May is National Employee Health & Fitness Month

GEHFM LogoGlobal Employee Health & Fitness Month (GEHFM) is an international observance of health and fitness in the workplace, created by two non-profit organizations, the National Association for Health & Fitness and ACTIVE Life.

The goal of GEHFM is to help organizations promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to their employees in the worplace. Formerly National Employee Health & Fitness Day, Global Employee Health & Fitness Month has been extended to a month-long initiative in order to initiate healthy activities on an ongoing basis.

Health Promotion Benefits Organizations
GEHFM can breathe new life into an existing wellness program or ignite interest in starting a new program at your workplace. Modifiable health risk factors lead to many diseases, disorders and increased risk of premature death.

Worksite wellness programs have been shown to:
• Improve health care cost management
• Enhance employee productivity
• Decrease rates of illness and injuries
• Reduced employee absenteeism

Health Promotion Benefits Employees
GEHFM provides fun, innovative, and interactive ways to incorporate wellness in your workplace! Oftentimes employees are ready to change but do not have the resources or information on where to begin. By offering a workplace wellness program such as GEHFM, employers can provide a structured approach to physical activity, nutrition, wellness, and personal and environmental health improvement.

Worksite wellness programs have been shown to:
• Lower levels of stress
• Increase well-being, self-image, and self-esteem
• Improve physical fitness
• Reduce weight
• Raise health awareness

For more information or to order your own company toolkit, go to:

April is Stress Awareness Month

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Some people may cope with stress more effectively or recover quicker than others. It’s important to know your limits in order to avoid serious health effects.

What is stress?

Stress can be defined as the brain’s response to the changes we experience in life. Changes can be positive or negative, real or perceived, short-term or long-term. Some changes are mild, such as watching a scary movie or riding a rollercoaster; and some are major, such as divorce, serious illness, or a car accident. Other changes can be considered extreme, such as exposure to violence.

There are at least three different types of stress, all of which carry physical and mental health risks:

• Routine stress related to the pressures of work, family and other daily responsibilities.

• Stress brought on by a sudden change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness.

• Traumatic stress is experienced in an event like a major accident, war, or natural disaster.

How does stress affect your overall health?

The body responds to stress in similar ways, but different people might experience it differently.

• Digestive symptoms, headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger and irritability.

• People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold, and vaccines, such as the flu shot, are less effective.

• Continued strain on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and/or anxiety disorder.

 How can you cope with stress?

The following are some tips that may help:

• Seek help from a qualified mental health care provider.

• Get proper health care for existing or new health problems.

• Stay in touch with people who can provide emotional and other support.

• Recognize signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, being easily angered, and feeling depressed and low energy.

• Set priorities and learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.

• Exercise regularly-just 30 minutes per day of gentle walking can help boost mood and reduce stress.

• Explore stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises.

 For additional resources and information, go to The National Institute of Mental Health at:

March is Thyroid Awareness Month

Thyroid disease is more common than diabetes or heart disease.  Thyroid disease is a fact of life for as many as 30 million Americans – and more than half of those people remain undiagnosed. Women are five times more likely than men to suffer from hypothyroidism (when the gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone). Aging is just one risk factor for hypothyroidism.

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Although relatively small, the thyroid gland plays a huge role in our body, influencing the function of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. Ensuring that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly is vitally important to the body’s overall well-being.

Certain diseases, drugs or other factors can cause the thyroid to stop producing enough hormone, a condition known as hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. The thyroid could also produce too much hormone, a condition known as hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. These two conditions are most often features of an underlying thyroid disease.

To find out more about your thyroid, related conditions and various types of treatments, go to:

5 Ways to Lift Your Mood and Energy Levels

Many of us experience mild depression, lack of motivation, and low energy during the winter season. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to both prevent the blues from coming on and get yourself back to normal if they’re already here.

  1. Exercise – As if we needed another reason to get fit! Exercise isn’t only for maintaining your weight and staying healthy. It’s great for relieving the stresses of life. Plus, the effects of a good workout can last for several hours after you hit the showers. You’ll have more energy throughout the day, and your metabolism with stay elevated too. Exercise also helps your mind by releasing those “feel good chemicals” that improve your mood.

