Tag Archives: physical activity

Atrial Fibrillation Month

Atrial Fibrillation Month

It’s Atrial Fibrillation Month, and atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, is a type of irregular heartbeat that can raise your risk of other health problems. Learn more.

Making Sense of Irregular Heartbeat

 

For most people, their heart beats between 60 and 100 times a minute. Those with AFib can have heart rates as high as 175 beats a minute.

AFib can feel like drums or thunder pounding in your chest or even flip-flopping in your chest. Talk to your doctor if you’ve experienced this kind of discomfort.

How AFib Feels

 

If you’re experiencing AFib and other issues, like shortness of breath with light physical activity, lightheadedness, dizziness, or fatigue, your heart might not be getting enough blood and oxygen out to your body.

AFib and Other Symptoms

 

AFib raises your risk of stroke by 5 times. It can allow clots to form, which can cause strokes that can cause serious damage to your tissue and brain.

AFib and Your Risk of Stroke

 

Some people may just have to cut caffeine in their diet to improve their AFib. Others may need special medication and treatment to address the underlying cause.

Cutting Caffeine for AFib

 

If you suffer from heartbeat irregularities, changes in your lifestyle, like being physically active, quitting smoking, or managing stress and your blood pressure can also help.

Improving AFib

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

Essential Summer Safety Tips

Essential Summer Safety Tips

The summer season is finally here! But as we start to enjoy the outdoors and more adventurous activities, hospitals and urgent care facilities are bracing themselves for “trauma season” as they call it in the healthcare industry. 

Emergency rooms usually see injuries and traumas double in the summer compared to the winter months. The most common causes of injuries during the summer include car accidents, severe sunburns, water-sports injuries, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and falls.

But many of these can easily be avoided by following these essential summer safety tips that will keep you and your family safe and healthy during the summer months.

WaterTo avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water or beverages high in electrolytes. Avoid drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, both of which actually make your system lose water. Eat fruits and vegetables which contain a lot of water like grapefruits, peaches, eggplants, and spinach.

Sun ProtectionTo avoid sunburns, apply sunscreen with an at least SPF 30 and make sure you’re using a waterproof formula if you’re swimming. Stay in the shade from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., cover your skin, and wear a hat if you’re exposed. Keep children in the shade as much as possible.

Heat ProtectionTo avoid heat exhaustion and heatstroke, don’t engage in physical activities during the hottest hours of the day. Get acclimated to the hot weather by slowly increasing the amount of time you spend outside.

Water SafetyTo avoid water-related injuries, always bring a buddy along while participating in water sports and follow the lifeguards’ instructions. Take time to get used to the difference in temperature between in and out of the water. Don’t drink alcohol before water activities.

Car SafetyTo reduce the risk of car accidents, make sure all your car maintenance is done before you leave on a trip. Allow plenty of time to arrive and try to drive during off-peak hours. Stop and take breaks every 100 miles or 2 hours, and if possible, take turns with a passenger.

 

Sometimes accidents, illnesses, and injuries cannot be avoided, even for the most careful traveler. If you find yourself injured or sick, remember that our travel emergency partner, Assist America is here to help. 

You can download the free Assist America Mobile App to access your membership details, membership ID card, list of services, or to call the 24/7 Operations Center with the tap of a button.

App Store Google Play

 

 

 

App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC.

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.