Monday, November 29, 2010
We all know that physical activity has a direct impact on muscle tone and cardiovascular health, but did you know regular exercise can have a positive impact on skin health? That’s right, regular physical activity has been linked to healthier, younger looking skin in addition to reduced risk of acne and breakouts.
A recent article by Colette Bouchez on WebMD Online investigated the benefits of physical activity when it comes to skin health. Here’s a brief overview of her findings:
- Exercise is used as a stress-reduction technique for individuals throughout the world. When you exercise, your adrenal glands produce fewer male-type hormones that cause acne flare-ups. In this way, exercise is used to reduce acne flare-ups, especially for individuals who already have acne.
- Regular exercise increases sweating throughout the entire body, which can unclog pores and reduce the occurrence of breakouts.
- Exercise enhances the natural production of collagen, which plumps your skin and gives you a more youthful appearance.
- Exercise stretches and strengthens skin, which reduces the appearance of cellulite.
- Yoga stretches in addition to controlled and conscious breathing techniques have been seen to give the facial skin a face-lift appearance.
- Aerobic exercise is seen to “cleanse’ the skin by removing toxins such as cigarette smoke and air pollution.
- Exercise encourages muscles to become more pliable and hold less tension, which reduces expression lines and crow’s feet.
- Exercise promotes better blood circulation, which gives the skin a rosy appearance. Keeping yourself hydrated before, during, and after exercise contributes to healthy skin appearance.
As you can see, the benefits of physical activity when it comes to skin care are almost endless. Not only does physical activity reduce your likelihood of acne and breakouts, but also reduces the appearance of cellulite, cleanses the skin of toxins, and gives your skin a plump, more youthful appearance. To read more on the benefits and reasoning behind working out for skin health, please visit WebMD.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
For years we’ve been taught that potatoes are bad for you. Their presence at the top of the Food Guide Pyramid is attributed to their starch content and somewhat high glycemic index. But what if the health benefits of potatoes outweighed their downfalls? Certainly potatoes shouldn’t be eaten daily to a sugar freak or diabetic, but they are quite healthy and actually beneficial to others if eaten in moderation. Here are some of the nutritional benefits of potatoes…
- Potatoes contain all 22 amino acids to form complete proteins
- Potatoes are a high source of potassium (higher than bananas)
- Potatoes are rich in minerals and Vitamin C and B
- Potatoes contain 60 different kinds of phytochemicals in the skin and fles
- Some potatoes contain high amounts of folic acid, quercetin and kukoamine
- Potatoes are antioxidant dense
Potatoes are also ecologically friendly as they can be grown in a small area all year round and it only takes a few to make a meal. Many experts suggest that if they were to only choose one food for survival, it would be potatoes. What’s important to remember is to keep your potatoes healthy. Don’t fry the potatoes because that can add unwanted fats to the meal. Bake, boil, or sauté your potatoes for easy cooking and healthier eating.
So the next time you’re making a family meal, don’t shy away from potatoes for fear of their glycemic index. Mash them up, skin on, and serve them with your favorite vegetable and meat. Always remember to prepare your potatoes in the healthiest manner (avoid frying), include the skins, and to eat them in moderation. The nutritional components of the potato could help save your life.
Monday, November 22, 2010
In the busy lifestyles of Americans and around the world, Yoga and Pilates have been an up and coming craze. Yoga mats and DVDs can be found in stores everywhere and many people are participating. Even a platoon of military service members are joining the trend. A recent article from the United States Army discusses one platoon that recently included yoga in their weekly activities. But what is this idea all about and what are the benefits?
Yoga is an exercise that provides a connection between mind and body. There are many physical benefits, but it also serves as a relaxation tool. The soldiers are encouraged to participate in the yoga class once a week, to “workout with mind-soothing relaxation.” The idea of yoga is to provide a counterbalance to stress and strengthen relaxation responses in your daily life. For the soldiers, this means a benefit to their weekly fitness activities and a reduction of the possibility of injuries. Yet, for busy college students and working professionals…yoga can be just as beneficial. Different yoga practices focus on breathing, relaxation, and strengthening the nervous system. Levels range from beginner through advanced, Bikram yoga. Depending on individuals, each different level can offer benefits. However, types that focus on slow, steady movement are best for stress relief. Considering the advancement of the class is especially important for beginners. I’ve had one personal experience where I tried hot yoga and it found that it was not what I had expected. The class was much more advanced than a friend and I had anticipated, and resulted in us being very sore for several days. Another fact to consider is cost. There are many yoga studios located in different areas and it is important to be aware of the costs and options they offer. In order to get the most out of your yoga experience, taking a class or video from a professional is important.
