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How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

5 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling

Traveling is amazing! What’s not to love about discovering new places, meeting new people and trying new foods? But, traveling also means that your fitness, eating, and sleep habits are disrupted, which can affect your overall health. Assist America, our travel emergency assistance partner has tips for helping you stay healthy while traveling. 

  1. Adopt a Go-To Travel Exercise Routine.

To-Go Travel Routine

If you travel regularly, create an exercise routine that can easily be adapted to your environment and that you can commit to when you’re on-the-go. Your routine should be simple and short, with exercises you can do in a hotel room, a gym, a park, or even on a beach.

If you are a runner, make sure to pack your running gear with you. Running is a great way to discover a destination from a different angle.

If working out isn’t your thing, simply set aside 10 minutes in the morning to stretch before you start your day and another 5 minutes at night to wind down. It will help you relax and energize your body. 

  1. Choose Walking Over Cabs or Public Transportation.

Choose Walking

Whenever you can, choose to walk rather than hop in a cab, bus, or subway since walking is beneficial for your health. It helps improve circulation, sleep, and breathing. It also strengthens muscles, supports your joints, and can lead to weight loss. 

  1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Reusable water bottles are your best travel ally. Once you get through airport security check points, fill up your bottle at a nearby water fountain and make sure you keep drinking water on the plane.

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, fill up before you leave your hotel room if it’s safe to drink the tap water at your destination. If it’s not, ask the hotel for unopened water bottles or buy some at a store nearby. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water at restaurants or even hanging out by the pool.

  1. Commit to One Healthy Meal a Day

One Healthy Meal a Day

While there’s nothing wrong with trying new foods and enjoying big meals, having several rich meals per day can be hard on your body.

If you’re staying at a rental or an apartment-hotel, take advantage of the kitchen by cooking simple meals depending on your schedule. If you’re going to be eating out a lot, opt for vegetarian dishes, choose grilled options over fried, try some fresh seafood, and look at the salad menu. 

  1. Sleep! 

Get Enough Sleep While Traveling

Changing time zones, walking all day, carrying suitcases, all of these can be harsh on your body and your energy. Just being away from your own bed can make it hard to fall asleep. Make sure to rest and to get plenty of sleep by blocking out the lights, reducing the noise, and turning your phone off.

 

If you incorporate these tips into your travel routine, we guarantee you will feel refreshed and full of energy to enjoy each of your trips to their fullest!

Health Checklist for Summer's End

Summer Health Checklist

Your kids probably just kicked off summer vacation, but between the trips to the pool, family vacations, and summer sporting events, there are a few things you should add to your to-do list to get your kids ready for next school year. This back-to-school health checklist can help!

Shots

Many schools won’t allow any students to come to school without their immunization record. Immunizations, or shots, help expose your kids to a tiny dose of a disease so that their bodies will already know how to fight off a bigger dose if they come in contact with it again.

These shots protect them from all kinds of diseases, from measles to cervical cancer. And they’re safe!

Kids get different shots at different times, so these handy charts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help you figure out what they need this year:

Health Alliance covers most immunizations, including flu shots. 

Vision

As many as one in 20 kids can’t see out of one of their eyes. But if they’ve been living without vision in that eye all along, they might not even know something is off.

Expressing that they have trouble seeing can also be difficult for young children, and it can be just as hard for parents to realize their kids are having trouble seeing.

Seeing well is key to learning to read and write and doing well in school. So there’s no better time than back-to-school season to get your kids a vision checkup to see if they need glasses or an updated prescription.

Talk to the School

One of the most important parts of this time of year is talking to your kids’ school. Making sure the school has up-to-date information could save your child’s life.

  • Is the emergency contact information correct for your family? Can the school reach you or your family if something happens?
  • Does the school have a full list of all the medications your child takes? Even if he or she doesn’t take them at school, it is important the school knows what your child is on in case of an emergency.
  • Does the school know of all the health problems it might have to deal with? For example, does the school know what your child is allergic to, like peanuts or bee stings?
  • Does your child have any physical restriction, like asthma or a heart condition? Are there sorts of activities he or she should avoid?

