Category: Living Well Written by Sterling Wise
Today childhood obesity is a major concern among parents and the medical community. This generation of kids is less active and more obese than any generation before.
Wouldn't it be great if your kids naturally enjoyed exercise? If this were the case, childhood obesity wouldn't be the looming problem that it is.
As adults, we exercise to improve health, stay fit, and control weight. But what motivates a child to be physically active? Fun. Ultimately, if children and adults enjoy an activity, they're more likely to stick with it.
As you know, an inactive child has a greater chance of becoming an inactive adult. Healthy habits have to be instilled early in life. And it's never too early to start.
What better way to get your kids moving than to find a fun exercise activity your whole family can enjoy? Your family will not only be healthier and trimmer, but will spend quality time connecting and set habits that may last a lifetime.
Just remember that exercising as a family won't look like your typical workout. Here are some fun, creative ways to incorporate exercise into the life of your family.
Make Chore Time Fun Time
Let's face it: chores and kids don't mix. Not willingly at least. Chores and fun don't usually mix, either. How can you combine chores with fitness while making it fun at the same time?
Turn up your family's favorite tunes and sing and dance while cleaning the house. Let the kids take turns choosing the music. All ages can be involved. The youngest can pick up toys or sweep the floors. The older kids can vacuum, dust, and help with laundry.
While you're at it, turn chores into a competition. Who can clean his or her room the fastest? (Without stuffing everything in the closet.)
Want a little more wiggle in your family exercise routine? Invite the kids' friends over for a dance party. Move the furniture out of the way, turn down the lights, and turn up the tunes! Then get moving.
Kids will have a great time with this. If you have an Xbox dance game, take turns in dance competition.
Family Fitness Nights
Family fun night is often spent sitting around watching a movie or playing a board game. How can you turn family nights into fitness nights?
Go on a bike ride together. Head to a nearby trail in the woods and go on a hike. Invite another family to join you and organize a soccer game, whiffleball tournament, or relay races. Set up a badminton net in the backyard.
If there's snow on the ground, get out the sleds and head to a nearby hill. What about roller-skating as a family? Now there's a fun family workout! Let each family member take turns choosing which activity to do on family nights, but keep the nights focused on fun fitness.
Hire a Personal Trainer
Each person has different fitness needs and goals. A personal trainer can help design a workout program for each family member.
A great way to stay motivated as a family to keep exercising is to track individual progress. If one family member needs to lose weight and another is trying to bench press heavier weight, track both of their progress and encourage them along the way.
You can also have all family members wear a pedometer and reward the person with the most steps, or choose an exercise of the month. Good choices are squats, lunges, sit-ups, push-ups, or jump rope. At the beginning of the month, each family member must perform his or her maximum number of repetitions. After a month of training, the person with the highest percentage of improvement gets a small reward.
Keep progress at the forefront with a chart on your refrigerator to track your family's fitness goals.
A Way of Life
When fitness is incorporated into everyday life, it won't become a drag or another thing to fit into your already busy schedule. Set aside just an hour two to three times a week to get moving as a family. Your kids will have fun and learn valuable life lessons.
Editor’s Note: Detroiter Sterling Wise launched his personal fitness company, The Wise Decision, in 2007. If you would like to learn more about the fitness coach and motivator visit: www.thewisedecision.com
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 16:46
Category: Living Well Written by C.L. Price
One girl challenged the habits of nearly 250,000 viewers with her video blog post last year and it, in turn, changed her life.
Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford is now on a first name basis with Hailey Samples, a Farmington Hiills school student at Warner Upper Elementary, who “friended” Stafford following her first place win in Blue Cross Blue Shield’s “Make the Play for Healthy Habits” video contest last year.
The win earned Samples a guest video blog spot on A Healthier Michigan, a site that gets thousands of hits daily, and a stage appearance with Stafford at a school assembly, where Hailey had the opportunity to interview the sports icon about his own healthy habits, while sharing a few of her own.
Imagine how that experience will look on Samples’ college application!
Response to the social media contest was so powerful that BCBSM is sponsoring its return in 2013.
“Making the play” – something quarterback Matthew Stafford does week after week each season with the Detroit Lions – is something he couldn’t accomplish without good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. That’s why he agreed to be a part of the initiative that encourages kids to create their own winning habits.
