Category Archives: health

Nurturing the Gym Newbies

Every January, many who have “dropped the ball” on their health and fitness goals rush to the gym in the following days to jump start their resolutions. For more frequent gym-goers, this can come as a shock when their previously unoccupied gym is swarmed with newcomers. While the immediate reaction is to get frustrated, it is important to remain positive. 

Going to a gym for the first time can be intimidating. Here are some tips to ensure your gym time remains a positive and healthy part of the day, whether you’re a regular or a first-timer.

1.       Don’t wish for failure.

Everyone knows that gym populations start to dwindle back down to regulars in late January to early February. If you frequent the weight room, it’s easy to hope for that exact outcome. Don’t! Everyone has to start somewhere. Instead of hoping they give up like many who make resolutions, hope they succeed, become healthier and perhaps more gym-savvy.

2.       If you see someone confused, help them!

Everyone has had that moment: you look at a machine and are confused about what muscle it works, let alone how to use it. If you see an unfamiliar face obviously having problems, kindly offer to demonstrate. Not only does this facilitate the kind of comradery one would want to find in a gym, but it also might free up that machine you have had your eye on a bit quicker.

3.       Remember how far you’ve come.

No matter your level of physical fitness, age or athletic experience, going to a weight room or an exercise class for the first time is scary for most. But the important thing is, these newbies are chasing their goal. That’s a good thing! Try to remember the obstacles you overcame to get to your desired fitness level. Odds are the people you are wishing away are going through something similar. A friendly face and patient attitude may be just what they need to get over that newcomer’s anxiety.

How to Stay Focused at Work During the Holidays

When we think of the holidays, the last things we want to think about are the last-minute tasks and day-to-day work that must be completed leading up to them. With so much distraction, it’s hard to stay focused during these joyful months of the year. Here are some tips to keep you concentrated:

  1. Avoid distraction. The temptation to procrastinate can be even greater this time of year. An email from your favorite department store may pop up with a flash sale, or you might want to check out the prices of available flights for Christmas. It may seem harmless to take a break from work to focus on more pleasurable things, but this can have a massive impact on your overall performance.
  1. Focus on the right projects. The holidays are a great time to work on self-guided projects. If your office is a little slow, you may have the opportunity to research without worrying if anyone will ask you to pop into a meeting or answer an email ASAP. It’s easier to focus on these sorts of big-picture, long-term tasks when you know you’ll have the time you need to really dig in.
  1. Be thoughtful of your off hours as well. Another key to staying focused at work is trying to isolate your office tasks to office hours. One of the best ways to avoid distractions is to make sure you’re allowing yourself time to shop, plan, and do whatever else you need to do outside of the office.

A Very Healthy Holiday

While the holidays are meant to be a time for celebration with family and friends, they can also take a toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. From experience, however, there are a few ways in which we can truly enjoy the holiday season and wind up healthier and happier than in years past. Here are simple steps to ensure your holiday season is merry and bright:

  1. Eat healthy. With sweet treats everywhere you look, it is easy to pack on the pounds during this time of year. To prevent the extra five to 10 extra pounds this season, be aware of the caloric content in the foods and the liquids you are consuming, and opt for bringing a healthy dish to your holiday party. Don’t deprive yourself, though — remember everything in moderation.
  2. Increase activity. While the weather makes it tempting to curl up in a blanket and stay inside, make sure you are getting aerobic activity at least four to five times per week.
  3. De-stress. There can be a lot of financial stress with gift-buying in addition to work and outside obligations. Develop a plan for when these stressors arise and be sure to set aside time for you.
  4. Embrace the spirit of giving. With the holidays, there are countless opportunities to give back to the community. Whether it is volunteering at a local soup kitchen or donating presents to the less fortunate, volunteer your time and support those in need.

So instead of waiting for the New Year’s resolutions to begin after the parties and festivities, let’s vow to take small steps to a more enjoyable and healthier holiday season right now.

