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.

Strengthen Your Immune System: 11 Ways to Stay Healthy

build immune system

Did you know there are more than 200 viruses that can make you sick?

Kind of makes you want to just stay home, stay inside, and get your food and groceries delivered, right?build immune system

For most of us, that’s not possible. There’s work, grocery shopping, taking care of kids, and everything else that requires being out and about and on the go.

And that’s means you’re going to be exposed to viruses that can make you sick like the:

  • Influenza virus (the flu)
  • Norovirus (sometime called the winter vomiting/diarrhea bug)
  • Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19)

So what happens when a virus invades your body?

It triggers an immune-system response. Your body goes to work fighting the virus.

But if you’re not in good health when it happens:

  • It takes longer for your immune system to fight back
  • Symptoms can worsen
  • Complications can arise

It’s played out with the 8.35 million people in the United States who have tested positive for COVID-19.1

Some experience mild symptoms, and get well. Some people experience serious breathing problems and complications that require hospitalization.

And current projections by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest COVID-19 cases are on the rise after taking a dip.

11 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System

Wondering what can you do to protect your health and strengthen your immune system?

Here are 11 ways to get healthy, stay healthy and build a stronger immune system:2

  1. Don’t smoke or vape. If you do, get help to quit.
  1. Eat healthy foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are low in calories and high in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.
  1. Drink plenty of water (instead of soda, coffee with sugar and cream, and other sugar-sweetened beverages).
  1. Get vitamin D. Taking a multi-vitamin or vitamin D supplement can strengthen your immune system and protect your health. About 40 percent of adults in the U.S. are vitamin-D deficient. It’s a risk factor for increased infections and autoimmune disorders.3 You can boost vitamin D levels with 10+ minutes in direct sunlight outdoors, or with supplements.
  1. Exercise. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day. Pick an activity you enjoy (walk, jog, bike, hike, workout, etc.), and make it part of your daily routine.
  1. Maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if you need to. Being overweight or obese can cause chronic inflammation and weaken the immune system.
  1. Manage stress in healthy ways. Excess stress causes hormone imbalances that weaken your immune system. Try yoga, deep breathing, or meditation. Even reading, listening to soothing music, can help beat stress. Or you may need to ask for help at home, at work, or see a counselor.
  1. Control blood pressure. Your diet, exercise habits, weight, and stress level all have an impact on your blood pressure. How is your blood pressure? Less than 120/80 is ideal.
  1. Avoid or limit alcohol. That’s no more than two drinks per day for men, one for women, zero if pregnant.10. Sleep 7 to 9 hours a night. Your body restores hormone levels that help reduce stress, improve metabolism, and boost the immune system when you sleep. When you get less than 7 hours, you risk for health problems increases.
  1. Practice good personal hygiene and follow COVID-19 recommendations in your area. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Avoid touching your hands and face. Use disinfectants to clean doorknobs, handles, countertops, and other high-traffic surfaces. And follow guidelines for wearing masks, social distancing, and limiting in-person gatherings.Want to protect yourself from viruses and strengthen your immune system? These healthy lifestyle habits will help. And now is always the best time to start.

Sources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). COVID-19 forecast deaths. From: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/forecasting-us.html
  1. Harvard University. (2020). Preventing the spread of the coronavirus. From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/preventing-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus
  1. Saul, L., et al. (2019). 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 restrains CD4+ T cell priming ability of CD11c+ dendritic cells by upregulating expression of CD31. Frontiers in Immunology. From: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2019.00600/full

Mold Matters: 5 Tips to Protect Your Health and Home

Mold word cloud concept on grey background

Ever experienced unexplained headaches or fatigue?

Maybe an itchy throat, watery eyes, or even breathing problems?1

Mold word cloud concept on grey background

It happened to rock star Ted Nugent and his family. After moving to a rental home, they started feeling sick…really sick.

But when they traveled, spent the night in a hotel, or stayed somewhere else, they usually started feeling better.

And eventually, they realized it must be the house. Nugent’s wife (a fitness model and celebrity) even called it, “The Killer House,” after multiple doctor’s visits and trips to the hospital.

“I don’t think I’d be alive today if we hadn’t taken aggressive action and moved out of that Killer House,” she wrote on her blog.

Feeling sick frequently, without being able to explain it?

It may not be your diet, exercise habits, sleep patterns, or stress levels. But it could be the environment inside your house.

