Tag Archives: exercise

Preventing Colorectal Cancer

Preventing Colorectal Cancer

It’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

About 1 out of 3 people are not up to date with their colorectal cancer screening, which can help identify precancerous polyps so you can get them removed before they turn into cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Symptoms

Colorectal cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms, which is why screenings are key to diagnosing cancer.

Your Colon and Cancer Symptoms

Those who do have symptoms experience:

  • Blood in stool
  • Persistent, ongoing stomach pain and cramps
  • Unexplained weight loss

Colorectal Cancer Screenings

There are a few different screenings for colorectal cancer available to you. The level of preparation needed for them, invasiveness, and frequency you’ll need them all vary.

Fecal Occult Blood Tests and Fecal Immunochemical Tests

Fecal Occult Blood Tests and Fecal Immunochemical Tests

A fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) or a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) can check for hidden blood in your stool, which can be a sign of cancer. 

These tests are noninvasive and don’t require a bowel cleanse before your appointment. They also need to be repeated each year because they don’t give your doctor a firsthand look at your colon’s health.

You simply collect your stool sample at home and mail it or bring it in to a lab for processing, and they’ll let you know your results.

FIT-DNA Tests

FIT-DNA Test

A FIT-DNA test checks for blood in the stool as well, but it also looks for DNA changes that may be a sign of cancer or precancerous polyps. 

This test is noninvasive and doesn’t require a bowel cleanse before your appointment. They also need to be repeated every 3 years, because they don’t give your doctor a firsthand look at your colon’s health.

You simply collect your stool sample at home and mail it or bring it to a lab for processing, and they’ll let you know your results.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy, but it only looks at part of your colon. 

This procedure may require a bowel cleansing the night before, but its prep is not as extensive as what’s required for a colonoscopy. It’s usually done in your doctor’s office or a procedure room, and it must be repeated every 5 years.

The procedure involves a thin, flexible scope being inserted into the rectum to view the lower third of the colon so your doctor can look at its condition firsthand. Pieces of tissue can also be removed and evaluated for any abnormal cell changes.

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy provides the best view of the entire colon. 

Bowel cleansing is required the night before this procedure. It’s usually done in an outpatient surgery center, and it is usually recommended once every 10 years. If your provider is concerned though, they can recommend you have them more frequently.

A thin, flexible scope is inserted into your rectum to view your entire colon.  Pieces of tissue or polyps can also be removed and evaluated for any abnormal cell changes.

The Screening That’s Right for You

You should work with your doctor to choose the screening that’s right for you and your situation. No matter which screening you choose, most of our plans will cover 100% of the cost. If more testing or services are needed besides your normal screenings, you may be responsible for paying a copay.

To check your exact coverage, log in to Your Health Alliance to review your benefits or contact us.

Reduce Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Reducing Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

A healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. What can you do?

  • Maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Eat a diet that’s high in fiber and includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit saturated fats and alcohol.
 

This March, talk to your doctor about scheduling your next screening.

Handling Your Wedding Stress

Handling Your Wedding Stress

It’s National Weddings Month, and many soon-to-be spouses are planning their spring and summer weddings, so this week, we’re helping you with tips for handling your wedding stress. 40% of couples in one study found wedding planning extremely stressful, with 71% finding it more stressful than other major life events like finding a new job. The Stress of Getting Married   Why are weddings so stressful? They’re a big, expensive commitment, emotions are running high, and your relationship can be affected. It’s normal to be stressed. If you start using all your spare time on wedding planning, it’s straining your relationship, you’re questioning your decisions, or you’re procrastinating, you’re probably suffering from wedding stress. Signs You're Suffering from Wedding Stress   Prioritize your wedding planning. Decide what’s most important to you about the wedding upfront, and focus on it. Don’t let the details overwhelm you. Planning Your Wedding with Priorities   Be prepared for things you can’t control on the big day and plan accordingly. If it rains, what’s your back-up plan? Know ahead of time so you won’t feel like everything’s ruined if it changes. Prepare for Plan B   Find ways to unplug and clear your mind. Meditate and try yoga or tai chi. Find a way to put down your phone, step away, and lower your blood pressure when things get too crazy. Time to Unplug While Wedding Planning   Practice self-care. Do something restorative, like a massage, Netflix binge, or a jog. And make time to still do fun things together as a couple, like a regular date night. Self-Care During Wedding Planning
Winter Senior Games

Long View: Sack Those Winter Blues, Get Active at Winter Senior Games

When I was in high school, I had a crush on the hunky, curly-haired quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Chuck Long. Sigh, just saying his name takes me back to those days.

