Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mind-Body Connection and Healthy Aging

You may know diet and exercise are important parts of maintaining or improving overall physical health but what role can mental health playing in aging into your best selves? According to the World Health Organization and the CDC health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (1). 

If you’re already getting enough daily exercise and making healthy nutrition choices then you are well on your way but what can you do to better your mental and social well being?

Exercise Doing Double Duty

As mental health has become a growing concern within our society, researchers have explored the connection between physical activity and the effects exercise can have on these no physical factors. One recent study found that participation in a regular exercise program provided older adults with significant improvements in adaptive emotion regulation and overall emotional well-being (2). They attributed these results to the physiological impact of moderate intensity exercise as well as the social network training programs can create and provide.

A few strategies to implement:
  • Make physical activity a regular part of your daily routine
  • Find an exercise program that you ENJOY doing whether its classes, group training, or independent exercise

Build a Community and Support Networks

Having a social support network can be an integral part of feeling your best and decreasing stress. Studies have shown that adults who indicated higher levels of support were more likely to have better self-rated health. Building and adapting your social network throughout stages of life is important. More or less you are never too old to make new friends and new connections.

Here are some great ways to meet people or build on connections you already have:
  • Participate in group based programs 
    • Classes or training programs at a gym 
    • Continuing education classes 
    • Sports or game leagues
  • Reach out to family members or friends you haven’t spoken to recently
  • Get involved within  your faith based community
  • Join groups based on common passions or interests


Blog post by Rebekah Raber.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Outdoor Fall Activity Safety Tips

Fall is officially here! Although the weather is changing, we still have plenty of time for outdoor activities to supplement our exercise routines. Whether you are walking or biking and enjoying the scenery it is important to keep safety in mind.

Here are some tips to keep you safe during your fall activities:

If you are walking on roads or paths with traffic be sure to walk facing the traffic. If you are biking be sure to bike with traffic.

Looking both ways never goes out of style! Always check both directions before crossing any streets or paths.

Walk on roads single file, unless you are walking on a wide pedestrian/bike path or a sidewalk separated from the street.

If you are walking on a street or path with bikers and runners be aware of them passing. Bikers and runners should announce or use their bell if they are passing on the left/right.

Whether you are walking, biking, running it is important to be visible. If it is daytime wear bright clothing. For nighttime wear reflective gear and light colors.

One last tip to keep in mind is being aware of street safety. Choose routes that are used frequently by other walkers, runners, bikers. Avoid the path or area if you see something suspicious. Always be alert while you are out.

Blog post by Timarie Villa.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Sun Safety

Now that the weather has warmed and the sun is shining people tend to spend more time outside. But before you bask in the glory of the sun, here are some things to think about to keep your skin safe.

Did you know?

On average it takes just 15 minutes of unprotected time in the sun to cause a sunburn.

Facts about skin cancer:

  • Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the most common cancer for 25 to 29 year olds and the second most common cancer for 15 to 29 year olds.
  • Melanoma is increasing faster in females 15 to 29 years old than males in the same age group. In females 15 to 29 years old, the torso/trunk is the most common location for developing melanoma, which may be the result of high-risk tanning behaviors.
  • Exposure to tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma, especially in women aged 45 years or younger.

What to look for in a sunscreen:

  1. SPF 30 or higher
  2. Broad spectrum protection (UVA/UVB)
  3. Water resistant
Sunscreens containing all the above have been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer, sunburn, premature skin aging, precancerous skin growths, and dark spots1.  Once you have found your sunscreen, make sure you are applying it correctly. Always reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when you are outside, even on cloudy days!

Is my sunscreen from last year still good?

The FDA requires that sunscreen last for 3 years. Some sunscreens have a printed expiration date on the bottle. If your bottle does not have an expiration date, and you are not sure if it was from last year or longer, check for visible signs1. If a sunscreen has a change in color or consistency are signs that it’s time to buy a new one.

While sunscreen is the most commonly used skin protectant, some clothing brands offer special clothes with higher SPF protection. Hats can keep the sun off of your face, wide brimmed hats are suggested better for use over baseball caps as they cover the back of the neck and the ears as well as the face.

But what about my summer glow?

Any change in the skin color caused by exposure to the sun or tanning beds is considered skin damage. Although that tan may fade in the winter, the damage underneath is still there.  A skin healthy alternative is self tanner or a sunless tanning salon.

For tips on how to apply self tanner like a pro:


Blog post by Erin Womboldt.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Running and Knee Health

When it comes to knee health, running often gets a bad reputation as being a cause for many ailments, the primary one being osteoarthritis.  However, as more research becomes available, these claims are found to be increasingly baseless, showing that running at reasonable volumes and intensities leaves the joint no worse for wear.  And according to some studies, possibly better than before!

What the research tells us:

There are many studies suggesting that running is not detrimental to the knees.  In one such study, 504 former collegiate cross country runners were surveyed to assess their levels of hip and knee osteoarthritis.  The follow up period for individuals was between two and fifty-five years, averaging twenty-five years.  Of those assessed, only 2% reported severe pain, and only 0.8% had surgery for their condition.  They compared these results to former collegiate swimmers, which had 2.4% reporting severe pain along with 2.1% having surgery (1).  The evidence from this study suggests that there is no association between moderate long-distance running and the development of osteoarthritis.  Additionally, it suggests that heavy mileage and the number of years running are not contributory to the future development of osteoarthritis.

That is all well and good, but those are former elite athletes!  How about when compared to people who do not run regularly? 