And mold may be the cause, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.2

Inspect common places for mold in your home

Is there mold in your home? Mold grows in places where moisture is present like:

Mold near a window in the house
Mold near a window in the house
    • Kitchens
    • Bathrooms
    • Windows
    • Ceiling
    • Carpeting

If there’s a leak, crack, or spill, there’s potential for mold. Mold can even grow in dust, paint, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, fabric, and upholstery.

If you have a mold problem in your home, you can often smell it or see it (usually colored spots in a specific area). And you should take action to protect your health.

5 ways to prevent and remove mold

Prevention is key. Think of it like this…the right habits can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health problems. And the sooner you do something about it, the better. That’s true for mold, too.

Here are some simple ways to prevent and remove mold:

  1. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent inside your home.
  2. Use exhaust fans and vents in bathrooms, kitchen, and dryer to improve ventilation and keep these areas dry.
  3. Fix leaks in roofing, pipes, walls, and plumbing to prevent mold from growing.
  4. Clean up spills on carpeting and flooring as soon as possible. Consider using a fan to make sure they’re fully dry.
  5. To remove mold from hard surfaces, use soap and water, recommended cleaning products, or a bleach solution (1 cup of bleach / 1 gallon of water). Note: If mold is in carpeting or drywall, it must be removed.

Sources

  1. Cox-Ganser, J.M. (2015). Indoor dampness and mould health effects – ongoing questions on microbial exposures and allergic versus nonallergic mechanisms. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 45(10): 1478-1482. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4667360/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Basic facts about mold and dampness. From: https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm

Walk This Way: Improve Mental Health One Step at a Time

Smiling african american woman walking

Ever have one of those days?

You know…like Groundhog  Day for weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray). Everything seems to go wrong from the moment he wakes up.

It’s a recipe for feeling stressed out, unhappy, frustrated, and even depressed.

How do you get yourself out of a funk like that?
Phil had to relive the same day over and over, until he figured it out. But there’s an easier way to change your perspective, improve your mood, and feel happier.

Go for a walk. That’s it. Put on your shoes. Walk out the door or step on a treadmill and go.
Wait, what? You’re already balking at the idea or stressed out about it because you’re short on time?

Stop right there. Research suggests that a brisk 10-minute walk is enough to improve your mood and mental health.1 Just about everybody can spare 10 minutes.

9 mental health benefits of walking

If you have a little more time than just a 10-minute window, aim for walking 30 to 60 minutes a day. You don’t even have to do it all at once. Research shows that walking can improve your mental health in a variety of ways, including:2,3

  1. Reduce depression
  2. Slow cognitive decline
  3. Lower risk of dementia
  4. Reduce anxiety
  5. Improve decision making
  6. Quicken reaction time
  7. Lower stress
  8. Improve self-esteem
  9. Boost creativity

Make walking part of your daily routine
If you want to improve your mood, feel happier, and manage stress better, make walking part of your daily routine. For example:

  • Go for a walk when you wake up in the morning.
  • Fit a walk break into your work day.
  • Instead of sitting around during a meeting, talk business while you walk
  • Plan an evening walk after dinner.

Create a walking plan that fits your schedule and your life
If you need a little help, use a digital tracking device or mobile app to track your daily steps. Aim for at least 10,000 steps per day. Invite others to walk with you, or host a walking or steps challenge to create accountability and improve motivation.

You’ll be healthier and happier.

All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other, and repeat.

Presenteeism: Going to Work Sick? Do This to Boost Productivity

Ever been at work in a funk?

Maybe you’re not feeling that well. You’re dealing with a family crisis at home. Or maybe there’s something about your work, your boss, your co-workers, or your customers that makes every day drudgery.

You go to work anyway. But you’re easily distracted and feel frustrated. Maybe you even feel sick, but you don’t want to miss work.

Sound familiar? Or maybe you know someone like this.

It’s Called Presenteeism
“Presenteeism is a process,” according to the Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research.1 “It starts with the decision to go to work under unsuitable biopsychosocial conditions, which in turn impacts the Tired Employee employee’s performance and the productivity of the organization.”

It might seem like a good idea to tough it out, and go to work anyway. But presenteeism actually takes a bigger toll on your health and costs employers more than $150 billion per year.2

So what does presenteeism look like and what can you do about it?

8 Signs of Presenteeism at Work
Presenteeism isn’t always easy to spot. It’s not as obvious as a high blood pressure reading or lab tests that show high blood glucose levels and diabetes risk.

It’s more subtle. And without any kind of intervention, presenteeism usually increases over time.