In my youth, sports of any kind ruled my world. Volleyball, softball, track and field, and basketball, I took a shot at all of them. I even earned a varsity letter for basketball in high school. I often say that the first thing God is going to let me do when I get to heaven is shoot the gap, slam through on the blind side, and sack the quarterback. But that quarterback will be someone I don’t like, like Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers, not Chuck.

Well, as it tends to happen, I grew up. I decided to become a Cyclone instead of a Hawkeye, got married, and raised a family. I stopped having crushes on college quarterbacks and started dreaming about minivans that could corner on a dime and the day my sons would stop taking swings at each other and just get in the car. Oh, and I went to work for Health Alliance, a company based in Champaign, IL, and full of Fighting Illini. Go figure. But I’ve always hung on to that love of sport. The body doesn’t always cooperate, but the heart is still alive and willing to give it a try.

February is a great month for all lovers of sport because Health Alliance is sponsoring the Winter Iowa Senior Games in the Quad Cities, and you are invited whether you’re an Illini, Hawkeye, Cyclone, or something else. You don’t need to be an Iowa resident to compete. In fact, competitors come from all over the United States. The only requirement is that you must be over 50 years old.

Still worried about the heart being more willing than the body? Don’t, everyone else is in the same boat because you compete with your own age group. Age groupings start at 50 and go up to over 90 years old. The playing field is even!

Registration is being taken for bowling, pickleball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and all track and field events. Events will take place throughout the Quad Cities, but most will happen at Augustana’s PepsiCo Arena in Rock Island. Yes, that is an indoor track.

Here is the best part. Chuck Long runs the Iowa Sports Foundation, the sponsoring agency of the Iowa Senior Games! Sometimes he even comes out to run the 800 meters in his age group. Making one’s heart go pitter-patter is an aerobic exercise, don’t you know? Come out and have some fun and shake off those winter blues.

The Winter Iowa Senior Games will be held February 22 to 24 in the Quad Cities. Register for events at IowaSeniorGames.org or by calling 1-888-777-8881.

Reading this article too late for the Winter Games? The Eastern Iowa Senior Challenge happens in April in Cedar Rapids, and the Iowa Senior Games is later this summer in West Des Moines. Check their website for all available events and dates.

 

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Exercise with Your Child Week

Exercise with Your Child Week

It’s Exercise with Your Child Week, and we can help your family get moving all week.

How much exercise do your kids really need at different ages? 

How Much Exercise Do Kids Need?

 

If you’re trying to squeeze in a quick workout with your kids, here are 10 exercises you can all do together.

How to Exercise At Home with Kids

 

Dad can make playing with the kids a workout with these exercises from Men’s Health.

Playing as a Workout

 

Balance time spent on sedentary play, like reading books and playing with toys, with play that requires physical activity, like tag, hide and seek, and hopscotch.

Make Time for Active Play

 

Set aside daily time for active movement together, maybe it’s swimming at the pool in the summer, walking the dog, or playing catch.

Daily Time for Movement

 

Instead of going to the movies, pick family activities that get you moving, like bowling, mini golf, or laser tag.

Get Moving for Family Night

 

Have weekly sports nights where you use a set of exercise cards, play lawn games (like shuffleboard, bags, or badminton), or even get moving with physically active video games.

Competition with the Family

Kids and Energy to Burn

Long View: Energy to Burn

I tried to talk my parents into buying me a paddle boat when I was 11. Oh yes, I did.

We used to spend the summer on a little island at the south end of Mobile Bay in Alabama. The first thing my younger brother and I wanted to do when we got there was to go to the concession stand and rent paddle boats. For those of you who are not familiar, they are kind of like riding a bike but on the water, seriously.

The rental was kind of expensive as I remember, but the folks let us ride as many times as we wanted. My idea of buying one to save on the rental just didn’t float with Mom and Dad.

The following year, we discovered the paddle boat concession had been wiped out by a hurricane. We were inconsolable until our Dad presented us with 4 new Frisbees. We got the neighbor kids out on the beach and played for what seemed like hours. When the inevitable boredom set in, we often walked to historic Fort Gaines on the far eastern end of the island. There were lots of walls to climb and ramparts to scramble up. It was like a huge jungle gym. The fort had real cannons too.  Signs discouraged people from climbing on them, but we did it just the same.

