10-Minute Sport Yoga Routine

You won’t need to sacrifice your busy day for this yoga routine. If you have just 10 minutes, you can complete this gentle sport yoga flow.

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Tips for Staying Healthy and Safe this Summer

 

MedlinePlus and NIH offer lots of information online to help. We’ve summarized some helpful highlights to get you started.

Sun Exposure and Your Skin

Too much time in the sun is linked to everything from sunburns to heat illness, long-term skin damage, and skin cancer.

You can’t see the sun’s UV (or ultraviolet) rays but they contain a form of radiation that passes through your skin and can damage your skin cells.

If possible, stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. If you do need to go out in the sun, take steps to be safe. Use and reapply a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and wear UV-protective sunglasses and clothing.

Also, keep an eye out for skin moles or spots that change color, which could be a sign of cancer. Contact your health care provider immediately if you think you may have a cancerous mole.

SOURCE: MedlinePlus: Sun Exposure

Poison Ivy, Oak, & Sumac

Ouch! Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are types of plants with sap or oil that many of us are sensitive to. When our skin touches the sap, it can create itchy rashes and blisters. The rash often doesn’t often start until 12 to 72 hours after contact.

To avoid rashes, try to recognize and stay away from poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Be cautious when you hike or spend time in heavily wooded areas.

If you come in contact with one of these plants, wash your skin with soap right away. If you do get a rash, your pharmacist may recommend over-the-counter medicines to help with itching. Luckily, rashes are not contagious.

If your rash is severe or you notice swelling, contact a health care provider immediately, as that can be a sign of a serious reaction.

SOURCES: MedlinePlus: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Red Sumac; American Academy of Dermatology: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Opens new window

Dehydration

Our bodies are 90 percent water, so it’s no surprise we need a lot of it to keep going each day. In fact, the average person needs three quarts of water daily to function well.

But when we’re exercising, sweating, or spending time in the sun, we may need more liquid.

Without enough hydration and electrolytes, we can become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration are feeling thirsty, having dark-colored urine, feeling faint or dizzy, and having to urinate less.

If you think you may be dehydrated, try to drink small amounts water over a period of time to prevent throwing up.

Electrolytes—minerals in our bodies that help balance the amount of water—are key to avoiding dehydration. Sports drinks (without caffeine) with electrolytes may help if you have an imbalance.

SOURCES: MedlinePlus: Dehydration; MedlinePlus: Electrolytes

Insect Bites and Stings

At one point or another, you’ve probably experienced a not-so-fun bug bite or sting.

Mosquito and flea bites usually itch. Bee, wasp, and hornet stings and fire ant bites usually hurt.

In general, bug bites and stings are uncomfortable but not life-threatening. However, if you know you are allergic to any insects, like bees or wasps, keep an emergency epinephrine kit handy.

Ticks are usually harmless, but a bite from an infected blacklegged deer tick can lead to Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Some early symptoms include fever and chills, headache, joint and muscle pain, and a bull’s eye rash where the tick bit you. After spending time outdoors where there may be ticks, make sure to check yourself, family members, and your pets. If you think you may have Lyme disease, seek medical help immediately.

For mild itching or discomfort from other bug bites or stings, over-the-counter antihistamines, anti-itch creams, and ibuprofen and acetaminophen may help.

To avoid bug bites and stings, use insect repellent according to label instructions, be careful when performing activities outside, wear protective clothing (like long pants or sleeves), and avoid heavily scented soaps and perfumes.

SOURCES: MedlinePlus: Insect Bites and Stings; Food and Drug Administration: Beware of Bug Bites and Stings; Opens new window National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: Lyme Disease Opens new window

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How to Stretch for Low Back Pain

Don’t let back pain hold you back. Stretch it out and relax with this exercise.

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7 Ways to Beat the Heat and the Signs of Heat Distress

Extreme Heat often results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards in the US. On average, it has killed more people in the last 30 years than any other weather phenomena.  EXTREME HEAT is generally defined as an extended period (2 to 3 days) of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees.  In such conditions, evaporation is slowed, and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to death by overworking the human body. Remember that:

  • Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning.
  • Older adults, children, and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.
  • Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.