  2. Eat a Healthy Diet – Refined and processed foods (like white breads, rice, and sugar) are devoid of the nutrients your body craves, and they zap your energy levels — causing depression, lack of concentration, and mood swings. Try to incorporate more complex carbohydrates (whole wheat breads, brown rice, veggies, fruit) and get plenty of water. These healthy foods provide your body (and mind) with nutrients, and stabilize your blood sugar and your energy levels.

  3. Get Some Sun – Similar to exercise, sunlight exposure releases neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood. Try to spend a little more time outdoors. Keep your shades up during the day to let more light in. Sit near windows in restaurants and during class. And try changing the light bulbs in your house to “full spectrum” bulbs. These mimic natural light and actually have the same affects on your mind as the real thing.

  4. Act on your Resolutions – A recent study from the CDC showed a strong link between healthy behaviors and depression. Women who exhibited healthy behaviors (like exercising, not smoking, etc.) had fewer sad and depressed days than those whose behaviors were unhealthy. Although researchers studied women, the results are likely similar in men.

  5. Catch some Zzzz’s – With all we have going on, sometimes proper sleep is the first thing to go. But with a little time management, and some self-discipline, you can meet your shut-eye needs. Aim for 7-8 hours each night, and try to keep your bedtime and waking time consistent. That way, your sleeping patterns can normalize and you’ll have more energy. And try not to oversleep—those 12-hour snoozes on the weekend can actually make you MORE tired.

For more information on seasonal affect disorder, go to:

A New Start: Emotional Fitness

For many of us the New Year represents a time of making physical fitness resolutions.

However, emotional fitness is just as important to our well-being (if not more so) and is often forgotten while establishing goals. This year, why not look for areas in your life you’d like to increase your emotional fitness as well? Here are some tools from Psychology Today to make changes a little easier and your New Year more emotionally fit.

1. Starting over is not the same as failure. It is a new beginning. This mindset is helpful because it keeps you from wasting time being too hard on yourself and dwelling on the past instead of a bright future.

2. Remember, moving through life is like climbing stairs. You go up a level and then you level off. Nothing is ever a straight shot. Have some patience with yourself and with any new found direction.

3. A new year may also be a new life if you approach it in the right way. Find the courage to embark on something you never thought possible.

4. Starting over may feel scary, but it’s really a cause for celebration. Think of it as an exciting adventure and many of your anxious feelings will begin to fade. Endings are not necessarily bad things.

5. Remember that your future is not governed by your past. No matter what has happened in your life, you can find a way to make things a little better for yourself, and hopefully for those around you as well.

6. Healthy alternatives to negative lifestyle patterns abound. Take baby steps if you don’t feel comfortable making all your changes on January 1. If you can’t stop a bad habit, start by cutting back. It’s okay to give yourself a little time to moderate or completely stop something that’s hurting you.

7. It’s not all about joining a gym to get fit. What about taking a dance class to get in shape and have fun at the same time? Starting over can mean chasing your dreams. We’re happiest when we’re moving toward a clear and attainable goal.

8. Starting over is about giving yourself a chance at real happiness. You will have to be brave and get good at learning new things, but how bad can that be? At the very worst, you will acquire the new skills that may help you in the future.

Just by changing the way you look at things can make a big difference. Research shows that by changing your thoughts, you change the feelings related to them as well.

The New Year is a great time to start over or make those self-improvements you have always meant to. Remember that once you honestly commit to the changes, you have already begun the process.

Happy 2014!

Beating The Winter Blues

Early winter, with its parties and presents, gets all the fun. But once the decorations come down, some people find themselves fighting a post-holiday funk — the festivities are over and the winter months still cloud the horizon.

If you’re feeling down this time of year, try these 6 mood-boosting tips from Mason Turner, MD, assistant director of Regional Mental Health Services for The Permanente Medical Group in Northern California.

1.    Remember a pleasant event or imagine yourself in a peaceful place.
2.    Do something that makes you laugh.
3.    Unwind with animals — walk your dog, pet your cat, or if you don’t have a pet, walk a neighbor’s dog. People with pets are happier, healthier, and better adjusted than those without, according to a study reported by the American Psychological Association.
4.    Set aside some “you” time for an activity you enjoy, like yoga or lunch with friends.
5.    Be kind to other people.
6.    Volunteer and support a cause that matters to you. People who volunteer have lower depression rates compared to those who don’t, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Can’t shake symptoms on your own?
Some people find their symptoms are more serious than just feeling blue. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can trigger depression. Researchers aren’t sure what causes SAD, but they believe lack of sunlight plays a role.

