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Know Your Numbers!

By now you have seen the emails or posters promoting the upcoming biometric screening in February for City employees. We have included this screening in the Well-Being program as it provides valuable information to you about your health. Blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI and blood glucose are all factors that contribute to a person’s risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the No 1. cause of death for all Americans. In fact, every year, 700,000 Americans die of heart disease; that is, 1900 people per day! By being aware of your numbers, you can take action to reduce your risk.
 
There are other risk factors too that can increase your risk. Some are beyond your control, like family history, your age, gender, and ethnicity. However, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, activity level, smoking and weight can be controlled. Read below to see what you can do to stay healthy.

Control cholesterol.

The risk for heart disease increases as your total amount of cholesterol increases. In general, your total cholesterol goal should be less than 200 mg/dl. A diet low in cholesterol, saturated and trans fat, and simple sugars will help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease. Regular exercise will also help.

Medications are often needed to reach cholesterol goals.

Control high blood pressure. About 60 million people in the U.S. have hypertension, or high blood pressure, making it the most common heart disease risk factor. Control blood pressure through diet, exercise, weight management, and if needed, medications. Control diabetes. If not properly controlled, diabetes can contribute to significant heart damage, including heart attacks and death. Control diabetes through a healthy diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor.

Quit smoking.

Smokers have more than twice the risk for heart attack as nonsmokers. If you smoke, quit. Nonsmokers who are exposed to constant smoke (such as living with a spouse who smokes) also have an increased risk.

Get active.

Many of us lead sedentary lives, exercising infrequently or not at all. People who don’t exercise have higher rates of death and heart disease compared to people who perform even mild to moderate amounts of physical activity. Even leisure-time activities like gardening or walking can lower your risk of heart disease. Most people should exercise 30 minutes a day, at moderate intensity, on most days. Exercise should be aerobic, involving the large muscle groups. Aerobic activities include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, and jogging. If walking is your exercise of choice, use the pedometer goal of 10,000 steps a day.

Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts significant strain on your heart and worsens several other heart disease risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides. Research is showing that obesity itself increases heart disease risk.
 
Making changes in your lifestyle is a proven method for reducing your risk of heart disease. While there are no guarantees that a heart-healthy lifestyle will keep heart disease away, these changes will certainly improve your health in other ways, such as improving your physical and emotional well being.
 
Excerpted from WedMD

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is SAD?

Some people experience a serious mood change during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This condition is called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a type of depression. It usually lifts during spring and summer.

What are symptoms?

Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms. The symptoms include:

  • Sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Changes in weight
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Prevention and Management of SAD

Because SAD is linked to decreased exposure to light, it is recommended that you do what you can to increase your exposure. Open up blinds in your home and sit close to bright windows at work. Get outside for a long walk – even on cold days the outdoor light will help. It has been shown to be most helpful if you can spend time outside within the first two hours of getting up in the morning. Getting regular exercise, taking time to relax and making healthy food choices are all good ways to manage stress – which can lead to SAD. Socializing with people whom you enjoy being around can make a difference as well. If possible, take a trip to a location that is sunny and warm.
 
Everyone can experience days when they feel down. However, if that feeling persists for days at a time, if your sleep patterns are disrupted, or you’re having feelings of hopelessness or suicide, seek professional help with your doctor.
 
Excerpted from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/seasonalaffectivedisorder.html

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Diabetes

Diabetes kills more Americans each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. In fact, in the next 24 hours, over 5,000 new cases of diabetes will be diagnosed, and 200 people will die from it.
 

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.
 
With Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. Over time, however, it isn’t able to make enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels. Type 2 diabetes can lead to other problems like heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, and kidney or eye problems.
Below are some common myths about diabetes.

MYTH: Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar.
FACT: Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger its onset; Type 2 is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight increases your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that sugary drinks are linked to Type 2 diabetes.
 
MYTH: People with diabetes can feel when their blood glucose level goes too low.
FACT: Not always. Some people cannot feel or recognize the symptoms of low blood glucose, or hypoglycemia, which can be dangerous.
 
MYTH: It’s possible to have “just a touch” or “a little” diabetes.
FACT: There is no such thing as “just a touch” or “a little” diabetes. Everyone who has diabetes runs the risk of serious complications.
 
MYTH: Diabetes doesn’t run in my family, so I’m safe.
FACT: Family history is only one of several risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Learn more.
 
MYTH: You’ll know if you have diabetes by your symptoms.
FACT: Not always. Type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed because it usually has few or no symptoms when it first develops.
 
MYTH: People with diabetes need to follow a special diet.
FACT: People with diabetes benefit from the same healthy diet that is good for everyone else: plenty of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, with a limited amount of fat and refined sugar.
 
