Tag Archives: physical activity

Heart Health in Young Adults

Heart Health in Young Adults

It’s American Heart Month, and this year’s focus is on preventing heart disease and promoting heart health in young adults. More young adults are dying of heart disease, and their rates of risk factors are rising.

When you’re a young adult, the best way to protect yourself from heart disease is with smart lifestyle choices, like eating a heart-healthy diet.

Heart Healthy Lifestyle Choices

 

Find time to be active, from yoga class to lunchtime walks. Aim for 2.5 hours of physical activity per week.

Teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke tobacco products. Avoid tobacco altogether, or kick it now to protect your heart.

Avoiding Tobacco and Addiction

 

You’re never too young to know your numbers. High blood pressure and cholesterol can affect you younger than you might realize. Learn to take your own blood pressure.

Learning About Blood Pressure

 

Stick to a medication routine to manage and control conditions like high blood pressure that put your heart at risk.

A Medication Routine

 

Reduce stress in your life to protect your heart. Even high levels of noise, like living by railroad tracks, may be bad for your stress level and your heart.

Stress, Noise, and Your Heart

 

Stay in the know and see your doctors annually. Even now, we’re still learning more about what can cause heart attacks in healthy people.

Staying On Top of Your Heart Health

Go Red for Heart Health

Long View: You Can’t Beat a Healthy Heart or 6 More Weeks of Winter

Just when you think the holidays are over and the thrill of the new year has finally tapered down, here comes February — Groundhog Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Mardis Gras, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents Day. February is a multi-themed, food-filled month of celebration.

We anticipate the shadow reveal of Punxsutawney Phil, we break out the football-shaped cheese ball to root for our team, we plan our menu of anything and everything on Fat Tuesday, and if that isn’t enough, we love to eat chocolates on the day of love. Then when it’s all over (and after a slight weight gain), we hit the mall for some comfy stretch wear with Presidents Day sale bargains!

But wait, how about doing something this month to celebrate our health and focus on our heart? If we can take advice from a small woodchuck about the weather, we surely can take advice from the American Heart Association about our health!

February is American Heart Month, and part of that is National Wear Red Day. For those of you who know me, my wardrobe pretty much consists of drab colors and neutrals, but this year, I broke out my red floral scarf for a splash of color as a symbol of support!

The American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute encourage all of us to take action against this killer disease. Studies show that 80% of cardiac and stroke events may be preventable with education and action.

Find time to talk to your family and get everyone on board with heart health. Encourage healthy eating habits by making healthier versions of your favorite food. Choose foods and recipes low in sodium and with no added sugar or trans fats. When you shop, buy colorful fruits and vegetables, which are all powerhouses when it comes to nutrition, and stay away from dairy and meat products that are high in fat.

Fiber is important in your diet, and you can find fiber not only in fruits and vegetables, but also in beans, nuts, and whole grain. Take the time to read the nutrition labels on items, and check out the sodium content. (A general rule is, if anything has more than 250 mg of sodium, you may want to search for something with less.)

Physical activity can also help you stay heart healthy. It’s not only what you put into your body, it’s also what you put out. Exercise helps to improve heart health, and it can even help reverse certain heart disease risk factors. Our heart becomes stronger from exercise, which helps it pump more blood through the body and work at maximum level without strain.

Aerobic activities at least 3 to 4 times a week are the best. Choose walking, swimming, or biking, and allow for a good 5 minutes of stretching beforehand to warm up your muscles and a cool down period after you’re through. And of course, always check with your doctor before starting any new physical routine.

So this February, maybe forego indulging in lavish holiday food choices (remember that New Year’s resolution?) and celebrate in a new way. Go out and buy something red to wear to celebrate heart health AND 6 more weeks of winter, or will it be an early spring? Better check with Punxsutawney Phil before you go!

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

Exercise Just Right for You

For Providers: Talking Exercise with Patients

Exercise has been a part of daily life for John Kim, a Carle family nurse practitioner, from an early age, but he realizes that’s not the case for everyone.

Kim, who started at Carle in 2015, stresses the importance of exercise with all of his patients.

