No Time to Exercise? Get Fit in Minutes a Day

Time For Action

Too busy to exercise? It’s easy to think you’re too busy. There’s a lot of things competing for your attention…work, family, hobbies, entertainment. And there’s only so many hours in the day…right?

So you skip a workout. You stop taking daily walks. You don’t go to the gym anymore. And pretty soon, other things fill your schedule. That ever happen?

At first, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But things start to change in tiny increments…

  • You gain a little weight.
  • It’s harder to walk up stairs without breathing heavily.
  • Your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity go up.
  • Or maybe you just start to feel sluggish?

Sound familiar?

Find a little time for fitness

An estimated 77 percent of all adults don’t get enough exercise. But it doesn’t have to be that way, even if you’re short on time. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Check your calendar.
  • Check your schedule.
  • Check your to-do list.
  • Or just grab your phone.
  • And look for 10 to 30-minute blocks of time.

If you’ve got a half-hour window of time or less available, you can get fit in just minutes a day. And you don’t even need to hit the gym, buy equipment, or hire a trainer.

13 benefits of shorter workouts

You already know the number one excuse for not exercising: “I don’t have time.”

That ends now. Even 10 to 20-minute sessions of exercise can make a difference.1

But saving time isn’t the only benefit to shorter workouts. Exercising in shorter intervals can also help you:

  1. Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  2. Reduce body fat
  3. Build muscle
  4. Lower blood pressure
  5. Reduce risk factors for heart disease
  6. Control blood sugar levels
  7. Cut the risk for certain types of cancer
  8. Improve cholesterol levels
  9. Build stronger bones
  10. Improve mood and brain function
  11. Increase mobility
  12. Prevent injuries
  13. Live longer

Give these 4 fast workouts a try

Want to lose weight, get stronger, reduce your risk for chronic diseases, and improve your health?

Ten to 20-minute exercise sessions can help.2 All you need to do is pick an activity where you can exercise in short bursts, rest a little, and repeat, like this:

Walk it off

Go for a walk in your neighborhood, the store, the park, or in the mall.

  • Take a couple minutes to warm up.
  • Then walk as fast as you can for 1 to 2 minutes. You should still be able to have a conversation, but you’ll be breathing heavier.
  • Slow down for 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat, until you’ve completed your walk

Hustle at home

Want to work out at home? Maybe between commercials, early in the morning, or when you have 10-20 minutes of free time.

Pick a group of exercises. Perform each exercise for 1 minute. Rest briefly and repeat for 1-2 rounds. Here’s some exercises you can do at home:

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Burpees
  • Push-Ups
  • Curl-Ups
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Jump Squats
  • Jogging in place
  • Plank
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Lunges

Hit the gym

If you like working out at the gym, you don’t have to sweat there for hours. Get in and get out with a quick workout. Try the:

  • Treadmill
  • Cycle
  • Elliptical trainer
  • Rowing machine
  • Or take a fitness class

Warm up. Hustle for 1 to 2 minutes. Rest briefly, and repeat, until you hit 20 minutes.

Exercise anytime, anywhere

If you’ve been making excuses about not having time to exercise, those days are over. You can exercise anytime, anywhere. The gym is great. But your living room, hotel, office, garage, or backyard will work just fine, too. Ready…set…GO!

Live Long and Prosper: 5 Secrets to Healthy Aging

Even if you’ve never seen the show Star Trek, chances are pretty good you’ve heard of the Vulcan Dr. Spock, and his signature message…

“Live long and prosper.”

Ever wonder what you can do to live a longer and healthier life?

Right now, the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.7 years.1 It’s actually gone down slightly since the start of the pandemic.

Following COVID precautions and getting the vaccine will protect you from the virus. But what’s the secret to adding years to your life and life to your years?

In two recent studies, researchers looked at lifestyle habits and longevity of more than 120,000 people.2,3 They found that people who lived the longest had five things in common.