Little Things That Make a Big Difference

Before school starts again, there are also some little things you can help your kids do to feel good and succeed in school.

  • Help them get enough sleep. A sleep schedule can help your kids get into a routine and stay alert all day long. Growing kids need at least 8 hours a night, and teens need even more.
  • Make sure they have a healthy breakfast for all-day energy.
  • Help them know their healthy options. Vending machines are always tempting. But you can help them know what choices are healthy and will keep them going all day and how to limit things like chips and candy.
  • Encourage exercise. Whether it’s P.E., playing a sport, or riding their bike to school, just one hour of activity a day can help kids feel less stressed, stay healthy, sleep better, build their self-esteem, and grow healthy muscles, bones, and joints.

Talk to your kids’ pediatrician if you have more questions about their health this summer.

Annual checkups with your doctor are perfect at this time of year. Kids can get their shots, a routine checkup, and a sports physical all at once if they need it!

Healthy Life Choices

Being the Healthiest Version of Yourself

As you make your New Year’s Resolutions this year, we want to help! Not only do we help you get the medical care and preventive care that keep you healthy, we also want to help you make healthy life choices. 

Eating Healthy

A healthy diet and good nutrition can both help you be the best that you can be, a key part of making healthy life choices.

  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke
  • Eating a diet rich in certain vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancer
  • Diets rich in healthy fiber can reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes
  • Eating vegetables rich in potassium can lower blood pressure, decrease bone loss, and the risk of kidney stones

We know that knowing what to eat or finding healthy recipes can be hard. But making small changes in diet can affect your health in a big way, and we have people to help.

Members can call our Quality & Medical Management Department at 1-800-851-3379, ext. 8112 for more information. You can also check this blog regularly, follow our Twitter and Facebook for weekly recipes, or look at our Pinterest for hundreds of recipes and resources.

Getting In Shape

Exercise is also an important part of being the healthiest you can be. Regular physical activity provides a variety of benefits, like:

  • Controlling your weight
  • Reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reducing your risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Reducing your risk of some cancers
  • Strengthening your bones and muscles
  • Improving your mental health and mood
  • Improving your ability to do daily activities or prevent falls as an older adult
  • Increasing your chance of living longer

Clearly fitness can improve your health, but we know that gym memberships and workout equipment can be expensive.

That’s why we have teamed up with a number of gyms and fitness locations to give our members discounted memberships and rates. Look at that list and find a location that fits into your budget.

Learn more about health and wellness with Health Alliance.

Know Your Heart Meds

Your Meds and Your Heart

Know Your Heart Meds

You don’t need to be an expert on your drugs, that’s what your doctor’s for, but you should ask questions and know the basics about your heart meds.

Whether it’s a pill for high cholesterol or your blood pressure medicine, make sure you know the answers to these questions:

  • What’s the name of my medicine?
  • What does it do?
  • What are its side effects?
  • What can I do to reduce those side effects?
  • How does this drug work with other drugs, dietary supplements, foods, or drinks?
  • How much is a one dose?
  • When’s the best time to take this medicine, like when you wake up, with breakfast, or before bed?
  • How long will I take this medicine?
  • What should I do if I miss a pill?

Helpful Terms for Understanding Your Blood Pressure Heart Meds

Blood vessels move blood through your body. These are the types of blood vessels:

  • Arteries – These carry blood away from your heart
  • Capillaries – These connect your arteries to your veins and help move water and chemicals between your blood and tissues.
  • Veins – These carry blood from your capillaries back to your heart

Did you know? If you laid all the blood vessels of an average adult in a line, it would stretch over 100,000 miles.

Kinds of Blood Pressure Heart Meds

Blood pressure meds fall into 11 different classes, but they all have the same goals, to lower and control your blood pressure.