To find out if you are at risk for diabetes, take the Type 2 Diabetes risk test here: www.stopdiabetes.com – Risk test.
 
Get tested for diabetes at biometric screening that will be held at various locations throughout the City during the month of February. Watch for more information on specific dates and locations.

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Domestic Violence

a serious problem

On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. While domestic violence can happen in any relationship – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or other factors – the vast majority of victims who report violence are women abused by male partners or ex-partners.

  • One in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
  • Among women and men who experience rape, stalking or physical violence by an intimate partner, 81% of women and 35% of men report serious impacts such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms and injury.
  • A woman is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger.

Given these statistics, it is likely that you know someone who has been abused. They may be your friends and family members, your neighbors or co-workers. Domestic violence takes its toll on our communities as well, contributing to other forms of violence and suffering, burdening us with huge medical and criminal justice costs, and decreasing workplace productivity.

 

To stop domestic violence, we all need to be part of the solution. The following are some things that you can do to help:
 
Help a friend or family member who is being abused.

Let them know that the abuse is not their fault, listen to them, help them to identify resources and options, empower them to make choices for their safety, and provide nonjudgmental support and an opportunity for them to seek your support again.
 
Support your local domestic violence program.
Most hotlines, advocacy or shelter organizations could benefit from your time, financial support or other donations.
 
Speak up about abuse.
Let the person using violence or intimidation know their behavior is wrong and encourage them to seek help. If you see abuse, call the police. Doing nothing can make the abuse worse and even deadly.
 
Educate yourself and others.
Call your local domestic violence program to schedule informational workshops for your workplace, community group or church. Encourage schools to include abuse prevention as part of their curricula. The Domestic Violence Awareness Project at www.nrcdv.org/dvam offers a variety of tools and ideas to support your prevention education and awareness efforts.
 
Set an example.
Make a commitment to work for equality and ending violence in all of its forms. Model non-violent and respectful behavior through your everyday actions.

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Healthy Aging Month

Think it’s too late to “re-invent” yourself? Think again. According to Carolyn Worthington, editor-in-chief of Healthy Aging® Magazine and executive director of Healthy Aging®, it’s never too late to find a new career, a new sport, passion or hobby. The number of people over 45 is growing every year. The attention used to be just on the baby boomers. The generation x-ers are elbowing their way in and have many of the same interests as the previous generation – stay active and vibrant as long as possible. There are over 76 million baby boomers today over 50 and the first of the 82.1 million generation x-ers are about to reach that milestone in 2015.

 

To get you started on re-inventing yourself, here are some ideas from the editors of Healthy Aging® Magazine (www.healthyaging.net). Maybe you will find some that will help you think outside the box.

10 Tips for Reinventing Yourself during Healthy Aging Month:

  1. Do not act your age or at least what you think your current age should act like. What was your best year so far? 28? 40? Now? Picture yourself at that age and be it. Some people may say this is denial, but we say it’s positive thinking and goes a long way toward feeling better about yourself.
  2. Be positive in your conversations and your actions every day. When you catch yourself complaining, check yourself right there and change the conversation to something positive.
  3. Have negative friends who complain all of the time and constantly talk about how awful everything is? Drop them. As cruel as that may sound, distance yourself from people who do not have a positive outlook on life. They will only depress you and stop you from moving forward. Surround yourself with energetic, happy, positive people of all ages and you will be happier too.
  4. Walk like a vibrant, healthy person. Come on. You can probably do it. Analyze your gait. Do you walk slowly because you have just become lazy or, perhaps, have a fear of falling?
  5. Stand up straight! You can knock off the appearance of a few extra years with this trick your mother kept trying to tell you. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you holding your stomach in, have your shoulders back, chin up? Check out how much better your neck looks! Fix your stance and practice it every day, all day until it is natural. You will look great and feel better.
  6. How’s your smile? Research shows people who smile more often are happier. Your teeth are just as important to your good health as the rest of your body. Not only is it the first thing people notice, but good oral health is a gateway to your overall well-being.
  7. Lonely? Stop brooding and complaining about having no friends or family. Do something about it now. Right this minute. Pick up the phone, landline, or cell and make a call to do one or more of the following: Volunteer your time, Take a class, Invite someone to meet for lunch, brunch, dinner, or coffee.
  8. Start walking not only for your health but to see the neighbors. Have a dog? You’ll be amazed how the dog can be a conversation starter.
  9. Make this month the time to set up your annual physical and other health screenings. Go to the appointments and then, hopefully, you can stop worrying about ailments for a while.
  10. Find your inner artist. Who says taking music lessons is for young school children? You may have an artist lurking inside you just waiting to be tapped. Have you always wanted to play the piano, violin, or tuba? Have you ever wondered if you could paint a portrait or scenic in oil? What about working in wood?
  11.  