People with SAD might notice that around the start of fall they:
•    feel unhappy, moody, or anxious
•    are uninterested in their usual activities
•    crave carbohydrates and gain weight
•    sleep more than usual

Symptoms often last until April or May. If you think you might have SAD, Dr. Turner says it’s important to talk to your doctor. Light therapy — exposure to either a simulated dawn or bright light in the morning — works for many people with SAD. Antidepressants and counseling can also help.

Don’t suffer in silence. If you suspect you or someone you love may be suffering from depression, our health professionals can help.
See more at:

Mindful Wellness For The Holidays

Picture of Holiday decorations

During the winter holiday frenzy, it is easy to get too busy and to feel overwhelmed! Here are some practical tips to help you minimize the stress, maximize the joy, and stay healthy during the busiest time of year.


  • Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, volunteering your time to help others is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

  • Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.

  • Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. If it’s not possible to say no, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the additional time.

  • Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.

  • Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Be well, and enjoy a safe, healthy, and exceptionally happy Holiday season!



Wallet Wellness: Ways to Save Money by Saving Energy

Saving energy is one of the best ways to save money.

During the hot months of the summer, electrical bills skyrocket.  There are many ways to save energy in the home, but here are a few good places to start.

  • • Use smaller appliances for cooking. If you are just making a small snack or a one pot meal, try using toaster ovens, slow cookers, or electric skillets.  Microwaves can also save energy because they cook the food faster than an oven would.

  • • When you are not using your appliances, unplug them.  Even though they are not being used, there is still idle energy that is being consumed by your appliance or device.  Taking this out of the equation can save you hundreds of dollars a year, depending on what you unplug and how often you unplug it.

  • • You should regularly clean and replace the air filters on all your appliances.  A clogged or obstructed air filter will make the machine work harder, requiring more energy.

  • • Try to wash clothes with cold or warm water instead of hot.  Your water heater requires a good deal of energy to heat the water for one load of wash.

  • • Energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy than a standard incandescent light bulb.  They also last much longer than incandescent bulbs.




July is National UV Safety Month

Sun GraphicSkin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are the main cause of skin cancer.

The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented! Communities, health professionals, and families can use this month to raise awareness about skin cancer prevention – both at home and in the larger community.

Make a difference and spread the word about strategies for preventing skin cancer:

• Use sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, SPF 30 or higher, and is water resistant.

• Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

• Cover up with long sleeves and a hat.

• The FDA mandates that Sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years. If the expiration date has passed, throw out the sunscreen.

• Check your skin once a month for changes.

Remember: Even on cloudy days, you are exposed to up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

For more information, go to:




Wear Blue for Men’s Health Month

Men’s Health Week is celebrated each year as the week leading up to and including Father’s Day. The purpose of Men’s Health Week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

“Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue,” says Congressman Bill Richardson.

Men face unique health challenges, and one of the most dangerous is their reluctance to seek health care. In fact, according to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), men are 24 percent less likely than women to have seen a doctor in the past year.

A snapshot of men’s health in the U.S. shows that they sometimes experience different, but no less serious, health problems than women. Heart disease, cancer, and accidents (unintentional injuries) are the top causes of death for men. The most commonly diagnosed cancers among men include prostate, lung, and colorectal types. A recent Federal study shows that men die from heart disease and chronic liver disease at nearly twice the rate of women.

Many of the major health risks that men face — such as colon cancer and heart disease — can actually be prevented and treated with earlier diagnosis. Screening tests can often find these diseases early, when they are easier to treat. For these reasons, it is crucial that men go against their tendency of avoiding health care and begin having regular checkups and screenings.


Six Manly Steps to Good Health:

1. Get routine check-ups and preventive screenings.

2. Be more physically active and make healthy food choices.

3. Get to your healthy weight and stay there.

4. Become tobacco free.

5. Drink only in moderation.

6. Manage stress.

Men’s Health Month is a chance for both men and women to increase their awareness of the potentially significant health problems that men face, as well as what steps they can take to prevent such problems. Taking care of yourself is part of being the best man you can be. There’s nothing manly — or beneficial — about ignoring your health.