Get out and exercise

Get out and Exercise!

Regular exercise is one of the keys to living a healthy life. Living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we are blessed with 300 sunny days per year. Although it can get cold at times in the winter, there are opportunities to stay physically active, whether indoors or outdoors, year-round.

There are multiple benefits to exercise. I have often joked that if I could put all the benefits of exercise into a pill and sell that pill, I would become an instant multi-millionaire! Unfortunately, at this time, no such pill has been developed so you actually need to get up off the couch and move your body to get the benefits.

What are these benefits? According to the CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

physical activity can help:
Control Your Weight.
Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.
Reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
Reduce Your Risk of Some Cancers.
Strengthen Your Bones and Muscles.
Improve Your Mental Health and Mood.
Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
Increase your chances of living longer
See this link for more details: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/

What kind of exercise is right for you? That is a complicated question. If you have any concerns about possible heart disease or a heart problem, you should consult your doctor or health care provider before starting any rigorous exercise program. If you like, call Aspen Medical Center Urgent Care & Primary Care for an appointment or just walk in.

I suggest finding some type of exercise you enjoy. Walking, for many people, is an easy and accessible form of exercise. I walk to work everyday. One common recommendation is to try to get 10,000 steps a day. There are many apps and devices to help achieve this goal or the goal can be individualized. You can join the Aspen Wellness Walkers, sponsored by Aspen Wellness, our acupuncture clinic and wellness center. We usually sponsor a walk somewhere in Santa Fe every weekend. For more information, go to https://www.meetup.com/Aspen-Wellness-Walkers/

Other types of exercise include rock climbing, hiking, swimming, biking, skiing, and jogging. Some people like to dance. Others play sports such as basketball, soccer, pickle ball, volleyball, softball, or tennis. Others like yoga, Tai Chi, or Zumba. I believe there is an appropriate exercise for everyone. All you have to do is start. Ideally try to work up to an average of at least 30 active minutes (e.g brisk walking) 5 days a week. This can do wonders for your mood and your overall health. Good luck!

Seven ways to stay healthy during cold and flu season

During the colder months of the year (which in Santa Fe, New Mexico is generally from October to April or even May), there are many upper respiratory viruses circulating that can cause colds and flu-like illnesses. This leads to missed work, doctor’s visits, and generally not feeling well—it is no fun to be sick. In the worst case scenario, influenza, or the flu, can lead to hospitalization and every year some people even die of influenza. These viruses are very contagious so when you get sick, you can expose others and make them sick as well. Although there are possible treatments for influenza (the flu), there is no cure for the common cold. Therefore, prevention is key. Here are 7 ways to improve your chances of staying healthy during cold and flu season:

1. Wash your hands. It is very important to wash your hands frequently. Wet your hands, use soap to create a lather, and then rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds; then rinse and dry. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. This is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and decrease your chances of getting sick.

2. Get regular exercise. It is important to get regular exercise to help your body stay healthy and to maintain a strong immune system. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends aerobic exercise. Most healthy adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, or a combination of the two. Exercise helps the body function more efficiently and helps the immune system fight off potential illnesses.

3. Drink water. Our bodies are more than 50% water. In order to stay healthy, it is important to keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water everyday. One common recommendation, the “8×8 rule,” is to drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day.

4. Get adequate sleep. If you want to stay healthy, it is important to get adequate sleep every night. When you don’t get enough rest and get “run down,” it can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. Adults vary in how much sleep they need, but most of us need 7 to 9 hours a night. Children and adolescents need more sleep.

5. Get your flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot every year, ideally before the end of October. However, getting the flu shot later in the season is okay too. In New Mexico, the flu season can last until May. The flu shot helps decrease your risk of getting the flu. It will also protect your loved ones from exposure to the flu. At Aspen Medical Center, we offer flu shots every year.

6. Eat healthy. In order to maintain an optimally functioning immune system, it is also important to eat a healthy diet. There are many different dietary recommendations out there, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid junk food (sodas, chips, candy, pre-packaged food and fast food), and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, in addition to whole grains, and healthy fats (e.g olive oil) and protein (eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, and lean meats).

7. Minimize your stress level. The immune system can be affected by stress. Some stress is inevitable, but intense prolonged stress can lead to sickness. It is important to find healthy means of coping with stress such as relaxation or calming exercises. Prayer, meditation, journaling, or talking with friends, family, or a counselor are all ways to help deal with stress. Acupuncture and massage also help alleviate the negative affects of stress. If you have anxiety, depression, or other condition that interferes with your normal functioning, then seek out a mental health practitioner or medical provider.

Skin Cancer Prevention

urgent-care-santa-fe-skin-cancer-preventionSkin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million cases being diagnosed annually.

According to the Skin Care Foundation, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their lives.

The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma, followed by squamous cell carcinoma. Malignant melanoma is less common but more deadly.

The incidence of melanoma appears to be increasing with an estimated 76,690 new cases in 2013. There are other less common types of skin cancer as well.

The most important risk factor for the three types of skin cancer mentioned above is sunlight which is a source of ultraviolet radiation.

There is ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Both types of UV radiation can damage the skin and lead to wrinkles, skin cancer, and other skin problems.

Other risk factors for skin cancer include severe blistering sunburns, lifetime sun exposure, and tanning. Being in the sun too often and for too long can lead to skin cancer even if you don’t burn.

So, how do we prevent skin cancer? The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun. Try to avoid outdoor activities between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If you have to be outside, seek shade.

And remember that clouds and water don’t protect you. Sixty to 80% of the sun’s rays go through clouds and can reach swimmers at least one foot below the surface of the water.

The sun’s radiation can also reflect off water, snow, and white sand. Snow reflects 85% of UV radiation. Continue reading