Wellness

SHOES

If you have ever had trouble with your feet, you know it is no fun. Particularly for exercise, it is imperative that you have good shoes or you are setting yourself up for painful days ahead. Nearly every athletic brand sells shoes for fashion. Multi-colored, neon, glow in the dark (for night running), differing treads to name a few of the reasons that will entice people to buy their brand. So many brands sell varying levels of shoes that have not a great deal of quality to them. Fans of a certain player may spend a ton of money because of the name of the athlete although the shoes do not fit correctly.

If you are going to invest some of your hard earned money in a pair of decent shoes, make sure they aren’t going to sit in your closet because they hurt your feet, fall apart or even buy them because you got a good deal on them.

The following is from a website that deals with the importance of shoes not just for exercise but on how shoes can affect the whole body.

Wearing good shoes can help you to feel your best and help prevent injuries. Shoe choice can affect your whole body, not just your feet.

Look for shoes that:

  • Have a stiff back. Grasp the heel in one hand and the shoe above the heel in the other hand. You should not be able to move the shoe side-to-side around the heel.
  • Have a small amount of torque. Hold the shoe at both ends. You should be able to twist it slightly.
  • Bend where your toes bend..
  • Provide arch support. If the shoe does not have arch support, add an extra arch that makes it comfortable. Check that the arch support can fit in the shoe without squeezing the toes or causing the shoes to slip off the heel.
  • Are wide enough and long enough at the toes. It should not push the toes in or make them curl.
  • Feel comfortable right away.

When to replace shoes?

  • Look at the heel. Most people will wear out the side of the heel over time. When the heel becomes angled, it will alter every step you take and can cause pain in the leg or back. Shoe repair stores may be able to fix the heel. If not, replace the shoe.
  • Running shoes can cause pain before they look worn. This is because they lose the capacity to absorb shock. The guideline to replace running shoes is every 350 to 500 miles. Running shoes older than one year old may also cause pain because of changes in the sole with exposure to humidity or heat. Save running shoes for running only and it will prolong the life of the shoe. Old running shoes can be used for walking.

Consider different factors for different shoes:

Athletic shoes: There are four types of running shoes: motion control, stability, neutral/cushioning, and minimalist. The correct shoe for you is based on arch type and biomechanics. One way to test the shoe is to walk and jog in it. You can also balance on one leg and do a one-legged squat. The shoe should feel comfortable right away and these tests should feel easier in the right shoe.

For court sports, a sport-specific shoe is better than a running shoe because it will provide more side-to-side support. For cleats, it can be helpful to pick a shoe that allows you to add an arch support.

Minimalist shoes are used for forefoot running to simulate “barefoot” running. To avoid injury, it’s best to slowly add time and to get guidance for proper form.

Sandals: Flip flops are good for short distance walking only. Choose sandals with strapstha cover more of the foot and/or wrap around the anke.

Boots may fit loosely and not provide adequate foot support. Adding arch support can improve comfort.

Women’s dress shoes are often detrimental to feet, knees, and spines. Heels alter whole body posture and can cause pain. If you wear heels, pick a lower heel shoe, a wider heel or wedge, and a heel that does not curve in. Wear higher heels when you have to, then switch to a lower heels if you have to walk any distance.

Take time to tie and untie your shoes:

Your shoe will work best when it fits snugly and acts as an extension of your foot, without sliding around. Pulling off your shoe without untying it will cause the support in the shoe to break down much faster.

It’s funny how some people are just passionate about their shoes. The one good thing about shoes……is no matter how much weight you gain or lose, they will always fit! Unless you are pregnant…..that probably takes it to a whole different level of weight gain and feet swelling.

For those of you who are looking for a good pair of shoes for cardio or any type of exercise, I highly recommend Brooks. I’m sure there are plenty of good shoes out there but I will never buy any other shoes other than Brooks.

Do your feet and body a favor….invest in decent shoes for the long haul. You will be thankful that you did.

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BCPS WELLNESS

In the recent past, BCPS has added a central office to the Office of Benefits, Leaves and Retirement….it is the Employee Wellness Office and can be located through a link on the internet or intranet through Benefits, Leaves and Retirement. There are many offerings to participate in through school based activities or even if you need personal or family care. For school related activities, you can check either the internet or intranet, for more personal information on the health care opportunities through Cigna or Kaiser, the intranet is the best location.

BCPS activities include monthly challenges, Healthiest Loser, Red Your Red, offerings for fitness center discounts and smoking cessation, 10,000 Steps, 5K Wellness Day, Flu Vaccines, Hungry Harvest, CPR Training and several others. Additionally, through our Health Care Providers, there are so many opportunities for help in all facets of life….physically, emotionally, financially, family counseling, general quality of life, etc.

The website below is a good place to start to explore all that is available to us.

http://workspace.bcps.org/wellness/Pages/default.aspx

Remember, a healthier and happier you, makes it so much easier to face the day and the challenges that may come forth. Take a minute or two to investigate the benefits that BCPS’s Office of Wellness presents to all employees.

