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 man shoveling snow

Safe Shoveling

Excited about the newest snow storm headed our way? Neither are we. Despite our attitude, the snow will pile up and need to be shoveled. But did you know that shoveling snow leads to more than 11,000 adults and children being sent to the hospital every year?

Here are 5 tips to ensure safer shoveling.

1. Monitor yourself: Notice if you experience any  pain, shortness of breath or otherwise alarming symptoms. Shoveling may become dangerous for those who are not physically fit since it can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure and heart rate that could potentially lead to a heart attack.

2. Time for a new shovel? Adapting a shovel so that the pole is longer, adjustable, and curved can decrease the amount of bending needed, researchers say. Studies have shown that curved-shaft shovels can help lower your risk of muscle injury. More user-friendly shovels are becoming available and are typically made of lighter materials such as plastic or lightweight aluminum.

3. Don’t throw snow. The twisting motion of throwing snow over your shoulder or to the side can hurt your back. Try pushing the snow out of the way instead of lifting it up.

 

4. Take your time. You might want to warm up with some light exercise first. Pacing yourself and taking frequent breaks is also a smart bet.

5. Watch those kids. As tempting as it might be to let the kids do the hard work, be careful that they know shovels are not toys and be careful not to hurt anyone with it.

Feeling Sleepy? Six Reasons to Get Your Zzzzzzzz’s

man yawning

A 2006 Harvard study found that 75% of people had sleep difficulties a few times a week. If tossing and turning is part of your nightly ritual, this may not come as a surprise to you. While occasional insomnia is typically nothing to lose sleep over (pun intended), chronic sleep loss can contribute to various health problems.

Six Reasons To Get Enough Sleep:

1. Disease: Sleep deprivation suppresses the body’s immune functions and may leave you more susceptible to getting sick. Keeping up with sleep may even help with fighting cancer

 

2. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory. Studies conducted showed that people who’d slept after learning a task did better on their tests later.

 

3. Metabolism and weight:  Chronic sleep deprivation affects the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, as well as impacting the hormone levels that affect our appetite. All of this may result in weight gain.

 

4. Safety: A lack of sleep leads to a greater chance of falling asleep during the day. Alarming mistakes such as road accidents, medical errors, and air traffic      mishaps, can all be attributed to sleep deprivation.

 

5. Mood: A loss of sleep may lead to moodiness, irritability, impatience, and                    inability to concentrate. Lack of sleep may also leave you without the energy               for the activities that make you happy.

 

6. Cardiovascular health:  Studies have linked hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and an irregular heartbeat to serious sleep loss.

Epstein, L. (2010). Improving sleep: a guide to a good night’s rest. Boston: Harvard Health Publications.

Woman with back pain

 Pregnancy and Pain

Congratulations on your pregnancy! That’s great news. The back pain that you’ve been feeling recently? Not such great news.

Pregnancy related back pain usually occurs where the pelvis meets your spine, at the sacroiliac joint. Some of the reasons why this might happen include weight gain, posture changes, hormonal changes, muscle separation and stress.

But unless you had chronic bad pain before your pregnancy, the pain will likely subside after giving birth. While you are still in pain, there are several ways to reduce discomfort:

  • Cold and Heat.

    Your pain may be helped by cold and heat. With the approval of your doctor, you might try using cold compresses (such as a bag of ice wrapped in a towel) for up to 20 minutes several times a day. After few days, switch to heat – using a heating pad or hot water bottle to warm the painful area. Be especially cautious never to apply heat to your abdomen during pregnancy.

  • Improve your posture.

    Your mother was right. Slouching is bad for you and strains your spine. Use proper posture when working, sitting, or sleeping to take pressure off your back. A rolled-up towel or blanket placed behind your back for support is a good idea when sitting by a desk. Try resting your feet on a stool and sitting up straight, with your shoulders back.  Wearing a support belt or other devices made for alleviating back pain in pregnant women may also help.

  • Manage the stress.

    If your back pain is related to stress, make sure that you take care of yourself. Pregnancy can be a stressful time so talking to a friend, listening to relaxing music or engaging in a soothing activity like writing in a journal might help .

  • Exercise.

    You might feel too heavy and tired to move, but exercise can help your back pain. It strengthens muscles and boost you flexibility, both which can relieve the stress on your spine. Walking, swimming, and stationary cycling are usually considered safe for most pregnant women. You might want to work with a physical therapist to create an exercise regimen and lifestyle to reduce back pain. First Rehab’s Women’s Health Division offers physical therapy for pregnant women suffering from back pain and might be a good choice for you.

gabrielle giffords

Gabrielle Giffords and Physical Therapy

When a man shot a bullet through Gabrielle Gifford’s brain, her plans to continue working for the public as an Arizona congresswomen were shattered. Instead of working tirelessly on behalf of her constituents, she began the arduous task of rehab, working to relearn the things she had done for decades; walking, talking, moving, and writing.

Last week, on the third anniversary of the shooting that wounded her, and killed six others, she wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times entitled “The Lessons of Physical Therapy”.  She compares the endless, often tedious, work of rehab to the fight for stronger gun control, something she has been working on for over a year now. Gabrielle writes of the endless, often slow progress that she endures in physical therapy and how that has taught her grit and perseverance that she needs for the other fights in her life:

“Our fight is a lot more like my rehab. Every day, we must wake up resolved and determined. We’ll pay attention to the details; look for opportunities for progress, even when the pace is slow. Some progress may seem small, and we might wonder if the impact is enough, when the need is so urgent”.

Have you been through physical therapy? What kind of lessons did you gain from it?

 

Stuck at home? That’s no excuse.

