woman holding decorative heart

Improve Heart Health in Unique Ways

One of the leading causes of death is cardiovascular disease. Although we cannot change certain risk factors such as age and family history, we can help prevent cardiovascular disease and hope to live a long, healthy life. You probably know that  exercise and a healthy diet can help keep our hearts strong, but there are other means to improve heart health that you may not know. Here are six unique ways you can keep your heart healthy.

 

Crank up the music


Several studies have shown that music can have several positive effects on our bodies including lowering stress and even blood pressure. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital also found that heart patients who were confined to bed had slower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and less distress when they listened to music for 30 minutes each day. 1 So, pull out your favorite tunes, sit back and enjoy the improved heart health! 

 

Have a laugh


We have all heard the Old Testament proverb that “laughter is the best medicine” and have experienced positive emotional effects of having a laugh. Science is proving that there are more than just emotional benefits to laughter, however. Consequently, laughter can also helps our hearts pump stronger!  As we laugh, our blood vessels enlarge in diameter. This in return increases the blood flow like when we participate in aerobic exercise.

 

The University of Maryland also conducted a study and discovered that when people laugh at a funny movie scene, they experience improved blood flow. 2 So, head to the movies, turn on your favorite comedian or sitcom, and enjoy some laughs! 

 

Be kind


We know that high stress levels are not good for our hearts. When we are upset, cortisol, our stress hormone, increases and our blood pressure and inflammation rises. When we experience positive emotions though, our oxytocin levels rise, helping to improve heart health, and our cortisol levels drop. Being kind to others makes us feel better emotionally and just might improve heart health.


Consider the Mediterranean Diet


Many studies have had positive heart health conclusions when studying the Mediterranean diet. According to a 2013 study from Spain, a Mediterranean style of eating can reduce heart disease risk by as much as 30%. 3

The Mediterranean diet consists of green vegetables, nuts, avocados, fruits, beans, high-fiber grains, olives and olive oil,  and an occasional side of small, wild fish such as salmon. In this diet, individuals seldom consume red meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, sugary foods and drinks, and refined flours.


Love a Pet


Could your favorite canine or feline improve heart health? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), they can!  Studies show that having a pet can relieve stress, help increase fitness levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increase happiness and wellbeing. 4

Studies on dog owners show that they tend to live longer, have lower risks for heart disease, better cholesterol profiles, less hypertension and are less vulnerable to stress. The reason for these positive results is not entirely clear, but it could be due to the fact that dog owners are generally more active than non-owners.  Either way, owning a pet who loves you unconditionally has plentiful emotional benefits.

If you’re not in a position to own a dog, local shelters often need volunteers to play with dogs. Consider playing with a friends dog or taking up dog walking and earn some extra cash too!

 

Offer a Hug


Oxytocin levels rise and cortisol level drop when we give and receive hugs. In a study by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, participants who hugged their partners had a slower heart rate up to 10 beats per minute than those who did not hug their partners.5

So, grab someone around you who needs a hug, and enjoy the improved heart health!

 

Good health is often about incorporating small changes in our routine. We hope this article encourages you to add some of these activities to your routine and  improve your heart health today!

Learn about Heart and Vascular Services at CCMH by visiting CCMHHealth.com/Heart-And-Vascular/.

 

Sources

1 Harvard Health Letter. Harvard Health Publishing. Nov. 2009. Using music to tune the heart.

2 Stein, Rob. Los Angeles Times. Apr. 2005.  Laughter helps blood go with the flow.

3 John Hopkins Medicine. Take Your Diet to the Mediterranean.

4 The American Heart Association. Apr. 2018. Can Your Pet Help You Be Healthier?

5 McColm, Jan. Endeavors. Jan. 2004. A Hug a Day  

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

runner on mountain path

Activities To Improve Heart Health

February is the month we dedicate as American Heart Month. Throughout February, we would like to encourage you to participate in activities to improve the health of your heart.

The heart is so important because it contains some of the body’s most valuable muscles. These muscles and the valves of the heart keep our blood moving and sustains our lives 24/7. As with all other muscles, we can improve the functionality of the heart with exercise.

Many of us are not fond of exercise, but it is very good for our bodies. Not only does regular exercise just help you live healthier and feel better, but it also helps protect you from the #1 killer in America, heart disease, and it can even add years to your life!