What’s the formula to live long and prosper? Raising your hand and fingers in a ‘V’ like Dr. Spok isn’t enough. But these healthy aging habits can help:

1. Eat healthy foods

You’ve heard the advice before. But do you follow it? If you want to live longer, skip fast food, sugary drinks, and processed meals for more:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Legumes

2. Be more active

How much time do you spend sitting…at work, during meals, commuting, or in front of the TV?

Add it all up, and it’s not uncommon to spend 7 to 9 hours a day sitting.

But if you want to live longer, aim to be more active. The goal…

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day.
  • Plus, strength training or resistance exercise at least two days per week.

3. Maintain a healthy weight

If your Body Mass Index is 25 or higher, you may be overweight or obese.

It’s a major risk factor for chronic diseases, including heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.

If you want to live longer, maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to. These lifestyle habits have the biggest impact on weight:

  • Eat healthy foods
  • Get regular exercise
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night
  • Manage stress in healthy ways

4. Don’t smoke, or quit if you do

In the two studies, researchers found the people who lived the longest never smoked.

  • If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
  • If you do, NOW is always the best time to quit.

If you’re a former smoker, keep it that way. Your health starts to improve as soon as you quit smoking.

  • After 10 years smoke-free, your risk for lung cancer drops by 50 percent.
  • After 15 years, your risk for a heart attack or stroke is the same as someone who’s never smoked.

5. Avoid or limit alcohol

Even though some studies suggest red wine may help promote longevity and reduce heart disease, researchers found that moderation is key.

If you want to live longer, avoid or limit alcohol:

  • No more than one drink per day for women. Zero if pregnant.
  • No more than two drinks per day for men.
  • A typical drink is: a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits

You can stop time. And there’s no Fountain of Youth elixir. But you can choose healthy lifestyle habits to live long and age well.

Start Here: 6 Lifestyle Habits to Manage Your Weight

Healthy Habits

Ever wonder how to tip the scale in the right direction?

Here’s some advice…

A fad diet, insane workout, weight-loss supplement, or gimmicky piece of workout equipment won’t help you achieve long-term results.

You might get a quick win, and lose some weight. But after a few weeks or months, you’re back to square one. Yo-yo dieting like this can take a toll on your health.

  • Did you know about 74 percent of adults are overweight or obese?2 It’s a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, adopt these 5 healthy habits:

1. Step on the scale
It’s a great place to start.

  • Weigh yourself once a day, and keep track of where you’re at.
  • A recent study found that a daily weigh-in can help you maintain your weight or even lose a few pounds.

When you weigh yourself daily, you’re more likely to be mindful of your food choices.

2. Drink more water
It’s zero calories.

  • A typical 20-ounce soda contains 240 calories.
  • Drinks like fruit punch and orange juice contain 115 to 150 calories.
  • A classic alcoholic drink like beer or wine, 150 to 225 per drink.

Your body needs water to stay hydrated and support digestion, brain function, movement, and more. Avoid or limit other kinds of drinks

3. Focus on fruits and vegetables
If you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables.
Why? They’re high in nutrients, but low in calories. And most adults don’t eat enough.

  • Only 9% of adults eat enough vegetables per day (2-3 cups)
  • Only 12% of adults eat enough fruit (1.5-2 cups)

Eat fewer desserts, sugary treats, cream, and sauces, and aim for more fruits and vegetables.

4. Cook healthy food at home
How often do you go out to eat? It might be convenient, but you’re more likely to overeat when you do, according to a recent study.

  • A survey of 364 different restaurant meals found that the average dining-out meal contains 1,500 calories.
  • Add drinks, appetizers, and desserts, and one meal contains more calories than most adults need in a day.

Instead, cook more healthy food and meals at home more often during the holidays. Your menu should include foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread or pasta, nuts and seeds, and legumes.

5. Keep track of what you eat
Use a free-app on your smartphone to keep track of what you eat. Food diary or calorie-counter mobile apps make it easy to:

  • Set a daily calorie goal
  • Keep track of what you eat
  • Monitor your weight/progress

Research shows you’re more likely to make better food choices, maintain your weight, or even lose weight, when you do this.

6. Be more active
You don’t have to run a marathon or climb a mountain. But regular exercise will help you burn calories to help you lose weight. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise on most days.