The most common signs of presenteeism include:

    1. Making more mistakes at work than usual
    2. Poor work performance
    3. Reduced productivity
    4. Apathy related to results and quality of work
    5. Frequently late or leaving early
    6. Skipping meals and breaks, and working long hours
    7. Working even with an illness or health condition that interferes with work
    8. Fatigue, tiredness, and exhaustion

You might think you’re taking one for the team by going to work when you’re not well, but it’s just not true. Presenteeism has an impact on your performance and quality of work. And it can also put your co-workers’ and your customers’ health at risk.3

6 Strategies to Reduce Presenteeism at Work

So you wake up one day for work and think, “I can’t do this anymore.” If you’ve been experiencing signs of presenteeism, you’re bound to reach a tipping point eventually.

When you recognize going to work every day is a struggle, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s happening and take action. Your health depends on it, and maybe your job does too.

What can you do to reduce presenteeism at work?4

Every situation is a little different. But there are some proven ways to reduce presenteeism you can take action on. Here are some things you can do:

1. Participate in your company’s wellness program
Log into your FitLyfe 360 account, and start using the resources to track your steps, eat healthier, improve your sleep, and reduce stress. You’ll feel better. You’ll earn rewards. And you’ll be more motivated to make healthy choices that will help you at work and at home.

2. Talk it out
Talk to your boss or manager about how you’re feeling and what’s happening. If that’s a challenge, talk to your human resources director. Talking to a trained professional about health challenges and stress that may be impacting your work performance can help identify problems and provide solutions.

3. Seek medical care
If it’s been more than a few days, and you’re still not feeling well, seek medical care. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor or a specialist. Take steps to find out why you’re not feeling well, so you can get better.

4. Get help from your EAP
If your organization has an Employee Assistance Program, it may provide programs, services, and even financial aid to help you.

5. Use sick leave
If you’re not feeling well, take a sick day. A rest and recovery day, or even a few days off, can give your body time to heal. Staying home from work when you’re sick may also prevent infecting others. Remember, if you’re going to work sick, you’re not as productive.

Ask about remote work for flexible schedules

If your commute or your work environment is contributing to presenteeism, ask about working remotely or creating a flexible schedule. Adjusting your hours or working from home may help you feel better and improve your work performance.

Going to work sick isn’t a badge of honor. It puts your health at risk and takes a toll on productivity. Experiencing presenteeism? Now is always the best time to make a change.

Sources

  1. Vera-Calzaretta, A., et al. (2014). Presenteeism. Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer, Dordrecht. From: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_2254
  1. Smith, S. (2016). Presenteeism costs businesses 10 times more than absenteeism. EHS Today. From: https://tinyurl.com/y253p346
  1. Widera, E., et al. (2010). Presenteeism: A public health hazard. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25(11): 1244-1247. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2947637/4. Miller, B. (2017). How to reduce presenteeism. HR Daily Advisor. From: https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/05/29/how-to-reduce-presenteeism/

Cell Phone Use May Increase Health Risks: 6 Smart Moves to Make

“Can you hear me now?” You’ve probably heard the question before on a glitchy cell phone call. But there’s something else you need to hear. Cell phone use may increase your risk for health problems.

Smart phone technology is still relatively new. But some research suggests prolonged smart phone use and exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy may increase the risk for:1

  • Brain cancer
  • Tumors
  • Acoustic nerve damage
  • Damage to the salivary gland
  • Reproductive issues in men
  • Headaches
  • Learning and memory deficiencies
  • Hearing loss
  • Poor sleep, and more

What is radio frequency energy?
It’s the energy that travels through the air from a device or tower to your smart phone. Your phone receives RF signals. It also emits RF energy when you’re using the Internet or Bluetooth connections.

Your body absorbs RF energy.  Too much of it, may be a problem.

  • It’s why the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations and other leading organizations have established guidelines for cell phone use, and recommendations for manufacturers on RF energy limits.2
  • It’s also why Apple and Android devices warn users about RF energy exposure. In fact. Apple and Samsung were named in a class action lawsuit last year, after an independent study found that many devices emit more than the federal exposure limit of RF energy.3

How much time do you spend on a smart phone?

The average user spends about 5.4 hours per day making calls, sending text messages, using social media, listening to music, playing games, watching videos, and searching the Internet.

That’s pretty much everybody. An estimated 96 percent of all adults own a cell phone or smart phone.Younger smart phone users tend to spend even more time on phones.

And the more time you spend on a smart phone, the higher your exposure to RF energy.