 

How should you exercise to help the heart?

 

If you are someone with a medical condition including a heart condition or diabetes, make an appointment to discuss what exercise routine is best in your situation.

If you are new to exercising regularly, start slow. We stick better to routines that are not too vigorous and overwhelmingly challenging. Aim for participating in 30 minutes of exercise each day.

Remember, any movement is good for you. You may be exercising and not even really realize it. As you participate in exercise, the large muscles of your body cause your heart to beat faster which strengthens them.

Don’t participate in an aerobic activity that you do not enjoy. This increases the chances of you abandoning the routine. To impact your heart, find time for moderate aerobic activity most days of the week for a total of around 2.5 hours. If you have a busy schedule, try breaking it into a few 10 to 15 minute sessions.

How does the heart benefit from exercise?


Exercise often leads to weight loss. If you’re overweight, losing even just a few pounds may significantly impact heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Exercise also reduces stress. Stress can contribute to other conditions which are factors in heart disease.

Lower blood pressure is also a positive result of exercise. 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity is recommended to help bring high blood pressure into healthy range.

Lower cholesterol is also a positive benefit of exercise.


What are some heart friendly forms of moderate exercise?


Dancing

Skiing

Yard work

Hiking

Softball

Tennis (doubles)

Swimming

Golfing without a golf cart

Bicycling

Moderate walking (around 3.5 mph)


What are some more vigorous forms of heart healthy exercise?


If you participate in all vigorous activities, aim for 75 minutes of exercise each week to benefit your heart.

Vigorous activities include:


Soccer

Basketball

Tennis (singles)

Cross-country skiing

Brisk walking (about 4.5 mph)

Jogging

Heavy yard work

Stair climbing

Hiking uphill

Bicycling over 10 mph

Jumping rope

 


How Do I Know If I’m Helping My Heart?


To ensure you are benefitting from aerobic activity  and increasing your heart health, track your heart rate. First, determine your resting heart rate. You can do so by counting your heart beats for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six.

Normal resting heart rate for adults is from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A lower resting heart rate is usually the result of more efficient heart function and cardiovascular fitness. A well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute for example.

Many factors influence heart rate, and there is a wide range of normal. Nevertheless, an unusually high or low heart rate can indicate a problem. Consult your doctor if your resting heart rate is above 100 beats a minute consistently or if your resting heart rate is below 60 beats a minute and you’re not a trained athlete.

During exercise, your heart rate should increase to about 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate based on your age. For moderate intensity exercise, your target heart rate should increase to 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. For vigorous exercise, your target heart rate should be 70 to 85% of your maximum heart rate.

You can determine what your maximum heart rate should be for your age by viewing this article by the American Heart Association.

When you first start exercising, aim for the lower number for your age range. As your fitness improves, you can gradually aim for the higher number. No matter your age, it’s never too late to make heart health a goal.

If you would like to learn about heart and vascular services offered at CCMH, please visit http://www.ccmhhealth.com/heart-and-vascular/.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

woman holding head in pain

Sleeping Well with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is suspected to affect between 11% and 40% of American adults. The most common types of chronic pain include back pain, nerve pain, joint pain and chronic headaches, and it is one of the top reasons adults seek medical care. 1 A variety of additional problems are linked to chronic pain including depression and anxiety, restrictions in daily activities and mobility, dependence on opioids, and reduced quality of life.

No matter the extent which the chronic pain sufferer experiences these symptoms, most all sufferers complain of inability to receive a good night of rest. Sleep is important for the physical health of all. However, it is even more important for those dealing with chronic problems. For example, sleep helps to repair the blood vessels and heart. Furthermore, sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of a variety of conditions including kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. 2

For the sufferer of chronic pain, sometimes the only time he or she receives reprieve from pain is while sleeping. Although, many develop problems while sleeping due to the inability to get comfortable. A vicious cycle then begins of feeling exhausted which increases symptoms and pain.

Although difficult, sleeping with chronic pain is not impossible. Here are seven methods which may help improve your sleep quality despite the pain.

 

Avoid napping

When you suffer from chronic pain, you tend to try to get sleep anytime and any way you can. Sleep is however, how the pain is avoided. Sometimes a nap is unavoidable after a fitful night of sleep, but don’t nap routinely. Napping too much during the day may increase your chances of not being able to sleep at night.