  • Go for a walk, jog, or run.
  • Ride a bike.
  • Swim
  • Work in the hard
  • Exercise at the gym or take a fitness class

If you’re looking for easy and sustainable ways to lose weight, keep it off, and maintain a healthy weight, keep it simple. Adopting these 5 lifestyle habits will help you tip the scale in the right direction.

ExerciseRx: Improve Your Mood with a Daily Dose of THIS

Invest in your health

What if you could do something for just an hour a week to avoid feeling sad or depressed? Would you do it?

Think about it…

  • There are 168 hours in a week.
  • That’s 10,080 minutes.
  • After sleeping, going to work, and other need-to-do tasks, could you find just a few minutes a day in your busy schedule?

It might be as easy cutting back on screen time, waking up a few minutes earlier, or taking a needed break during the workday.

Q: Could an hour a week really make a difference in the way you feel?
A: Yes, when you use that hour to be active.

A recent study found that even a little exercise can improve your mood and help prevent depression.

In the study, researchers tracked 33,908 people for 11 years. They looked at exercise habits and the number of people who developed depression.

People who were active an hour a week or more were 44 percent less likely to develop depression.

“The key finding from this study is that doing even a small amount of regular exercise seems to protect adults against future depression,” says lead researcher Dr. Samuel Harvey.

The problem…most people don’t get enough exercise.

  • Here’s how much exercise you need: The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and strength training exercise at least two days a week.
  • Here’s how much exercise most people get: Only 23 percent of adults get the minimum amount of exercise.

If you’re already getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, keep it up.

But if you’re not, start small with just a few minutes a day. Go for a walk. Take the stairs. Ride a bike. Pick an activity you enjoy, and get going.

It’s a great way to beat the blues, improve your health, and prevent depression.

4 Foods for a Heart-Healthy Diet

Smart food choices can help prevent heart disease

Thump-thump…Thump-thump. Your heart beats about 100,000 times a day. And if you want to keep it that way, paying attention to what you eat can make a big difference.

If you’re thinking about improving your diet to keep your heart healthy, start by answering these two questions:

  1. How often do you eat French fries, red meats, pizza, pastries, and processed foods?
  2. How often do you have sugary drinks?

If you eat a lot of these foods, you’re at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other health problems. These conditions can damage your arteries, which can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and death. Consider this:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It claims the lives of about 659,000 people a year.1
  • Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack.2 Some recover. Some require surgery and long-term therapy. And many don’t survive.
  • About half of all adults in the U.S have some form of heart disease.3 But it’s largely preventable with healthy lifestyle habits, starting with your diet.

Eat heart-healthy foods

Choosing the right foods can help prevent heart disease. If you already have heart disease, or you’re at risk, improving your diet can help, too. And it’s easy.

Research shows eating more plant-based foods and less junk food can improve heart health.4

Ready to give your heart some love to keep the beat? Eat more of these heart-healthy foods:

1. Fruits and vegetables

At meal time, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Brightly-colored fruits, berries, and leafy-green vegetables are best. They have high levels of antioxidants that can help prevent plaque build-up in your arteries.

Eating more fruits and vegetables and less junk food can help prevent a heart attack or stroke.

  • Aim for 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

2. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain healthy, unsaturated fat. This kind of fat helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which can protect your heart from disease.

Nuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that can improve the health of your arteries and reduce the risk for blood clots.

  • A handful of nuts (about 1½ ounces) per day can help keep your heart healthy.

3. Legumes
Or if you prefer…”Beans, beans the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you….”

Beans or legumes like black beans, kidney beans, and peas, contain the highest amount of fiber of any food group.

High-fiber foods can lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk for diabetes, and curb hunger to avoid weight gain.

  • Women need at least 25 grams of dietary fiber per day for best health.5
  • Men need at least 38 grams per day.

4. Whole Grains
Whole grains contain bran, fiber, and other nutrients that help lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides (or fat) in the blood. This is good for heart health.

  • Eat at least 3 servings of whole grains per day.

