Fitness fun for the whole family

September 23, 2011

Tomorrow is Family Health and Fitness Day USA.  To celebrate, hundreds of locations throughout the country are hosting events that promote good health.  Check with your local YMCA or YWCA, health club, park, school, or house of worship to find out if they are sponsoring any type of health- or fitness-related activity tomorrow.

Of course, it’s best for families to focus on being healthy and fit not just one day of the year, but 365 days.  Read on for some free and low-cost fitness ideas that are fun for the whole family.

  • Going somewhere?  Whether it’s shopping, the dentist’s office, or to a restaurant, don’t choose the parking spot closest to the door.  Provided the area is safe and well-lit, park farther away so you and whichever family members accompanied you can get a brief brisk walk in before you reach your destination.
  • Encourage your family to take after-dinner walks around the neighborhood on nights when the weather is good.
  • Plan a family gardening day.  Place the flowers to be planted, the bucket that will hold pulled-out weeds, and any dirt or mulch or garden stones across the yard.  Those steps you keep taking to walk back and forth to the garden will add up!
  • Instead of a family movie night, plan a family fitness night.  Have healthy snacks like cut-up veggies and hummus dip, or cut-up fruit with low-fat yogurt to dip it in, and plenty of water.  Rent or purchase a beginner-level fitness DVD, and do the exercises together.  (As always, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.)
  • If you live close to the grocery store, pharmacy, or any other place where you frequently shop, consider walking or biking there in nice weather and if it’s safe to do so.  You can always add a small basket to your bicycle to help you transport a bag or two home.
  • Check your local advertisements and see if there are any gyms or fitness centers in your area offering any trial memberships.  (Again, before you begin any type of new exercise, check with your doctor and get their OK first.)
  • Scour sites like Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com for discounted yoga classes, gym memberships, and more.
  • Don’t be a couch potato!  Watch TV from the floor, not the couch, and do some squats–even if it’s only at commercials, every little bit helps.  And if you are afraid of looking silly squatting while watching TV, don’t worry–your whole family will be doing the same thing, so they can’t judge! 
  • Use wanting to be more fit as an excuse to try a new, healthy activity, like rock climbing, training for a marathon, hiking a local state park…there are so many possibilities!
  • Make Fido happy–take the dog on an extended walk, and bring the whole family along!

Did you know that advocacy can help you get fit and stay fit?  Services like Health Advocate and Health Proponent can connect you with a Wellness Coach to help you manage your health and fitness goals.  They can also find you a local doctor who can evaluate whether exercise is right for you, or they can help you find a nutritionist who can determine if you should modify your diet to meet your health goals.


Free and low-cost resources for help with drug and alcohol addiction

September 19, 2011

September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.  While any time of the year is the right time to get help for yourself or a loved one who is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has put together a comprehensive website with a multitude of helpful resources.  Read on to find out more about SAMHSA’s resources and other free and low-cost places and organizations that you or a loved one can turn to for support and help regarding recovery.

SAMSHA resources:

Support groups:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous–For alcoholics and recovering alcoholics who are seeking support.  Includes a meeting finder to locate AA meetings in your area.
  • Al-Anon and Alateen–For those whose lives have been affected by a loved one’s alcoholism.  Learn what to expect at your first meeting, and find meetings in your area.
  • Narcotics Anonymous–For those who are addicted to narcotics.  Includes a meeting finder as well as links to recovery literature.

Other helpful information:

  • The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence–includes resources for people in recovery, for parents, for youths, and news articles regarding addiction and recovery.
  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism–includes articles about how alcohol affects your health, how alcohol affects teens, college drinking prevention, and more.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse–features addiction and recovery resources for young adults, parents, teachers, and medical professionals.  Also offers information on clinical trials.

For more free and low-cost health resources, visit www.HealthcareSurvivalGuide.com.  Also, check with your employer to see if your employee benefits package includes an advocacy service such as Health Advocate (if not, you can check out Health Advocate’s consumer division, Health Proponent).  An advocacy service can help connect you to medical providers, such as primary care physicians or mental health specialists, who can help with addiction-related issues.  Click here to learn about other ways that advocacy can help you.

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Check out our sister blog, run by Health Advocate–it’s packed with handy and helpful tips on good nutrition, safe storage of medications, finding eldercare facilities, and so much more!


Heart-healthy recipes for lower cholesterol

September 16, 2011

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, so now is a great time to call up your doctor to get your blood cholesterol checked and learn about food and lifestyle choices that can help you reach your cholesterol-related goals.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says that high blood cholesterol affects over 65 million Americans; this serious condition can increase your risk for heart disease.  People can have high cholesterol and not even know it.

According to The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, lowering high cholesterol levels can lessen your risk for heart disease and also reduce the chance of having a heart attack or dying of heart disease.  Below, we’ve compiled a list of resources where you can find tasty low-cholesterol recipes so that you can enjoy your dinner and still be “heart smart” when you eat!

For the absolute best advice on lowering cholesterol and adopting a more heart-healthy diet, talk to your primary care physician or a nutritionist.  If you’re in-between doctors or don’t have a nutritionist, consider asking an advocacy service for help.  A service like Health Proponent can connect you to a variety of medical providers who can help you achieve your cholesterol goals.

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Check out our sister blog, run by Health Advocate–it’s packed with handy and helpful tips on good nutrition, safe storage of medications, finding eldercare facilities, and so much more!