If you do feel especially tired, try to nap in the morning and set an alarm so you don’t sleep the day away. A morning nap allows more time to pass before bedtime than an afternoon nap, ensuring you are sufficiently sleepy for bedtime.

 

Develop a routine

Although it is difficult to avoid hitting the snooze button, rising and laying down at the same time everyday is important. Your internal clock will adjust and your body will prepare to relax and sleep at the right time.

During the day, open up the house and let in as much light as possible. Exposing yourself to light helps your internal clock become more aware of when it is time to go to sleep.

Also, go through the same steps of your sleep routine each night. Spend half an hour or so going through your hygiene routine and complete a relaxing activity before turning off the light such as reading. Avoid screens from computers, smartphones and TVs which can be overstimulating and keep your mind from winding down. Some relaxation exercises may also help you go to sleep more quickly.

 

Limit caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant found in sodas, teas, energy drinks, coffee and chocolate. Limit your consumption as much as possible and consume caffeine by early afternoon. This will allow sufficient time for the effects to wear off before bedtime.

 

Review your medications

Discuss your medications with your doctor to ensure none of them are causing you to lose sleep. Also, ask your doctor about sleep aids. Although not usually recommended long term, your doctor may approve for you to take a sleep aid short term to help get your sleep on track or as needed for particularly bad days.

 

Exercise

Exercising four to eight hours before bedtime may help reduce anxiety, a common factor that interrupts sleep. However, be sure to allow enough of time between exercise and bedtime. Working out too late in the day can keep you awake.

 

Create a good environment for sleep

Many factors can influence your sleep including mattress and pillow firmness, sleep position, temperature and darkness level. Consider using white noise to block out noise if your bedroom is near a high traffic area. Blackout shades may also help. Discuss with your doctor to learn if he or she recommends specific types of mattresses, pillows and sleep positions for your type of pain.

 

Get your pain under control

Although easier said than done, getting your pain under control is the best method to improving sleep. Relaxation techniques, acupuncture, medications and surgery are all used to help treat various forms of chronic pain. Discuss with your doctor which methods may be best.

If pain is part of your daily experience, we want to help you achieve the optimum level of comfort and an increased quality of life. Please seek medical attention from one of our CCMH providers. To learn more about problems affecting sleep and how we can help visit CCMHealth.com/Center-For-Sleep-Medicine/.

 

Sources

1 Dahlhamer J, Lucas J, Zelaya, C, et al. Prevalence of Chronic Pain and High-Impact Chronic Pain Among Adults — United States, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:1001–1006.

2 National Heart Blood & Lung Institute. Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.
Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.
While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

teens walking together

Drug Use in Children and Teens

January 22-27 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. During this week, we encourage all adults to take a few minutes and educate themselves on a few facts about drug usage in children and teens. You never know if you may have the opportunity to apply this knowledge and save a life whether it is the life of your own child, a student, neighbor or child you mentor.

 

When are youth at the highest risk of using drugs and alcohol?

 

Research shows that the time of highest risk for beginning drug consumption during youth is during times of transition. 1 The first major transition in a child’s life is entering school. Studies also show that the earlier you begin discussing the dangers of drugs with children, the more likely you are to be successful and preventing drug usage. On the other hand, the younger a child tries drugs, the more likely he or she is to develop a problem. 2

 

As children advance to middle school and then high school, they are confronted with more and more challenges and social pressure. They are more likely to be offered illegal substances as they get older.

The risk of drug consumptions continues to grow as youth leave home after high school.  

 

How should I talk to my kids about drugs and alcohol?

 

Keep in mind that is is never too early to begin talking to your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

 

In early elementary school, drug usage often begin with huffing or sniffing household or school items such as markers and glue. Discuss why it is important to use items only as they are intended with your children. Teach them to report these unusual behaviors to you or their teachers. Read books to them about the dangers of drugs and offer to volunteer to find programs for their school if there is not a drug prevention program offered.

 

In fact, volunteering when you can at school activities will give you a chance to get to know your child’s peers and be more aware of any concerning behaviors.

 

As children progress through elementary school and into middle school, teach them how to identify drugs and that many drugs look like candies. Walk them through different scenarios they may encounter and practice how to say no with them.

