While golf has never been high on my priority list, it is one of the most popular sports—to play and watch—worldwide. Not only does golfing provide hours of social interaction and an opportunity to casually talk business, it has many health benefits as well. From building muscle to burning calories, golf is a great way to combine fresh air, friends, and fitness. Continue reading
Whether it’s in the backyard, on the beach or at a local park, picnics are a great way to spice up lunch with friends or family. Also, nothing beats a picnic lunch after a nice long walk—did you see our last post on the benefits of hiking?
So, grab your basket and blanket and head outside in the coming weeks—but first, let’s chat and chew about some tips for your perfect picnic! Continue reading
If you’re looking for a way to get in shape while enjoying the great outdoors at the same time, try hiking. Not only is hiking a great way to participate in aerobic exercise, it also helps clear your head and think more creatively.
So, in recognition of National Trails Day, let’s chat and chew about the benefits of hiking and how to prep for one!
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF HIKING
Hikers are fit. Depending on the level of incline and the weight of the pack you’re carrying, just one hour of hiking can burn over 500 calories! Not to mention, hiking usually puts less stress on your body and joints, so you’ll find that while you’re getting a great workout, you’re putting less pressure on yourself along the way.
Hike for your heart. Hiking along different trails on a regular basis helps decrease blood pressure and cholesterol. Getting in a cardio workout in the form of hiking can lower blood pressure by four to ten points, which ultimately reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and strokes—especially for those at high risk. Even on your return trip back down a trail you will soak up the benefits—hiking downhill is two times for effective at removing blood sugars and improving glucose tolerance.
Hike your way to happiness. Research shows that hiking can help people with severe depression—they feel less hopeless, depressed and suicidal. It can even improve the desire in those suffering from depression to lead a more active lifestyle. Being in the nature and away from the business of our lives, or whatever makes a person feel down, can allow them to connect with other people or with nature and eventually find peace with their lives. Being away from technology and the constant pinging of email and text messages can do wonders for a person’s mental state—try it one weekend and see the difference!
PREPARING FOR A HIKE
Start small. While you might be in great shape, walking up a mountain or trail—crossing over tree roots, big rocks, and possibly streams—can be more tiring than you think. Start out with a couple miles of trails and eventually build up to high-endurance journeys. Also, practice carrying a heavy backpack around at home—that added weight could really throw a person off if they’re not prepared.
Prepare for the worst. While you hope that everything will go smoothly along your hike, you can never be too careful. It’s recommended you carry extra water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, and a small first aid kit just incase someone slips or brushes up against something that causes an allergic reaction.
Use the buddy system. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or going out for your first time, take along a partner! If you do choose to hike alone, always tell someone where you’ll be and what time you expect to be back. As a general rule of thumb—you can expect to cover about two miles an hour. Add an additional hour of time for every 1,000 feet of elevation you gain.
Next time you decide you want to mix up your workout routine, try hiking! It not only offers great cardio and heart-healthy benefits, it can provide you with break taking views—right in your own backyard even! If you’re someone who enjoys nature activities or has some hiking tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments section below!
Sometimes we need to be distracted from the things that cause stress in our lives—it could be a person, heavy workload, or maybe an upcoming surgery. While it’s easy to let day-to-day stressors consume us, there are several coping methods worth considering. One in particular is distraction—a simple technique where you engage in other activities to divert your attention away from emotional and physical pain. This approach can be used at home to manage mild pain or with medicine to help cope with more severe discomfort—one being pain related procedures.
So, let’s chat and chew about different distraction techniques and their impact on the health care industry.
The Method Behind the Madness
When faced with an uncomfortable situation, a nagging feeling, or a sudden setback, more than likely your stress levels with jump. Granted most days do not include overwhelmingly stressful moments, the ones that do are harder to forget. When you have a bad day or you are simply at capacity, it’s easy to feel like your life will never return to normal—and while trying to get your mind off the stressor isn’t always easy, it is necessary. Rather than attack a lingering problem when your emotions are high, try distracting yourself instead—clearing your head is always a foolproof plan.
Below are different activities, for a range of emotions, to help you refocus your attention when times are tough.
- Listen to music—it might get you dancing!
- Tidy up: clean, do laundry, wash dishes
- Squeeze ice
- Write your feelings down, or make a list of things that make you happy
- Call and friend or family member just to catch up
- Make your favorite meal or dessert
- Watch TV or read
- Visit a friend; get out of the house
- Take a hot bath or shower
- Count backwards from a large number
- Do something creative—draw, paint, or build a model
These activities might seem too easy to have any real effect, but you might surprise yourself by how relaxed your mind and body feel afterwards. If one method doesn’t work, try another—it’s natural that different solutions work better for different circumstances.