A variety of grains is best, especially ones high in water-soluble fiber. Try:

  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Whole-grain cereal, breads, and pastas
  • Quinoa

Eating a plant-based diet is the best way to reduce your risk for heart disease. Other lifestyle habits to improve heart health include regular exercise, a healthy weight, stress management and limiting alcohol and tobacco.

If you’re not used to eating for heart health, start small with a healthy snack. Gradually add more fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains to your eating plan. Then keep it up to keep the beat.

The Easiest Exercise to Improve Heart Health

Improve heart health in 30 minutes a day

When Illinois-resident Lynn Kata stepped on the scale 40 pounds overweight, she knew some things had to change.1

Soda, sugary drinks, and fast food were a regular thing. And exercise? No so much. But she was determined to get healthy.

She started making better food choices. Then she decided to give exercise a try.

“I started walking every morning,” says Lynn. “Each day I went a little farther and faster until I was walking about three miles each time.”

At first, it just felt like a lot of work. But little by little, she started to see results.

Want to keep your heart healthy as you age?

Check your schedule. Can you carve out 30 minutes? Too busy? How about two 15-minutes blocks of time.

In a recent study, researchers looked at walking habits and risk of hypertension in a group of 83,435 women over an 11-year period.2

They found that walking just 30-plus minutes a day can cut the risk for hypertension and heart-related problems by up to 21 percent.

“Our work adds to growing evidence that you don’t necessarily have to be an avid jogger or cyclist to gain health benefits from physical activity,” says lead researcher Dr. Connor Miller. “Just going for regular walks can have a meaningful impact on important risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

Here’s what happens when you lace up and go:3

  • 1 minute of walking can extend your life by 1.5 to 2 minutes.
  • 10 minutes of brisk walking burns an average of 50 calories.
  • 20 minutes of walking 5 days a week cuts the risk for heart disease and diabetes in half.
  • 30 minutes of walking a day will burn an average of 7 to 10 pounds of body fat in a year.

Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise you can do to keep your heart healthy.

At 40 pounds overweight, Lynn knew she was at risk for heart disease and other health problems. But she wasn’t about to run a marathon or train for a triathlon. So she just started walking.

“I was thrilled to see that the weight began to slowly go down day by day,” says Lynn. “It felt good to be outside. My mental health was benefitting, too. And I really started to see my body change.”

After about a year of consistent effort, Lynn lost those 40 pounds. And now she’s on a mission to help other people. “I hope my fitness journey will inspire other people to take back their health,” says Lynn.

Pick up the pace and make brisk walking a habit to:4

  • Lower LDL (bad cholesterol)
  • Control blood sugar
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Build cardiovascular strength and endurance
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Burn calories
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your mood

What’s the easiest exercise to keep your heart healthy? Put on some shoes and go for a walk.

Sources

  1. Kata, L. (2020). Success stories: Lynn Kata. National Weight Control Registry. From: www.nwcr.ws/stories.htm
  1. Miller, C., et al. (2020). Walking volume and speed are associated with incidence of treated hypertension in postmenopausal women. Hypertension, 76(5): 1435-1443. From: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.15839
  1. Moore, S., et al. (2012). Leisure time physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity and mortality: A large pooled cohort analysis. PLOS Medicine. From: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001335
  1. Harvard University. (2020). Reinvent your walking regimen. Harvard Health Publishing. From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/reinvent-your-walking-regimen

Exercise in Cold Weather: Here’s What you Need to Know

Runner Man Wearing Gloves

Be smart about exercising during winter weather

It’s too cold or wintery to go out…That’s a classic excuse to avoid exercising when the temperature drops.

But cold weather doesn’t have to keep you from getting outdoors.

Every year, a small group of runners bundle up to brave temperatures around -22° F to run the Antarctic Ice Marathon.

Race officials make sure runners have the proper clothing for the conditions.

The runners wear layers of…

  • Thermal
  • Fleece
  • Windproof clothing.

They also cover their hands, feet, head, and face to run in the cold. And along the frozen 26.2-mile course, runners take breaks in heated tents.