While every year, thousands of people suffer from heat-related illnesses and even death, many of these tragedies can be prevented. Keep everyone safe this summer by following these seven simple tips:

  1. Ensure you get acclimated to the temperature and humidity! Especially children, the elderly, and athletes need time to adjust to activity and exercising in hot, humid weather. Planning early morning or late afternoon/evening activities and gradually increasing exercise and sports-related activities over the first two weeks of warmer weather will ensure they are adequately acclimatized to their environment.
  2. Properly dress before activity and exercise outdoors! Clothing should be light-colored, lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate the evaporation of sweat. Sweat-saturated garments should be replaced by dry garments, and rubberized sweat suits should never be used for weight loss.
  3. Protect your largest organ from the sun! In addition to staying in the shade, limit skin’s exposure to the sun during the peak intensity hours and dress in lightweight clothing and hats. Everyone over 6 months should frequently apply (and reapply) sunscreen with at least 15 SPF to their skin. Little ones under six months should mostly avoid the sun. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Maximize the fun, not the sun.
  4. Be sure you are drinking plenty of fluids. Before and during any type of physical activity, everyone should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, such as cool water or flavored sports drinks. Due to their high-sugar and caffeine content, fruit juices, sodas and energy drinks (i.e., Red Bull) are not recommended. Alcohol “es no bueno”, as it dehydrates.
  5. Avoid equipment and surfaces directly exposed to the sun! In direct sunlight, playground equipment can heat up to temperatures well into the triple digits. Severe burns can result from young children unknowingly exposing their skin to extremely hot playground equipment. Same is true on pool deck equipment and surfaces. Avoid being outdoors midday and frequenting playgrounds that are not shaded by trees or canopies.   Cool surfaces with copious amounts of water.
  6. Never leave children, the elderly or even pets in a car or other closed motor vehicle! The inside of a car can quickly reach dangerous and life-threatening temperature levels! Since 1998, over 600 children in the U.S. have died of heat stroke when left unattended in a vehicle.  On average, 37 kids perish in hot vehicle each year.  The hottest months inevitably bring the highest numbers of hypothermia incidents, so summer, late spring and early fall are the most treacherous times.

As of July 20, 26 children have lost their lives this year in hot car death incidents. To prevent heat stress tragedies, parents and caregivers should never leave others alone in or around a vehicle, always lock the car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices, create visual reminders to look in the back seat before you leave, and plan to have daycare providers or other family members call home if the child hasn’t arrived on schedule to verify there’s been a change from the daily routine.

Know the signs and symptoms of heat illness and watch for them among your family and friends! Heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, cause a wide-spectrum of signs and symptoms.

  • Muscle cramps usually occur in the larger muscle groups, such as the hamstrings and buttocks. If someone develops painful muscular cramping, they should stop exercising and start drinking fluids. Additionally, by encouraging the person to lie down in a cool area while massaging and stretching the affected muscles, their symptoms may improve at a quicker pace.
  • Heat exhaustion is the most common form of heat-related illness and will usually occur in those who participate in activities that lead to profuse sweat loss! Symptoms of heat exhaustion include temperature elevation, headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting and muscle weakness. If someone develops these symptoms, they should be moved away from direct sunlight and into a shaded or air-conditioned area. By fanning and rehydrating and placing ice bags around the neck, underarms and groin area, the core body temperature will start to lower. However, if the person is unable to keep fluids down (due to nausea/vomiting) and appears dehydrated, they should be seen by a physician.
  • Heat stroke is a medical emergency, with a mortality rate as high as 50 to 70 percent! With severe dehydration, the normal sweating response can become impaired! Symptoms of heat stroke are similar to those seen with heat exhaustion, but are typically accompanied by abnormal behavior or responsiveness, seizures, and core body temperatures greater than 104°F. In addition to moving and cooling the victim, 911 should be called immediately! Bystander CPR and the use of an AED (or automated external defibrillator) may be necessary if the person stops breathing and/or no longer has a pulse.

Remember, heat-induced illness and death are preventable! Be sure to take the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety and a fun-filled summer, especially as we enter the hottest parts of our year in the northern hemisphere.

If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of heat injury, seek medical attention Fast.  You might use HealthLynked.com to do so, and if you are already maintaining your medical information in our easy to use, secure portable, personal health record system, it will be so much easier to get the right care today.

Ready to get Lynked? Go to HealthLynked.comto learn more and sign up for free!

Sources:

Fema.gov

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Shape Your Family’s Habits | NIH News in Health

Helping Kids Make Healthy Choices

Many things can influence a child, including friends, teachers, and the things they see when they sit in front of the TV or computer. If you’re a parent, know that your everyday behavior plays a big part in shaping your child’s behavior, too. With your help, kids can learn to develop healthy eating and physical activity habits that last throughout their lives.

Healthy eating and physical activity are essential for children of any age. “They can have many health benefits for children, including promoting heart health and improving mood,” says Dr. Voula Osganian, a child obesity specialist at NIH.

Getting active and eating right may also prevent excess weight and childhood obesity, a growing concern in this country. Today, nearly 1 in 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese. “If someone develops obesity as a child or adolescent, there’s a very high likelihood that they’ll remain obese or overweight as an adult,” Osganian explains. “But studies also show that if you start eating healthy and being active early, you tend to maintain those habits over time.”

Although most of us know that it’s a good idea to eat healthy food and move more, it isn’t always easy to do. Children aren’t likely to change their diet and activity habits on their own. It’s up to you to make it easier for your family to make healthy choices.

