Posted on 12/11/2013 at 12:00 AM by Embria Health Sciences
As temperatures drop outside and we spend more time inside, how do you maintain optimal health so you can enjoy all those holiday festivities? From snow or sports-related injuries to seasonal immune challenges, there are a variety of adversaries just waiting to drag you down. Fortunately, there are simple and easy ways to help you stay healthy and happy all the way through to spring.
Fall sports are officially underway, and football is as popular as ever. From adult flag football or Pop Warner leagues to weekend pick-up games, players everywhere are in search of gridiron glory. With all of this athletic action, however, comes the risk for injury that can keep you sidelined for longer than you think. When it comes to outdoor activities, the best defense is a good offense. Some proactive tips to avoid injury include at least 10 minutes of pre-game stretching, hydrating while on the field and using the proper equipment. In fact, more important than ever today is wearing a properly fitted, certified helmet (where applicable) so athletes of all sizes can avoid life-changing head and spine injuries. Think First Northern Nevada, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating young people about their vulnerability to brain injury and the importance of making safe choices, sums it up perfectly with the saying “Use your mind to protect your body.”
While on the subject of injury, the slick, icy conditions of cold weather comes the increasing risk of painful and dangerous falls. Make sure you don’t come into contact with snow-covered concrete this winter by using specialty outdoor rugs such as Ice Breaker Mats on primary walkways, garages and front porches. These smart measures help stop the accumulation of ice, can be easily swept off, and unlike de-icing agents leave the mess outside. Want to avoid a slip? Walk like a penguin! Walking flat-footed and taking short, slow steps help keep you upright on slick surfaces. For extra stability, make sure to keep hands outside of your pockets to maintain your center of gravity. For those who have to park outside, use the car as a crutch when entering and exiting so you don’t end up in need of crutches of your own after a nasty spill.
While a good a source of exercise for some, snow removal for others can be downright dangerous. To help avoid lower back strain make sure to select a shovel with a curved or adjustable handle to minimize bending. But snow removal can cause much more than painful strains. According to Dr. Grace Carter, a cardiologist at Metro Health, sudden, heavy exertion in cold weather could trigger a heart attack or cardiac episode. This is due to the constriction of blood vessels and decrease in oxygen to the heart that takes place when exposed to cold air, combined with the sudden increase in blood pressure and heart rate that occurs when performing physically demanding activities. The list of individuals at risk is long. It includes people who have previously suffered a heart attack, have heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, smoke, or lead an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, cold-weather activities such as shoveling snow or using a heavy snow blower, skiing, snow shoeing and snowboarding should be limited for these individuals unless they have received approval from a doctor.
Now that we’ve safeguarded the outside, it’s on to the great indoors. Colder temperatures outside mean the heater gets turned on, so make sure that you’ve changed your air filter to prevent circulation of dust, mold and other allergens that can cause respiratory irritation. Turning up the heat also saps moisture from the air. Dry air can lead to potential health hazards like sinus or throat problems, nosebleeds and general dehydration. So, remember to bring out the humidifier to raise the relative humidity in your home. In addition, maintaining your HVAC system is a step in the right direction for better indoor air. Yearly maintenance by a qualified HVAC service professional helps keeps your vents clean and ensures that proper air flow and ventilation take place. For those with forced air systems, let in a little fresh air from time to time if possible or utilize a stove vent or other vent with an outside air source to help dilute re-circulated air. Ceiling fans also help to keep air moving if all else fails.
As much as we’d love to avoid getting the sniffles or worse this season, it’s just not always possible. So, when you do spot a suspected sickie, a good standard is to stay at least six feet away. This will help safeguard you from rogue sneeze attacks and coughing fits that can instantly fill the air around you with airborne dangers. While out and about, avoid touching common surfaces where multiple people congregate. More importantly, remember that your own 10 digits are what ultimately brings anything nasty to your eyes, nose or mouth. It’s also important to keep your home clean to avoid the spread of germs. Pay particular attention to door knobs, light switches, cupboards, fridge handles, remote controls and sink knobs that come in contact with multiple people multiple times per day. Keeping a container of Clorox wipes in the kitchen, bathrooms and hall closet makes a daily wipe down quick and easy for all members of the family.
Paying close attention to diet and exercise can also help you avoid injury and illness this fall and winter by strengthening your body both inside and out. A recent article from U.S News & World Report, developed together with Duke Medicine, concludes that people who stay physically active enjoy a higher quality of life overall than those with sedentary lifestyles and reap numerous benefits that include stronger ability to stave off illnesses such as diabetes, and quicker recovery from illnesses, injuries, and surgeries.
‘Tis also the season of cold weather immune challenges, so keeping your immune system strong should be on everybody’s “to do” list. Remembering to get enough fresh fruits and vegetables is key when preparing the body to battle seasonal immune challenges. Unfortunately, fresh produce isn’t always so “fresh” or available this time of year, so seeking out a dietary supplement supported by published research is a good insurance plan. A good place to start is with the ingredients themselves. EpiCor is a safe and scientifically backed ingredient that helps strengthen the immune system in many beneficial ways. EpiCor is formulated into many trusted dietary supplement brands that can be found in stores and online.
With these quick and easy tips, we hope that you and yours can stay active and happy with people you love instead of hibernating at home flat on the couch.