get upEver since Business Innovator/Corporate Director/Author (that’s a lot of slashes) Nilofer Merchant declared “sitting has become the smoking of our generation” in a TED talk, there’s been even more focus drawn to the inactivity that has become an accepted part of practically every adult working person’s daily life. This is not a new concern; there are plenty of known risk factors attached to a sedentary lifestyle including increased risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, obesity, and depression. More and more we’re discovering that being inactive is bad enough, but sitting is particularly pernicious. Check out this helpful info from The Washington Post on the dangers of sitting, especially with poor posture (something I need to work on). For more info on the dangers of sitting, you may also want to check out Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What you Can Do About It by James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D. and JustStand.org.

At the library, I do sit a lot, but, thankfully, moving around (shelving, shelf-reading, helping customers find what they’re looking for, etc.) is also a regular part of my job. My hubby, computer geek extraordinaire, gets less of a break from sitting during his day. And recently, he has developed some back problems. So he decided to do something about it, he decided to take a stand, if you will.

For the last month, he has been using a stand-up desk at work and home. Standing may not seem like an exercise per se, but it is one of the easiest ways to combat “sitting disease” (what some people are now calling the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle). Additionally, JustStand.org indicates that standing does help improve posture; increase energy, blood flow, and metabolism; and it even helps tone muscles and burn calories.

And my hubby didn’t break the bank on an expensive stand-up desk. He borrowed a DIY method from this handy posting. So far my husband’s verdict on his stand-up experiment: “I can’t go back to sitting all day. The desk has really helped.”

  • The DIY stand-up desks under construction.
  • Side view of stand-up desk.
  • The desk in use (view not included).

image006As I mentioned, I do get opportunities to move throughout the day, but I know I could benefit from a little more standing and moving. Of course I can’t set up a stand-up desk in my office area (I share my desk with another), nor can I set up one at the Research Desk (that would just be plain weird). But I think I’m going to check out some of our DVDs on exercises you can do while sitting and maybe learn a little more about Physiology and Fitness.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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anti-aging, exercise

According to a Johns Hopkins study, “Most experts recommend exercise as the single most important anti-aging measure anyone can follow, regardless of age, disability or general level of fitness. A sedentary lifestyle accelerates nearly every unwanted aspect of aging.” [JackF]/[iStock]/Thinkstock

Exercise has long-term physical and mental benefits, even reducing arthritis symptoms in older adults

Physical Benefits of Exercise
A lack of physical activity can put you at higher risk for health problems such as diabetes and osteoporosis. In fact, according to Dianne Braun, P.T., a clinical program manager and physical therapist with Howard County General Hospital, “It is not only healthy for seniors to exercise, it can also be dangerous to not exercise. Not being physically active can be risky, as seniors can lose up to 75 percent of their strength from inactivity, making them prone to falls. Current statistics show that one in three people over the age of 65 fall every year and that number increases to one in two by age 80.”

Mental Benefits of Exercise
Not only does exercise help seniors physically, it can also have a positive effect mentally. Physical activity can help manage stress and reduce feelings of depression. “Depression is a big issue for seniors, and just five minutes of exercise a day has been shown to reduce the incidence of depression,” said Braun. Some studies also suggest that regular physical activity can increase various aspects of cognitive function.

How Much Exercise is Enough?
“General exercise recommendations for seniors include 30 minutes of exercise with strength training two times per week,” said Braun. “If you have a fear of increasing pain, or have a heart or medical condition, check with your physician for exercise guidelines. The important thing is to start exercising and make it a part of your daily routine.”

Studies show that exercising regularly and staying active have long-term benefits and improve the health of older adults. According to a Johns Hopkins study, “Most experts recommend exercise as the single most important anti-aging measure anyone can follow, regardless of age, disability or general level of fitness. A sedentary lifestyle accelerates nearly every unwanted aspect of aging.”

The Arthritis Antidote 
Though exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do when suffering from arthritis, exercise is very important to increase strength and flexibility, reduce joint pain and help with fatigue. Physical activity does not have to be at a high-intensity level, but studies indicate that a moderate level of exercise can help with the pain as well as help maintain a healthy weight.

“Strength training and aerobic activity (walking or other) are good for the joints. Many studies have shown a reduction in pain with regular strength training and aerobic conditioning,” said Braun.

Exercise Examples: 

  • Aerobic conditioning activities such as walking, biking, swimming, raking leaves
  • Strengthening activities for lower body: squats, single-leg stance, step-ups and sit to stand from a chair (try not to use your arms and upper body)
  • Strengthening for upper body that incorporates some weight lifting, such as arm raises, overhead raises and biceps curls.
Dianne Braun is a clinical program manager and physical therapist with Howard County General Hospital.

