Tips for a Healthy Holiday Guess what? You can have a very merry Christmas and stay healthy too. In this article we have a few tips and tricks to keep you healthy this holiday season. Don’t sit down all day during the holidays It’s tempting to watch every TV Christmas special during the holiday. Get outside, no need to sit on the couch all day. Encourage the whole family to get out for a walk at some point – ideally, after dinner to aid digestion. The more activity, the better, so take along any new outdoor gifts, like bikes, scooters, footballs or Frisbees, or play old-fashioned games. Get outside and play! Avoid having too many alcoholic beverages The drinks over the holidays can really add up. Mulled wine on Christmas Eve, Breakfast bloody Mary’s, wine with dinner, spiked eggnog… the list goes on! Monitor your alcoholic beverage intake and intersperse alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones. And make sure you drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated. Don’t give yourself a Christmas stuffing! On average, we consume approximately 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner alone – much more than most should have per day. Feasting with that many calories can not only contribute to weight gain but also to indigestion and heartburn. It can also cause lethargy for the remainder of the day, reducing the chances of you burning much of it off. Instead of gorging yourself on Christmas dinner, eat a normal-sized meal and then take a 20-minute break to see if you are still hungry. The chances are, you’ll realize you’ve had enough. Keep stress to a minimum The holidays can be stressful! Many of us deal with the stresses of overspending, cooking, cleaning, endless ‘to do’ lists and visitors we could do without. Try to keep a sense of humor and proportion. Remember, Christmas is just one day of the year and isn’t worth stressing over. Enjoy it and it’s imperfections. Eat fruit and veggies Think you get your recommend fruit and veggie intake during the holidays? Most of us get through the entire Christmas break without eating much fruit and veggies. With all of the chocolate, cookies, and food indulgences, why would you? But at this time of late nights and overindulging, it’s more important than ever to get your vitamins and minerals, to help you stay in good health. Ensure that your Christmas shopping list enables you to fill up the fruit bowl and get your recommended daily portions of fruit and veggies. Do something for others It’s hard to avoid the craziness of Christmas, but it doesn’t all have to be about giving or receiving gifts. Try to do something for others this festive season, whether it’s baking some extra cookies for an elderly neighbor, inviting an acquaintance who doesn’t have family around them to your home or helping out with a local food bank or charity you believe in. We hope you have a very healthy and happy holiday.
The amazing effects pets have on mental health. Studies are continually showing that pets aren’t just fun to have around the house – there is health-boosting power among our furry, scaly or feathered friends. Everything from increasing activity to making you happier, pets have a wonderful impact on your psyche. It’s no surprise that owning a pet – particularly a dog – makes you more active, but the list of health benefits that come with that might surprise. Older adults who own a dog have a lower body mass index, make fewer visits to the doctor and do more exercise. Research also shows that the stronger your bond with your pooch, the more likely you are to walk, and spend longer walking. With all those walks, pets tend to be good for your heart too. The American Heart Association undertook a study about how owning pets affects your chance of developing cardiovascular disease, including conditions that affect your heart and blood, such as stroke or coronary heart disease. Researchers found that having a pet – a dog, in particular – is probably associated with reducing your chances of developing CVD, though they were careful not to overstate this. In a follow-up study researchers again looked at how having a dog or cat affected your health, and this time felines came up trumps. They found that having a cat is associated with a reduced chance of dying from cardiovascular disease, especially strokes. This shows that it’s not just the exercise associated with having a pet that helps you – the stress relief and companionship also have very physical benefits. Pets make you more sociable. Even though you might feel grumpy sometimes and think you like quiet, humans are social animals. It’s important for our physical and mental health to have contact with other people – and our four-legged friends are a brilliant way to get you talking. Pets increase the number of off-chance chats you have and help people trust you and are brilliant ice-breakers. Social isolation is a huge health problem, particularly for the elderly. In fact, social isolation can increase your chances of dying early. So, what may seem like a trivial chat over the garden wall when looking for your cat or in the park when walking your dog, can be hugely significant for your mental and physical health. Pets stop loneliness. It’s not just that pets help you build a wider social network – many people have pets as companions. They make you happy, give you a routine and are great company – all of which adds your quality of life and boosts your everyday mental health. Pets reduce your stress. If you want to try and control your stress levels, go and chat to your pet. Studies have shown that pet owners reacted less to stress – and recovered from it much quicker – when their pets were present. Another study took 48 people with high blood pressure and high stress jobs. Researchers measured how they responded to stress before the test. Then, some of them bought a pet and six months later researchers again measured their response to stress. The results were interesting: after 6 months pet owners had less of a physical response to stress compared with those who didn’t have a four-legged friend. Pets are great. And a lot of them need homes. Help out a pet (adopt!) while helping to improve your mental health.
December 2nd - 8th is National Influenza Vaccination Week. Now is the time to get your flu vaccine If you haven’t gotten yours yet. An annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect against the influenza virus. National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 2nd - 8th) highlights the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond. The Flu Vaccination Prevents Flu! Flu season is in full force. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination can still provide protection against flu. Most of the time, flu activity peaks between December and February in the United States, although activity can last as late as May. Flu activity is expected to increase in the coming weeks; the sooner you get vaccinated, the more likely you are to be protected against flu when activity picks up in your community. Does everyone need the Flu Vaccine? According to the CDC, a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu viruses. Vaccination to prevent flu is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Everyday Actions to Prevent the Flu In addition to getting your flu vaccine this season, the CDC also urges you to take everyday preventive actions to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu. The CDC says everyday preventive actions include the following:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.