 

Open, ongoing conversation as your child grows is so important. Ask specific questions about how he or she is coping through times of stress.

 

What warning signs should I be aware of?

 

Many behaviors may indicate that a child is consuming drugs and alcohol. Some of these are:

 

Not telling you where they’re going or when they’re coming home
Disappearance of valuable items or money from your home
Verbal or physical abusive
Decreased memory and attention span
Mood swings
Decreased interest in school work, personal hygiene, hobbies, family activities and friends
Spending a lot of time in their room
Overreacting to criticism, acting rebellious
Being negative, argumentative, paranoid or confused

 

How can I get help for my child’s drug problem?

 

If your child has a drug or alcohol problem, dealing with all the emotions can be difficult. You may feel overwhelmed and not know where to turn for help.

 

Many services exist within our community to provide assistance to you and your child. You can always reach out to your doctor for recommendations. Another way to discover these services is by calling or visiting the website for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can reach them at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

 

Sometimes the best of kids slip up. It is natural to feel upset in this situation. Remember to not blame yourself or focus on your disappointment or anger if you discover your child has a problem. Focus on providing him or her with the help that is needed so he or she can go on to live a successful life.

 

Sources

1 National Institute on Drug Abuse.  What are the highest risk periods for drug abuse among youth? Oct. 2003.

2 Addiction Center. Teen Drug Abuse. 19 Nov. 2018.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

stethoscope with doctor and patient in background

Three Steps to Good Cervical Health

January is Cervical Health Awareness month. To promote good cervical health, there are three steps we encourage all women to take. These steps are simple and greatly reduce a woman’s chances of developing cervical cancer or cervical dysplasia (the development of abnormal cells in the cervix).

Get Regular Pap Smears

First, one step to good cervical health is getting regular Pap smears. The general guidelines are for for women between the ages of 21 and 29 to have a Pap smear every 3 years if they have had no abnormal cervical cells in the past. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 may have a Pap smear and HPV test every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. However, what is best in your situation will depend on the recommendations of your doctor.

Practice Safe Sex

In 99% of cervical cancer cases, the HPV virus is present. 1 This sexually transmitted infection (STI) is spread through sexual, skin-to-skin contact. Safe sex helps prevents STIs, and penile penetration is not needed to transmit this virus. Heterosexual and homosexual couples are both at risk. Condoms are not 100 percent effective at preventing the spread of HPV, but studies show that they do provide some protection. 2

Beware of Symptoms

Cervical cancer rarely presents early symptoms. However, you should always report any concerning symptoms you are experiencing to your doctor. Symptoms that may indicate a cervical problem include vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse, abnormal vaginal bleeding and vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse.

 

If you have other questions or concerns regarding cervical health, visit our women’s health page to find the contact information for MMG Gynecology and Obstetrics.

 

 

Sources

 

1 National Cervical Cancer Coalition. Cervical Cancer Overview.

2 Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel. 5 March 2013.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

hands rolling yoga mat

Fitness Apps to Jump Start Your 2019 Fitness Goals

Even if you do not regularly make resolutions in the new year, it is always a great idea to make new fitness goals each year. After all, exercise does not only reduce your risk of many physical health problems. It can be great for mental health as well. To help you meet your goals, here are ten fitness apps to help you discover new workouts.  We hope these fitness apps encourage you to reach your ultimate level of health in 2019!

 

Strava

Strava is often top chosen among fitness apps for social training. It will allow you to connect with athletes across the world. The community includes millions of runners, cyclists and others that record their activities. This handy app tracks several stats.  Check your speed, pace, distance, elevation, and how many calories you burn. You can compare your performance with other users and connect with the community too. Post highlights and photos of your activity. Friendly competition can also motivate you in this app that encourages you to try for the best time on the leaderboard.

 

Sworkit

The American College of Sports Medicine named Sworkit a #1 rated workout app. After entering your personal data, you can input goals. The app then introduces various exercises for cardio, yoga, stretching and strength training. Focus your workouts on being “Stronger,” “Fitter” or “Leaner”.

 

RunKeeper

RunKeeper allows you to track any physical activity. It also gives you the ability to build and find new outdoor routes to keep your workout exciting. Make custom training plans based on a survey you complete, or choose from ready-made schedules. You can also join challenges, win rewards, and share your progress with friends. You may also enjoy the motivation of inviting friends to join. Encourage and cheer each other on along the way.

