February Is American Heart Month

Meter on wrist showing heart rate

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One out of every four deaths each year is caused by heart disease. Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is severely reduced or blocked. Men are more likely to develop heart disease after age 45. Women have a higher risk after age 55 or following menopause.

Consider the following steps you can take to help protect your heart.

  1. Know your numbers: High blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight can increase your risk of heart disease. Talk to your provider about ways to improve your numbers.
  2. Stop smoking: To quit, contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  3. Model your plate using the DASH Eating Plan, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan: Choose more plant foods including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Eat lean dairy and proteins including fish, skinless poultry, and beans. Use heart healthy fats such as canola and olive or vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Limit sodium, sugar-sweetened drinks, and desserts.
  4. Physical activity: Set a goal of at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Sitting less can help control weight, decrease stress, and improve sleep quality.
  5. Prioritize sleep: Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep a night.
  6. For more information, download the resource 28 Days Toward a Healthy Heart, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/resources/28-days-towards-healthy-heart.

Sources: NHLBI, go.iastate.edu/MAGKP8

Win with Workplace Wellness

One way to improve our overall health is to be physically active on a regular basis. It is crucial for healthy aging, reduces risk of chronic diseases, improves mental health, and strengthens bones and muscles. Most Americans who work full-time are spending at least eight hours a day at their worksite, and most of that time is spent at a computer or desk. Here are five tips for increasing physical activity during the workday:

  • Take short 3- to 5-minute breaks every hour to get up and walk around your worksite.
  • Find your favorite exercise video from Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, before or after lunch.
  • Invest in a standing desk or “treadmill desk” to increase standing or walking throughout the day.
  • Try stretches while sitting at your desk—such as chair squats, arm and elbow stretches, sit up and stretches, and overhead presses.
  • Find a colleague to walk with during your lunch hour. This can improve social and physical well-being.

Sources:
CDC, www.cdc.gov
New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, njaes.rutgers.edu
Harvard Health Publishing, www.health.harvard.edu

What Is Intuitive Eating?

Woman in kitchen peeling vegetables

Intuitive Eating is an evidence-based, mind and body health approach. The ten principles of Intuitive Eating cultivate or remove barriers to body awareness. It’s a process of listening and responding to your body to meet physical and psychological needs.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:

  • Reject the Diet Mentality
  • Honor Your Hunger
  • Make Peace with Food
  • Challenge the Food Police
  • Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  • Feel Your Fullness
  • Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
  • Respect Your Body
  • Movement—Feel the Difference
  • Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition

You are the expert of your own body. Use Intuitive Eating as an empowerment tool. You are the only one who knows what hunger, fullness, and satisfaction feel like! Check out this article that provides real-life examples of each principle, go.iastate.edu/MUBDLM.

Source: Intuitive Eating Pros, www.intuitiveeating.org/

Let’s Be Clear on Cleaning

Bucket and cleaning supplies

Knowing the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting is helpful in preventing the spread of diseases. Always follow the manufacturer’s label for proper use and safety.

Cleaning first removes germs and dirt from surfaces. Sanitizing is done after cleaning to further reduce germs on surfaces to safer levels. Disinfecting kills germs and bacteria with a chemical product.

What To Use?

Use soap or detergents with water to scrub and wash for cleaning. Use a weaker bleach solution sanitizing spray for sanitizing. Use an EPA-registered disinfecting product or strong bleach solution for disinfecting.

When To Use?

Regularly clean objects and surfaces before sanitizing or disinfecting. Be sure to sanitize objects and surfaces that are in contact with mouths such as countertops, any surface that touches food, utensils, toys, and other infant feeding supplies. It is important to disinfect surfaces when someone has gotten sick or it is a high-traffic area where germs are more likely to spread.

Stay safe when using cleaning and chemical products. If there has been a chemical exposure to cleaners or disinfectants, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

Sources:
CDC, go.iastate.edu/QCF85B
CDC, go.iastate.edu/H3MYZ7

Find Your Movement Motivation

Walking on path

Starting a physical activity routine and sticking to it can be challenging. Finding the motivation to stay active is key.

Most results of exercise are not instantaneous, so set realistic goals. Start small and gradually increase to 30 minutes of exercise five days per week. People keep exercising because they have found something they enjoy. If exercise feels like a chore, it can hold you back from accomplishing your exercise goals.

People who are physically active tend to live longer, healthier lives. Research shows moderate physical activity—such as 30 minutes a day of brisk walking—significantly contributes to longevity. Always consult with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

Source:
American College of Sports Medicine, go.iastate.edu/M4SDGB

Smart Habits Mean Savings

Onions on store shelf

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. While we can’t do much about food prices, we can learn to shop smarter and make our food dollars stretch further.

