Need a last-minute fitness gift idea?

presentsJoshua Steckler, the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumbur specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. He suggests that if you’re looking for any last-minute gift ideas, don’t forget the gift of fitness.

Here are some great ideas for the fitness inclined, or as a hint for anyone you’d like to see become more active.

Now keep in mind, there are lots of gimmicky fitness gifts out there, but these gifts will help anyone get the most out of their workouts.

Workout shoes. A properly fitted pair of shoes that are specific to the task at hand are a must if you want to excel at your particular sport. If you’re a runner, make sure you buy running shoes specific to your gait and cushioning needs. For strength training, a minimalist style shoe that makes your foot work more naturally might be a better option. Every activity or sport has an ideal shoe type that goes along with it. If you have questions on shoe styles, a gift certificate to a shoe store specializing in fitting the right shoe type to a specific body and sport may be the way to go.

Mobility tools. Everyone wants to feel good while they move. Back tightness, knee pain, and overall stiffness can often be lessened or alleviated with proper stretching and activation of weak muscles. A simple tool that we use with our clients to improve mobility is a foam roller. Nothing more than a dense cylinder 6″ in diameter and 36″ long, this tool gives you an ideal surface to apply pressure against tight muscles, allowing that muscle to relax back into proper muscle tone. Once your body is moving properly, you can perform at your best — both in and out of the gym.

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Your Next Superfoods

greensEllie Krieger shared the following information in the Health Section of the December 2014 AARP Bulletin:

I love food that’s both deeply satisfying and healthful—and I think we’re going to see more emphasis on that in the year ahead. I also think we’re moving more toward foods from our grandparents’ era. All this means that not only will we continue to embrace quinoa and kale, but we’re heading toward a wider array of superfoods in 2015.

Here are some other predictions.

Move over, quinoa—farro is going to be huge. A nutty, nutritious, ancient grain related to wheat, it will be showing up on more restaurant menus.

Instead of goji berries from Asia, dried cherries from the U.S. will be the homegrown superfruit. Dried cherries have been overlooked, but they’re just as nutritious and even more delicious. Dried cranberries are in the same camp.

Make way, kale—Brussels sprouts will also be on your table. They’re being used in more modern and fresh ways by chefs nationally. You can even roast the leaves individually so that they’re crisp, like kale chips.

Instead of throwing away part of the vegetable, we will be eating the whole plant, including the stems, leaves and roots. For example, we’ll learn to sauté beet greens and chard stems, and add celery leaves to salads.

In addition to hummus spread, everyone will be embracing avocado spread. It is showing up on lots of menus, spread on bread instead of butter, with sweet and savory toppings. People will be looking for more sources of healthy fats. —Dietician Ellie Krieger is the host of Healthy Appetite on the Food Network. Her latest cookbook isWeeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less.

Tis The Season for STRESS!

staying-healthyVirgin Heath shared in its 2014 Survey on “The holidays’ impact on employees’ health happiness (& what it means for employers) that it looks like the stress – not to mention all that turkey and eggnog – is weighing on employees’ health.

Sixty-two percent said eating healthy is the hardest aspect of well-being to maintain during the holidays, with 71 percent of respondents saying they eat unhealthily between two and five days a week.

Employees are also have trouble finding time to exercise and aren’t logging enough sleep. Fifty-one percent and 46 percent, respectively, said these were the aspects of well-being they found hardest to maintain during the holidays. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they sleep poorly and 51 percent said they skip exercising between two and five days during the holidays.

Encourage your employees to maintain their healthy habits during the holidays, and all year long. With exercise, sleep, and proper nutrition all proven to have dramatic impacts on people’s performance.

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Brain changes in kids learning math

math resourcesThe Shaklee Corporation shared the following information in a recent blog on brain health:

Many kids ask their math teacher why learning a particular mathematical concept or skill is important. When helping kids out with their homework, many parents may wonder the same thing. Now scientists are unraveling the earliest building blocks of math — and what children know about numbers as they begin elementary school seems to play a big role in how well they do everyday calculations later on.

The findings from the National Institutes of Health have specialists considering steps that parents might take to spur math abilities, just like they do to try to raise a good reader. This is not only about trying to improve the nation’s math scores and attract kids to become engineers. It is far more basic, such as how rapidly can you calculate a tip? Do the fractions to double a recipe? Know how many quarters and dimes the cashier should hand back as your change?