-Penny

Social Media Sadness

Thanks to social media, we are surrounded by a constant influx of information about others. Millions of Americans communicate with ‘friends’ on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram almost every day. Millions of Americans let these into their lives to show them pictures of lunch of their newest outfit, yet many still feel lonely.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few reasons  you might consider unplugging:

  1. Powering-down helps remove unhealthy feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness. Researchers recently discovered that one in three people felt worse after visiting Facebook and more dissatisfied with their lives. From family happiness to body image to vacation destinations to the silly birthday greetings on a Facebook wall, the opportunity for envy presents itself often on social media. Powering-down for a period of time provides opportunity to reset and refocus appreciation and gratitude for the lives we have been given.
  1. Powering-down combats FOMO. Scientifically speaking, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) has been recognized as a recently emerging psychological disorder brought on by the advance of technology. The premise is simple. Our social media streams are ever-filled with everything happening all around us. Nowadays, we even see the plates of food our friends are enjoying. Within this constant stream of notification, our fear of being left out continues to grow.
  1. Solitude is harder to find in an always-connected world. Solitude grounds us to the world around us. In our always connected world, it becomes increasingly more difficult to develop self-awareness. You’ll always seek to be like others, instead of being like yourself.

    – Penny Kokkinides

sleep-deprivation

Can sleep deprivation kill?

Sleep deprivation is an issue affecting millions of people across the globe. We consistently put work and school priorities over our bodies’ most essential activity. And most of us are so used to being sleep deprived that we remain oblivious to how impaired we really are.

In actuality, long-term sleep deprivation can wreck both physical and mental health. Here are just a few reasons why you should always try to hit the hay for the right amount of time:

Stroke risk quadruples: Research suggests that getting fewer than six hours a night can elevate stroke risk for middle and older-aged people.

Heart disease risk increases: Harvard Health Publications reports that chronic sleep deprivation has been associated with high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (or cholesterol-clogged arteries), heart failure and heart attack.

More likely to catch a cold: Proper rest is one of the building blocks of a healthy immune system. In fact, one Carnegie Mellon University study found that sleeping fewer than seven hours a night was associated with a tripled risk of coming down with a cold.

More likely to have an accident: Getting six or fewer hours of shut-eye a night triples your risk of drowsy driving-related accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsydriving.org. 

Less focused and memory problems: Can’t remember where you placed your cell phone? Exhaustion may be to blame. In addition, exhaustion destroys the focus you’ll need to properly complete those important tasks at work.

 – Penny Kokkinides

Misconceptions of the Flu Shot

The leaves are starting to change colors and the air feels a bit cooler. Winter is almost upon us, and whether we like it or not, we will soon be pulling out our parkas, scraping our windshields and regretting that we ever prayed for cooler weather.

This cold weather, though, also means that we better prepare our immune systems for yet another flu season. The flu shot, although sometimes not as effective as it should be, comes with some misconceptions: Can’t the flu vaccine actually give me the flu? If I haven’t received the flu this season, shouldn’t I wait to get vaccinated to strengthen my immunity? The following addresses some of these common questions to set straight what is fact from fiction:

  • Fact: While flu vaccines can be made with a flu virus, this virus is “inactivated” meaning that it is not infectious.  This can sometimes cause misconceptions of believing that the flu shot actually causes a person to have the flu. 
  • Fiction:  If I haven’t received the flu shot this season and still have not become infected, I should hold off on getting the flu shot to strengthen my immunity. Flu activity typically peaks between December and February and can sometimes last until May. Even if you haven’t contracted the flu yet, the CDC still advises getting the vaccine. It’s recommended to get the flu shot in October, but receiving the vaccine in January or February can still protect against infection if the virus is still lurking around.
  • Fact: Those who are six months and older should be vaccinated every year. According to the CDC, a person’s immunity from the flu tends to decline over time. It is recommended that vaccinations should occur every year for optimal protection.

Still not sure if you should get vaccinated? Visit the CDC’s website for more answers to your flu vaccine questions.

– Penny Kokkinides

Veganism: More Than a Fad

More than a simple diet, veganism is a lifestyle – and, in fact, it’s one that can significantly improve health and extend lifespan. The misconceptions (and, admittedly, stereotypes) of a plant-based diet have led the public to overlook the many health benefits.

Here are a few examples of how a vegan diet may help improve health:

1.      Anti-inflammatory: Disease, infection and chronic pain can all be caused by uncontrolled levels of inflammation throughout the body. A meat-based diet is highly inflammatory, while a plant-based diet is naturally alkaline-forming. The high levels of alkaline in the blood can prevent inflammation and protect you from a plethora of ailments.