After supper, the family often walked to the western end of the island, which was quite a jaunt for our little legs, especially in the sand. By the time we got back to the house, we were ready for a well-deserved night’s sleep.

It took me a while to realize that my parents were geniuses. They knew how to engage their 2 somewhat hyperactive boys and make sure we burned off enough energy to settle down in the evening. Sometimes we volunteered to go to bed early, which gave the folks a much-deserved rest.

When I talk to people who are older and wiser than me, I keep in mind they probably have insights and wisdom far beyond my own. Giving an older friend or family member a chance to share their insights is our chance to learn from someone else’s experience.  My parents might not have been geniuses, but they were most certainly practical and insightful when it came to raising kids.

I recently checked out the cost of a paddle boat, with an awning of course. It was affordable. However, I realized what a wildly impractical purchase it would be, so I bought a Frisbee instead. Lesson learned.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. He is known for his inability to parallel park, and if you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, (and he paints!)

Professional Wellness Month

Professional Wellness Month

It’s Professional Wellness Month, and in honor of it, we have tips for you to maintain a healthy work-life balance and a healthy lifestyle at work.

Don’t let your job stop you from exercising. Even if you can only get out to take a 15-minute walk around the block on a break, getting moving is good for your body and can help clear your mind.

Exercise During the Work-Day

 

Take time for self-care during the week. Spending time on yourself off the clock can improve your performance while you’re on the clock. You can also take time for a class to improve your professional skills.

Time for Self-Care

 

Take time to reconnect with former colleagues and classmates at mixers, on social media, and in person to hear about valuable knowledge and insights they’ve gained since you saw them last.

Try taking a mini-break from technology and screens over the weekend. It might be hard at first, but once you get used to it, it can be relaxing and raise your awareness of your surroundings.

Technology Break

 

Make sure you use vacations to refresh your mind and body. Choose a good mix of relaxing, invigorating, and intriguing activities in your time away.

Refresh on Vacation

 

If you work a desk job, your posture may be causing back and neck pain. Try to keep good posture, adjust your computer or chair height to ease the angle, and get up and stretch when you’re feeling sore.

Your Posture at Work

 

Get used to light lunches and try out meal prep. Eating big meals in the middle of the day can make you feel sluggish, so try to eat a mix of fresh produce and light protein to fuel the day.

Light Lunches During Work

What Motivates You?

Long View: What Motivates You?

Have you ever had one of those inspirational or enthusiastic moments that make you excited and energetic? You know, like the feeling right after you lose the first 15 pounds and have stuck to your New Year’s resolution and want to just keep going? Or after you aced a diagnostic test you were neervous about and you want to continue down a healthy path?

That’s called motivation, and Mr. Webster could not have defined it any better: “A force or influence that causes someone to do something; the condition of being eager to act or work.” Well, when I found out that Health Alliance was named the title sponsor of the 2018 Illinois Senior Olympics and that we would be working closely with the Senior Services of Central Illinois in Springfield to make it a success, it motivated me to write this article!

The Illinois Senior Olympics, based in Springfield, is the oldest of the State Games in the United States. The first Senior Olympics was in 1977 and hosted 122 athletes that year. Fast forward to 2018, and we are hopeful that this year’s games will host nearly 1,500 male and female athletes 50 years and older. More than 30 events along with team sports are offered. And if that doesn’t motivate you enough, Springfield is the only qualifying site in Illinois for those wishing to participate in the National Senior Games! The mission of the Senior Olympics is to give everyone an opportunity to maintain or develop their overall health and wellness. It challenges the physical as well as the mental you!

The dates run from July to October 2018 in Springfield. This gives you enough time to check with your physician, practice up, and start training! Individual sport categories range from archery to bridge, from swimming or basketball to horseshoes and Wii bowling. Or get a team sport going in basketball, softball or volleyball. Whatever you choose, there is a sport that will be to your liking and to your physical capacity. Sponsorships and volunteer opportunities are available, too. When you combine our senior participants, our sponsors, and our volunteers, it makes for a great time and something fun you can be a part of. You won’t want to miss it!

Motivated yet? Contact Justin Yuroff at Development@ssoci.org or 217-528-4035, ext. 118. Also check out the website ILSeniorOlympics.weebly.com for more information on dates and registration along with sponsorship and volunteer opportunities. Come join Senior Services of Central Illinois and Health Alliance at this year’s games. Hope to see you there!

Mervet Adams is a community liaison with Health Alliance. She loves her grandson, family, nature, and fashion.