Here a UNH, a great option to consider is the classes offered at the UNH Campus Rec. A variety of yoga classes are offered throughout the semester at an affordable cost to students and faculty. They also offer periodic $5 drop-in classes. If you’re looking for a free but reliable option, Health Services offers classes every Wednesday and Friday for students in the MUB. Even if it seems that you don’t have the time to do anything, managing your stress is important. Make the time to try out a class and most likely it will be a great way to elevate some of your stress!
Friday, November 19, 2010
Photo: Courtesy of Artie Boutin
Everyone has their own gym attire, but most of the time you see the same work out gear; shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers, but while at the gym recently I noticed something a little more unusual. Instead of sneakers, a girl was wearing shoes that were so unlike sneakers they looked like toe socks. The thin fabric covering her feat outlined each toe and was being held on her foot by a Velcro strap. Is she really going to run in those? I thought to myself. Having learned and studied how to buy the right shoe for your activity and foot type, all I could imagine was how there was no cushion, no support, no stability! I decided to look into this new style shoe and discovered that its purpose is to mimic that of running barefoot.
Sure enough, I found a slew of new articles proclaiming running barefoot was the new trend and came along with multiple benefits. How could running barefoot really be better for you? Wouldn’t you be putting yourself at risk for straining your arch, over-pronating, and cutting you feet to name a few of the dangers? While reading an article written by one of my favorite running magazines Runner’s World titled “Should You Be Running Barefoot” I discovered that the weight of running shoes results in your running speed and time 5% less efficient than it would be if you were running barefoot. Now, this seems irrelevant to those of us gym-goers who are merely trying to stay in shape, not training for a world record but I did learn an interesting concept on how running barefoot affects the brain. When running barefoot “your body precisely engages your vision, your brain, the soles of your feet, and all the muscles, bones, tendons, and supporting structures of your feet and legs. They leap to red alert, and give you a high degree of protection from the varied pressures and forces of running.” Who would have thought that by lacing up each day before a run you are actually tricking your brain into thinking you are protecting yourself when in reality you are doing very little to minimize shock absorption and control stability.
It is amazing that all we need is to put a little more trust in the ability of our bodies. It makes perfect sense, our ancestors had no sneakers when they were Neanderthals hunting for food, so why should it be any different for us. Trusting our bodies, our minds and muscles will move as one, protecting ourselves, making us stronger and more alert. NPR also posted a great article with a video that shows how different we run when we learn to exercise with shoes on versus without shoes. The shockwave of the person without shoes is significantly different that the way the person wearing sneakers has learned to run.
Now, are you thinking about trying out running barefoot? I am, and imagine it would be remarkably different and free feeling so I decided to look for where the girl at the gym found her funky, barely-there shoes. I found one site called Vibram FiveFingers that sells a number of these shoes for different forms of physical activity ranging from running to yoga to trail hiking. Shoes will cost about as much as a regular pair of kicks depending on what style you choose but take a look…maybe this new trend of the past is the way of the future!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Have you noticed the table at the MUB promoting Fat Talk Free Week? How about the shirts around campus reading, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Fat Talk”? Have you been wondering what all the hoopla is over ‘fat talk’? If so, you’ve come to the right place to learn!
Fat Talk Free Week was established by Delta Delta Delta to raise awareness of the dangers of ‘fat talk’ and the impact it has on self-esteem and confidence levels of women throughout the world. “Does my butt look fat in these jeans?” “I need to lose a few pounds.” “You look great, have you lost weight?” These are all examples of ‘fat talk’ that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to body dissatisfaction. In stating these ‘fat talk’ phrases we, in a way, are judging ourselves and putting ourselves down. The goal of Fat Talk Free Week is to stop people, primarily women, from using these phrases in order to focus more on health and less on the thin ideal.
Today, more than 10 million women are battling eating disorders in our country, primarily due to the thin ideal put forth by society. In utilizing Fat Talk Free Week we, as a whole, are trying to stop individuals throughout the nation from judging and critiquing themselves by using ‘fat talk.’ As individuals begin to notice the ‘fat talk’ in their lives, they can stop it at the source. Rather than comparing ourselves to the abnormally skinny models we see in magazines and on the television, we can begin to accept our bodies and learn to love ourselves for who we are. Fat Talk Free Week was a huge success at UNH and could be the start of an anti-judging revolution.
For more information on Fat Talk Free Week please visit Reflections Body Image Program.
