How to Reduce Screen Time in the Digital Age

Smartphones have transformed modern life in more ways than anyone could have imagined. They enable 24/7 access to infinite information and tools that help us stay organized, track our fitness, express ourselves and be entertained. However, easy access to these digital devices and their habit-forming qualities has led to high screen time for both children and adults and emerging research suggests that such high screen use can have a negative impact on mental health.

Read More

HIV Testing Day

More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and 1 in 7 people don’t know they have it. The good news is you can help change this – spread the word about National HIV Testing Day on June 27.

Read More

Exercise for Joint Health

Joint-friendly exercises offer you the benefits of physical activity while keeping your body safe from impact. What’s not to love?

Maintaining an exercise regime provides conditioning for your body and tones and strengthens your muscles. It can improve your balance and add strength to enhance quality of life and experience superior joint function.

Read More

Frostbite Prevention

Children are at greater risk for frostbite than adults are. Because of their greater surface area children lose heat from their skin more rapidly than adults do. Parents can help prevent frostbite by dressing their child(ren) in layers and covering all body parts from exposure to the cold by wearing hats, scarves, and mittens.

Read More

10,000 Steps to Better Fitness | Winter Wellness | January is Blood Donor Month


How to walk 10,000 “steps” to better fitness.

By Chris Hammerlund

The most useful suggestion for activity or exercise is the one that matches up to your life most naturally.

But that's the question with exercise isn't it? If your desire to exercise doesn't cause you to change your life, then how can it possibly make a difference? The underlying truth is that exercise seldom works if you simply drop an artificial exercise regime on top of a sedentary lifestyle expecting it to be a lifechanger. Something has to change. As in you have to change a little.

The hottest concept in fitness these days gradually morphs exercise into a natural part of your life - a slightly “new” life based on activity
It's called the “10,000 steps a day” program. Some corporations have adopted it for their employees, but anybody can use it.

Here's the theory. Even total couch potatoes take a predictable number of steps each day. Fit people do the same. The difference in the number of steps is not so much a function of exercise. It's a function of how they life their lives.

So, how many steps each day translate into the likelihood of fitness. The answer is about 10,000 which sounds like a lot. But even couch potatoes average about 2,000 a day. It takes about 2,000 steps to walk a mile and so 10,000 steps is about five miles.

To reach 10,000, you don't have to quintuple the total from one day to the next. But add 500 steps every day. The object is to increase the daily rate. A good walk with the dog will work wonders. Buy a pedometer and track your steps. They'll add up.

So, here's the good part. There are hundreds of ways to “walk” by doing other fun things besides walking. Here some equivalencies of common physical events that translate into steps:

Aerobic dancing (low impact) - 115
Aerobics (intense) - 190
Aerobic step training, 4" step (beginner) - 145
Backpacking (no load) - 155
Backpacking with 10 pound load - 180
Backpacking with 30 pound load - 235
Badminton - 150
Basketball (game) - 220
Basketball (leisurely, non-game) - 130
Bicycling, 10 mph (6 minutes/mile) - 125
Bowling - 55
Canoeing, 2.5 mph - 75
Cross-country snow skiing (leisurely) - 155
Cross-country snow skiing (moderate) - 220
Cross-country snow skiing (intense) - 330
Cycling, 15 mph (5 minutes/mile) - 200
Cycling, 5 mph - 55
Dancing (fast) - 175
Gardening (heavy) - 155
Gardening (moderate) - 90
Golfing (with a cart) - 70
Handball - 230
Housework - 90
Ice skating (leisurely) - 95
Mopping - 85
Mowing - 135
Painting - 80

Ping Pong - 90
Racquetball - 205
Roller skating (moderate) - 150
Rowing machine - 180
Running 8 mph (7.5 minutes/mile) - 305
Running 10 mph (6 minutes/mile) - 350
Scrubbing the floor - 140
Scuba diving - 140
Shopping for groceries - 60
Skipping rope - 285
Snow shoveling - 195
Snow skiing, downhill - 130
Soccer (competitive) - 195
Squash - 205
Stair climber machine - 160
Stair climbing - 140
Swimming (25 yrds/minute) - 120
Swimming (50 yards/minute) - 225
Swimming (75 yards/min) - 290
Tennis (doubles) - 110
Tennis (singles) - 160
Vacuuming - 75
Volleyball (leisurely) - 70
Washing the car - 75
Water Skiing - 160
Waxing the car - 100
Window Cleaning - 75

OK, so I am NOT going to wash windows to get in better shape. That's worse than jogging.

Visit the American Red Cross website for more information and to learn how you can help.


