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Air Quality Effects on Health

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Buildings silhouette cityscape. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urban areas are the most susceptible because of all the pollution being emitted from cars, trucks and buses. Broad industrialized valleys penned in by mountain ranges tend to trap smog, making air quality poor and life miserable for those people working, working out, or playing outside on hot summer days. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urban areas are the most susceptible because of all the pollution being emitted from cars, trucks and buses. Broad industrialized valleys penned in by mountain ranges tend to trap smog, making air quality poor and life miserable for those people working, working out, or playing outside on hot summer days. How does air quality affect your health, you may ask?

  • Breathing polluted air puts you at a higher risk for asthma and other respiratory diseases
  • When exposed to ground ozone for 6 to 7 hours, scientific evidence show that healthy people’s lung function decreased and they suffered from respiratory inflammation
  • Air pollutants are mostly carcinogens and living in a polluted area can put people at risk of Cancer
  • Coughing and wheezing are common symptoms observed on city folks
  • Damages the immune system, endocrine and reproductive systems
  • High levels of particle pollution have been associated with higher incidents of heart problems
  • The toxic chemicals released into the air settle into plants and water sources. Animals eat the contaminated plants and drink the water. The poison then travels up the food chain – to us
Those are just a few of the problems poor air quality can cause poor health. When it’s hot, as it’s been the last several weeks in Colorado our air quality can decline. Be careful when it’s hot and remember what poor air quality can do to your health.

Get outside and Play! July is National Parks and Recreation Month

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Friendly children playing in a park, running with colourful banners, in vintage style develop Discover the power of play and adventure this month. It’s summer and it’s July - National Parks and Recreation Month. We are so lucky to have as many wonderful parks for us and our family to play or exercise in. Or even just to relax, meditate, and take a break from the general craziness of life. For children and adults, play is a vital part of our mental wellbeing, physical health and personal interactions. We challenge you to get your play on at your local parks and recreation. Whether it’s summer camp, an adult sports league, exploring a trail, yoga class, meeting friends on the playground, playing cards in the park, or discovering nature — parks and play go hand in hand. And play and exercise also go hand and hand, which promotes a healthy and active lifestyle. Each July since 1985, America has celebrated Park and Recreation Month, a program of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The goal is to raise awareness of the vital impact that parks, recreation and conservation has on communities across the U.S. Parks are the cornerstone of nearly every community, serving millions of people as the places anyone can go to be active, live healthier, connect with nature and gather together. Get out there and play in your local park! Enjoy it and have fun outside.

Fourth of July Firework Safety Tips

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Firework-safety Independence Day - July 4th - is a fun holiday with fireworks, patriotism, barbecues and so much more. But with fun, often comes danger! Did you know Independence day is the holiday with the most fires? Fireworks (often coming into contact with decorations) are often a large culprit when looking at the causes of fires over the Independence Day holiday. Fire is just one of the many precautions you and our family can take for firework and decoration safety over the holiday. Read the following tips to keep you and your family safe from fireworks this July 4th. Tip #1 Have a fire extinguisher readily available. This way if there was an accidental fire, the fire can be put out quickly. Tip #2 If you have fireworks, have water buckets and a hose available. This is also important in the case that a fire becomes larger than a small extinguisher can take care of. Tip #3 Alcohol is a favorite of many for the holiday celebrations. However, it is important to keep alcohol away from children and animals and especially out of the hands with those that have fireworks. Alcohol causes judgement impairment and could lead to not only a fire, but other accidents including alcohol poisoning impaired driving, and much more. Be smart and limit your alcohol consumption during the 4th of July. Tip #4 When you are disposing of 4th of July decorations and fireworks, make sure that they are completely free of heat and fire. This way there will not be a smoldering fire happening after the party is over. Tip #5 Make sure that the area you are lighting fireworks off is also free of bushes, dry grass, trees, streamers, balloons, flammable helium, and other fire hazardous materials. Tip #6 Safety includes removing small pieces of balloons, fireworks, and other items that are able to choke small children.  Tip #7 Stay away from illegal fireworks. They are illegal due to the increased danger involved with certain types of fireworks. Here is a list of the fireworks to avoid.