Check your phone for RF exposure warnings

    • Apple: General > Legal > RF Exposure
    • Android: Settings > About phone > Legal information > Legal > Health & safety.

Let’s face it. If you’re a smart phone user, chances are pretty good it’s a lifeline for work, family, entertainment, shopping, directions, and more. And that probably isn’t going to change. But there are some things you can do to reduce your exposure to RF energy to protect your health.

6 Moves to Make for Smart Phone Users

  1. Use a wired headset or speaker phone instead of Bluetooth devices (which emit RF energy). This will also help you avoid holding the phone directly against your ear/head. If you do use a Bluetooth headset, take it off when you’re not on a call or disable Bluetooth connections on your phone.
  1. Send text messages instead of calling whenever possible. You’ll be exposed to less RF energy this way.
  1. Keep the phone away from your head and body when streaming or downloading data. Both produce RF energy to send and receive data.
  1. Store your phone a few feet away in a purse, briefcase, or backpack, instead of keeping it on you. It’s another way to reduce exposure to RF energy. Or put your phone in “airplane mode,” when you’re not using it to turn off all RF signals.
  1. Use your phone less or turn it off when you’re out or range or have poor reception, and while you’re traveling at high speeds. Both require more RF energy to keep your phone connected.
  1. Give your phone a rest when you go to sleep. Turn it off. Put it in “airplane mode.” Or keep it about 10 feet away from your bed to reduce RF energy exposure.

Research about health risks linked to smart phone use remain mixed. But there’s enough evidence to suggest reducing your exposure to RF energy is a smart move. “Can you hear me now?”

Sources

  1. Egel, C. (2017). CDPH issues guidance on how to reduce exposure to radiofrequency energy from cell phones. California Department of Health. From: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DEODC/EHIB/CDPH%20Document%20Library/Cell-Phone-Guidance.pdf
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). Radio frequency radiation and cell phones. From: https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/cell-phones/radio-frequency-radiation-and-cell-phones
  1. Mahr, J. (2019). Lawsuit filed against Apple, Samsung after Chicago Tribune tests cellphones for radiofrequency radiation. From: https://www.chicagotribune.com/investigations/ct-cell-phone-radiation-lawsuit-apple-samsung-met-20190829-ye5h7fw6yvauxpo367vqeg7pju-story.html
  1. Pew Research Center. (2019). Mobile fact sheet. From: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/

5 Habits for a Healthy Immune System

COVID-19…It’s kind of like the cult classic movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers out there. There’s a mysterious force at work that you can’t see or hear, but it’s quietly infecting millions of people around the world.

One minute you’re fine…and then out of nowhere you’re exhibiting symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sort throat, loss of taste or smell).1 Your body recognizes the invasion, and your immune system kicks in to fight the virus.

How’s your immune system?

It’s a question on a lot of people’s minds while COVID-19 continues to spread. If you get sick, will your immune system be able to fight back and help you recover? And is there anything you can do right now to strengthen your immune system?

Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and breathe a sigh of relief…because you can strengthen your immune system with healthy lifestyle habits. You’re not going to build immunity against COVID-19 overnight, but you can take steps to help your body fight off the virus. Here are 9 things you can do:

  1. Drink Up
    No, not alcohol. That’s a myth. “Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” according to the World Health Organization.2
    “People should minimize their alcohol consumption at any time, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    ”Drink more water. Keeping your body well hydrated helps the immune system fight infection when you’re exposed to germs, viruses, or bacteria that can make you sick.3 Aim for 6 to 8 glasses of water a day…more if you live in a hot climate or if you’re very active.
  2. Get Your Zzzs
    You might be tempted to stay up late and skimp on sleep if you’re stuck at home. But poor sleep habits weaken the immune system and alter hormones that can help your body fight off an invasion.4
    Getting the right amount of sleep (about 7 to 9 hours) can help give your immune system the edge if you do get infected with a virus or catch a cold.
  3. Stress Less
    It’s easy to be stressed out right now, especially if COVID-19 has impacted you personally. Maybe you’re stressed about learning all the tech tools to work remotely. Maybe you’ve been laid off, or your hours have been cut. Maybe managing online learning for your kids is stressing you out. Or maybe you’re worried about getting infected or the toilet paper shortage at the grocery store. It’s a stressful time.
    But if you don’t manage stress in healthy ways, it has a negative impact on hormones that regulate your immune system. It puts you at risk for getting sick, and taking longer to recover if you do.5