Meal planning will allow you to spend less time in the grocery store and save you money. Create your shopping list and stick to it. Start by finding meals you would like to prepare, add ingredients you already have on hand (fridge, freezer, pantry), and look for special buys.

Purchase fresh produce in season or “less-than-perfect” produce at a reduced price. Avoid prewashed and precut produce, which is priced higher.

For meats, buy the whole piece or bulk packages and cut up or divide it at home. Stretch your ground meats by adding bread crumbs, herbs, eggs, or plant protein (tofu or textured vegetable protein).

Take advantage of weekly sales and deals. Don’t overlook in-store promotions or the store’s website. Track prices on the products you buy frequently. After a while, you will be able to spot a good price and stock up. Go to Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/plan/shopping-tools/, for more money-saving tips.

Sources:
NCOA, go.iastate.edu/LFSA2J
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension, go.iastate.edu/KV3KLK

Flu Shot Time!

Wintertime is flu season, and getting your influenza vaccine (flu shot) in the fall is the best way to prevent the flu and its complications. It can take nearly two weeks to build immunity after a shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cdc.gov, recommends an annual flu shot for everyone age 6 months and older. It can lower your risk of having serious illness from the flu and the need for a hospital stay. You can still protect yourself against late flu outbreaks even if you get the flu shot in February or later in the season.

Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about getting the flu shot or visit your local public health office for more information.

Sleeping Is Time Well Spent

Person laying in bed reaching for alarm clock

Sleep is as important to our health as good diet and exercise. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and many people do not get enough. Quality sleep allows our brains and bodies to rebuild and repair. Lack of good sleep raises the risk of heart disease, obesity, stroke, and dementia.

Healthy sleep is not only the amount of time spent in bed, but also getting quality, uninterrupted rest on a consistent sleep schedule. Use these tips to give your body and brain the restful recharge it needs for optimum health:

  • Be physically active during the day.
  • Create a good sleep environment that is quiet, dark, and cool.
  • Go to bed and get up at a consistent time, even during weekends.
  • Remove electronic devices from the bedroom.
  • Avoid stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine.
  • Limit alcohol and large meals close to bedtime.
  • Talk to your health care provider if you have persistent sleeping issues.

For more information about sleep and sleeping disorders, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/sleep.

Sources:
CDC, www.cdc.gov
National Institutes of Health, newsinhealth.nih.gov

November Is National Diabetes Month

Girl testing blood sugar

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects more than 37 million U.S. adults. In the last 20 years the number of adults diagnosed has more than doubled, and one in five of all adults with diabetes do not know they have it.

Most of the food we eat is converted into glucose (sugar). Glucose is used as energy to fuel our bodies, including our muscles and brains. Too much glucose in our blood causes damage to our eyes, nerves, kidneys, and hearts. Insulin is a hormone that allows our body to use glucose for energy.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when a person’s body does not use insulin well. More than 90% of people with diabetes have type 2, which develops over many years. You can manage symptoms or prevent type 2 diabetes by being physically active, eating nutritious food, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Type 1 diabetes is when a person’s body does not make enough insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin to manage their blood glucose.

Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about diabetes or visit the CDC Diabetes website, www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics, for more information.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov
Iowa Public Health, go.iastate.edu/QC72N8

Creating a self-care plan

What does self-care look like for you? The emphasis being on “self,” meaning it’s personal. What works for you may not work for others. Self-care is about engaging in healthy activities that you can do to fill your cup.

There are eight “ACTION” areas that we can take to preserve or improve our health. These are listed below. As you read through them, consider what it is that you do for your own self-care under that dimension of wellness.

Community/Social Health—A sense of belonging, connecting with friends or your partner, attending community gatherings, volunteering

Intellectual Health—Exploring creative abilities and interests, expanding knowledge and skill, reading, brain games

Physical Health—Exercising, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, preventative care

Emotional Health—Adjusting to challenges, coping with life’s stressors, enjoying life, relaxation techniques, journaling

Environmental Health—Activities that focus on “reduce, reuse, recycle;” learning and relaxing in natural places (When was the last time you took a walk that reconnected you with nature?)

Occupational Health—Satisfaction from one’s work, coworker relationships, work-life balance

Spiritual Health—Activities that focus on expanding your sense of purpose and meaning in life, finding balance and peace

Financial Health—Steps for your current and future financial goals

Having a better understanding of the things that you can do to recharge better prepares you to handle life’s stressful situations. Consider creating your own self-care action plan with your favorite strategies in each of these eight dimensions of wellness.

Source: SAMHSA, go.iastate.edu/JNRAUJ

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