In another study, a group of male runners (who averaged 28 miles per week over 12 years) were compared to male nonrunners to assess a variety of factors.  The groups were compared in perceived pain and swelling in the knees as well as the hips, ankles and feet.  Additionally, radiologic exams were conducted to assess osteophytes (bony outgrowths in joints), cartilage thickness, and overall grade of degradation.  There was no statistically significant difference between either group for all measures, further suggesting that long-distance running is not associated with premature join degradation (2, 5).

A more recent systematic review conducted in Australia sought to analyze the effects of physical activity on the individual structures of the knee joint.  After analyzing 1,362 studies, the data suggested that there is an association between physical activity and osteophytes in the knee joint.  However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, and could possibly be an adaptation to the stimuli associated with exercise.  Additionally, the review states there is no strong evidence on physical activity narrowing the joint space from cartilage degradation.  In fact, there is strong evidence for an inverse relationship between physical activity and cartilage defects (3).  In other words, people who are active have stronger cartilage in the knees than those who do not.  This is further supported by a Swedish study, in which researchers gave people at risk of osteoarthritis a running program, and by the end showed improved biochemistry of the associated cartilages (5).

It is also worth noting that factors such as gender, education and mean exercise time do not appear to increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis in the knee.  Despite these findings, running is not an activity that everyone should participate in without the proper guidance.  Various factors such as genetic predisposition, higher than average BMI, and previous damage to the knee can all increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis (4).

What you can do to prevent damage to your knees?

If you are a runner and have not had knee problems, great!  Keep doing what you are doing.  

If you have had problems, here are some suggestions:

Try maintaining a stable BMI
Since it has been shown that having a high BMI while performing repetitive exercise can be a risk factor towards osteoarthritis (4), it is important to try having a consistent, average BMI.  Doing so will reduce the impact that your feet and knees take.  Did you know?  Depending on the intensity, running can create an impact of three to ten times a person's body weight! (6)

Watch your form
Improper biomechanics can place increased strain on the lower extremities.  Research suggests that running with a slightly forward-leaning trunk reduces stress on the patellofemoral joint (7, 8), which is the part of the knee where the thigh bone and knee cap meet.

Increase volume/intensity gradually
Among runners there is a training philosophy called the “10% rule”, in which during a training cycle weekly mileage does not increase by more than 10% from week to week.  The rule has validity, with one 2014 study showing that runners who followed this rule were less likely to become injured compared to a group that increased their mileage by 30% (9).

In conclusion:

If you are an experienced runner or someone who would like to start and have no underlying knee issues, do not fear that running will damage your knees.  That being said, always talk to a healthcare professional before making major lifestyle changes.  Train smart, and above all, enjoy running!

1. Sohn, Roger S., and Lyle J. Micheli. “The Effect of Running on the Pathogenesis of Osteoarthritis of the Hips and Knees.” Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, no. 198, 1985
2. Panush, Richard S. “Is Running Associated With Degenerative Joint Disease?” JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 255, no. 9, 1986, p. 1152.
3. Urquhart, Donna M., et al. “What Is the Effect of Physical Activity on the Knee Joint? A Systematic Review.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 43, no. 3, 2011, pp. 432–442.
4. Chakravarty, Eliza F., et al. “Long Distance Running and Knee Osteoarthritis.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 35, no. 2, 2008, pp. 133–138.
5. Neighmond, Patti. “Put Those Shoes On: Running Won't Kill Your Knees.” NPR, NPR, 28 Mar. 2011
6. Elert, Glenn. “Force on a Runner's Foot.” E-World, 1999,
7. Teng, Hsiang-Ling, and Christopher M. Powers. “Sagittal Plane Trunk Posture Influences Patellofemoral Joint Stress During Running.” Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, vol. 44, no. 10, 2014, pp. 785–792.
8. Teng, Hsiang-Ling, and Christopher M. Powers. “Influence of Trunk Posture on Lower Extremity Energetics during Running.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 47, no. 3, 2015, pp. 625–630.
9. Nielsen, Rasmus Ƙstergaard, et al. “Excessive Progression in Weekly Running Distance and Risk of Running-Related Injuries: An Association Which Varies According to Type of Injury.” Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, vol. 44, no. 10, 2014, pp. 739–747.

Blog post by Robbie Papapietro.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Heart Health Month

Did you know that February is Heart Health Month?

Cardio Recommendations

20 minutes of walking a day can lower the risk of a heart attack and stroke
  • Tips: Park farther away
  • Choose the stairs over the escalator

150 minutes of exercise per week
  • Trouble keeping track?  Just try to move more! Get up from your desk/couch and just walk around the room every once in a while

Heart Healthy Nutrition

Cholesterol: Adding more fiber to the diet can help naturally lower your body’s cholesterol levels
Squash is a great winter vegetable that is high in fiber

“Eat the rainbow”: When choosing fruits and vegetables try and get multiple colors. Different colored vegetables contain different nutrients, the more variety the better!

Heart Health and Wellness

Sleep: Recommended that you get 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Tips for a better night time routine: Set an alarm to go to bed, lowered the brightness on your phone/tablet, turn your phone on “Do not Disturb” so notifications don’t wake you
  • Stress: Lowering your stress helps lower blood pressure, boost your motivation, and help you sleep
  • Things to try: Positive self-talk, meditation. Count to 10 before reacting. Take a break by reading a book, drawing/coloring, exercise, or listening to music.  

Talk to your doctor!
  • About old concerns, new concerns, or more tips on how to keep you and your heart healthy!

Source: American Heart Association

Blog post by Erin Womboldt.