Ice Marathon Race Director Richard Donovon says it’s very important to keep the hands, feet, and ears warm.1 These are the most at risk in cold temps.

Cold weather exercising is great if you are prepared. But experts suggest you exercise indoors when temperatures or the wind chill factor drops below 0° F.

For exercising in “normal” cold weather, take a tip from cold-weather exercise experts that head up the U.S. Antarctic Program.2

Dress in layers of clothing..

  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Tights/pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Undershirt

The layers help maintain your body heat and wick moisture away from your skin.

As your body temperature increases during your workout, you can remove a layer.

Take care to protect your hands, ears and feet with thick, warm gloves, socks, and hat.

If you have asthma or other breathing problems, talk with your doctor. You may need to avoid exercising in cold weather.

And if it’s too cold or nasty outside, stay indoors. Go to the the gym. Walk at the mall. Or use a treadmill or stationary bike.

Manage Stress in Healthy Ways: 7 Tips to Protect Your Health

Healthy lifestyle habits help reduce impact of stress

You’re running late, stuck in traffic, and it happens every day. Maybe you’re trying to work from home, manage kids, and follow COVID-19 restrictions.Stress Management

Maybe you’re stressed out about money, a health issue, or a difficult relationship. Or maybe you’ve just experienced one of those traumatic life events that changes everything.

Any of these stressful life experiences sound familiar?

Everybody experiences stress at some point. And even good things can be stressful, like starting a new job, getting married, or moving to a new house.

But when chronic stress rules your life, it can take a toll on your health and happiness. New research even suggests chronic stress increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.1

In the study, researchers followed a group of people for about four years. They looked at the area of the brain that tries to make sense of stressful events. And they found that higher levels of activity in the amygdala increase the risk for heart disease (the leading cause of death in the U.S.).

“Our results provide a unique insight into how stress may lead to cardiovascular disease,” says lead researcher Dr. Ahmed Tawakol. “This raises the possibility that reducing stress could produce benefits that extend beyond an improved sense of psychological well-being,”

So what should you do when you’re feeling stressed out?

Some people try to ignore stress, hoping things will get better. And sometimes they do.

Others turn to food, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and other unhealthy habits to manage stress. And it usually creates more stress and other health problems. OK. That’s what not to do to manage stress.

If you’re living with chronic stress, your risk goes up for depression, eating disorders, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, and more.2

If you’re feeling stressed out, here are seven tips to protect your health.

1. Sit Less, Move More

Just 20 to 30 minutes of daily walking, yoga, or other exercise can improve your mood as well as physical health.3 It burns up stress hormones, and stimulates the mind to help you relax and think better about your problems.

2. Take a Deep Breath or Two or Three…

Breathe. It might sound too simple, but it really works. Try it. Take 10 deep breaths. Inhale, then exhale…slowly.

Deep breathing has a calming effect that can reduce stressful feelings such as anger, anxiety, and fear.4 Making this a regular habit can also help lower blood pressure and increase your energy level.

3. Get Your Zzzs

Sleep on it. Aim to sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. If that’s a challenge, take a nap during the day. too. Adequate sleep can help reduce stress and restore the body to a relaxed state. When you don’t sleep well, hormones linked to stress are higher, raising your risk for heart disease and other health problems.5

Other ways to reduce stress include:
4. Eat a healthy diet.
5. Spend time with family and friends.
6. Laugh more.
7. Make time for a hobby you enjoy.

If you’re always stressed out, talk to your doctor or ask a professional for help. You’ll feel better and live longer.

Quit Smoking If You Do: 5 Steps to Success

Don’t Smoke or Quit If You Do: 5 Steps to Success

If you don’t smoke, vape, or use tobacco, keep it that way.

“The majority of smokers regret ever starting to smoke,” according to a recent study.1

If you do smoke cigarettes, use tobacco, or vape, NOW is always the best time to quit.