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KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

No, not your lucky lotto numbers although the winning numbers would be awesome. What would be even better are winning numbers in “Know Your Numbers” regarding your health. That way you can happily and healthfully enjoy your megabucks in hitting the jackpot. To be honest, money is great and something we can’t live without but so is your health. I can’t imagine living the life of a chronically sick person, housebound and running to doctors every other day. Just shoot me. Quality of life is probably the “key to happiness” although we may not even realize it. Health is a large contributor to the quality of your life. You don’t think so? . . . Trying living with poor health or observe someone that has poor health. Probably not a pretty picture. So many other factors affect those with poor health as well. Depression, lack of self-confidence, poor self-image, so many psychological aspects go in to quality of life as well.

That said . . . Know Your Numbers! Blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and BMI. If you don’t know them, find them out. Cholesterol is the most difficult to determine because you need a blood test. A fasting blood test can determine your blood sugar too but if you know someone with diabetes, they may let you use their blood sugar testing kit and prick your finger to do a quick test on your sugar levels. Blood Pressure? Stop by our nurse’s office or any pharmacy usually has a blood pressure cuff that can give you a quick check. BMI is as simple as plugging your height and weight into a chart that calculates your BMI for you.

A quick overview of the actual numbers . . . Blood pressure. Systolic over Diastolic. The pressure in your arteries on every beat over the pressure in your heart between beats. It’s generally been said that the lower number is the “more important number.” That makes sense because if it measures the pressure between beats of your heart, you don’t want that pressure high. It’s like over filling a balloon. Kaboom if it gets too high. In theory, 120/80 is considered the normal blood pressure. Between 120/80 and 139/89 is considered borderline. 140/90 is high and above that is very high. Blood pressure can routinely vary through the day as it can be affected by exercise, stress, sleep and meds. Low blood pressure is generally thought to be good as long as you feel well and are not dizzy or see stars after quick movements. Know your numbers. Have Kate check it out. Don’t be reactive, be proactive.

Cholesterol numbers . . . the bad news is only 25% of the numbers are under your control while 75% is inherited. Know your family’s health history of heart/cardiovascular disease. Meds can control the cholesterol but not “cure” it. Once those arteries become clogged with a waxy build up that coats the inside of the arteries (it is called hardening of the arteries because that stuff is rock solid), the way to get them “unclogged” is through heart surgery. Not good. Angioplasty and stents are what is put in to open the throughways of the arteries to your heart. And with each time this has to be performed, the chance of success goes down. If it sounds like a scare tactic, it is. Get the numbers down the best as possible through your diet. Lay off the crappy foods that has a ton of saturated and trans fats. Read the label. Cholesterol levels have a tendency to go up as we age, especially with women. Keep them low. There are several actual numbers to deal with regarding cholesterol. HDL, LDL, overall cholesterol, the HDL/LDL ratio and triglycerides. It’s called a lipid panel when you get blood work done. The general thought is that overall cholesterol should be below 200. Triglycerides below 150, HDL (good) is 35-65 for men and 35-80 for women, LDL (bad) is below 130, the ratio should be optimally 3.5 to 1 but 4.0 to 1 is considered okay. Unfortunately, getting a blood test (fasting) is the only way to get a true lipid/cholesterol test. There are home kits but I think when dealing with the importance of cholesterol, it is important to let the professionals handle the testing. To help lower cholesterol, eat a heart healthy diet, be active, lose weight if necessary, don’t smoke and try to eliminate saturated/trans fats. Say goodbye to fast foods. Know your numbers!

A high blood sugar level in our bodies can lead to diabetes. Insulin helps us absorb nutrients from our food. Whenever we eat carbs the amount of sugar in our blood increases, and the pancreas releases insulin to help take the sugar out of the bloodstream and into our organs where it can be used for energy. Diabetes follows when that insulin response doesn’t occur and sugar piles up in the blood with nowhere to go. Fasting glucose numbers should fall between 70-100 and throughout the day, below 125 is acceptable. Know your numbers!

The last “Know Your Numbers” number is BMI. In my (unprofessional) opinion, a BMI number is the least to worry about and also the least accurate of the important numbers to know. It basically is a glorified height/weight chart. That isn’t to say weight isn’t important because it is. However, the percentage of body fat is probably more important as it takes into consideration musculature and body build. That said, if your BMI is under 18.5, you are considered underweight, between 18.5 and 24.9, the so-called normal range, 25.0-29.9, overweight and above 30.0, obese. If you are overweight or have a high percentage of body fat or BMI, other health issues can arise such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and/or sleep apnea among others. There is no such thing as an “ideal” body weight, shape or size. If you feel good, have plenty of energy, eat a good diet and participate in physical activities, you are probably on the right road to healthy living. Don’t smoke, limit alcohol and manage stress, you have it made! Know your numbers!

