the trail. Many Appalachian Trail hikers complete “sections” of the trail at different time points. Consider hiking sections of the Buckeye trail and see how many miles you can log in.

Happy trails!!

Sources:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html

http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/activewinter.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

http://www.buckeyetrail.org/overview.php

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

 

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As the bitter temperatures and snow continue to prolong spring’s arrival, I’ve heard many people say “I’m done with winter!” Do you find yourself feeling the effects of the long winter, maybe being cooped up without enough fresh air or sunlight? Perhaps you’re suffering from ‘cabin fever’ or ‘winter blues.’

The decrease in natural light in winter months can actually change one’s brain chemistry. Levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin drop in winter months while levels of sleep-promoting melatonin increase. The combination of changes in these two brain chemicals can lead to mild depression or the more serious condition of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD may include sleeping too much, eating too much, decreased energy, decreased ability to concentrate and social withdrawal. If any of these symptoms begin to interfere with your ability to function at home or work, you may need to seek professional diagnoses and treatment. Your doctor can work with you to develop a treatment to help you through the winter months.

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There are things you can do to combat the winter blues, according to Dr. Mark Frye, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic.

• Get outside – Natural light is good for you. Take a break at lunch and go for a walk.

• Light Therapy Boxes – These can help if you’re unable to get outdoors.

• Exercise – Try for at least three times a week for 30 minutes.

• Socialize – Interact with family and friends on a regular basis.

Winter won’t last forever… spring IS coming! Until then, use these tips to elevate your mood and energy and to live healthy AND well!

Source:

Hanson, Nick. “Experts Offer Advice to Avoid Winter Blues” Mayo Clinic News Network. http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/experts-offer-advice-to-avoid-winter-blues

Image source: <a href=”http://www.4freephotos.com/Couple_walking_in_snow-image-c4f8a5092e0211a44f2d21a148f8b937.html”>Couple walking in snow from 4freephotos.com</a>

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

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

 

 

 

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The weather outside is very cold and I begin to feel that scratchy throat. I am seeing my daughter’s nose running and hear her squashcomplaining about her ear hurting.  Amidst the holiday celebrations and more contact with friends and family, contagious illnesses are making their rounds.  Besides the number one action of washing our hands frequently, how can we best prepare our bodies to fight off these pesky germs?  The American Institute for Cancer Research has a helpful article, “Deck Your Meals with Fruits and Vegetables.”  What a timely topic!  So what are the recommended tips we should put into practice?

Make sure you are eating the rainbow.

  • Deep orange vegetables like pumpkins, winter squash, and sweet potatoes will provide you with Vitamin A and fiber.  See a great reduced fat recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole below.
  • Red Peppers will provide Vitamin E and Vitamin C while tomatoes will provide Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A).
  • Deep red, purple and blue berries and all the varieties of apples are also rich in antioxidants.
  • Green broccoli, mustard and turnip greens (and others), spinach and brussel sprouts all provide a variety of wonderful vitamins and minerals that keep our body healthier and able to battle infections.

Eat a variety of foods and do not overcook them.

  • Red meats and poultry, whole and fortified grains and breads provide the minerals zinc and selenium that help to build our immunity.
  • Grapes, beans, onions, etc.  are part of the many fresh fruits and vegetables and are nature’s vitamin pills.  In addition to their great taste they help to maintain our healthy lifestyles.
  • Overcooking and boiling our foods causes vitamins to escape and be poured down the drain.

Flavor foods naturally.

  • Ginger is known to fight inflammation and colds.  Other herbs and spices also help to keep our bodies running strong.

These food tips along with regular physical activity and drinking lots of water to keep us hydrated will not prevent every sneeze or sniffle this frosty season, but it should help us to prevent some illnesses and shorten the symptoms of the ones that get us down.

Try this tasty slimmed down version of sweet potato casserole for some great Vitamin A:

Sweet Potato Casserole

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients

1 pound sweet potatoes (about 4 medium)

3 egg whites

1⁄2 cup sugar

12 ounces evaporated milk, nonfat

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg

1⁄2 teaspoon ginger

Instructions

1. Rinse sweet potatoes in cold running water and pierce with a fork.

2. Microwave sweet potatoes on full power until tender, about 15 minutes. Turn them half way during baking.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove skin from sweet potatoes and mash with hand beaters or food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.

4. Pour mixture in an 8 inch square baking pan. Bake until casserole is firm in the center, about 40 minutes.

5. Remove pan from oven. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then cut into 10 squares.

6. Serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers.

Notes:  You may want to experiment with using canned sweet potatoes.

Sources: Deck Your Meals with Fruits and Vegetables, (2013).  American Institute of Cancer Research.  Accessed on December 10, 2013, at http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=17467&news_iv_ctrl=2303

Super Foods for Optimal Health, (2013). WebMD.  Accessed on December 10, 2013, at http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health

Sweet Potato Casserole, (2013). United States Department of Agriculture:  SNAP-Ed connection.  Accessed on December 10, 2013, at http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/recipes/sweet-potato-casserole

Author:  Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Liz Smith, R.D., L.D., SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, NorthEast Region, smith.3993@osu.edu

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Beautiful Winter Snow Scene

Wintertime…….. Snow, Skiing, Sledding, Ice and Survival
It is a new year and now is a good time to plan for an emergency. It is better to be ready for the winter or an emergency BEFORE it happens.  What should you include in your emergency kit?
According to www.ready.gov, a basic emergency supply kit should include the following items:
Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or and crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust masks to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Local maps
Cell phone with chargers, inverters or solar energy
Additional items may be needed if you have an infant or family member who is on a medication. Think about your family when planning your kit. Go to http://www.ready.gov/winter for more information. You will find additional ideas for your emergency kit.

Prepare for Winter    What about your car? 

If you live in an area where winter visits you, there are basic supplies that you need to put in your car.  In an emergency, it may just save your life.  Take a few minutes to gather these items and put them in a tote in your car.

  Winter Storm Survival Kit for Cars

Keep the following items in your car during the winter. Make sure you do not leave without them:

  • blankets/sleeping bags
  • high-calorie, non-perishable food (granola, nuts, candy bar)
  • flashlight with extra batteries
  • first aid kit
  • knife
  • extra clothing to keep dry
  • a large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
  • a smaller can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water;
  • sack of sand (or cat litter)
  • shovel
  • windshield scraper and brush
  • tool kit
  • tow rope
  • booster cables
  • water container
  • compass
  • road maps

Take these simple steps to Resolve to be Ready.  In an emergency, you will be glad you did!

Writer:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

Sources: http://www.ready.gov/winter

http://www.fema.gov/

http://web.extension.illinois.edu/disaster/winter/ws_surv.html

Emergency Kit

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