Why? Smoking, vaping, and tobacco use contribute to:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Immune system damage
  • Arthritis

An estimated 443,000 Americans die each year from health problems linked to tobacco use. Even though tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.2

So if you’re ready to quit tobacco use and vaping, how do you kick the habit? Here are 5 steps to success:3

1. Set a quit date

An estimated 71 percent of tobacco users regret starting. Most try to quit at some point, but often relapse. If you’re serious about quitting, set a date to quit and create a plan to be successful.

Set a quit date. Put it on your calendar. Let your family and friends know your plan. Get clear about why you really want to quit. And when you’re ready, get rid of all your cigarettes, tobacco, and vaping supplies in your home, office, and car.

2. Pick a plan to help you quit

There’s more than one way to quit smoking, vaping, and using tobacco. Some people even use multiple methods to quit and never go back. The most common options include:

  • Quit cold-turkey: You set a date to quit, and that’s it. No going back.
  • Cut back a little at a time. Instead of quitting cold-turkey, you gradually cut back on smoking and vaping a little every day. It’s one way to gradually reduce cravings, until you’re no longer addicted to the nicotine in tobacco and vaping.
  • Use medications. Over-the-counter and prescription medications, patches, and supplements can help you quit smoking. Talk with your doctor to help you decide if you need medications to quit for good.
  • Behavior-change therapy. Working with a counselor or therapist can help you quit smoking. There’s also a growing number of mobile apps designed to help you quit smoking, with daily reminders, exercises, and tracking tools.

3. Practice distraction to curb nicotine cravings

Once you quit, you’re going to experience cravings. At first, those cravings to smoke, vape, or use tobacco might be pretty intense. And you need to be prepared for that so you don’t relapse.

Keeping yourself busy, distracting yourself, and being around people who want to help you quit is a good plan of action. Here are some things you can do:

  • Go to a movie
  • Work out or go to the gym
  • Visit non-smoking friends
  • Take a walk
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea
  • Try a new hobby that keeps your hands busy, like painting, playing an instrument, knitting, or building something.
  • Work in the yard or garden.

4. Eat healthy snacks to control hunger

Nicotine stimulates a part of the brain that suppresses appetite. So when you quit smoking cigarettes, vaping, and using tobacco, chances are pretty good you’re going to feel hungrier.

And you need to be prepared for that. When you get a craving while you’re trying to get, avoid or limit junk food, and eat healthy snacks to curb your appetite like:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Popcorn (go easy on the butter and salt)
  • Sugar-free candy, mints or chewing gum

5. If you relapse, don’t give up

Research suggests it takes the average tobacco user an estimated 8 to 11 attempts to quit for good.4 If you relapse, don’t give up. Get back on track and keep working breaking the habit.

You’ll be healthier, feel better, and live longer.

4 Ways to Prevent COVID Fatigue

Even though COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to be distributed, many places still have restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

If you’re tired of things like working from home, being isolated from family and friends, and many everyday activities cancelled or postponed, you’re not alone.

Even if you’ve practiced social distancing, worn a mask, and followed restrictions and guidelines in your area, it isn’t easy.

Pandemic fatigue is a real thing

It can make you feel sad, bored, lonely, anxious, fearful, angry, and frustrated. Left unchecked, you might be tempted to ignore warnings from public health officials and put yourself and others at risk.

Is COVID-19 taking a toll on your health and happiness? It often looks like this:

  • You know something isn’t right.
  • You’re sad or anxious.
  • You’re not sleeping well.
  • You’re tired of feeling isolated.
  • Maybe you don’t feel like doing anything.
  • Or you’re ready to ignore all the warnings and go back to life the way it was.

If you’re feeling any of these things, you might be experiencing COVID fatigue.

So what can you do about it?

1. Make a choice to stay healthy

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Scrub for 20 seconds. Rinse and dry.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water isn’t available.
  • When you’re out of the house, keep your social distance. Stay six feet apart.
  • Follow guidelines in your area for social gatherings and wearing a mask.

2. Be flexible with changing guidelines

Right now an estimated 75 million people worldwide have tested positive for COVID-19. The virus has claimed the lives of 1.65 million people. And the infection rate is still rising as vaccines begin to be approved and distributed.