“Parents are very important in terms of arranging an environment and setting a model for healthy or unhealthy behavior,” says Dr. Leonard H. Epstein, an expert
on childhood obesity at the University of Buffalo. “Parents bring foods into the house. They control how much time a child can watch TV. They control what kinds of social activities are paired with foods. And kids learn a huge amount about eating and physical activity from watching and imitating their parents.”

Epstein’s research shows how important parents can be. In NIH-funded work, his team assigned obese children, ages 8 to 12, to different types of weight loss programs. All the groups were taught about healthy diet, behaviors, and exercise. For some groups, positive feedback and encouragement for weight loss and behavior changes were given only to the child. Other groups focused on both the child and an obese parent. Comparison groups received little feedback.

The researchers found that when obese parents and children worked together, both were more successful at losing weight and making healthy changes. “Our studies suggest that getting the whole family working together really benefits the child,” Epstein says. “Even after 10 years, when these kids were 18 to 22 years old, the ones who had the parent working with them had lost more weight and maintained more weight loss than the ones treated by themselves, and obviously more than the comparison groups.”

Over time, most parents gradually began to regain their lost weight, the researchers found. But after 10 years, more than 40% of the kids who worked with their parents had maintained a weight reduction of at least 20%. “The finding suggests that even if the parents go back to their old behaviors, many of the kids will not,” says Epstein.

While it’s never too late to start making healthy changes in your family, research suggests that the earlier your kids learn healthy behaviors, the better.

Dr. Julie Lumeng, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan, focuses her NIH-funded research on the factors that affect eating behaviors in young children—especially preschoolers and infants. That’s an ideal time to start exposing your children to a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, so they develop a liking for them.

Getting young ones to accept fruits and vegetables can be a challenge, but some parents give up too quickly if a child rejects a new food. Research suggests that the more times you offer a food, the more likely a child will be to warm up to it. “Kids typically have to taste a new food 9 to 15 times to begin to like it,” Lumeng says.

If your child doesn’t like a new food right away, stay positive and keep trying over time. Encouraging kids to take just one bite of a new food can help. But avoid creating conflicts and stress over it.

“Trying a new food can be exciting and also stressful in general,” Lumeng says. “Several studies show that kids are more likely to try a new food if they’re eating in a setting that’s relaxing and pleasant.”

Children under the age of three tend to stop eating on their own when they’re full. “But after age three,” Lumeng says, “the more you put on their plate, the more they’ll eat.” So make sure to give your kids child-size portions.

Take opportunities to teach young children about feelings of fullness. “If your child asks for another helping, instead of saying, ‘No, honey, you’ve had enough,’ try saying something like, ‘You must really be hungry tonight,’ to raise their awareness of their feelings,” Lumeng suggests. “Or when they stop eating, say, ‘Oh, you must feel full now,’ to help teach about hunger and feeling satisfied.”

Several studies show that parents can effectively influence healthy behaviors by talking in a positive way or avoiding certain situations altogether. “Instead of telling your children, ‘No, you can’t have any more cookies,’ just keep cookies out of the house altogether,” says Lumeng.

When you bring unhealthy food and sugary drinks into the house, “parents essentially become the food police,” adds Epstein. “It’s easier to create an environment in the home where there’s limited access to unhealthy foods and lots of access to healthy foods.”

Experts recommend that most kids get at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Parents can help by limiting TV and computer time to no more than one or two hours per day.

“Small changes in the home environment can also have a huge effect on physical activity,” says Epstein. You can make sports equipment like balls and jump ropes more accessible by putting them next to the door. Walking fast, bicycling, jumping rope, and playing basketball, soccer, or hopscotch are all good ways for kids to be active.

When it comes to food and physical activity, what you say and do around your children can have a lasting effect. Work together as a family to make healthy habits easy and fun.

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Sitting Disease

Sitting is the new smoking. The list of health issues associated with sitting ranges from obesity, diabetes to depression and certain cancers. James Levine, M.D., Ph.D, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic and a world-renowned leader in obesity research and co-director of the Mayo Clinic/ASU Obesity Solutions Initiative, is leading an “up-rising” to encourage people to get off their duffs and start moving. In this video Dr. Levine offers the “secrets of the thin” and tells you how moving throughout your day can lead to a healthier life.

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See, Hear, Speak | NIH News in Health

Are Kids’ Senses Ready for School?

When setting off for kindergarten or first grade, a child may feel prepared with a backpack loaded with crayons, pencils, and paper. But a good start in the classroom depends on more than just school supplies. Healthy hearing, vision, speech, and language are key to success at school. If a child has problems in these areas, the sooner they’re spotted, the better they can be treated.

