National Glaucoma Awareness Month

National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Did you know that glaucoma is the most leading cause of vision loss and blindness? According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, there are more than 3 million people in the US alone, that have this sight-stealing disease. These numbers are only expected to increase in the coming years. The month of January celebrates National Glaucoma Awareness Month to educate the public about this disease, risk factors and treatment. But what is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition that progressively damages the eye optic nerves due to buildup of pressure on the nerve. This in turn, causes the eye fluid pressure to rise to more than the normal level of eye fluid. This can result in loss of vision or total blindness. The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. This is where the drain structure of the eye (known as trabecular meshwork) looks fine, but fluid does not flow out like it should.

Glaucoma has several risks factors including:

  • Family history.
  • Age; Vision reduces as we age- individuals at the age of 60+ are at a significantly higher risk
  • Race; Africans Americans have at high risk and can develop it as early as an age of forty years
  • Physical injury to the eye
  • Pre-existing chronic disease such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or a thin cornea
  • Excessive use of corticosteroids (or eye drops)

Glaucoma has been referred to as “the sneak thief of sight” because it generally doesn’t have warning symptoms. Unfortunately, most are not diagnosed until it is already in the late stages. However, some symptoms to be aware of may include:

  • Halos (or bright circles) around light
  • An increase of severe eye pain
  • Redness of the eye
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden onset of visual disturbances (ie. double vision, blurred vision, partial blindness)

There is no cure for glaucoma, however, it does not mean it cannot be controlled or prevented. Regular checkups with your eye doctor can help detect early signs of glaucoma. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medicated eyedrops or surgery.

Taking care of our eyes as we age is just as important as taking care of our health, heart and joints in order to live a healthier and happy life. Some ways to reduce your risk of vision lost can include:

  • Regular checkups
  • Eating healthy foods (ie. Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Citrus Fruits, Almonds, Kale, Spinach, Beans)
  • Wearing sunglasses- highly recommended when outdoors
  • Avoid smoking

Do you have an eye medical insurance plan? Eyemed Vision Benefits has one of the fastest growing vision benefits plan in the US offering affordable coverage for eye exams, eyeglasses and contact lens. They are dedicated to helping members achieve clear and healthy vision by giving them access to diverse and expansive networks across the U.S including independent eye doctors.

The health of our eyes are very important and the government knows it. That’s why the U.S Congress Health appropriation has set $636.8 million including $1 million for vision and eye health and $4 million to address glaucoma. I hope you will be visiting an eye doctor soon.

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Happy National Healthy Weight Week

Happy National Healthy Weight Week

January 19th-25th celebrates National Healthy Weight Week. It is observed to recognize and bring awareness to the troubling amount of individuals who are overweight or obese in the United States. It traditionally is celebrated the third week in January, and has been the case since 1994. Maintaining a healthy weight is part of being fully well. A good and healthy weight can be one way to reduce your risk of various chronic health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and cancer.

Maintaining a healthy weight is important at any age. But it is particularly important as we get older. With age, our bodies are more susceptible to different kinds of illnesses. However many of these diseases can be prevented just by having a healthy weight. Here are a few ways weight (being overweight) can have a negative impact on your well-being:

– Obesity is a leading cause for type two diabetes and heart disease
– Being overweight puts extra strain on your joints, which can in turn, limit your mobility

It is important to take care of our bodies, and maintaining a healthy weight is one way to do so. You will improve the quality of life and daily activities as you age in a way that that leads to a healthier, happier and longer life.

Looking for a fun way to celebrate National Healthy Weight Week? Here are some ideas for you to consider:

– Take and exercise class
– Host a fitness party; invite your family, friends or co-workers to work out to your favorite tunes
– Go for a walk; Walking is one of the easiest ways to get moving
– Host a healthy brunch; get your group together and check out a new restaurant with some healthier options
– Get your rest; Aim for at least 6-8 hours every night to help you feel more energized and rejuvenated
– Share this information and more with your family, friends and network on social media (#healthyweightweek)

Hoping you will be celebrating this holiday and see the benefits, then turn the one week into a daily routine and eventually into a lifestyle. Happy National Healthy Weight Week!

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Why be physically active?

Why be physically active?

When you think of going to the gym to workout, the image of a body builder lifting an insane amount of weights wearing a tank top that is way too small, may come to mind. However, there is more to being physically active and fit than just lifting weights. There are many benefits of a physically active lifestyle. It helps to maintain a healthy weight; decreases your risk of developing certain diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes; reduces your risk of a heart attack, and helps you have stronger bones and muscles.