CALLING ALL CONTESTANTS
Sponsor BCBSM is inviting kids in grades four through eight to make their own play at encouraging healthier habits in the second annual “Make the Play for Healthy Habits” video contest.
The student that submits the winning video will get to star as a host of his/her own healthy lifestyle video blog series on aHealthierMichigan.org, and will receive a school assembly featuring Stafford.
Video submissions are being accepted through March 29. In April, 10 semifinalists will be selected and notified and their video submissions will be posted on aHealthierMichigan.org for a two-week public voting period. The winner will be announced in early May.
“Last year, we had such a tremendous response from kids across Michigan to this contest. We are excited to do it again,” said Andrew Hetzel, BCBSM vice president for corporate communications. “Kids are naturally creative.
Working with their parents and teachers, Blue Cross wants to see their creativity come to life with the goal of making their schools and communities healthier.”
Video submissions should be no more than two minutes long. They should creatively answer the question “What would you do to make Michigan healthier?” and include the student’s perspective on how themselves, their family, teachers and classmates can live a healthier life. Students should explain how they would communicate healthy lifestyle choices with their families and fellow students.
Editor’s Note: Students can submit a video directly on aHealthierMichigan.org/kidcontest, or upload their video to YouTube and submit their link online. For more contest information, visit: aHealthierMichigan.org/kidcontest.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 16:42
Category: Living Well Written by Paul Edwards, M.D. Chair, Department of Ophthalmology
That beautiful, seductive plate of fried food – fish, chicken, potatoes, pork chops, even fruits and vegetables – can leave you stone blind.
That’s a stretch, a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s meant to make a point.
If you’re black, you’re much more likely to develop diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. Although the numbers vary depending on where you look, the risk is significant, perhaps as high as twice that of whites.
One eventual consequence of diabetes, if left untreated, is blindness, and African Americans are 50 percent more likely to lose their sight from the disease.
There are other horrible results of diabetes that affect black people much more often than others, including kidney disease and the amputation of part or all of lower limbs. But my focus here is on blindness and what can be done to lower your risk.
First, though, it must be said that diabetes advocacy organizations, the insurance industry, health care providers and medicine in general must do more tackle the shameful situation I just described. Efforts are being made in some quarters, but the numbers involving African Americans and diabetes don’t seem to budge much. More needs doing.
That’s the blame that can be cast elsewhere.
But much of the onus falls on us for our diet, lifestyle, and personal neglect. Food and obesity are more directly related to diabetes than almost any other disease or disorder.
When we follow the traditional black diet – whether we call it soul food, comfort food, country cooking or Afrocentric dining – we eat too many of the wrong things. Fat makes food delicious, but too much is hazardous. Greens are extremely beneficial, but that’s blunted by pot liquor bubbling with meat grease. Too many starches raise blood sugar and add unhealthy pounds. And sugar itself, in soft drinks and desserts and candied vegetables and so many other places in our diet is dangerous in ways too numerous to detail here.
We must get smart about what we eat, and there is no end of information available online about how to do that and not forgo flavor and satisfaction.
We must end any sedentary ways and exercise, not only to stop gaining weight but to shed the excess fat so many of us already carry.
One of the more insidious realities of diabetes-related blindness is that there may be no symptoms until the damage is well underway. When symptoms appear, they can include blurred vision, “black spots” before your eyes, glints of light and eye pain.
Any of these, especially if you know you’re diabetic, should be followed up immediately with an ophthalmologist. Those without insurance to cover such exams may find help through local medical schools.
Diabetics should have a thorough eye examination once a year, especially for retinopathy, the most serious of the eye disorders that can be caused by the disease and the leading cause of adult blindness.
To avoid the condition, it is most important to combine a diabetic diet with regular exercise and check your blood sugar levels regularly – there’s just no getting around this. The same goes for smoking and heavy drinking – both need to be stopped. If you need an extra incentive, think about living in darkness every time you light up or raise another glass.
Because high blood pressure and cholesterol can also contribute to failing vision, these too should be regularly monitored as part of a physical exam, and controlled by diet, lifestyle changes and sometimes medication.
Regular, affordable, quality healthcare is unavailable to far too many Americans, particularly African Americans, and solving that is beyond the ability of any individual.