About 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lacks the math competence expected of a middle-schooler, meaning they have trouble with those ordinary tasks and are not qualified for many of today’s jobs. “Experience really does matter,” said Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research.

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Rethink Your Drink Campaign

RTYD_Banner2-1024x317One of the objectives in the IAPO Obesity Action Roadmap is to “increase consumption of healthy food and beverages in relation to consumption of unhealthy food and beverages that have minimal nutritional value, such as sugar-sweetened beverages and calorie-dense, low-nutrition fast foods.”  More

Passing a penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugary drinks is a long-term goal the coalition defined to help reach the over-arching objective. IAPO members have focused on mobilizing, educating, and advocating with community residents, leaders, and policymakers to reduce access to and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages since the start of IAPO.

A Rethink Your Drink 2014 campaign was kicked off with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declaring February, 2014 as “Rethink Your Drink Month” in Illinois.  More

In the fall of 2013, IAPO developed its first ever legislative agenda for the spring 2014 session of the Illinois General Assembly. Included on the agenda was the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act, which placed a penny per ounce excise tax on sugary beverages with revenues going to community prevention (50%) and the Illinois Medicaid program (50%).

Governed by a state Council of Agencies with input from an Advisory Board, the funds would help support nutrition and physical activity initiatives, local food systems, school health and wellness, public health departments and infrastructure, active transportation, oral health, and expansion of Medicaid prevention services. While the bill did not pass in the spring 2014 legislative session, IAPO will continue to advocate for this legislative proposal as one tool that could reduce obesity in Illinois.

For quick and fun ideas on how to participate, view the IAPO Rethink Your Drink Toolkit.

Rethink Your Drink Tools and Resources

Join us by hosting educational events in your community and/or sending out educational messages about the health impacts of sugary beverages and how people can take steps to rethink their drinks and reduce consumption of sugary beverages through policy and environmental strategies.

 

Is there anything that aspirin can’t do? Well, maybe

aspirin_2945793kJill U. Adams, Special To The Washington Pos, shared with the Daily Herald Newspaper that aspirin is one of the oldest drugs out there. And yet researchers are still learning what it can — and cannot — do.

It’s clear that daily aspirin can be beneficial for people who have had a heart attack or an ischemic stroke. Scores of studies have shown that this simple treatment reduces the chance of having a repeat heart attack or stroke.

Researchers have long wondered whether the drug might also prevent first heart attacks or first strokes. A new study followed 14,000 Japanese people age 60 and older who had high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes — three major risk factors for atherosclerosis, which can block arteries and cause heart attack and stroke.

The results, published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found no overall benefit to taking an aspirin a day. The study hardly puts the question to rest, however.

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The Diet That Keeps You Young

popsugarLeta Shy at Popsugar says that there is no need for a miracle drug to stay looking younger longer; just eat like the Greeks do.

There are already many proven benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet, and now we can add another major one: a recent study of 4,600 women, published in the BMJ, found that sticking to a Mediterranean diet helped slow DNA damage, an internal sign of aging. Plus, another recent, large study of 7,500 people in Spain found that following a Mediterranean diet can cut your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart-disease-related deaths by about 30 percent compared to a typical Western diet that didn’t include Mediterranean staples. Since this study followed people who were overweight, had diabetes or heart disease risk factors, and currently smoked, many say the results show just how beneficial the diet is for people who are at high risk of developing cardiovascular complications.

Past studies have found that following a Mediterranean diet can help lower the risk of heart and eye complications, control your weight, protect brain function, and help you live longer, so there are more than a few good reasons to eat like you’re on an overseas vacation.

Stroke Information You Should Know

HeartRiskHealthiNation offers health information for educational purposes only; this information is not meant as medical advice. Always consult your doctor about your specific health condition.

What is a Stroke?

Stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack,” is the number one cause of disability in the United States. It occurs when the normal flow of blood to the brain is interrupted, having the potential to cause serious, long-lasting damage to the brain.

What Happens When a Stroke Occurs?