  • Large re-loadable mortar shells
  • Cherry bombs
  • M-80 salutes
  • Large firecrackers
  Following this 4th of July firework and decoration safety tips should make it easier to maintain a safe and fire-free environment for all.  

Prostate Cancer

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prostate cancer Prostate Cancer With June being Men’s health awareness month, we’d like to discuss prostate cancer in this blog post. Prostate cancer has become one of the most common cancers found in men and it’s an important point of discussion and something everyone should be aware of. Here are a few things to know about the prostate and prostate cancer:

  • The prostate is a gland found only in men. It is about the size of a walnut and sits below the bladder.
  • Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men. One in seven men in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease in his lifetime.
  • Compared to other men, African-American men and men with a family history of the disease are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. A man with a father or brother who had prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop the disease.
  • The BRCA 1/2 mutation is also believed to increase prostate cancer risk.
All men are at risk for prostate cancer at any point in their lifetime.  However, there are specific risk factors that increase the likelihood that certain men will develop the disease. Risk factors include:
  • Age: Aggressive prostate cancer is virtually nonexistent in men under 40. With age, however, the chance of developing prostate cancer increases. Nearly two-thirds of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over 65, and nearly one-half of prostate cancer deaths occur in men initially diagnosed after 75.
  • Race: Prostate cancer is about twice as common among African-American men as it is among white American men.
  • Diet: Epidemiological data suggest that the diet consumed in industrialized Western countries may be a factor in developing prostate cancer. Consider the following information regarding diet and its effect on the risk for prostate cancer:
    • Fat: Some studies suggest that men who eat a high-fat diet, especially if it is high in red meat or high-fat dairy products, may have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer.
    • Fruits and vegetables: Diets high in fruits and vegetables may lower prostate cancer risk, although it is not clear which nutrient(s) may be responsible for this.
    • Carotenoids: Carotenoids, such as lycopenes, have been shown to inhibit the growth of human prostate cancer cells grown in the laboratory. The primary source of lycopenes is processed tomatoes. Again, however, it is not clear if lycopenes affect prostate cancer risk in men, as not all studies have found a benefit.
  Talk to your doctor if you or a loved one is at risk of prostate cancer. One chat could save a life.

Heatstroke Signs and Symptoms

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heatstroke As we get outside more and the summer temperatures start rising, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of Heat Stroke. What is Heatstroke? Let’s first start by telling you what heatstroke is. Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F or higher. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death. What are the symptoms of heatstroke? Heatstroke symptoms include:

  • High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
  • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache. Your head may throb.
When should you seek medical help? If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number. Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
  • Get the person into shade or indoors.
  • Remove excess clothing.
  • Cool the person with whatever means available — put in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person's head, neck, armpits and groin.
  Talk to your doctor for more information on heatstroke.

What is a Herniated Disc?