Monday, November 15, 2010
As a nursing major, smoking is a subject that I am very passionate about. I have several loved ones who smoke, and it is difficult to see the impact that it has on their health. Although smoking is starting to decline in public places due to new laws, over 40 million people in America smoke. However, the cost of smoking is not purely physical; over $100 billion per year is spent on health care costs related directly to smoking. Some of the following costs of smoking are:
The Price of Cigarettes: This amount varies from person to person. Use American Cancer Society's online calculator to figure out how much money you personally spend per year on cigarettes.
Life Insurance: Smokers need to pay much higher life insurance premiums, usually about $1,000 extra per year.
Health Insurance: Since smokers are at high risk for getting cancer or COPD, they pay a much higher rate for their health insurance.
Health Care Costs: Smokers tend to have more overall doctor’s appointments than nonsmokers. If you pay a deductible for each visit, the increased amount of visits will probably average out to be about an extra $25/month.
Medications: Smoker have a higher risk for disease, therefore they are more likely to become sick and need to buy expensive medications than nonsmokers.
Home Owner’s Insurance: Over 20,000 house fires are caused by cigarettes every year in America. To decrease this risk, most insurance companies will offer an average of a 10% discount to nonsmokers for Home Owner’s Insurance.
Dental Care: Smoking causes damage to the teeth and gums, so smokers typically spend more money going to the dentists for special products and cleansings.
There are many other costs associated with smoking. To learn more, read this MSN Money article. Smoking is a major problem in America that affects almost every person. It kills more than alcohol, AIDS, illegal drugs, car crashes, fires, murders, and suicides combined. It also adds to the financial burden of family and communities. If you or someone you know would like to learn more information on how to quit smoking, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information, programs and materials.
Friday, November 12, 2010
There is a common misconception of many individuals that physical activity means solely cardiovascular activity. These forms of activity could be classified as running, jogging, biking, swimming, hiking etc…and they ARE very important. However, muscular strength and endurance training plays an equally important role in physical activity. Muscle training can be categorized into two categories, Strength and Endurance. Strength training is the amount of weight lifted in one repetition of exercise while endurance is a longer duration of lower weight. Both types of training are important for the body and together they provide overall benefits. Benefits and reasons why muscle training is essential include: improvement in physical work, sport, and, recreation; look and feel better, maintain a healthy body weight, prevent osteoporosis, and improve posture and eliminate back pain. These factors can be positive for people of all ages and gender…therefore making weight training a critical part of physical activity!
Furthermore, the type and frequency of training matters. The US Department of Health and Human Services developed guidelines in the Physical Activity Pyramid. Based on the idea of the food pyramid, it represents the amount of different types of physical activities in which individuals should participate. On average, individuals should participate in a variety of strength and endurance exercises 2-3X/week. This can vary depending on areas of the body trained and level of advancement. In order to maintain muscle fitness, the activities do not always have to be lifting weights. For example, the following videos demonstrate the fact that there are several ways to exercise one muscle group:
Two different ways to do a bicep curl:
Both machines, dumbbells, and resistance bands (which can also be used) are found in almost all gyms. There are small differences in the types of equipment, so it is important to find the one that works best for you. Although the UNH gym does not have the exact machine used in the video, it does have a bicep curl machine and a variety of different dumbbells. Next time you’re in the gym or thinking about working out…take a look for these types of equipment and don’t forget- it’s not ALL about the cardio.
Monday, November 8, 2010
We all know that feeling when we open up the fridge at the end of the week and stand with the door open, staring aimlessly into the vast, empty appliance we depend on to supply us with food. Yes, it is that time of the week again; time to go grocery shopping. Most of us dread stepping foot into the crowded grocery store that may seem more like a maze as you squeeze down isles looking for the slew of items you want to add to your jumbled cart. Upon arriving in line to ring out, you search for the emptiest line but somehow still have to wait longer than you wanted, and as the cashier rings up your items you start doing math in you heard, frightened at how much you might be spending. The whole thing is enough to make many people steer clear of any grocery store and head towards the closest fast food place for a quick drive thru meal. Grocery shopping however doesn’t have to be a hassle, you can save money and improve your health by picking out the foods you eat and preparing nutritious and low cost meals.