A stroke, or blockage of normal blood flow to the brain, occurs in one of two different ways:

  • Ischemic Stroke. In an ischemic stroke, blood clots or plaques build up in the blood vessels carrying blood to the brain. When your brain doesn’t get enough blood, your brain cells begin to die rapidly. Ischemic strokes are the most common form of stroke and are the focus of this video.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke. This is also called a cerebral hemorrhage. It occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and blood spills into the brain tissue, killing brain cells. It is usually caused by high blood pressure or an aneurism. An aneurism is a weakened area of the blood vessel that balloons out and can rupture. Hemorrhagic stroke is less common than ischemic stroke, but can have devastating effects.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of a stroke so you can take immediate action to prevent damage to the brain:

  • A sudden numbness or weakness in one side of the body, specifically in the face, arm or leg
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Dizziness and a loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding words
  • Trouble seeing our of one or both eyes

If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, it may be a stroke or a mini-stroke, which is also known as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). While a TIA is not a full stroke, it should be taken seriously. One-third of people who have a mini-stroke will go on to have a stroke.

Checking for a Stroke

The National Stroke Association recommends immediate action if you think someone is having a stroke. Here are some simple tests for assessing a stroke:

  • Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms. Ask to person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred and is the sentence repeated correctly?
    • Time. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, time is critical. Call 9-1-1 or take the person to the hospital immediately.

    Risk Factors for Stroke

    While you can reduce your risk of having a stroke through lifestyle choices, there are certain uncontrollable factors that may put you at higher risk for stroke. These include:

  • Age. You’re at higher risk if you are over the age of 55.
  • Gender. Men have a higher risk than women.
  • Ethnicity. African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, Asian and South Asians are at higher risk.
  • Family History. You should check to see if any of your close relatives have suffered a stroke; a family history puts you at greater risk.
  • Your Medical History. If you have had a mini-stroke, or TIA, in the past, you are at higher risk for having a full stroke.Preventing Stroke

    Even if you fall into a high risk group, there are actions you can take to reduce your chances of having a stroke. These include:

  • Check-ups. Have your blood pressure checked at least every year. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for stroke.
  • Stress. Stress can contribute to high blood pressure, and thereby raise your risk of stroke. So, work to manage your stress.
  • Diabetes. Get tested to see if you have diabetes. Diabetes accelerates blockages of your arteries and increases your risk of stroke.
  • Smoking and alcohol. Stop smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
  • Cholesterol. Know your cholesterol numbers and make sure they are controlled. High cholesterol can clog your arties and keep blood from moving to the brain.
  • Weight. Being overweight increases your stroke risk.
  • Birth Control. Birth control pills can increase the risk of stroke, especially for women who are over 35, smoke, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
  • Hormone therapy. Women taking hormone replacement therapy may also be at higher risk for stroke.

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The world is too fat and it’s costing us $2 trillion a year

large Adam Taylor from The Washington Post shared that wWe’re fat — and we’re getting fatter.

One estimate from earlier this year found that almost one-third of the world was now obese (that’s more than 2 billion people) and that numbers had been rising, significantly, for decades.

The world’s growing obesity and the health problems that come with it are a big deal — and come with a significant cost.

A new report from consulting firm McKinsey estimates that the world’s obesity problem cost it $2 trillion in 2012. That’s more than alcoholism, climate change, or drug use, and almost as much as war and terrorism or smoking.

McKinsey’s report, titled “How the world could better fight obesity,” hopes to outline the ways that things could improve. It paints a complicated picture, not only calling for better education and personal responsibility, but also further intervention over a variety of sectors to force change.

The problem is that there’s not too much evidence as to what exactly works in the battle against obesity. With no major success stories in combating obesity in the last 30 years, we’re left to guess at what actually works.

MicKensey is aware of these limitations, but hopes that things will evolve, especially given the high financial and human cost of obesity.

“We see our work on a potential program to address obesity as the equivalent of the 16th-century maps used by navigators,” the report notes. “On those maps, some islands were missing and some continents were misshapen, but they were still helpful to the sailors of that era.”

Make It a Healthy Holiday Season

santaHealth Track Sports and Wellness is celebrating that the Holidays are here! But this also means the cold and flu season has started. Two key components to minimizing your vulnerability to colds and flu are exercise and sleep.

Exercise: The key to understanding the benefits of exercise on our immune systems is that it all depends on how much you exercise. Moderate exercise does appear to boost immunity and inactive people do seem to get more colds than active people. If you have a moderate exercise program, continue that throughout the year to get maximum benefits. If you don’t currently exercise, start slowly and build up to a regular routine.

Sleep: The importance of good sleep to your health can’t be underestimated. Make a good night’s sleep a priority.

Additional steps to the minimize cold and flus are: Avoid touching your face, Wash your hands often and of course a healthy well rounded diet.