But what we eat and how it affects our bodies is a choice. When you gaze at that seductive plate of unhealthy food, it’s worth remembering that eating it can up the odds that you won’t see it – or anything else – ever again.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 16:38
Category: Living Well Written by Denene Milner
My mother had beautiful hands—lovely, long and fresh, just like her. She kept her fingernails dipped in maroons and dark browns—subtle, but still noticeable. Strong. As she got older, though, Mommy’s hands became gnarled with the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, almost at the same time that a workplace accident took out a disc in her spine. She spent an enormous amount of time posted up in hospital beds and doctors’ offices—enough so that when minor things caught hold of her, like coughs or stomachaches or any other general malaise, she paid it no mind. Soldiered on.
Doing this cost my mother her life.
My mother, you see, died at age 62 of a heart attack, five days into a family reunion trip to her childhood home. She got on the plane experiencing flu-like symptoms—shortness of breath, weakness, unusual fatigue, dizziness, back pain, but thought nothing of her malaise—that is was nothing serious. And even though everyone around her could tell something was seriously, progressively wrong, Mommy refused to go to the hospital—refused to let someone take a look at her. To care for her. She preferred to soldier on.
What she and our family failed to realize, though, is that my mother was experiencing all the classic female symptoms that signal a heart attack is imminent—signs of which all-too-many of us are completely unaware. By the time anyone was able to talk her into allowing an ambulance to rush her to the hospital, she died, right there on the floor of her childhood home, with one each of her brothers and sisters standing by—hopeless, helpless.
This did not have to be.
And so today, in the name of my mother, Bettye Milner, I implore each of you reading this to know the heart attack symptoms for women, as well as the risks associated with them. I wrote about this last year—as I do every year—but certainly it bears repeating:
Women tend not to have the clutch-your-heart, movie-styled heart attacks that men have; our symptoms are more likely to include all those that my mother experienced, plus nausea, lower chest discomfort, upper abdominal pressure and nausea.
Women can exhibit symptoms up to a week before their heart muscles suffer irreparable damage, leading us to believe that we’re suffering from something other than a heart attack.
Heart attacks are the leading cause of death among all women, but black women are affected in even greater numbers, particularly because the risk factors associated with heart disease include diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure—huge health issues for us.
It’s critical that we keep our heart muscles strong through exercise, weight control, healthy eating, refraining from smoking and watching our cholesterol and blood pressure.
What’s more, heart disease is plaguing and devastating the health and well-being of African American women in particular, because we simply do not know the stakes. According to the American Heart Association:
- Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for African American women.
- Of African American women ages 20 and older, 46.9 percent have cardiovascular disease.
- Only 1 in 5 African American women thinks she is personally at risk.
- Nearly 50 percent of African American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
- Only 43 percent of African Americans know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.
I’m writing about this not just to honor my mother, but in support of a month-long nationwide effort to encourage women to get smart about heart health. While the American Heart Association encourages women to wear red in support of heart health awareness, companies like Diet Coke are partnering all month long with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to boost The Heart Truth®, a campaign that reminds us women to protect our heart health and inspire those we love to do the same.
Go to the American Heart Association’s site to learn more about heart disease and its risks, plus hear the stories of real women who survived the devastation of heart attack. My favorite page on the American Heart Association site is “Live Healthy,” which houses exercise tips, suggestions for healthy snacks and eating-on-the-go, plus a super smart section on heart healthy dinners under $100 per week, plus tips for feeding picky eaters.
I encourage you, too, to upload heart-inspired photos to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ShowYourHeart to trigger a donation from Diet Coke to the Foundation for the National Institutees of Health. Diet Coke will donate $1, up to $100,000, for every #ShowYourHeart upload. I’m going to do my part by sharing my heart—a picture of my mother.
I do miss my mother’s hands—their warmth. Her touch. There were days aplenty that I laid with her in her bed and held them while we got lost in the din of the TV, not saying much of anything, but knowing for sure that our love knew no bounds. There are times when remembering those moments simply isn’t enough. I want her back and wish with all my might that she and our family would have known the symptoms of heart attack in women. We found out the hard way. You do not have to. Be heart smart—not just in February but everyday. Share this post with everyone you know so that they can be heart smart, too.
Editor’s Note: Denene Milner is a LivingWELL Magazine editorial contributor and founder of My Brown Baby, an irreverent, funny website filled with posts that make you think and occasionally say “Amen” because it reminds you of what’s going on behind your closed door with your family. Check out Denene’s blog at www.mybrownbaby.com.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 16:34
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