 

Charity Miles

Charity Miles is unique among fitness apps. Not only will it help you feel better physically, but you also make a difference while using it. Users of this app raised more than $2 million for 40 different charities from doing hard core runs to simply walking down the block to run an errand. Find your activity, duration, distance and the total amount earned by the community for your charity on the app’s dashboard.

 

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is also unique among fitness apps. It is both a running game and adventure. This app will get your adrenaline and heart pumping. It presents you with a story in which your mission is to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend their homes post-zombie apocalypse. You will “save” hundreds of lives as the truth about the apocalypse unfolds. Your mission and music plays through your headphones. If  zombies chase you, you better pick up the pace!

 

Yoga Studio

It may cost a few bucks, but yogis will say Yoga Studio is a “must have” among Yoga fitness apps. Yoga Studio contains over 70 ready-made yoga and meditation classes for beginners to advanced users. Classes are customizable and may focus on strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance, or a combination of all. Commentary in the app provides easy-to-follow instructions for poses as well as how to move from one to the next. There are also modifications, benefits and cautions of each pose.

 

J&J Official 7 Minute Workout

Chris Jordan, director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, designed the J&J Official 7 Minute Workout. HIIT research was used to create this app. This research shows that short bursts of hard exercise with short recoveries can improve aerobic fitness quickly. Jump right into a 7-minute workout. Give a thumbs up or thumbs down for exercises. This app also contains video tutorials that teach you how to perform the 72 exercises effectively and safely. Your progression is tracked in the performance dashboard.

 

Carrot Fit

Enjoy a laugh while getting fit with a sadistic computer-generated coach. This app inspires, threatens, ridicules and bribes. It  promises you will get fit or else! Based on the science-based methods such as the J&J Official 7 Minute Workout, these 7 minutes also include laughable pop-culture themed activities. Track your steps and also your weight loss. Face Carrot’s judgement if you do poorly or receive rewards with app upgrades and cat facts.

 

Couch to 5K

Couch to 5k is well-known yet popular among fitness apps. The goal of Couch to 5K is to help you go from a couch potato to running a 5K in 9 weeks by following their easy and fun plan. The app intends for beginners to spend 30 minutes working out, three times per week, to get 5K-ready.

 

JEFIT Workout Planner Gym Log

JEFIT allows you to log weight and repetitions on each gym machine in one-click. Track your workout routines and also your rest time. Also log and graph your body measurements while you progress. With access to over 2,000 exercises, the dashboard displays weight lifting and cardio exercises. It also gives you step-by-step instructions and tips. There are millions of users to connect with as well as the option to invite friends. Stay motivated by sharing your training progress and comparing stats.

 

It is also important to have regular check-ups with a doctor to assess your health. If you have not had a checkup in awhile, make it a goal to schedule an appointment with a CCMH physician this week! Find a list of our providers at http://www.ccmhhealth.com/providers/.

 

Disclaimer
The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.
Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.
While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

Benefits of Decluttering Your Home

The new year is upon us. You also probably have a few new things to find a place for after the holidays. For that reason, now is a great time to declutter your home. Not only does decluttering your home give you a great sense of accomplishment, but it can also have some great benefits. According to a recent article in Psychology Today, some of these benefits can improve our health and well-being. 1

 

Here are 7 benefits that will help motivate you to get busy cleaning out your living space soon!

 

Reduce tension

 

If you are in a hurry to get out the door and your children can’t find their shoes or your spouse cannot find a bill that needs to be paid, this can cause arguments. Knowing exactly where important items are located can greatly destress your family relationships and help day-to-day routines go more smoothly.

 

Reduce financial stress

 

When you declutter, you find items you did not remember that you had. Consider decluttering closets, pantries and medicine cabinets. Chances are, you will find an item or two that was on your shopping list. Knowing what you have allows you to better assess your needs and budget your money.

 

Reduce anxiety

 

When things are out of order, we feel out of control. This increases anxiety. Decluttering and organizing can greatly relieve anxiety and help us gain a sense of control over our lives.

 

Find energy

 

Dealing with the anxiety of clutter can make us feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Although it can be difficult to get up and moving at first, exercise helps us feel more energized. We often overlook cleaning as exercise, but every little bit helps!  