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herniateddisccutaway You may have met people with back pain who tell you they have a herniated disc. But do you know what a herniated disc really is? Your backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between them are soft discs filled with a jelly-like substance. These discs cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. As you age, the discs break down or degenerate. As they do, they lose their cushioning ability. This can lead to pain if the back is stressed. A herniated disk is a disc that ruptures. This allows the jelly-like center of the disc to leak, irritating the nearby nerves. This can cause sciatica or back pain. Your doctor will diagnose a herniated disc with a physical exam and, sometimes, imaging tests. With treatment, most people recover. Treatments include rest, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery. Herniated Disc Symptoms When part of a disc presses on a nerve, it can cause pain in the back and the legs. The location of the pain depends on which disc is weak. How bad the pain is depends on how much of the disc is pressing on the nerve. In most people with herniated discs, the pain spreads over the buttocks and goes down the back of one thigh and into the calf. This is known as sciatica because the pain travels along the path of the sciatic nerve. Some people have pain in both legs. In some people, the legs or feet feel numb or tingly. The pain from a herniated disc is usually worse when you’re active and gets better when you’re resting. Coughing, sneezing, sitting, driving and bending forward may make the pain worse. The pain gets worse because these movements put more pressure on the nerve. People who have painful herniated discs often try to change positions to reduce the pain. You may have found that holding yourself up with your hands while you are sitting helps the pain. Shifting your weight to one side may also help. How does a disc become herniated? As you grow older, the discs in your spine weaken and become flatter — less cushiony. If a disc becomes too weak, the outer part may tear. The inside part of the disc then pushes through the tear and presses on the nerves beside it. Herniated discs are most common in people in their 30s and 40s. Treatment Treatment generally consists of pain management medication, exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the discs and to improve your posture, and in severe cases surgery.   Every case is different so if you’re dealing with back pain, talk to your doctor for help and diagnosis.

Injury Prevention

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INJURY-PREVENTION-2-481x230 No matter what the injury, being injured is not fun. The injury itself can be painful and the recovery time keeps you down. Nobody likes being injured! Did you know, injuries are a leading cause of disability for people of all ages – and they are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. But, there are many things people can do to stay safe and prevent injuries. There is so much information out there about injury prevention, we just wanted to share a few overall health tips to help you stay injury free in any situation.

  1. Warm Up Warming up is extremely important to a successful workout or training session. However, it’s even more important to reducing your risk of injury. By warming up, you’re making sure that your muscles are receiving enough blood and nutrients to work properly. Starting a hard workout before warming up means you’ll be working muscles when they don’t have enough fuel to take on a hard workout. Think of turning on your car in the cold weather and trying to accelerate fast. Your car has a harder time running without properly warming up first. It’s similar to working out before warming up. Strains are one of the most common injuries resulting from not warming up properly.
  1. Get Enough Sleep Getting enough sleep means your body is getting the rest it needs to perform at optimal speed. It means you’ll be more alert and less likely to end up with a traumatic injury from a stumble and fall. The body needs sleep to rejuvenate. Without that rejuvenation time, you’re more likely to injure yourself.
  1. Know When To Rest Over-training is one of the biggest leaders of injuries, especially overuse injuries like strains. Similar to getting enough sleep, your body needs time to rest between hard workouts. Overworking your muscles means putting more strain on them than what they can handle. Knowing your limits and listening to your body can mean the difference between staying pain-free and getting an injury.
  1. Know Your Weaknesses Everybody has a weakness. This weakness is what leads to injuries like strains and tears. Learning where your weaknesses lie means that you can target those muscles and strengthen them. Athletic trainers and physical therapists are especially knowledgeable in determining a weakness. They can then suggest proper training techniques and exercises that will strengthen those areas.
  1. Cross-Train and Condition Ensuring you’re working all the muscles means that you’re strengthening your body as a whole. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments all support each other. Whether you feel like you’re using a particular muscle or not, it’s supporting your body in one way or another as you work. Cross training will ensure you’re working all the muscles of the body, and not just specific ones. Cross training and conditioning leads to overall fitness, making sure you’re strong and well rounded.
  Talk to your doctor for more information on how you can prevent injury and help spread the word this Injury Prevention Month.  

Tips for a safe and healthy Memorial Day!