Many statistics have indicated an increase in the number of Americans who are obese or overweight. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, identified that 36.9% of the US population is obese. This is equates to approximately 70 million adults. (Please note, this figure does not include children under the age of 18). These numbers vary depending on different factors such as lifestyle and where you live. Data collected by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 2019 showed that Mississippi and West Virginia have the highest rates of obesity at 39%, while Florida has the lowest at 23%. Being physically active allows you a chance to NOT be part of these statistics.

As we age, being physical active not only becomes a necessity, but an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Doing exercises may not seem important but your body will thank you later in the years to come. It is also a component of healthy aging. As we get older, there are certain diseases we are more inclined to get. Osteoporosis (the weakening of bones) can become a problem with age. Exercises like taking a brisk walk can help ease pain on the bones. Physical activity can help maintain your independence- so that you can age in place (at home) longer. It also boosts your energy thus increasing flexibility and mobility. Exercise can improve your mood and cognitive function- which helps with memory.

Exercising doesn’t have to be hard. There are simple things you can do that naturally incorporates physical activity into your day. Go for a walk around the block when you want to clear your head. Why not get some exercise and fresh air at the same time! Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get off the bus a stop or two earlier, park your car a little further than usual to get a few extra steps in. Walking 10,000 steps per day, can help you burn calories and lose weight. You can buy a Fitbit or a pedometer to help you count and keep track of how many steps you take each day. Looking for a way to try a new workout plan or new exercises, you can download a number of apps such as SilverSneakers Go, FitOn and PITT28. Looking to check out a new fitness or dance studio, check out classes on platforms such as ClassPass, PeerFit, GymPass or Mindbody.

You will see more opportunities to be more active if you start looking for them. Add few more steps each day. Remember that every single steps counts. It takes small steps to create a milestone; it takes one good action to change the world. Start small, and as time goes by, your body will adjust. Understand that wellness is a journey and this is just part of it. You can always start anytime.

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New Year, New You!

New Year, New You!

Happy New Year! Well it’s here folks, not just another year, but another decade has dawned upon us.

This is a time for new beginnings, setting goals, working towards getting a new job. Maybe you are hoping to get that new house or go on a safari/dream vacation. It’s a time to create a new and better you. In short, new year’s resolutions.

Resolutions are the things we plan to do or hope to accomplish by the end of the year. They give us reasons to wake up each day and something to work towards. There’s nothing as satisfying as looking at your to do list and almost everything is checked off. Some common resolutions include:

  1. Fitness,(it should definitely top your resolution)
  2. Healthcare
  3. Losing weight,
  4. Going to the gym,
  5. Quit a bad habit such as drinking or smoking
  6. Start meditation.

But what happens after January? We often find ourselves back to our old ways or we don’t even remember why we had the resolutions in the first place. Maybe it is all in how we are planning and the method that is used.

What if there was a smart way of setting your targets? Well according to The American Council of Exercise there is an interesting acronym of SMART. Each letter represents a smart way to achieving your resolutions.

S=specific; Your goal should be clearly specified and outlined. This will help you in actualize your resolutions. If you specifically want to body build or body sculpting, the focus here would be creating customized workouts and prioritizing muscle group. You can use an app on your phone such as BodBot– to help you design a workout plan.

M=measurable; If it’s your first time focusing on fitness resolutions, it is better to start with small and measurable goals, say ten push-ups a day. If you haven’t achieved it on the few days, be gentle to yourself, everything takes time so long as you don’t give up. It also helps to have a partner (friend or family member) and tell them about your goals is a recommended way to hold you accountable.

A=attainable; Start small. Set small but reasonable goals. If you are just starting out and you set a target of running five or ten miles every morning, it is not impossible, but very unrealistic. When you goals are too large, it can become discouraging when you don’t see yourself making any progress which will lead you to drop off. Instead, start with a five minute walk, and then increase as time goes by.

R=relevant; Don’t work out because it is in your resolution to be working out this year. Let it be related to a reason for why you are working out. Your reason could be to achieve a healthy weight, setting an example for a loved one, or to take more control of your health. Whatever your reason is, that will help you to stay motivated. You can also use apps like Journey: Diary, Motivational Journal which will help you document your progress, which is another great way to stay motivated.

Time bound; Time is measure of our daily lives, whatever you’re aiming to achieve, it should have a time frame of when you want to accomplish it by. There is not point in having a goal, if there is no schedule. Also, set up consistent check-in points to monitor your progress.

It’s 2020! What is your 2020 wellness vision?

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