Sometimes problems with senses, speech, or language fly under the radar. A child with a lazy eye or a little hearing loss might get along just fine at home or in daycare. But when children get to school, minor difficulties may start to catch up with them. They may have trouble focusing and flourishing in the classroom. NIH-funded scientists are searching for better ways to recognize and treat these types of problems as early as possible.

Nearly all newborns are screened for hearing loss before leaving the hospital. For newborns diagnosed with hearing loss, interventions such as hearing aids or cochlear implants should begin no later than 6 months of age. When interventions begin early, children with hearing loss can develop language skills that help them communicate.

Hearing problems can also arise in older kids. “Some children are born with normal hearing and develop hearing loss later for various reasons,” says Dr. Mary Pat Moeller, who studies childhood deafness and language development at Boys Town National Research Hospital in Nebraska. Head injuries, meningitis, and chronic fluid behind the eardrum from repeated bouts of ear infections are just a few conditions that can lead to later hearing loss.

“We rely on normal hearing to pick up concepts and learn new words,” Moeller says. But a noisy classroom can be tough for kids who can’t hear well. “Children with undetected hearing loss may look like they have attention deficits. They may miss what they’ve been told because they’re just not hearing clearly,” she says.

Screening for hearing loss in school-age kids is a familiar process. Children wear headphones and raise their hands as they hear a series of tones. Some 5% to 10% of school-age children don’t pass these tests. Kids with hearing loss can be fitted with hearing aids or benefit from cochlear implants or assistive devices. For example, teachers can wear microphones that send their voices directly to the children’s ears. Even children with minimal hearing loss can benefit from this type of technology.

Children learn language by listening to others and engaging in conversations. But kids with hearing loss can miss out on some of this experience. Moeller and her colleagues are studying how children with hearing loss develop language. Results from this NIH-funded research point to several factors that can help. These include the quality and fit of hearing aids, how often kids get speech and language training, and how often parents have conversations with their children.

A different source of language problems is a disorder called specific language impairment, or developmental language disorder. This condition affects an estimated 7% of children in kindergarten. Kids with specific language impairment have trouble learning new words and engaging in conversation. They might produce grammatically incorrect sentences like “What he want for dinner?” or they might have a small vocabulary.

“Both of those are fundamental to being able to communicate with the teacher, to understanding what the teacher is saying to them, and to forming social relationships with their peers,” says Dr. Mabel Rice, an NIH-funded researcher who studies childhood language disorders at the University of Kansas.

For example, a child with specific language impairment might not understand that “It’s time to put your things away now” means “Put your things away.” Children who don’t understand complicated sentences can seem like they’re disobedient, Rice says. More complicated grammar is also good for making friends. Saying “I would like it if you’d come play with me” might attract more playmates than “Come over here.”

In the past, parents were sometimes blamed for a child’s language disability. They might have been faulted for not reading enough to their children. But research suggests that specific language impairment has other roots. The disorder tends to run in families, which hints that genesStretches of DNA, a substance you inherit from your parents, that define characteristics such as how likely you are to get certain diseases. play a role. Rice led a study of over 300 people, including children with specific language impairment and their families. The scientists identified a gene that’s also linked to dyslexia and other learning disabilities. The finding might eventually lead to better understanding and treatment of these disorders.

Kids don’t usually grow out of specific language impairment. Their language improves, but they can continue to struggle with subtleties even after they enter the workforce. “It is very important to identify these kids, particularly at school entry or before school entry,” Rice says. Many school districts screen children for specific language impairment before kindergarten. Language therapy can help children catch up.

Poor vision can also cause trouble in school, and the problems may go unnoticed. Vision problems are common in preschoolers, but kids don’t always tell others about their symptoms. Children might even think it’s normal to see double or for things to be blurry. But poor eyesight can cause headaches and hinder reading. Some children with vision problems might seem to have attention difficulties, since eyestrain and headaches can make it hard to stay on task.

The most common cause of vision impairment in children is amblyopia, or lazy eye. It often arises if the eyes point in different directions, or if one eye produces a better image than the other. The brain starts to shut down signals from the weaker eye. Treatment encourages use of the weaker eye, sometimes by putting a patch over the other eye. NIH-funded research has found that treatment for amblyopia is more effective if begun when a child is young.

Some children are nearsighted, with problems focusing on faraway objects like the chalkboard. It’s less common for youngsters to be farsighted, with trouble focusing on up-close items. Both can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

To catch problems early, NIH funded a study of thousands of preschoolers to find the best ways to screen for impaired vision. “How often screening is done and what screening is done varies widely from state to state,” says Dr. Marjean Kulp, a vision researcher at Ohio State University.

The study evaluated different tests and identified a few that could best detect vision problems—even when performed by people who aren’t vision specialists.

Screenings only identify potential problems, and they don’t catch everything. Children should have regular exams by an eye care professional.

Early detection and treatment of hearing, vision, and language problems can give kids a better learning experience.

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