 

Improved mood

 

Decluttering gives us a sense of accomplishment. Tackling small challenges gives us inner peace and self-confidence as well as stronger decision-making skills.

 

Decluttering lets your mind wander

 

If you have a job that is very stressful or mentally grueling, participating in an activity that does not require much from you cognitively is very beneficial. Not only are you accomplishing a task that you need to check off your list, but you have time to problem solve and work through things you may feel have taken a “back burner.” 

 

Decluttering can help you give back

 

What will you do with the things you decide to remove from your home? Gently used items are great to donate to organizations, schools and shelters. Also consider having a yard sale for charity. Not only will you feel a sense of accomplishment at finding a new home for items you no longer need, but you can give the money earned to a favorite charity too.

 

Improved health habits

 

Research shows that decluttering can lead to improved health habits such as better sleep. Better sleep works as a domino effect having many other benefits such as improved immunity, helping us stay at a healthy weight and lowering our risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease. 2

 

If the task to declutter is overwhelming, remember that it does not have to happen all at once. Set aside just 15 minutes a day or focus on one room at a time. Just like improving your health, decluttering is a goal you should not expect to achieve overnight.

 

Sources

1 Boyes, Alice, Ph.D. Psychology Today. 6 Benefits of an Uncluttered Space:
The psychology behind organizing and decluttering.
  12 Feb. 2018.

 

2 National Health Information Center. Get Enough Sleep. 18 July 2018.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

newborn swaddled in blanket

Newborns and Winter Illnesses

Newborns and winter illnesses- these two things together can make new parents concerned! Conditions like Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu are major concerns for parents with new babies this time of year. RSV is a common, contagious, virus affecting the respiratory tract. For many, this is no more than a cold. For a newborn baby though, this condition can be very serious.

To answer common questions new parents may have, we reached out to two of our health professionals here at CCMH. Meagan Garibay, RN, BSN, CIC, our Infection Preventionist, and Amy Smith BSN, RNC-LRN of our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) gave us some enlightening information to help new parents rest assured they are doing all they can to protect their newborns from winter illnesses.

 

Is there anything new moms should be doing to help prevent newborns from winter illnesses pre-delivery?

 

Meagan: Vaccination helps moms pass on some protection to their babies. We encourage moms to get certain vaccines while pregnant such as the influenza vaccine and the Tdap vaccine. This confers some immunity to the fetus to protect them in their first few months of life (such as from pertussis), and/or it protects mom from catching something that could be potentially devastating for a fetus or a  neonate (such as the flu). The best thing mom can do for her baby is to keep herself well and healthy.

 

Are there any safety tips you have for friends and family who come visit newborns that can help keep newborns from winter illnesses?

 

Meagan: Washing your hands is probably the most critical thing you can do before you ever touch the newborn, or any of the newborn’s belongings or surroundings. Of course, if you are sick or think you may be getting sick, you should never visit someone with a new baby. Both new mom’s and new baby’s immune systems just aren’t strong enough to fight off whatever you may have. And the one thing I cannot stress enough: DO NOT KISS THE BABY! Not the cheek, not the forehead, not the hands. If it’s not your baby, lips off!

 

Are there any factors that put a newborn at risk for winter illnesses?

 

Amy: Most of the RSV issues we see at our hospital are the kids who have gone home from the NICU or the older kids, and those are the ones that get treated on the pediatric unit. However, I can sure talk about prevention and risk factors for our population though.  It’s not so much birth weight, but prematurity and especially prematurity with oxygen requirements in the NICU can put a newborn at risk. Infants between certain premature gestational ages can qualify for medication to help prevent RSV.

As far as what we see parents do with their children that puts newborns at risk, these things are taking them shopping in crowded places, letting strangers touch them without hand washing first, and kissing them such as Meagan mentioned. We have parents and grandparents that have babies in our NICU that want to come in and kiss them in their faces, and although we educate them not to do that, we really have a hard time getting them to understand just how dangerous that is.  Any viral cold sore can be transmitted to the baby and cause that baby to get sick! These babies immune systems are immature and they can’t fight off infections, colds, or illnesses.

 

Is RSV much more common in winter months?