If the people below managed to exercise at home (and had fun in the process), then so can you!

couple stretching with brooms

 

girl  hula hoop

 

kid running up stairsr-MAN-EXERCISING-WITH-SON-large570

senior holding weights

 

side profile of a mid adult man exercising on the floor

Let’s Turn 2014 Into Your Healthiest Year Ever

healthy new years

1. Keep moving: Even small things like taking the stairs or pacing while talking on the phone instead of sitting can help your health. Physical activity, even in small amounts, is beneficial since sitting too long is unhealthy.

2.  Mix it up: No wonder you procrastinate going to the gym; your workout is boring! Keep things interesting by taking a new class, trying a new sport, or exercising in a new venue (a powerwalk through the mall, anyone?) to keep yourself excited and motivated.

3. Eat Colors: Get a variety of nutrients in your diet by varying the color of the foods you eat. Beets, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, pomegranate, and apples, blueberries and strawberries are all healthy, colorful foods .

4. Work out in the morning: Because you might be tempted to skip your exercise routine after a tiring day at work, try to exercise first thing in the morning. You’ll stick to your fitness resolutions better and it will give your mind and body a healthy boost to start off the day.

5. Snack Better: That bag of potatoes chips you consumed yesterday did no one a favor. Snack smarter by choosing to eat fruits and vegetables alone or together with some of lean protein or healthy fat. Eating low-fat yogurt, an ounce of cheese, hummus or nuts is smarter than fatty or sugary snacks.

 

* This bulletin is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Please consult with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health condition.

 

5 reasons to love Yoga

 i love yoga

         

Once thought of as a new-age fad, yoga has become mainstreamed and is here to stay. And now, science is  discovering the significant health benefits of yoga.

Here are 5 reasons to love yoga.

1.     Improved Brain Function

One University of Illinois study found that participants who did just 20 minutes of one type of yoga performed significantly better on tests that measured brain functioning, as compared to their performance after 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.

2.   Lower Blood Pressure

Yoga might help reduce mild to moderate hypertension. Researchers found that people who practiced yoga had greater drops in blood pressure when compared to participants of walking/nutrition/weight counseling programs.

3. Improved Sense of Balance. 

Yoga helped older adults improve their balance and helped prevent falls in women over 65, according to a Temple University study.

4.   Reduce Insomnia

After two months of doing a 45 minute session of yoga before bed, insomniacs fell asleep 15 minutes faster and slept an hour longer each night. Researchers suggest that consistent yoga practice helps people relax and more easily fall asleep. Even successful sleepers can benefit from yoga; practicing yoga may help you sleep more deeply.

5.    Increase Flexibility

Bikram yoga – a form of yoga done in a a heated room – is linked with increased shoulder, lower back and hamstring flexibility, as well as better strength and decreased body fat.

 knee yoga

The Silent Thief

bones 2

While the Silent Thief manages to reach many of us, there are ways to keep him away.

The name of this thief is osteoporosis and it’s a silent one since it typically goes unnoticed until a person has fallen and broken their bones. Only then is their condition discovered.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become weaker and more brittle, and thus more likely to break. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 56% of women, and 18% of men, over the age of 50 had reduced levels of bone density.

Prevention is possible so read below to find out how to keep your bones strong and that thief far away.

Exercise:

Healthy adults are encouraged to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.

Weight-bearing and strength training exercises, like the ones listed below, are helpful for building and maintaining strong bones.

  • Aerobics
  • Climbing stairs
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Tai chi
  • Walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Yoga

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  • Lifting canned goods or bags of groceries
  • Lifting free weights
  • Lifting young children
  • Using ankle and wrist weights
  • Using elastic resistance band
  • Using weight machines
  • Using your own weight as resistance
  • Working out with barbells

Woman Drinking Water from a Glass

Energy Foods

Dec. 2 2013

If we actually are what we eat, then wouldn’t we want to eat foods that will keep us energized and focused? The following six foods help boost energy levels and keep you moving throughout the day.

 1.       Smart Carbs
Loaf of Bread

Carbs, despite their bad reputation, are the body’s preferred source of energy and can raise levels of serotonin. Avoid sugary carbs which leads to a blood sugar spike and then plummet, leaving you tired and moody. Instead, choose whole grains like whole-wheat bread, crackers or brown rice that get absorbed slowly and keep your blood sugar stable.

2.       Cashews, Almonds, and Hazelnuts

nuts

Nuts are the perfect snack food. They’re rich in protein and magnesium which helps convert sugar into energy. In addition, nuts can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease, help lower “bad” cholesterol levels and raise “good” cholesterol level, and prevent hardening of the arteries. Of course, be careful around those with nut allergies.

3.       Lean Meats
chicken
Besides for keeping you full, a meal of lean meats helps boost your energy level. Lean beef, skinless chicken, and turkey all contain the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine boosts levels of two brain chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine) that can help you feel more alert and focused.

4.       Fiber

Watermelon and a Green Orange Caribbean

It’s a shame many of us don’t have enough fiber in our diet. Fiber helps keep you energized. Eating more beans, whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a great way to add fiber to your diet.

5.       Water

A drop of water plunges into a body of water, creating a ripple effect

Stay well hydrated to avoid getting sleepy. Drinking water and food with lots of fluid in them, like fresh fruit and vegetables, will help keep you energized throughout the day.

6.       Dark Chocolate
Chocolate

Ready for a delicious piece of news? We’ve saved the best for last. Dark chocolate can help boost energy levels. A small amount of dark chocolate can provide a much needed caffeine boost. We’ll eat to that.

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Comments

    This bulletin is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Please consult with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health problem.