Over the next few weeks and months, be flexible as public health guidelines, restrictions, and access to the COVID-19 vaccine may change.

3. Keep essential supplies on hand

With another spike in COVID-19 cases expected after the holidays, many stores are limiting the purchase of things like:

  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Disinfectant
  • Masks and gloves
  • Hand sanitizer

Now isn’t the time to rush to the store and buy as much as you can. But having an essential supply will help you keep your environment germ-and-virus free and give you peace of mind.

4. Exercise

Even if you’re following all the guidelines, COVID fatigue can still take a toll on your health and happiness, because:

  • You may be spending a lot more time at home.
  • You may be watching more TV or spending time online.
  • You may not see your extended family and friends as much as you’d like.
  • You’re worried about COVID-19 spreading to you, your family, or friends

Sound familiar? If you’re feeling like you’ve got the COVID blues, regular exercise, such as brisk walking, can help, too.

Aim for 30 minutes a day. But if you don’t have 30 minutes, even smaller amounts of physical activity can help:

  • Boost your mental health
  • Improve your mood
  • Help you feel more energetic
  • Help you feel good about yourself and how you are taking better care of your body
  • Prevent many serious health problems including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and worsening depression
  • Strengthen your immune system

Looking for a little help to prevent pandemic fatigue? Follow these tips to protect your physical and mental health.

Vitamin-D Deficient? 6 Tips to Improve Your Health

How’s your vitamin D level?

It’s probably not something you think about. You can’t really measure it without a blood test.

But about half of all adults in the United States are low on vitamin D.1 That’s even higher for the elderly, African Americans, Hispanics, and people who live in the northern half of the U.S., especially during the winter months.

Move Vitamin D to the front of the line

It’s no secret vitamin D is critical to your overall health. But with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases (an estimated 75 million worldwide), getting enough vitamin D just moved to the front of the line.

In a recent study, researchers found that you may be twice as likely to get COVID-19 if you’re vitamin D deficient, compared to people who aren’t.2

“Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system,” says lead researcher Dr. David Meltzer. “Vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections. Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection.”

8 Signs of a Vitamin D Deficiency

When was the last time you saw your doctor for a blood test, annual check-up, or biometric screening at work?

If you have blood test results on file, go back and take a closer look at your vitamin D levels. Or schedule an appointment to check your vitamin D levels. It’s the best way to find out if you’re deficient.

But there are common signs that can point to a vitamin D deficiency, such as:

    1. Getting sick frequently
    2. Feeling tired or fatigued, even when you’ve had adequate sleep
    3. Bone pain, back pain, and joint pain
    4. Feeling sad or depressed
    5. Wounds or sores that won’t heal
    6. Weak bones
    7. Hair loss
    8. Muscle aches and pains

6 Healthy Ways to Boost Vitamin D Levels
Want to lower your risk for developing getting COVID-19 and avoid getting hit with a cold or flu during the winter months? Boost your vitamin D levels. Here’s how:

1. Spend a little time in the sun

Direct exposure to sunlight boosts vitamin D levels. About 15 minutes is all it takes. When your skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, it makes vitamin D.

If you spend a lot of time indoors, or you don’t see the sun a lot during the winter months, some research suggests ultraviolet light therapy can help, too.

 

2. Eat more fish

Fish and seafood are highest in vitamin D, compared to most other foods.

For example, a serving of canned salmon contains about 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin D you need per day. A glass of milk, just 15 percent. Fish high in vitamin D include:

    • Tuna
    • Mackerel
    • Oysters
    • Shrimp
    • Sardines
    • Salmon

3. Add mushrooms to your diet

Eating more mushrooms can also help boost vitamin D levels. Certain varieties of mushrooms contain 300 percent of the recommended dietary intake of vitamin D.

Wild mushrooms tend contain higher levels of vitamin D. But even mushrooms from the produce section at the grocery store can help. Add more mushrooms to your diet in salad, soup, or sautéed in olive oil with other fresh vegetables.

4. Make eggs for breakfast

OK. It doesn’t have to be breakfast. But eggs, including the yolk, are a good source of vitamin D.