    Learn to manage stress in healthy ways during COVID-19:

    • Talk with a friend by phone or video chat
    • Listen to relaxing music
    • Laugh more by reading a funny book or watching a comedy
    • Practice deep breathing exercises
    • Talk a walk or exercise
  4. Be More Active
    So your gym is closed during COVID-19? That doesn’t mean your new workout consists of pushing yourself up from the couch and pulling the refrigerator door open. If you want to keep your immune system healthy, you can do better.
    Research shows regular exercise can help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system to fight an infection.6 Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
    • Take a walk
    • Ride a bike
    • Do body weight exercises at home (push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, squats)
    • Jump rope
    • Pick a fitness video or workout and follow along
    • Exercise while watching a show
  5. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
    It’s no secret most adults don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
    Are you getting 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day?
    Now is always a good time to start.
    Why? Fruits and vegetables (especially brightly colored) are packed with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that help fight inflammation, keep cells healthy, and help the immune system fight off an infection.7

    Besides fruits and vegetables, other healthy foods include: whole grain, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Want to keep your immune system healthy? Adopt these 5 habits to improve your health and fight off an invasion from a virus, bacteria, or the common cold.

7 Smart Ways to Manage Acid Reflux Without Medication

Drugs to treat acid reflux linked to fatal conditions
You finish a meal, and then it hits you. There’s a gurgle-gurgle sound in your stomach. You feel sick. Hiccups keep coming back. And then comes heartburn and acidy burps.

Been there, done that? An estimated 60 million adults in the U.S. suffer from acid reflux disease, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. It’s also known as GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Chances are pretty good you’ve heard the commercials or seen the ads for over-the-counter and prescription medications to treat acid reflux. But in a recent study, researchers found that long-term use of medications for acid reflux actually raises the risk for stomach ulcers, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

Are you at risk for acid reflux?
While anyone can develop acid reflux, the National Institutes of Health says you’re more likely to develop it if you’re:

  • Overweight or obese
  • Pregnant
  • Taking certain medications
  • Smoke or regularly exposed to secondhand smoke

Fortunately, changes to your diet and lifestyle can help control acid reflux without medication. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Slow down at meal time. If you eat a lot of food all at once, acid in your stomach will ‘fill the tank.” And you’ll be more likely to experience those tell-tale signs. Eat slower. Or eat smaller meals throughout the day.
  2. Know your food triggers. Was it something you ate? The spicy burrito, the deep-fried chicken, or the decadent dessert? Foods that can trigger acid reflux include alcohol, chocolate, tea, coffee, garlic, onions, tomatoes, spicy foods, high-fat foods, and even mint. Use the FitLyfe platform to track your diet. If you have acid reflux, review your food choices, and avoid those triggers.
  3. According to Johns Hopkins University, foods that can help reduce acid reflux include:
      • High-fiber foods including whole grains and vegetables.
      • Alkaline foods (low in acid) like bananas, melons, nuts, and cauliflower.
      • Water-based foods such as celery, cucumber, lettuce, and tea
  4. Break the soda habit. It’s not rocket science. Carbonated beverages make you burp, and that can send acid into the esophagus. Over time, this damages the esophagus. Instead of soda, drink water.
  5. Take a casual walk after eating. It’s a great way to improve digestion, burn a few extra calories, and prevent acid reflux. Just don’t overdo it. Eat dinner at least three hours before going to bed.
  6. Maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if you need to. When you’re overweight, your body has a harder time closing the lower part of the esophagus to keep acid out. If you’re overweight or obese (that’s about 72% of all adults), tipping the scale in the right direction will improve your health and lower your risk for acid reflux.
  7. Don’t smoke, or quit if you do. Why? Nicotine can cause the lower part of the esophagus to relax, allowing more acid to leave the stomach.
  8. Talk to your doctor. Some medications increase the risk for acid reflux, including medications to treat menopause, depression, inflammation, and osteoporosis.

Take a closer look at this list, and you’ll see that diet and lifestyle habits can help you prevent or manage acid reflux, and be healthier.

Ergonomic Evaluation: How’s That Office Space Working for You?

Tips to design a workstation to prevent aches and pains
Ever spent a day at work shifting around in your chair, squinting to see a screen, or hunched over a keyboard? Or maybe your work-at-home space during the pandemic isn’t exactly ergonomically friendly.