 

Meagan: We do see more RSV in the winter months than any other season. Like flu, it is always “there” and in the community. People catch the flu and RSV and all other respiratory viruses in the summer months, too. However, it is not nearly as prevalent, and it doesn’t spread as fast. During the winter months, people are inside more, and are inside with crowds of people more. Therefore, this helps RSV spread.

 

Are there any tips to specifically help prevent flu? RSV?

 

Meagan: Wash your hands frequently (hand sanitizer counts), and avoid crowded places and sick people!

There is a vaccine for the flu, and everyone over the age of 6 months should get it every year. Efficacy of the vaccine varies from year to year. Nevertheless, even if you get the flu after getting the vaccine, your illness will not be as severe. It will not last as long as someone who hasn’t had the vaccine either. It is especially important that “vulnerable populations” (the very young, the very old, and otherwise immunocompromised persons) get the vaccine. This can be the difference between life and death. Many people think the flu isn’t “that serious”, but over 80,000 people died last year from the flu (which is the highest number in 4 decades).

Unfortunately there is no vaccine for RSV yet. There is one in development however, but that could take several years to be completed. Some high risk infants (such as premature infants) can be recommended to receive a medication that can help protect against serious complications from RSV such as Amy mentioned.

 

Should parents limit visitors, keep newborns out of public, etc. for a specific time?

 

Meagan: There is no hard and fast rule here – it’s entirely the new parents’ discretion. It’s always a good idea to avoid crowded places during the winter, just because of the increased likelihood that you’re going to come into contact with a lot of sick people that should’ve stayed home. As always, make sure visitors wash their hands when they come into the house to see the baby, and make sure they know not to come if they’re sick. You may get push back from some but remember – you are the parent of that baby, and what you say goes.

 

What has this season been like at CCMH so far?  

 

Meagan: This season has been a typical fall/winter so far. Currently, we are seeing more RSV than flu. Flu usually doesn’t peak until January/February, and RSV usually starts declining around that time, but both will hang on and continue circulating well into March and even April.

 

We would like to thank Amy and Meagan for taking time out of their busy schedules to give us this important information. If you are a new or expecting mother and have other questions about caring for your baby, visit the Women’s Health section of our site at http://www.ccmhhealth.com/womens-health/.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

red green and white holiday cookies in the shape of presents mittens and trees

Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

If you’re working hard to manage your weight, the holidays can be frustrating. The months of October through December can seem filled with one opportunity to overeat after another. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and let us have some of our favorite treats we normally avoid. You can relax your normal diet without going overboard. Here are 10 tips for healthy holiday eating.

 

Think it Through.

 

Before you go to that holiday office party or sit down to indulge with family and friends, visualize the gathering. What foods do you think might be there? Are there some good choices you can fill your plate with? What healthier dish can you bring to share?

 

Look up the average amount of calories in dishes you plan to eat. Also, know which foods are better choices over others. For example, if you love pecan pie but can settle for pumpkin, it usually has many less calories.

 

Are you hungry?

 

Also, analyze your feelings and if you are really hungry. We tend to overeat the most when our feelings are getting the best of us. Holiday stress, sadness or loneliness if we are missing someone who is no longer there to celebrate with us, and other difficult emotions can make us want to indulge when we may not even be hungry.

 

Focus on why you’re really there.

 

When we break away from focusing on eating, we appreciate even more why we are at the celebration. Good conversation, laughter, games and enjoying family and friends can help take your mind off the temptations.

 

Position yourself away from temptation.

 

Is it possible to stay away from those cookies just sitting there waiting for you to grab them? Are others mingling in the living room? Sometimes “out of sight, out of mind” is a great strategy to implement.

 

Slow down.

 

During the holidays, all the errands, cooking, shopping and traveling can tempt us to eat “on the go” often. However, we tend to overeat when we don’t really focus on our meal and what we are taking in. Sit down, turn off all the distractions like TVs or smartphones and enjoy slowly eating your meal.

 

Taking time to chew your food and put your utensil down between bites can also help you savor your favorite holiday dishes.

 

Beware of your portions.

 

Sometimes it isn’t so much what we eat that is a problem, but how much of it that we eat.  Instead of grazing in a buffet style fashion, portion out your meal and commit to not going back for seconds.

 

Choosing a smaller plate can also help if that is an option. The bigger the plate, the more empty it seems with small portions.