10 tips for Winter Wellness

  1. Go for a walk even when the weather is really cold – your body has to work overtime to get warm and you may burn up to 50% more calories than you would on the same walk in summer! But remember, go a little slower until you get warm and keep up the hydration.
  2. If you find it hard to get motivated to exercise in winter…just think of spring and how much harder it is to get back into shape rather than maintain your fitness throughout the winter.
  3. Be aware of tendonitis and stress fracture if you don”t exercise in winter and expect to pick up where you left off after a whole winter with no exercise.
  4. Instead of picking up a cup of hot chocolate to keep yourself warm, try a herbal beverage.
  5. Gain an interest in indoor sports as opposed to cycling and jogging outdoors. Don”t forget that swimming at an indoor pool is an option for a great cardio workout!
  6. The cold air and indoor heaters can dry out your skin. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water each day and use moisturizers throughout winter.
  7. Buy some indoor plants to soften up the dry atmosphere caused through heating. Indoor plants give off moisture and oxygen and the colours will brighten up a dull day outside.
  8. Caught a cold or flu? If the infection is above the neck (nose, throat) you could be OK to complete a low intensity workout. However, if you have symptoms that are worse than an average cold (chest congestion, muscle aches), exercise will only make you worse and delay your recovery. Rest is the best medicine.
  9. Wear the right clothes when exercising in winter. Polypropylene is the perfect fabric to wear underneath a tracksuit, which will provide great insulation but minimise moisture loss. Gore-Tex is a fabric used widely for providing protection from the rain and wind.
  10. Feel like sitting on the couch with a video and snacking on a cold, wet day? Reach for a protein bar or packet of soy nuts instead of high energy, high fat snacks.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.

The good news is that many women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. A mammogram – the screening test for breast cancer – can help find breast cancer early when it’s easier to treat.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Make a difference! Spread the word about mammograms and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a collaboration of national public service organizations, professional medical associations and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease and provide greater access to services. Visit AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation for more information.

The cure is close but not close enough

Ask the Nurse: Christine Hammerlund, President of Assured Healthcare Staffing and Nurse

Dear Chris: Because my mother had breast cancer, which obviously makes me concerned about my own health, I am devoted to the activities of the breast cancer awareness organizations. Every year those of us who participate in walks and fundraisers always wonder if we are getting closer to a cure. It would be the dream we've sought for years. Are we close? Rose in Lincolnshire

Dear Rose: I remember from school days a mathematical trick that went this way: You are 50 miles away from the end of the train line and every day the train goes half way to the end. If we are 25 miles away after the first day and 12.5 miles on the second day, how long will it take to reach the end?

The trick answer is “never.” That's because by cutting the trip by half in each increment, mathematically the train never gets to the end, only 50 percent closer than it was yesterday.

So how close are we to a cure for breast cancer? The real answer is closer than we were yesterday and not as close as we'll be tomorrow. You can read 50 different assessments of current research and see the same answer. That's because not only is breast cancer a horrific event in a woman's life, the disease itself is far more complicated than other devastating diseases for which cures were relatively straight forward once researchers found the key -  polio, measles and smallpox, for example.

As for breast cancer, there is no widely accepted understanding even for what causes it.

In each of its many stages, breast cancer acts slightly differently and needs different treatment approaches. It goes slow; it goes fast; it stays in one spot and then moves all over the body. It plays hide and seek.

But if I had to guess, there will be something that looks like a “cure” but we might be years away from it being available to women. This either raises your hope, or makes you more fearful.

In 2010 Cleveland Clinic cancer research leader and immunologist Vincent Tuohy announced the broad outline of a vaccine that he said would be the first draft of a cure. It had worked in mice. The next step would be human trials. The drug hinges on harnessing the protein mechanisms inside cells that turn on some triggers and turn off others.
The Cleveland researchers say flatly that it works almost perfectly, or has in mice. But cures that work on mice don't always work on humans.

The only hitch is that a woman needs to be 40 and older to avoid involving lactation which interferes in the process. Theoretically, it would save millions of lives. That announcement in spring 2010 sent shock waves through the nation's media. It was reported everywhere. But there has been little news since because the research project needed to raise another $16 million to launch human trials.

But even Tuohy, and many other researchers worldwide who support him, says that a finished vaccine is at least a decade away. Clinical trials take time and intense care to make sure they are valid.
Researchers of Tuohy's reputation don't say the “cure” word unless they are very sure. He has stuck by his assessment that “breast cancer is a totally preventable illness.”

So, we are close. Very close. But we're not there yet.

I still count this as a giant reason for hope, and there have been times when hope hasn't been matched with the evidence.