Research shows poor ergonomics can be a recipe for bad posture, back aches, eye strain, headaches, neck and shoulder tension, and other problems. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Making a few adjustments to your workspace, and what you do during your workday can make a big difference. Here are some things you can do:

Put it in neutral. It doesn’t matter if you spend most of the day sitting or standing, you should aim for neutral alignment. That’s fancy for: Practice good posture. Once an hour, look to see if your ears are over the shoulders, and the shoulders are over the hips.

Chair check. If you spend a lot of time at work sitting, check your chair. Poor posture and too much sitting are some of the most common reasons for lower back pain. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle (use a foot rest if you need to).
  • Adjust arm rests below elbows and only use when resting, not typing
  • Use a chair with lumbar support (or an attachable cushion), and adjust to match the curve of your back.
  • Adjust seat depth. Aim for a two-inch space between the back of the knee and the edge of the chair.

Check your body posture

 

Sit less..move more. Stand up and stretch every hour. Get up and move around. Go for a walk. You’ll reduce strain on your body from sitting for long periods of times. Or consider using a stand-up desk.

Monitor moves. If you’re working in front of a screen for hours, making small adjustments to the monitor can help prevent neck and shoulder pain, eye strain, and other problems.

  • Your eyes should be at least 25 inches from your screen or monitor.
  • Adjust monitor to mid-forehead height, or lower if you wear bi- or tri-focal glasses.
  • Tilt the top of the monitor back slightly farther than the bottom of the eyes.
  • Don’t squint. If you’re having trouble seeing, increase the font size or viewable screen size.Eliminate glare. Sunlight should not be directly hitting the monitor. If this is the case, shut the blinds. Clean monitors regularly to remove dust.
  • Wink and blink. Rest your eyes at least every hour by focusing on something several feet away. Look away from the monitor, and do something else for a brief period before returning to the screen.
  • Schedule an annual exam to get your eyes checked. Consider purchasing computer glasses.

Keyboard & mouse check. Tapping away on the keyboard or clicking a mouse for hours might seem like a simple thing. But it can take a toll on your hands, wrists, and fingers if ergonomics are off. Keep your elbows at or just below 90 degrees. Your wrists should be straight and downward slightly. And don’t use the legs on the back side of keyboard.

Take a closer look at your workstation, chair, monitor and keyboard. And think about this…how many hours per day do you spend sitting? Then make adjustments to create an ergonomically-friendly work space.

7 Simple Ways to Avoid Getting Sick

All it takes is one germy, microscopic droplet. One day you’re buzzing along with your usual routine…work, commute, family time. And the next, you’re coughing, sneezing, sick to your stomach, or feeling miserable.
Ever called in sick? You’re not alone.
4 million sick days a month
An estimated 4 million employees in the U.S. miss work every month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And many of those absences are caused by illness such as:

  • Influenza: Right now the spread of the influenza virus is still high in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 29 million people have contracted the flu this season.
  • About 60 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S., but there’s growing concern more people will get sick.
  • The common cold. On any given day, you could be exposed to germs, bacteria, and viruses that can make you sick. In fact, there’s at least 200 different viruses that can make you sick.

Exposure to germs from a cough, sneeze, dirty door handle or shopping cart is all it takes for a good day to turn into something else.

Now what? Maybe it’s time to move into a plastic bubble, avoid all human contact, and never venture outside again. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Stay healthy: 7 ways to avoid getting sick

Wondering how to stay healthy and avoid germs that can make you sick? Here are seven things the CDC recommends:

  1. Wash your hands.  It’s the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs from your hands to your eyes, nose, mouth, or cut. And it’s easy. Rinse. Lather up with soap and water. Scrub for 20 seconds (that’s about how long it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice). Rinse and air dry or use a paper towel.
  2. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water isn’t available.
  3. Get the flu vaccine. It’s not too late to get it. Once you receive the vaccine, it takes about two weeks for your body to adjust. Everyone 6 months of age or older should get the flu vaccine.
  4. Stay home, or stay away. If you’re sick, stay home. Avoid contact with others as much as possible. And if you’re not sick, try to avoid being around people who are.
  5. Keep it clean. Use a disinfectant spray or wipes to clean surfaces like door handles, keyboards, counter tops, remotes, and shopping carts.
  6. Cover it. If you’re sick cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, or your elbow. Avoid shaking hands or go with a fist bump instead. Wearing a mask can also help prevent the spread of germs.
  7. Make healthy lifestyle choices. Your lifestyle choices can also help you avoid getting sick. Eat more nutrient-dense food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. And exercise at least 30 minutes a day.