Posts Tagged ‘wellness’

Wellness Revolution Now Taught at School

When the administrators of the Milton Hershey School recently reviewed the school’s BMI data they realized they had a problem.

The school administration knew they could make a difference in the students’ lives by making health and fitness a priority this school year by highlighting physical activity and nutrition.

Most students at the private school in Derry Township, PA, live at the school, which is funded by the Milton Hershey School Trust.

The new approach, called the “Wellness Revolution”, includes the school’s 5-hour rule.

Students must account for 5 hours of physical activity beyond normal school hours between Monday and Sunday, according to an article in local daily newspaper, The Patriot-News.

There’s no mandated activity; no sit-up requirement or 10,000 steps to count.

Instead, the school’s staff put together a list of activities — from ice hockey, to bicycle riding to weight lifting and swimming — and let the students follow their own desires, writes reporter Nick Malawskey.

As expected, there was some grumbling at first.

But the students have gotten into the groove.

Some of their physical activities include Zumba, turbo kickboxing, and yoga.

Menus at the school have changed as well.

Chicken nuggets, ramen noodles, and spaghetti are out.

Vegetables and buffalo chicken salad are in.

The students said they’re more conscious about what goes into their food — keeping an eye out for high fructose corn syrup and saturated fat content — than they were before, reports Malawskey.

It will take a few years to compile data to see how well the Wellness Revolution is working.

But some students have already lost more than 30 pounds and say they feel better.

If they learn how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the real gain will be in the prevention of obesity and other chronic diseases when they go off on their own into the real world.

How to Reduce Stress and Work Better

Want to work better and harder?

Try Tai Chi, meditation, or yoga or other stress-reduction techniques.

That’s what Mayo Clinic researchers suggest after they examined the relationship between stress levels and quality of life at a work site wellness center.

The researchers, led by Matthew M. Clark, a clinical psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, conducted a survey of more than 13,000 employees joining a wellness center, asking them about stress, health behaviors, and quality of life.

A total of 2,147 of these employees reported having high stress levels, according to a study in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Those under high stress had statistically significant lower quality of life, more fatigue, and poorer health compared with employees with low stress levels.

They were also more likely to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and to be overweight.

The study showed the biggest differences between stressed and non-stressed respondents were in fatigue levels after a regular night’s sleep and in current quality of life.

The researchers concluded that tailored stress-reduction programs would be beneficial for these employees.

Mindfulness exercises, which include Tai Chi, meditation, and yoga, can increase positivity, said Margaret Moore, MBA, founder of Wellcoaches Corporation, at a Harvard-based academic conference on coaching that she co-directed last year.

“Positive emotions matter,” said Moore.

“They lead to flow experiences.”

Positivity makes you thrive and uncover your strengths and talents, she said.

Corporate wellness programs typically focus on physical fitness and weight loss initially, but personal wellness coaches also address other domains of wellness, including stress management, work/life balance, spirituality, and resilience.

Your boss may ask about your productivity and how you are adding to the bottom line.

A return on investment of wellness is tougher to calculate.

But reducing stress may help boost your health and resiliency, and therefore make you a better worker.

Top 10 Fitness and Nutrition Tips For Older Adults

Tai Chi has been shown to be very safe for elderly, frail, and de-conditioned people.

That makes Tai Chi an excellent response to the U.S. Surgeon General’s recent call for novel exercise programs for women with low bone density, which includes 34 million American women over age 50.

In fact, the Surgeon General’s report specifically recommends Tai Chi as a good exercise for fall prevention.

With the number of Americans 65+ expected to reach 20% of the U.S. population by 2050, exercise and diet is more important than ever.

Here’s a list of Top 10 tips to help older adults enhance overall wellness into their later years, compiled by Peggy Buchanan, coordinator of vitality/wellness programming for Front Porch, a not-for-profit provider of retirement living communities in Southern California.

1. Fight afternoon fatigue – Fatigue is a common problem among older adults, especially after lunch.

Having a glass of water and a high-antioxidant food like a prune can revitalize the body and stimulate the mind.

2. Exercise from the neck up – Keeping the brain active and fit is imperative to the health of older adults.

Not only does it stave off memory-loss illnesses like Alzheimer’s and dementia, but it also fosters executive function.

Try word games and recall exercises.

For example, find five red objects during a walk in the neighborhood and recall them when back home.

3. Pole walk – Walking poles allow for more balanced mobility than walkers or canes.

Walking with poles engages the muscles of the upper torso, which increases upper-body strength and cardiovascular endurance.

Consult a physician before making the switch to poles.

4. Dine in duos – Those who share meals with others eat less than those who eat alone.

This is an easy weight-loss tactic and one that fosters social interaction and engagement.

While this is easy for those aging in community, older adults aging at home can plan to have meals with family or friends at least several times a week.

5. Break routine – Routine limits brain stimulation.

Introduce new foods or new ways of eating the same food.

For example, replace canned peaches with freshly sliced ones.

Also, try taking a different route to the grocery store or shopping center.

6. Sole Support – As people age, the fat pads on the bottom of their feet compress, creating fatigue and pain.

Consider wearing supportive shoes or inserting foot pads for better stability and comfort or socks that have extra padding and a wicking agent to keep feet dry and comfortable.

7. Fats: Out with the bad, in with the good – Older adults with an increased genetic risk for dementia can reduce the risk by increasing the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.

These fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, olive oil and green leafy vegetables, can reduce brain inflammation, a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Decrease salt and increase your salsa – High blood pressure, which can lead to strokes and a significant decline in cognitive function, often increases with age.

As adults get older, the sense of taste also fades, leading to a desire for more salt on food to enhance flavor.

Decreasing salt intake by putting down the shaker – and increasing exercise habits by shaking to a salsa beat – will enhance cardio and cognitive health.

9. Balancing act – In addition to exercises that build strength and improve flexibility and cardiovascular endurance, make sure to add balance activities to the daily routine.

Good balance requires maintaining a center of gravity over the base of support.

Tai chi, yoga, walking on challenging surfaces and water exercises all enhance overall balance.

10. Dance like there’s no tomorrow – Older adults getting regular physical exercise are 60% less likely to get dementia.

Exercise increases oxygen to the brain and releases a protein that strengthens cells and neurons.

Dance involves all of the above plus the cerebral activity present in learning and memory.