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memorial-weekend   Memorial Day is a great time to fire up the grill and enjoy the company of friends and family. It’s also a great time to take a road trip or get into the mountains. Whatever your plans are for this memorial day, make sure you’re safe and healthy. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your holiday weekend. Grilling Tips Make sure your food is completely cooked! According to the Center for Disease Control and Protection, approximately 48 million people get food poisoning per year. To avoid getting sick from your grill, use a meat thermometer and make sure any meat you grill is completely cooked. Raw meat can ruin your weekend. Additionally, grills themselves can be dangerous, especially with younger children around. Adults should keep a kid free area of three feet around the grill. Also make sure your grill is clean to avoid flame flare ups and fires while cooking. Travel Memorial Day weekend generally means there are extra cars on the road as people are taking road trips. More cars on the roads is a sure bet that there will be more traffic accidents. According to the National Safety Council, 382 fatalities and 40,900 injuries are expected to occur over the holiday weekend. Drivers should take extra precautions when on the road this Memorial Day weekend. Sun Exposure and Insects It’s likely that many will be spending time outside this weekend. Make sure to cover up to avoid sunburns as well as insect bites. While insects may just be a nuisance to some, they're much more dangerous to others. For those allergic to insect stings, health officials recommend you carry an EpiPen on you in the event of a severe allergic reaction. Also be on the lookout for ticks if you’re planning to go hiking or be out on the trails. Tick season is here. Have a safe and happy Memorial Day!

Spring Allergies – Prevent them before they start!

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  allergies-prevention Spring Allergies! How to prevent them before they start. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. Allergies affect 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children.  An estimated 10 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. have asthma, related to their allergies. Allergies may be seasonal and symptoms are typically triggered by pollen (weeds, grass, trees) or airborne mold spores. Since the predominant pollen types vary by geographic region and pollen levels can change day-to-day, it is important to monitor daily pollen counts to avoid being subject to large amounts of it. To reduce pollen exposure, we recommend the following measures:

  1. Close windows and doors when pollen counts are high
  2. Remove clothes that have been worn outside, and shower to remove pollen from skin and hair
  3. Avoid outside activity in the morning when pollen counts are highest
In addition to environmental control measures, oral and topical (including nasal and eye) allergy medications can be effective in preventing or relieving symptoms. Commonly used medications include antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists and short courses of corticosteroids. Antihistamines work quickly and should be started before the allergy season in order to prevent symptoms. Due to varying side effects depending on the antihistamine being used, ask your healthcare provider which medication may be right for you. Nasal allergy sprays for symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing and post-nasal drip include nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines and nasal mast cell stabilizers. Allergy eye drops for symptoms such as watery and itchy eyes include ocular antihistamines and combination ocular antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers. Make sure to talk to your doctor before taking oral antihistamines for allergy relief.  

Get better sleep!

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  sleep With busy, stressful lives, often comes sleep deprivation and overall just not getting enough sleep. According to the Huffington Post, “In their first study of self-reported sleep length, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 34.8 percent of American adults are getting less than seven hours of sleep — the minimum length of time adults should sleep in order to reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, mental distress, coronary heart disease and early death.” Falling asleep may seem like an impossible dream when you’re awake at 3 a.m., but good sleep is more under your control than you might think. Here are a few tips that can help you get better sleep: Regulate your sleep schedule.

  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid sleeping in—even on weekends. The more your weekend/weekday sleep schedules differ, the worse the jet lag-like symptoms you’ll experience. If you need to make up for a late night, opt for a daytime nap rather than sleeping in. This allows you to pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your natural sleep-wake rhythm.
  • Be smart about napping. While napping is a good way to make up for lost sleep, if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, napping can make things worse. Limit them to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
Get regular exercise! Regular exercisers sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day.
  • The more vigorously you exercise, the more powerful the sleep benefits. But even light exercise—such as walking for just 10 minutes a day—improves sleep quality.
  • It can take several months of regular activity before you experience the full sleep-promoting effects. So be patient and focus on building an exercise habit that sticks.
Clear your head before you hit the hay. Stress, anxiety, chronic worrying will stop any sleep. Try these relaxation techniques to help you stop the worry and get to sleep.
  • Deep breathing. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. Starting with your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up to the top of your head.
  • Visualizing a peaceful, restful place. Close your eyes and imagine a place that’s calming and peaceful. Concentrate on how relaxed this place makes you feel.
  Still having problems sleeping? Talk to your doctor about additional ways to help.