“I talk about exercise consistently to every patient because not only can it treat comorbidities, but it can also prevent future illness and disease,” Kim said. “I believe exercise along with diet is the foundation of health, and so I make it a priority to talk about exercise with each patient.”

He treats exercise like a vital sign, having his certified medical assistant ask all patients if they exercise and how much.

“Asking about exercise as a vital sign has made it extremely easy to bring up the topic of exercise to each patient,” he said.

Kim offers his patients advice about how to get started if they’re new to exercise and offers ways to increase physical activity if they aren’t active enough. He caters each plan to each patient’s individual interests and lifestyle and tries to help them take one small step at a time.

“If I have a patient that is completely sedentary, I will find out what his or her interests are and try to tailor some kind of physical activity from that,” Kim said. “I try to shoot for my patients to start off with a number they know they can do, whether it’s 5 minutes or 20 minutes a day.”

He also has patients fill out exercise logs to help hold them accountable and initially follows up with them every 2 weeks or once a month until exercise becomes more routine.

Through it all, he’s learned that being patient and nonjudgmental is key.

“New habits take time to build,” he said. “So I make sure patients know that I am not here to ridicule them, but to encourage and support them as they try to build the new habit of exercising. I have found that when patients know that their provider genuinely cares about their health, it gets to the point where it motivates the patients to push themselves a little more, and I believe this is why I have many success stories of patients going from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active lifestyle.”

Key Takeaways

  • Discuss exercise along with vital signs for every patient.
  • Be patient about results, and don’t ridicule.
  • Set attainable goals with small steps.
  • Follow up frequently until exercise becomes a habit.
  • Have patients use exercise logs and bring them to each appointment
Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager – Ages 15 to 17

Yearly well-child visits for your teenager help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Your teen needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your teen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Teenager’s Development

Your teen’s doctor can help you keep track of their key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you and your teen questions to help make sure your teen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each teenager grows differently. Some kids take longer to hit puberty, to be romantically interested in peers, or to worry about their future. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most teens ages 15 to 17 include:

  • Spending more time outside the family, like with friends, peers, and dates
  • Worrying about their future, like going to college
  • More interest in romantic and sexual relationships
  • Wanting to try new things, which could include tobacco, drugs, or alcohol

See more milestones for your teens.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your teenager, your doctor will ask you and your teen to answer some questions about your teen’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do you often get any type of pain or headaches?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do you have trouble following directions?
    • Do you often feel sad or bored?
    • Is there someone you can talk to about your problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do you eat on a normal day?

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do you like going to school?
    • What do you like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do you participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Do you always wear a seatbelt in the car?
    • Are you experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Do you or your friends use any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friends questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in your family recently?
    • Do you have close friends?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Do you have any questions about your body?
    • Are you dating?
    • Do you know how to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy?

  • Future questions, like:

    • Have you started to think about what you want to do after high school?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your teenager, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your teen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your teen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your teen’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your teenager.

Know Your Family and Teen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your teen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, a new school, or the serious breakup of a relationship or a friendship.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your teenager’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health so that you’re always organized to talk to your teen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Teen Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your teenager by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma, allergies, or acne
  • Talking to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your teens eat right and get enough exercise
  • Changes in their behavior or mood or loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Sexual development
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Helping them drive safely
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

After starting puberty, your teen’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your teens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your teenagers. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your teen’s member number to see what preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your teen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your teenagers or start searching for doctors in our network.

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen – Ages 11 to 14

Yearly well-child visits for your preteen help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Your preteen needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your preteen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Preteen’s Development

Your preteen’s doctor can help you keep track of your child’s key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you questions to help make sure your preteen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each child grows differently. Some preteens take longer to start puberty or be interested in the opposite sex. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most preteens ages 11 to 14 include:

  • Interest in looks and fashion
  • Mood swings
  • Worrying what their peers think
  • Gaining a clearer sense of right and wrong
  • Getting better at problem-solving
  • Wanting more independence
  • Challenging the rules and their parents

See more milestones for kids ages 9 to 11 or preteens 12 to 14.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your preteen, your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your child’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Have they started showing signs of puberty?
    • Do they often complain of any type of pain?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do they have trouble following directions?
    • Are they sad or bored?
    • Do they show signs of depression?
    • Do they have someone to talk to about their problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do they like going to school?
    • What do they like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do they participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Does anyone in your home have a gun? Is it locked and secure so they can’t access it?
    • Are they experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Are they using any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friend questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in the family, like a new sibling?
    • Do they spend time with friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Have you talked to them about puberty?
      • Most girls start puberty between the ages of 9 and 13, and most boys start between the ages of 10 and 13.
    • Are they dating?
    • Have you talked to them about preventing STDs and pregnancy?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your preteen, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your preteen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your preteen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your child’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your preteen.