Pasture-raised or free range chickens produce eggs highest in vitamin D. And if they’re fed vitamin-D enriched chicken feed, one egg may contain enough vitamin D for a day.

5. Eat vitamin-D fortified foods

Did you know common foods can be fortified with added vitamins and nutrients during production?

Check the food label for vitamin D, and see how a serving measures up to the recommended daily intake for vitamin D.

Some foods fortified with vitamin D include:

  • Milk and alternative dairy products like soy, almond, and hemp milk
  • Orange juice
  • Cereals
  • Some types of yogurt
  • tofu

6. Take a vitamin D supplement

Besides sun exposure, light therapy, or changes to your diet, you can also boost vitamin D levels by taking a supplement.

Research suggests vitamin D3 is the best option to help you boost and absorb vitamin D from a supplement.

For most adults, the daily recommended dosage is 1,000 to 4,000 IU (international units), of vitamin D. But you may need more than that depending on your age, race, health, and other factors.

Boot your mood and your health with vitamin D

You need vitamin D for a healthy immune system that can help protect you from COVID-19 and other bacteria and viruses that can make you sick. Vitamin D also helps boost your mood, improves muscle function and mobility, and supports your overall health.

You can boost your vitamin D level with sun exposure, light therapy, better food choices, or by taking a vitamin D supplement. If you think you’re vitamin D deficient, check with your doctor to find out.

Clean Drinking Water: Take a Gulp of These 3 Health Tips

Protect your health by testing and filtering water

Gulp…gulp…gulp. You drink a glass of water. It’s zero calories. It’s good for your health and hydration…right?

But do you really know what’s in the water that comes out of the tap?

An estimated 85 percent of people drink water from the tap, according to a recent study by the Environmental Working Group.1 But it might not be as clean as you think.

Tap water that comes from a municipal water sources goes through a filtration process at a treatment plant. That’s the first way tap water is treated.

But before it’s sent through the pipes to your home, tap water typically gets treated with disinfectants like chlorine to eliminate additional contaminants.2

And then you’re good, right? Turn on the tap, fill a glass, and drink up. Not exactly.

Research shows most tap water contains trace amounts of chemicals and impurities from things like:3

  • Lead pipes and old infrastructure
  • Disinfectants
  • Medications
  • Personal-care products
  • Chemicals used in plastics and manufacturing

And that’s a problem. Even exposure to trace amounts of chemicals and contaminants in water can raise the risk for certain types of cancers, including: liver, lung, bladder, kidney, and rectal cancer.

In fact, one recent study found that contaminants in tap water may be linked to more than 100,000 cases of cancer, even though it meets regulation requirements.4

Are you starting to get the picture? Tap water isn’t as clean as you might think. If you want to protect your health, and drink cleaner water, here are some things you can do:

  1. Test your tap water
    So what’s really in your tap water? There’s only one way to find out…test it. Here’s how:

    • Check with your county health department to find out if testing is available to check for bacteria or nitrates.
    • Use an at-home test kit (available online and at home-improvement stores) to find out what’s really in your water
    • Hire a professional from a state-certified lab or contractor to test your water for contaminants
    • Call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 for more information.
  1. Use a water filter
    If you get your drinking water from the tap, use a water filter. Lots of options are available. The most common include:

    • A water filter for the tap you drink from, or
    • A pitcher with a filter for drinking water.

    Most water filters remove contaminants (like: chlorine, zinc, and hydrogen sulfide) that can give tap water a funny taste or smell. But the best water filters also remove lead.

  1. Drink bottled water, but…
    If you want to drink filtered water free of contaminants, drinking bottled water makes sense, right?
    But here’s the thing…Some bottled water comes directly from municipal water sources. Meaning, it’s not any more filtered than the water that comes out of your tap. Before you chug a bottle of water, take a closer look at the label. Check the manufacturer’s website to learn how its water is treated and filtered. If it comes directly from a municipal water source, find another option. Want to protect your health and limit your exposure to harmful contaminants? Test and filter water you drink from the tap.