World Heart Day & What you Need to Know

World Heart Day & What you Need to Know

World Heart Day is intended as a platform to raise awareness for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and to encourage all of us to live happier, healthier lifestyles. Heart disease kills over a half a million Americans annually and according to the CDC, is the single leading cause of death in this country. The financial cost are also high – one in every six dollars (according to the CDC’s foundation) is spent on heart disease. The good news is there are plenty of simple ways to live a healthy life and ensuring that your ticker stays in good shape well into your golden years. The Not-So-Fun Facts About Cardiovascular Disease Most heart problems, which include heart attacks, heart failure, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and heart valve diseases are caused by atherosclerosis, or an accumulation of plaque in the walls of your arteries. This plaque prevents healthy blood flow, and can cause strokes and a host of other problems that no one wants to live with. Heart health is critical as we age and is completely attainable with an active lifestyle and by following a smart, sensible diet. Get Plenty of Exercise You don’t have to run marathons to be healthy and fit. The American Heart Association recommends that you get about 30 minutes of  exercise every day, or about 150 minutes per week. Keep a chart or invest in a wearable fitness monitor to track your daily and weekly activity. Taking a 30-minute, moderately paced walk may not qualify you for the Boston Marathon, but it will get your heart pumping and your blood moving. Even better, aim for an hour a day to keep your body and your heart healthy. Improve...
How to Get Kids to Eat a Healthy Lunch

How to Get Kids to Eat a Healthy Lunch

You hear the statistics every day: Only one in 10 American children eats enough fruits and vegetables. The number one “vegetable” one-year-old eats is the french fry. Type 2 diabetes and obesity are major concerns for children now, and fewer of them than ever know where their food comes from (other than the grocery store). We all want our kids to be healthy. We also understand the effects of food marketing and peer pressure that are pervasive in their lives, especially at school where you can’t always control what they’re eating. Here are a few ideas to help you encourage your young ones to understand what’s good for them and, more importantly, want to eat properly at lunch to help them grow. Let Your Kids Get Their Hands Dirty One major reason children refuse healthy foods is their lack of involvement in the process of making their meals happen. Studies show that children who work in a fruit and vegetable garden are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables. Some schools institute garden programs for this very reason. If you have the space, even on a countertop, start a small, simple garden growing veggies such as carrots or tomatoes from seed to teach kids how the food on their plate came to be. Children also like to take control of what ends up in their lunch boxes at school. Invite your kids to pack lunches with you, and give them choices between healthful alternatives such as bananas, baby carrots or sliced peppers, for example. By participating in the process, your child develops a vested interest in their food instead of feeling a lack...
Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

Everyone is always looking for new ways to eat healthier, and if you blink, you’re likely to miss the newest fad diet that just popped up on Pinterest. The good news: sometimes, it’s the old ways of doing things that are the best way to go. In terms of a regime that’s smart for your heart, a Mediterranean diet heavy on legumes, whole grains, fish and, of course, lots of luscious olive oil gives you plenty of healthy fats, fiber and may also help you keep your weight at an optimal level. People have been eating like this for centuries and for good reason. Why is it called a Mediterranean Diet? Named for the eating habits of countries and cultures surrounding the sea of the same name (Greece, Italy, Spain, Israel and Egypt to name a few), it refers to maintaining a diet heavy on veggies, beans, cholesterol-free fats like olive oil and grapeseed oil, seeds, nuts and fish. Think of the food you’d order at a typical Greek restaurant and you get the idea. Stuffed grape leaves, hummus, mashed up fava beans (also called “foul”), kebabs lighter on the meat and heavier on the veggies, rice, and hearty stews have plenty of flavor and are super good for you too. The Science Behind the Mediterranean Diet It’s unlikely that there’s a diet on earth more scrutinized than this one. Just this year, a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology stated that people with a history of cardiovascular disease had a 37 percent lower death risk compared to people who didn’t observe this healthier plan. A 2014...
Best Running Gear to Get the Most From Your Runs

Best Running Gear to Get the Most From Your Runs

Running is one of the most natural and simplest ways to get some exercise. While all you really need are some shoes, sweats and somewhere to go, you can get more out of each run when you use the latest gear. Here are some ways you can dress for running success and reach your goals. Start from the Ground Up If you love to run, your shoes are a valuable piece of your athletic wardrobe. A good pair supports your natural gait and corrects over-pronating (when your foot rolls more inward), over-supenating (when your foot rolls more outward) or other issues that can cause injury to your feet or fatigue. Cushioning is also an important consideration that depends on your current size and how much you like to feel the trail beneath your feet. You may prefer impact control, especially for long-distance or road work, or you might enjoy the barefoot feel of a minimalist shoe. Regardless, the toe box should be wide enough to prevent pressure on your toenails (so they don’t fall off, eww), and the heel should fit snugly to prevent blisters. Plus, your foot strike — how you land and push off from each step you take — is unique and affects the fit, too. Good shoes are an investment in your health, and you want yours to suit how you run and the goals you want to achieve. Not sure what works best? Go to a store that specializes in running gear. You can jog on a treadmill and get a personalized assessment of your gait. Then, the experts at the store can offer various options at different prices that best fit your needs. No guesswork,...
Protecting Yourself from the Flu

Protecting Yourself from the Flu

As soon as the kids get back to school, the discussion inevitably shifts to the arrival of flu season. While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) can’t be precise about the number of people who die every year from seasonal flu, we do know that people, particularly the very young and the elderly, are frequently hospitalized for secondary influenza-related conditions. Infections like pneumonia and bronchitis are common, making preventative measures vital when it comes to protecting both you and your family this winter and flu season. Flu Shots: Who Should Get Them? It seems that every year, we’re still talking about the efficacy of flu vaccines and who should get them. Because the influenza virus mutates constantly (the annual vaccine targets the most common outbreak from the previous season), there’s no way to predict whether or not the vaccine works 100 percent of the time. However, there are still people who can benefit greatly from it and should get vaccinated regardless. Immune compromised patients, including people infected with HIV, should receive an annual vaccine, as should the elderly and young children whose immune systems aren’t as strong as the average adult. The CDC recommends an annual shot for everyone by the end of October to get a head start on the season ahead. Three Words: Wash Your Hands Viruses spread mostly through hand-to-hand contact. So, during the height of flu season, take your mother’s advice and wash your hands regularly. If you work in a profession that requires you to shake a lot of hands, this is the time of year to carry around wipes or sanitizer in your bag or the car. Moms...