Classes

How It Works

Possible Side Effects

Diuretics Help your body flush extra salt and water through your urine.
  • More trips to the
    bathroom
  • Low potassium
Beta-Blockers Reduce your heart rate and how much blood it pumps to lower your blood pressure.
  • Drowsiness
  • Low heart rate
  • Decreased sexual
    ability
ACE Inhibitors (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme) Narrow your arteries and make you produce less angiotensin, so that your blood vessels can open up to lower your blood pressure.
  • Dry cough
  • High potassium levels
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers Block your blood vessels from angiotension, so that your blood vessels can open up to lower your blood pressure.
  • High potassium levels
Calcium
Channel Blocker
Prevents calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and arteries, which makes your heart’s job easier, and helps your blood vessels open up to lower your blood pressure.
  • Low heart rate
  • Uneven or rapid heartbeat
  • Constipation
  • Ankle swelling
Alpha-Blockers Reduce nerve impulses to your blood vessels to let blood pass more easily.
  • Headache
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Small decreases in bad cholesterol
Central
Agonists
Decrease your blood vessels’ ability to narrow, which also helps to lower blood pressure.
  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased sexual
    ability
  • Fever

Via the American Heart Association.

Kinds of Cholesterol Heart Meds

Depending on the type, cholesterol meds help:

  • Lower your bad cholesterol.
  • Lower your triglycerides, a fat in your blood that raises your risk of heart disease.
  • Increase your good cholesterol, which guards against heart disease.

Types of Cholesterol Meds

How It works

Possible Side Effects

Statins
Altoprev (lovastatin)
Crestor (rosuvastatin)
Lescol (fluvastatin)
Lipitor (atorvastatin)
Mevacor (lovastatin)
Pravachol (pravastatin)
Zocor (simvastatin)
Lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides and cause small increases in good cholesterol.
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Cramps
  • Muscle soreness
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Interaction with grapefruit juice
Bile Acid Binding Resins
Colestid (colestipol)
Questran (cholestyramine/ sucrose)
Welchol (colesevelam)
Lower bad cholesterol.
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Upset stomach
  • Gas
  • May increase triglycerides
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitor
Zetia (ezetimibe) Lowers bad cholesterol, and causes small decrease in triglycerides and small increase in good cholesterol.
  • Stomach pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle soreness
Combination Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitor and Statin
Vytorin (ezetimibe-simvastatin) Lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increases good cholesterol.
  • Stomach pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Cramps
  • Muscle soreness
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Interaction with grapefruit juice
Fibrates
Lofibra (fenofibrate)
Lopid (gemfibrozil)
TriCor (fenofibrate)
Lower triglycerides and increases good choleterol.
  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach pain
  • Gallstones
Niacin
Niaspan (prescription niacin) Lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increases good cholesterol.
  • Flushed face and neck
  • Upset stomach
  • Throwing up
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • High blood sugar
  • Peptic ulcers
Combination Statin and Niacin
Advicor (niacin-lovastatin) Lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increases good cholesterol.
  • Flushed face and neck
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Interaction with grapefruit juice
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Lovaza (prescription omega-3 fatty acid supplement)
Vascepa (Icosapent ethyl)
Lowers triglycerides.
  • Burping
  • Fishy taste
  • Increased infection risk

Via The Mayo Clinic

When Should I Take My Heart Meds?

Your body’s inner clock can affect how well some medications work. Since, you can’t read your body’s clock though, researchers have studied how well heart meds work when they’re taken at different times of the day.

According to a clinical trial from Medscape, blood pressure meds are most effective when taken at night. The random trial tested the effect of taking blood pressure meds at bedtime versus in the morning.

It found that treatment at bedtime was the most cost-effective and simplest strategy to reach the right blood pressure when sleeping and of getting a normal 24-hour blood pressure pattern.”

It also estimated that each 5-mm-Hg decrease in overnight blood pressure reduced the risk of heart events by 14%.

Of course, you should always talk to your doctor before you make a change to your meds or their schedule. You can also learn more about the importance of taking your heart meds regularly and on-time in our Health section.

Controlling Asthma with Diet

Balancing and Controlling Asthma with Your Lifestyle

Controlling Asthma through Lifestyle

There is no way to magically cure your asthma, but eating a smart and healthy diet and keeping a healthy lifestyle can make a huge difference in controlling asthma.

The number of people with asthma has risen in the past 3 decades, and many wonder if it’s because of our changing diet without enough fruits and veggies.

Several studies have explored this connection. One found that teens with poor nutrition were more likely to have asthma.