While watching the Today Show I saw a segment about how to shop economically and nutritiously and learned some great tips. First off, don’t go grocery shopping without making a list first. Sit down and plan out your meals for the next week or two, flip through the sale pages at what the best deals are and mark down what items you need and how much. This will help prevent any impulse buying that may lead to unnecessary purchases. Planning your meals also allows you to take advantage of eating healthy. Instead of buying a sub and fries at the local sub shop, take 20-30 minutes to cook up a nutritious and delicious meal that can even be eaten the rest of the week as leftovers. Another tip is to buy the store brands, they often are just as nutritious and cost much less. Shop around the outside of the store for the healthiest finds such as fresh produce, lean meats, and low fat dairy. Avoid the inside isles where you find the majority of processed foods. Surprisingly to me, I found out that the majority of people spend their money buying beverages. Ditch the soda, juices and endless water bottles and invest in a Brita and drink tap water. Don’t spend money buying expensive fruits and vegetables that are out of season, frozen is often cheaper and has just as much nutritional value. Finally, while buying individual servings and precut foods may be easier, it is a lot more expensive. Take the few extra minutes to slice up your veggies and sort snacks into individual sandwich bags without watching your wallet shrink.
Hopefully these tips can help ease your fear of grocery shopping and perhaps you may even begin to love it once you see how much money and how many calories you can save by ditching the drive thru and strolling the isles. Foods like rice, pasta, chicken breast and ground meat that can be frozen are all great staple foods that can last you a while and be used for many different meals. Check out Eating Well’s Magazine article about Healthy-Budget Friendly Recipes that are under $3 per serving for some extra ideas! Good luck!
Friday, November 5, 2010
Do you have health insurance? Do you find yourself struggling to pay off medical bills? Where do you go if you’ve run out of money and desperately need a medication or medical procedure? Have no fear, Community Health Centers are here!
Community Health Centers are public, non-profit facilities that provide medical, dental, mental health and even chiropractic care as well as health education and specialty care to individuals regardless of age, sex, marital status, race, and income levels. Community Health Centers place a special emphasis on providing quality care to the underserved. Not only do they accept most insurances, Medicaid, and Medicare, but also offer a sliding scale payment plan for the uninsured, making care affordable for everyone. Whether you simply cannot afford health insurance or have reached the maximum payment you can pay with your current plan; Community Health Centers are here to help you.
So if you need medical care or medications and cannot afford the cost of health insurance or hospital bills, give a Community Health Center a visit. They have a variety of specialized departments, including nutrition, teen health, and woman’s health in addition to WIC programs and health education classes. Community Health Centers are known for providing prescription medications for individuals to stop them from purchasing such medications off the streets and for providing birth control contraceptives to women of all ages. The mission of Community Health Centers is to increase the health and well-being of patients without embarking monetary stress on their lives.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
We all have times in our life when we get stressed out. Whether its work or school, friends or family, or just an overwhelming feeling of having too much on your plate, you are not alone. Millions of Americans feel overworked and overstressed. Personally, I have felt more stressed this semester at college than I have ever felt before. Between work, school, and all of my other commitments I was run ragged. I wasn’t sleeping enough, wasn’t enjoying my free time and always felt as if I could never finish the incredible amount of work that I was assigned. One day, I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore. That’s when I realized that things needed to change.
Change happens slowly and is difficult sometimes. At first, I tried to change little habits, such as getting extra sleep or starting my homework early. However, that failed pretty quickly because whenever I had an exam or paper due, I would throw my newfound “change” out the window. Since that wasn’t working for me, I decided to look into other avenues to relieve my stress. I was browsing through the UNH Health Services webpage, and learned that they offer free stress management appointments for students who have paid their health fees. I was a little bit apprehensive to make the appointment, but figured that it would be worthwhile to give it a try.
I went to my first Stress Management appointment after pulling an all-nighter. I almost fell asleep in the waiting room listening to soothing music and a fountain of bubbling water. After the counselor called my name, I followed him into a room with soft chairs and began my appointment. Honestly, I had expected it to be a quick appointment where I talked a little bit about my stress and then got a lecture, along with some tips to try to follow. I was very wrong. Instead of doing a lot of listening, I did most of the talking. It was soothing to have someone neutral to express all of my guilt, fears and stress to. The counselor asked me a lot of open-ended questions that really helped me to explore what was making me the most stressed. While he recommended a few resources for me, the most beneficial part of the appointment was being able to talk to someone who really cared about my stress and knew what questions to ask me to get me to think more deeply about why I put myself into stressful situations.
When I walked away from my Stress Management appointment, I felt hopeful. All of my stress didn’t miraculously disappear and I still have to deal with my day-to-day problems, but I now feel as if I can handle the stress a little bit better than before. I have another appointment next week, and will continue to make appointments until I have a strong foundation that can get me through even the hardest of times. I know that making an appointment is a big step and can seem a little scary. If you are feeling stressed, please just try it out. An hour out of your time can make a really big difference in your life, and life is a lot more enjoyable when you feel free from stress. To make a Stress Management appointment or to learn more, visit the UNH Health Services webpage.
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