 

Fill up on fiber and high-protein dishes.

 

Fill your plate with high protein and fiber items such as lean meats, vegetables, legumes and nuts. Not only will these dishes be lower calorie than those savory desserts, but they will help you feel fuller longer. Also, eat these foods first to leave less room in your stomach for dishes that tend to make you want to overindulge.

 

You don’t have to clean your plate.

 

Many of us grew up with parents that made us feel guilty if we didn’t clean our plates. Although they meant well, this strategy can leave us with some unhealthy eating habits as adults. You not finishing your plate has nothing to do with gratitude or how much someone else gets to eat. In fact, some practice leaving a bite or two on their plate as a strategy to not overeat.

 

Avoid meal skipping.

 

Skipping meals is rarely a good strategy. We tend to overeat even more when we do this as our blood sugar is then not well regulated.

 

Keep moving.

 

It can be easy to get off a daily exercise routine during the holidays, but it is important to keep moving and burning calories. Break up your exercise into smaller segments. Even ten minutes is very beneficial.

 

Also, incorporate some activity during your gatherings. Taking a walk after dinner, dancing or throwing around a football with the kids are great ways to get some exercise and not miss out on the festivities.

 

 

We hope you find these tips for healthy holiday eating helpful. We also wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. If you need further assistance in your weight management journey,  we want to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle. You can find out more information at mmgbariatrics.com. You may also call Dr. Sawyer’s office at (580) 510-7042 to learn if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

Hands in sink with running water

Teaching Kids to Wash Their Hands

This week is National Hand Washing Awareness Week. Teaching kids to wash their hands can be difficult. Young children are always on the move, and don’t want to slow down to practice boring hygiene habits. Still, it is important to instill important hand washing practices in your children.

 

Teach children when to wash their hands

 

Good hand washing is the first line of defense to combat various illnesses — from colds to the flu, meningitis, bronchiolitis and hepatitis A. The first step is letting children know we wash our hands to help keep everyone safe! Then, make it a habit by always washing their hands when the following activities take place:

  • before eating and cooking
  • after using the bathroom
  • before and after visiting sick friends or relatives
  • when coming in from outside
  • when finished cleaning around the house
  • after touching animals
  • after blowing one’s nose, sneezing or coughing

 

Discuss germs

 

Helping children to understand the concept of germs can be challenging. Explain to children that germs are most everywhere on surfaces and our hands. Consider finding a book with lots of pictures or simple songs or videos online to show them.

 

Make hand washing convenient and safe

 

Getting up to the sink can be hard for small children. Making it a fun, safe and convenient practice is important. Place a stool in front of the sink if the child cannot reach the sink by his or herself. Let children pick out a fun stool with characters, colors or designs he or she enjoys. Many stools for children have rubber grips on the steps to help secure their footing as well. Also, consider putting a rug under the stool to help catch water and prevent slipping. Kids can make a mess when the sink is involved.

 

Make sure hand towels are easily accessible also. Towel racks that are too high and cause children to reach too much could result in a fall.

 

Teach children how to use the soap

 

It may take awhile before a young child is capable of getting his or her own soap. Practice using the soap pump with them. Also, choosing a themed soap dispenser may be fun for some children.

 

Make sure the water is a safe temperature

 

Turning on the tap and getting the temperature just right may be difficult for many children. Teach your child how to turn on the cold water first and to slowly increase the temperature. Demonstrate putting just the tip of a finger in the water to test the temperature.

 

Help children learn how long to wash

 

You should wash your hands for 20-30 seconds. This is about the amount of time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice or the alphabet song once. You may also teach children how to set a timer and watch it count down while they wash.

 

Rinse well


Teach children to look thoroughly for any soap residue. It is not dangerous to leave soap bubbles behind. However, children often put their hands in their mouths. The taste of soap may be a deterrent from wanting to wash their hands in the future.

 

Carry hand sanitizer when on the go  

 

Soap and water is always best, but sometimes it may not be available when you are on the go. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

 

As with everything else they learn, good hand washing practices come to small children with lots of practice. Remember to praise their good behavior as you are teaching them this important tip in their daily hygiene routine.

For other healthcare concerns regarding your children, visit ccmhhealth.com/directory/specialties/pediatrics to find a list of CCMH Pediatricians.

 

Disclaimer

 

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

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