    HealthyAging®
    P.O. Box442
    Unionville,PA

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Volunteering Does a Body Good!

For the heart and the spirit, give a little and you will get a lot back.

In recent years, it has become apparent that good health means much more than a set of numbers tracking height, weight, heart rate and cholesterol. It starts with the individual. It means taking an integrated approach to wellbeing that includes not only our physical health, but our emotional health, our sense of purpose, connections to our community and our overall quality of life.

A study by United Health Care of more than 4500 adult volunteers confirmed that volunteering made a difference – to the volunteers themselves. People who volunteer feel better – physically, mentally, and emotionally. They consider themselves in excellent or very good health, and they are more likely to say that their health has improved over the past 12 months.

Another important point in the study was how volunteering isn’t just something that healthy people do. Everyone can reap the benefits. Older individuals and those who suffer from multiple chronic conditions have taken on volunteering – and feel better as a result. They feel better physically as it helps to keep them active, but even more importantly, they reported that volunteering takes their mind off of their own problems and helping other people just makes them feel better.

Recognizing the benefits of volunteering, Healthy Saint Paul will be adding volunteering to the list of activities that qualify for the Well-Being Program’s incentive. Specific organizations will be listed from which employees/retirees can choose to serve. Watch for details on this new activity to come out in August.

Excerpted from Volunteering Does a Body good, US News and World Report, November 2010
United Health Group, Doing Good is Good for You. 2013 Health and Volunteering Study.

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The need for sleep

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. Thus, to determine how much sleep you need, it’s important to assess not only where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum,” but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep such as work schedules and stress. To get the sleep you need, you must look at the big picture.

Though research cannot pinpoint an exact amount of sleep need by people at different ages. Nevertheless, it’s important to pay attention to your own individual needs by assessing how you feel on different amounts of sleep. Are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear? Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease? Are you experiencing sleep problems? Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day? Do you feel sleepy when driving? These are questions that must be asked before you can find the number that works for you.

 

Exercise and Sleep

Exercise of any sort has generally been shown to improve daytime sleepiness. This is true for just about every population that has been studied, from healthy teens who took up running to inactive people who began Pilates. In understanding how exercise can result in such a positive effect on sleepiness, it’s helpful to take a look at the most common causes of sleepiness.

Among the most frequent causes of sleepiness and fatigue in the population are depression, obesity, diabetes, smoking, and inadequate sleep at night . Exercise helps with the first three of these. For example, physical activity has been shown to help depression in some studies. Physical activity is also an important part of most effective weight loss programs. Working out may also help with glucose control in diabetes. So part of the beneficial effect of exercise on sleepiness may result from its positive effects on some of the common causes of sleepiness.

We probably don’t know the whole story yet, but what we do know is compelling: exercise can help with excessive sleepiness

 

What You Can Do To Improve Your Sleep

To begin a new path towards healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, begin by assessing your own individual needs and habits. See how you respond to different amounts of sleep. Pay careful attention to your mood, energy and health after a poor night’s sleep versus a good one. Ask yourself, “How often do I get a good night’s sleep?” If the answer is “not often”, then you may need to consider changing your sleep habits or consulting a physician or sleep specialist.

Use the National Sleep Foundation Sleepiness Test to see if you are more or less sleepy than the general population. Similar tests are often used by doctors to test sleepiness levels. If you rate “very sleepy” on this test, you should speak to your physician. Click to take the sleepiness-test.

Most importantly, make sleep a priority. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your “to-do list” and cross it off every night. But don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done – stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.

Courtesy of the National Sleep Foundation

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Bicycling is for everyone!

More than 42 million Americans 6 and older—15% of the population—rode a bike for recreation in 2010, making it the second-most-popular outdoor activity in the U.S. Minnesota’s miles of paved trails are a cyclist’s dream. Many bike trails are along former railroad beds, offering secluded, scenic biking. Several are part of the Minnesota State Trails system, while other trails and routes are regional or metropolitan.

Besides being fun, bicycling is good for you. Here are 5 reasons to start biking today:

  1. Cycling is good for your heart: Cycling is associated with improved cardiovascular fitness, as well as a decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease.
  2. Cycling is good for your muscles: Riding a bike is great for toning and building your muscles, especially in the lower half of the body – your calves, your thighs, and your rear end. It’s also a great low-impact mode of exercise for those with joint conditions or injuries to the legs or hips, which might keep them from being active.
  3. Cycling is good for your weight: You can burn a lot of calories while biking, especially when you cycle faster than a leisurely pace, and cycling has been associated with helping to keep weight gain down.
  4. Cycling is good for your lifespan: Bicycling is a great way to increase your longevity, as cycling regularly has been associated with increased ‘life-years’, even when adjusted for risks of injury through cycling.
  5. Cycling is good for your mental health: Riding a bike has been linked to improved mental health.
  6. So get on your bike and enjoy! Visit the City of Saint Paul’s website for more information on bike safety and trails in Saint Paul and Ramsey County.