And while nutrition is likely not the cause of asthma, it can be the cause of obesity. Being overweight makes you more likely to have severe asthma symptoms, take more meds, and miss more work.

Changes for Controlling Asthma

Eat lots of fruits and veggies.

Packed with antioxidants like beta carotene and vitamins C and E, fruits and veggies help with lung problems. Try controlling your asthma by adding more of these to your diet:

  • Apples, which have been tied to lower rates of asthma, possibly because of something in them called flavonoids that have been shown to open airways.
  • Cantaloupe, which is high in Vitamin C.
  • Carrots, which have a lot of beta carotene, can help reduce attacks caused by exercise.
  • Coffee, the caffeine in it can help open airways slightly for a few hours after drinking it.
  • Flax seeds, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium which can relax your muscles, which can help open airways.
  • Garlic, which has long been used as a treatment for many things because it’s thought to be anti-inflammatory.
  • Avocados, which is a healthy antioxidant called glutathione.

Add more vitamin D.

Studies find that people with severe asthma have low levels of vitamin D. Work on controlling your asthma by adding more foods with plenty of vitamin D to your meals, like milk, eggs, and salmon.

Avoid trans fats.

Trans fats, found in many processed foods like margarine, can make your asthma worse and have been linked to other serious health conditions, like heart disease.

Look for sulfites.

Sulfites are a preservative that keeps foods like wine, dried fruits, pickles, and fresh and frozen shrimp good for longer. They give off sulfur dioxide which can irritate your lungs, and research has tied it to asthma flare-ups in some people.

This doesn’t mean you have to cut these from your diet. Just watch for a reaction for about an hour after you eat them.

Stay away from allergy-triggering foods.

Asthma puts you at a bigger risk for food allergies, and you can develop them late in life.

After you eat common allergy-triggering foods like nuts, soy, eggs, and dairy, keep an eye out for common allergy reactions:

  • Burning, teary, itchy, red, or swollen eyes
  • Coughing, wheezing, or a tight chest
  • Headache
  • Hives or skin rashes
  • Itchy nose, throat, or mouth
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing

Avoid foods that trigger Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD).

Up to 70% of people who have asthma, also have GERD, which is stomach acid reflux. GERD can make asthma symptoms worse.

While it can cause normal heartburn symptoms, it doesn’t always. You may need to take medicine or lose weight to manage GERD. But sometimes just eating smaller meals, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, and avoiding eating before bed can help. You can also avoid foods that you know cause these problems for you.

Lose weight.

While losing weight isn’t easy, it can help your asthma. Eat a healthy and balanced diet and stay active. Make sure you talk to your doctor about how best to manage your asthma or use your meds so that you can exercise without causing attacks.

Exercise for Your Arthritis

Help for Arthritis Sufferers

50% adults will develop arthritic knees in their lifetime. That’s a huge number of arthritis sufferers. With that large number comes an equally large number of remedies and therapies in the marketplace.

No one therapy will be effective for everyone though, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t find a winning combination right away. It may take some time.

There are 2 main options arthritis sufferers can try.

Change Your Lifestyle for Arthritis

  • Too much weight can cause added pressure on knees. Losing only 10 pounds can remove 40 pounds of pressure on your knees.
  • Aerobic activity keeps these joints flexible, while strength training can strengthen the supporting muscles.
  • Supportive devices like canes, crutches, or walkers can help take weight off painful hips. Splints and braces can restrict movement, which helps limit your pain.
  • Adjust your positioning frequently. Try not to stay in one position for an extended period. Periodically tilt your neck from side to side, change the position of your hands, and bend and stretch your legs.
  • Hot and cold treatments can relax muscles and reduce pain and swelling.

Manage Arthritis Pain with Medication

  • Over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol can be used when other methods don’t provide enough relief.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Ibuprofen, Motrin, or Aleve are the next step in pain relief. These medications offer a pain reliever with an anti-inflammatory built in.
  • Topical treatments like creams and gels may help joint pain close to the surface of the skin, like fingers and toes.
  • Injections of steroids or cortisone by a doctor are an effective way to relieve moderate to severe swelling in the knees and hips.
  • Opioid painkillers are strong, but can be addictive.