Don’t just roll the dice and let the numbers fall where they may. Pick and choose your numbers. In most instances, lower numbers are good. Don’t tell the lottery agent, “random select.” Those numbers always stink. Know your numbers and the numbers that need to be drawn. No money in the world is going to buy your health. Hit the jackpot on your own. It’s not always easy but it is always worth it!

 

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WATER

Fatigue. How many different ways can there be to express the run over feeling that is prevalent this time of year? Tired. Exhaustipated. Can barely put one foot in front of the other. Going to collapse. Every. Single. Morning. And . . . . the afternoon too, regardless of how much coffee/caffeine is consumed. Those that have large responsibilities i.e. families/kids outside of school probably should invest in stock of Keurig. There is never enough time in the day to get everything finished, so days bleed into nights. Professional lives bleed into personal lives. Stress levels go up. And the quality of your health goes down.

What if you were told you could have improvement in how you felt each day and it was free? Would you take advantage of it? Who wouldn’t? Well, you can and you should. It’s called WATER. Simple solution. Not complicated and it is even convenient. The number one cause of fatigue is dehydration. Studies have shown that one out of every five trips to the doctor’s office can be eliminated simply by being hydrated. As a rule of thumb, each person needs one ounce of water per two pounds of body weight. An additional cup of water for every cup of caffeine consumed as well since caffeine is a diuretic. Some of us could be in trouble or spend lots of time in the bathroom! Believe it or not, we lose anywhere from two to three liters of fluid a day. More depending upon weather and activity level. Even more dehydrating than caffeine . . . yep, alcohol. Bad time of year to hear that fact. And ice in your vodka or rum does not count toward hydrating!!!

The human body is made up of over two thirds water. Slowly take that away and our systems are highly affected. We can survive maybe two weeks without food but only a few days without water. Calories are a measure of energy and luckily 25% of our water intake comes from the foods we eat (mostly fruits and veggies but even a bagel is 33% water). Just think of how much better we would feel if we really tried to watch our diets and fluids. Age, gender, weight, environment and health also play a role in the amount of water we need on a daily basis.

Besides fatigue, there are other signs and symptoms that can clue you in to your hydration level. The color of your urine for example. If your urine is approaching the color of apple juice, you are in trouble. Unless you know you have an electrolyte imbalance (which is NO JOKE!), water is the best thing for rehydration. Sports drinks and juices have many calories, sugars, sodium and chemicals. Water has so many positive functions in the body, including removing waste, moving nutrients, cushioning joints regulating body temperature, keeping your skin moist (I know, a gross word) and your cells, tissues and organs alive and functioning. It is imperative to stay hydrated. Another simple test is pinching the skin on the top of your forearm. If it doesn’t snap back quickly, you are dehydrated.

Warning signs of lack of water are thirst, weakness, dizziness, flushed skin, faster breathing and heart rate and having trouble with any cardio exercise. Don’t wait for the warning signs. Stay hydrated. No excuses. Start your New Year’s Resolution now in September and October. That way you can enjoy the holidays feeling better and even have an extra drink or two!! You are worth it. Hydrate. Eat, drink (water) and be merry!

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You Matter

What do you do for you? Better yet, do you do anything for you? We all need outlets, down time and social time. Driving to and from school doesn’t count. Neither does going to the bathroom since the dog or kids barge into the room. The beginning of school is generally the worst time to try to accomplish all we need to do plus take time for ourselves. However it is probably the most important time. How can we expect to be good for others when we don’t function at nearly 100%. We give and give to everyone else until there isn’t anything left in the tank.

Health, wellness and fitness is the first day lesson in Fitness Mastery. All are interrelated and the backbone of the course. Health is defined as the state of optimal physical, mental and social well-being. Wellness is the state that allows a person to reach his or her highest potential. Fitness is defined as the ability of the body to work together efficiently. The bottom line is they all suffer due to the vicious cycle of no time, too tired. If you don’t take time/make time to get in decent shape, you can’t be optimally healthy and therefore wellness can’t be achieved because you aren’t able to work at your highest potential.

If you care for your family, friends, coworkers and students, you have to care for you. Take a minute to honestly assess what you do for you. How can you be better to you? How can you be less stressed, eat better, exercise more and relax more? If you don’t take time to be well, you will have to find time to be ill.

Health is a relationship between you and your body. Individuals need to take charge of their own wellness. Be proactive. Don’t wait for the engine to blow . . . get an oil change or tune up every so often. Not to get all “science-y” but increased levels of endorphins and serotonin in the body are known for boosting emotions. Both of these chemicals are affected by physical activity and nutrition. By being in a positive state, it has a significant impact on motivation, productivity and wellness. Get those chemical levels up!!

No one said taking care of yourself is easy. Most teachers don’t think of themselves at all. As the saying goes “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take that step and more. Be good to yourself. You matter.

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