    Learn more…

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Stress Management

What happens when you are stressed?

Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight stress response.

Some stress is normal and even useful. Stress can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For example, it can help you win a race or finish an important job on time.

But if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad effects. It can be linked to headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, and trouble sleeping. It can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off disease. If you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse. It can make you moody, tense, or depressed. Your relationships may suffer, and you may not do well at work or school.
What can you do about stress?

The good news is that you can learn ways to manage stress. To get stress under control:
» Find out what is causing stress in your life.
» Look for ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
» Learn healthy ways to relieve stress and reduce its harmful effects.

How do you measure your stress level?

Sometimes it is clear where stress is coming from. You can count on stress during a major life change such as the death of a loved one, getting married, or having a baby. But other times it may not be so clear.

It’s important to figure out what causes stress for you. Everyone feels and responds to stress differently. Tracking your stress may help. Get a notebook, and write down when something makes you feel stressed. Then write how you reacted and what you did to deal with the stress. Tracking your stress can help you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel. Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or handle it better.

How can you avoid stress?

Stress is a fact of life for most people. You may not be able to get rid of stress, but you can look for ways to lower it.
Learn better ways to manage your time. You may get more done with less stress if you make a schedule. Think about which things are most important, and do those first.

Find better ways to cope. Look at how you have been dealing with stress. Be honest about what works and what does not. Think about other things that might work better.

Take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Don’t smoke. Limit how much alcohol you drink.

Try out new ways of thinking. When you find yourself starting to worry, try to stop the thoughts. Or write down your worries and work on letting go of things you cannot change. Learn to say “no.”

Speak up. Not being able to talk about your needs and concerns creates stress and can make negative feelings worse. Assertive communication can help you express how you feel in a thoughtful, tactful way.

Ask for help. People who have a strong network of family and friends manage stress better.
Sometimes stress is just too much to handle alone. Talking to a friend or family member may help, but you may also want to see a counselor.
How can you relieve stress?

You will feel better if you can find ways to get stress out of your system. The best ways to relieve stress are different for each person. Try some of these ideas to see which ones work for you:

» Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Walking is a great way to get started.
» Write. It can help to write about the things that are bothering you.
» Let your feelings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to with someone you trust.
» Do something you enjoy. A hobby can help you relax. Volunteer work or work that helps others can be a great stress reliever.
» Learn ways to relax your body. This can include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, massage, aromatherapy, yoga, or relaxing exercises like tai chi and qi gong.
» Focus on the present. Try meditation, imagery exercises, or self-hypnosis. Listen to relaxing music. Try to look for the humor in life. Laughter really can be the best medicine.

Want to learn more about your stress level? Use this interactive tool to learn more about your stress level.

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March is Nutrition Month

Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your bowl. Foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods contain the nutrients you need without too many calories. Over the day, include foods from all the food groups. Try the following tips to “Get Your Plate in Shape.”

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

  • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables plus beans and peas. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Choose “reduced sodium” or “no-salt-added” canned vegetables.
  • Add fruit to meals and snacks. Buy fruits that are dried, frozen or canned in water or 100% juice, as well as fresh fruits.
  • Make at least half your grains whole.
  • Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk. Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories. If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
  • Vary your protein choices. Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs. Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate. Keep meat and poultry portions small and lean.

Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars.

  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit for dessert. Eat sugary desserts less often. Choose 100% fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks.
  • Look out for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt.
  • Make major sources of saturated fats such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages and hot dogs occasional choices, not every day foods.
  • Select lean cuts of meat or poultry and fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.

Enjoy your food but eat less.

  • Get your personal daily calorie limit at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Keep that number in mind when deciding what to eat.
  • Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass.
  • Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food.
  • When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options. Choose dishes that include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • Write down what you eat to keep track of how much you eat.

  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly. Limit to 1 drink a day for women or to 2 drinks a day for men.

Be physically active your way.

  • Pick activities that you like and start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. Every bit adds up and health benefits increase as you spend more time being active.
  • Children and teens: Get 60 minutes or more a day.
  • Adults: Get 2 hours and 30 minutes or more a week of activity that requires moderate effort such as brisk walking.

Find more healthy eating tips at:

www.eatright.org
www.kidseatright.org
www.ChooseMyPlate.gov

Information provided by www.eatright.org