Modern Practice: Distraction Through Texting
Recently, a team of researchers at RTI International, Cornell University and LaSalle Hospital (Montreal, QC), published a study in Pain Medicine that showed the influence mobile phones have in the medical setting. A total of 98 participants undergoing minor surgery were assigned one of four tasks: playing the mobile phone game Angry Birds, texting with a loved one, texting with a stranger (research assistant), or nothing at all. The amounts of pain medication were then recorded for each patient.
Surprisingly, researchers found that while texting loved ones and playing the game both decreased a person’s need for medication, they didn’t have the greatest effect—texting a stranger produced the best results.
“These findings suggest that the simple act of communicating with a companion or stranger reduces the need for supplemental anesthesia in a way that surpasses usual preoperative care during surgery. This is significant as the physical presence of a social support companion is often not feasible during many minor surgery procedures.”
– Jamie Guillory Ph.D., digital media health research scientist RTI who conducted the study while at Cornell
Outcomes of the study suggested that participants who spoke with friends or family were more likely to talk about the upcoming procedure or how they were feeling—all of which added to their anxiety. On the flip side, when talking to a stranger, people were less likely to disclose personal feelings, which led to a friendlier conversation. Ultimately, this group needed one-sixth the pain medication as those asked to perform no pre-surgery task.
While I’ve never undergone a major surgery, I have had my fair share of doctor visits—I’ve always enjoyed an active lifestyle, but broken bones and illness have followed me throughout. Whether it was a broken pinky finger or a simple head cold, the road to recovery always made me anxious. Finding alternative ways to keep myself preoccupied was necessary at times.
So, regardless of whatever pain or stress you’re experiencing—whether it’s medically related or not—rather than give in, find a way to cope. We all have a secret or two for pulling ourselves out of a rut, but if they aren’t doing the trick, shift techniques. Unlike most situations, avoiding the issue can sometimes benefit you in the end!
Guillory, J. E., Hancock, J. T., Woodruff, C. and Keilman, J. (2015), Text Messaging Reduces Analgesic Requirements During Surgery. Pain Medicine, 16: 667–672. doi: 10.1111/pme.12610
If you’re not currently celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week, at least with summer on its way, you’re likely gearing up for vacation or maybe just a few weekend trips. No matter how far you are from home, traveling any distance is good for your health – especially your heart and brain. (1)
So, rather than delay, lets chat and chew about the many benefits of traveling!
Believe it or not, traveling can actually decrease a person’s risk of heart attack by 50%! While that stat would motivate almost anyone to start packing a bag, between busy schedules and financial strains, traveling isn’t easy for everyone. It is, however, very important to getaway from time-to-time.
Travel reduces stress. Aside from packing, which I never find relaxing, getting ready for a trip—whether for business or pleasure—always raises my spirits. Traveling helps you avoid burnout, which isn’t hard to come by in today’s workforce. There’s nothing more refreshing than arriving at your destination and knowing new adventures are around the corner.
Travel means change. A change of scenery can help improve your mood. Taking a trip washes away monotony—it frees you from your normal routine and gives you a burst of energy. Diverting from your normal schedule helps prevent you from becoming stagnant; it can inspire you or simply give your mind and body a much needed break.
Travel implies exercise. Traveling involves physical activity without having to drag your feet to get to the gym. You’re likely sightseeing, or maybe your trip involves something more adventurous like rock climbing or white water rafting—either way, you’re generally more active than you are at home.
Travel expands your palette. For me, whenever I travel to a new city—or even to my parents’ home—food is something I always look forward to. While vacation can lead to indulging yourself, immersing yourself into the culture and exploring new foods is always highly recommended. As long as you’re watching your portions, enjoy the local delicacies.
Travel connects people. Whether you’re traveling with friends or family, or you’re flying solo, traveling connects people. With familiar faces, traveling creates memories and gives us a chance to sometimes reconnect with others; it’s easy to lose track of things when you’re busy with work and other responsibilities. You can hit pause and catch up with those closest to you—and without the pressures of time. On the other hand, travel gives us the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world. Socializing can be very therapeutic and it gives you a chance to widen your network and possibly learn something new.
Making time for travel is not only essential to your health, it’s necessary for relationships as well. By spending quality time with others, you will likely communicate better, learn something new or for couples, be more romantic. So, whether you’re traveling to catch up on sleep or backpack through a new city, just go!
As a friendly reminder, eligible employees of the Federal government can apply for Nationwide Travel Insurance to help protect their vacation investment! Learn more today at www.compassrosebenefits.com/Travel.