2.      Better digestion: Red meat, dairy and eggs can all linger in your digestive tract for up to a week, while most plant-based foods are fully digested within hours. For the millions of Americans suffering from constipation, a vegan diet may serve as a better alternative to stool softeners and laxatives.

3.      Weight loss: One of the greatest benefits of a vegan diet is the potential for weight loss. The amount of fiber in plants allows the body to feel full for a longer period of time without a heavy serving of calories and fat. And, there are so many different ways to cook plants, you don’t have to worry about bored!

 

How to become an early riser

We’ve all heard someone say, “The early bird gets the worm.”

It’s a cliche, sure, but it may be onto something. Company executives around the world are emulating this phrase and tout the benefits of waking up early. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, wakes up every morning at 3:45 a.m. to start his day, and the Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article on how 4 a.m. is the most productive hour of the day. Advocates of early mornings say it helps them jump start their day, and get ahead of the chaos.

Here are some simple tips for becoming an early riser:

1)      Go to bed early. Night owls typically don’t make great early risers. Make sure you stop drinking caffeine early in the day and try reading a book in bed to fall asleep.

2)      Slowly transition into the routine. If your morning typically starts at 7 a.m. it isn’t realistic to think that habit will change overnight. Start setting your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier, and work your way up to the goal.

3)      Plan your morning the night before. Having an outfit set out and breakfast prepared the night before will help you ease into your morning routine without added stress.

4)      Don’t hit snooze. As tempting as the snooze button can be, it interrupts your body from REM sleep. Set your alarm and stick to it, once you’re awake and out of bed you’ll be glad you resisted the urge to snooze.

How to Avoid Death By Sitting

In the past several years, more and more studies have suggested that too much sitting is associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death. Some have even gone so far as to say sitting is the new smoking. So, what does that mean for the typical employee who spends roughly eight hours a day sitting at their desk? It’s time to start shopping around for a non-traditional desk/chair combo that won’t leave you worried your office chair may actually be killing you.

A standing desk allows you to ditch the chair altogether and work comfortably on your feet. If you get tired of standing, no worries – most standing desks are adjustable to allow for sitting. An even more innovative approach to an upright working station is the treadmill desk. Advocates for the treadmill desk claim it has several health benefits, including: improving mood, reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress.

Not quite ready to say goodbye to your office chair? There are several alternatives to a traditional office chair that don’t require replacing it with a treadmill. Swapping your chair for an exercise ball will help you improve your balance, circulation and you’ll have a mini-workout available at your desk at all times. Buoy’s office chair alternatives are inspired by the rocking motion of an ocean buoy and are designed to engage your core and keep you moving throughout the day.

 

Resources for Healthcare Research

With its ever-evolving landscape, today’s healthcare industry has grown to encompass much more than just the physicians, clinicians and hospital executives most people think of when they hear the words, “healthcare industry.” Now, with anyone from accountants to web developers able to find work in healthcare, it’s more important than ever to stay in the know about an industry that affects everybody. Here are four resources that can help you stay up-to-date on the latest landscape.

1.       Advisory Board Company (ABC)
Using a combination of research, technology and consulting, ABC is a best practices firm that finds the best new ideas and proven practices from healthcare leaders across the world. get you started, their C-Suite Cheat Sheet Series provides all the basics you need to know about working in healthcare.
Website: www.advisory.com

2.       Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
The AHRQ works within the US Department of Health and Human Sciences to produce evidence to make healthcare safer, higher quality and more accessible, equitable and affordable. The organization’s website is filled with research and data about many different aspects of healthcare, including (but definitely not limited to) children’s health, mental health and primary care.
Website: www.ahrg.gov
 

3.       Becker’s Hospital Review
Tailored for hospital executives and C-Suite level employees, this site broadcasts up-to-date health system and hospital news, provides legal guidance and shares best practices. They even have a weekly e-newsletter that provides a summary of the week’s most relevant and popular news.
Website: www.beckershospitalreview.com

4.       Kaiser Health News
Your one-stop shop for all of the latest news involving healthcare politics and policy. Not only does the site publish original articles, it also provides you with daily summaries of major health news topics from other publications.
Website: www.khn.org