Know Your Family and Preteen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your preteen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, or a new school.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your preteen’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your preteen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Child Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your preteen by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma or allergies
  • Getting ready to talk to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your kids eat right and get enough exercise
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

Once your preteen starts puberty, your child’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your preteens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your preteens. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your preteen’s member number to see what preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your preteen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.

Well-Child Visits

Well-Child Visits – Ages 5 to 10

Getting your kids to their yearly well-child visits helps them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits

Your child needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your child is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Child’s Development

Your child’s doctor can help you keep track of your child’s key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you questions to help make sure your child is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each child grows differently. Some kids take longer to open up or learn to read and write. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most kids ages 5 to 10 include:

  • Skills for school, like paying attention, reading, and math
  • Listening, waiting their turn to talk, and having full conversations
  • Bathing, brushing their teeth, and getting dressed themselves
  • Learning to try again in the face of a mistake or failure
  • Becoming friends with other kids
  • Joining teams and activities, like sports, ballet, or music lessons, to develop skills and spend time with other kids
  • Helping with easy chores around the house, like picking up after themselves
  • Following rules at home

See more milestones for kids ages 3 to 5, 6 to 8, or 9 to 11.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits, your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your kid’s health, and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do they ever complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other kinds of pain?
    • Do they have trouble breathing or always get sick at a certain time of year?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do they eat on a normal day?
    • Are they a picky eater?

  • Activity questions, like:

    • What do they like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do they participate in any physical activities?
    • Do they spend time with friends?

  • School questions, like:

    • Do they like going to school?
    • Are they having any trouble with learning, paying attention, or following directions in class?
    • Are they being bullied?

  • And family questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in the family, like a new sibling?
    • Have you given them responsonsibilities, like simple chores, at home?

Physical Exam

At your child’s appointments, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your child’s doctor can help you with important information about caring for your child, managing any conditions or diseases they might have, and preventing future problems.

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your child’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of your well-child visits.

Know Your Family and Child’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your child’s life, like being sick or hurt, a new brother or sister, the death of a loved one, a big move, or a new school.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your child’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your child’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Child Get More Involved

Prepare for your well-child visits by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Worries about their development
  • Health conditions, like asthma, allergies, or speech problems
  • Mood changes
  • Getting ready to talk to them about puberty
  • Problems in school, like signs of dyslexia or bullying
  • Making sure your kids eat right and get enough exercise
  • Screen time and internet safety
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

Once your child is 7 or older, as long as they’re comfortable, your child’s doctor will probably want to spend a few minutes alone with them. This will help them build trust with their doctor.

You can help by going over what they can expect to happen at the visit in advance. You should also encourage them to think of any questions they want to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your children. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your child’s member number to see what children’s preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your children’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.

Act Happy Week

Act Happy Week

Next week is Act Happy Week, and happiness can affect your health more than you realize.

Live for the Day

 

Believe it or not, the effects of positive thinking can actually improve your health and happiness.

Positive Thinking Grows

 

Positive thinking lowers depression and distress and is tied to handling stress well.

Positive thinking is also tied to longer life spans, greater resistance to the common cold, and better heart health.

Active and Happy

 

Positive and optimistic thinkers also tend to live healthier lifestyles, with more physical activity and a healthier diet.

Act Happy for a Healthier Lifestyle

 

Practice makes perfect. Try putting things in positive terms. “I’ve never done it before” becomes “I can learn something new.”

Setting Hopeful Goals

 

Humor can help. Give yourself permission to laugh, especially at difficult times, which can help lower your stress.

Laughter as the Best Medicine

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