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HCGH cardiac (heart health) team

Dr. Alexander Chudnovsky, director of Cardiac Rehabilitation Services at Howard County General Hospital, with (from left): Prasobha George, RN; and exercise physiologists Suzanne Jeffreys and Brett Goldberger. Dr. Chudnovsky is a cardiologist with Cardiovascular Specialists of Central Maryland in Columbia.

February is American Heart Month: Exercise to Tone Your Heart!

American Heart Month is a good time to remember how important exercise is for heart health. No matter what age you are or stage of life you are in, some form of exercise is beneficial for most people.

Alexander Chudnovsky, M.D., a cardiologist on staff at Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) and medical director of the hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, wants you to know that exercise is for everyone, regardless of age or cardiac health status. The heart is meant to be used!

No Cardiac History?
Exercising doesn’t just tone the muscles in your arms, legs and core, it strengthens the heart muscle. According to the American Heart Association, physical activity helps prevent the nation’s number one and number four killers: heart disease and stroke. “When you exercise regularly, the heart becomes conditioned and uses oxygen and energy more efficiently,” says Dr. Chudnovsky. “To condition the heart, you should exercise at least four times a week and raise your heart to your target heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes during exercise.”

What is your target heart rate?
220 – your chronological age x 0.8 = your target heart rate.

The Cardiac Patient
In general, most cardiac patients benefit from exercise. Those with coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure can benefit significantly from cardiac rehabilitation offered in a clinical, monitored setting. You should discuss a cardiac program with your physician. HCGH offers many cardiac rehabilitation options to help those who have recently experienced a heart attack, angioplasty, stable angina, coronary bypass surgery, irregular heart rhythms, heart failure or transplant or valve surgery. Call 443-718-3000 for more information.

“Exercise can induce the heart to grow new blood vessels to supply areas of the heart that may have been affected by prior cardiac events,” notes Dr. Chudnovsky. “In addition, regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure, increase good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), improve glucose metabolism for those with diabetes and support weight loss.”

 

Before You Start: According to Dr. Chudnovsky, if you are planning to start exercising and you are not conditioned and have cardiac risk factors that include diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and/or a family history of cardiac events, you should see your cardiologist or primary care doctor before you put your heart under the stress of physical activity.

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Childhood headaches or frequent constipation? They can sometimes be symptoms of poor nutrition choices. Here’s five tips to get your child’s diet on track.

Adults in children’s lives play a large role in a child’s nutrition and developing eating habits. “Kids are going to model what their parents do. If their parents are eating a lot of fast food and drinking a lot of soda, their kids are going to develop those habits,” said Michael Lasser, M.D., a pediatrician on staff at Howard County General Hospital. “It is really important families sit down and eat together. Not only to see how the child’s day was, but if parents are eating healthy food, that is what the kids are going to eat.” Check out the below slideshow for more tips to help your children make wise food and drink choices.

 

  • The Water Connection: Children need to drink more water. "Kids do not drink enough water throughout the day and will come home from school with headaches because they didn't have breakfast or drink enough water and are dehydrated," said Dr. Lasser. [© Yarkovoy | Dreamstime.com]

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Steve Snelgrove, Howard County General Hospital’s new president, gets ready to “bike the lights.”

Steve Snelgrove, Howard County General Hospital’s new president, gets ready to “bike the lights.”

The Howard County General Hospital Symphony of Lights, a spectacular display of 70 larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations, has been a favorite community holiday tradition for 21 years and the largest annual fundraising event to benefit the hospital.

People have been running, walking, driving, pushing tots in strollers, walking pets on leashes and celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Symphony of Lights for many years, and now there is a new, healthier way to enjoy the holiday magic. You can “Bike the Lights” on Tuesday, Dec. 2. It’s a great family outing and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season for bikers of all ages and abilities. If you’re not keen on biking, you can walk…the course is 1.4 miles and mostly flat! It will help you be festive and fit.

In addition to having fun and helping your community hospital, biking is good for your heart and your health. Here are some great reasons to ride your bike through the holiday lights and to make biking a part of your regular exercise routines.

The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that physical activity—anything that makes you move your body to burn calories—is very important to prevent heart disease and stroke and recommends at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise, five times a week. Biking is an excellent aerobic activity.

According to the AHA, regular exercise:

  • Improves blood circulation throughout your body
  • Keeps weight under control
  • Improves blood cholesterol levels
  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure
  • Prevents bone loss
  • Boosts your energy level
  • Releases tension
  • Improves your ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
  • Improves self-image
  • Helps manage stress
  • Counters anxiety and depression
  • Increases your enthusiasm and optimism
  • Increases your muscle strength

A daily exercise program can provide a way for you to share an activity with your family and friends, while helping you establish good heart-healthy habits. Daily exercise can help your child deter conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, and poor lifestyle habits that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life. If you are an older adult, daily physical activity can help delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging, and help you maintain your quality of life and independence longer.

Do your hospital and your body a big favor: Come out and Bike the Lights!


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calendar_2014smSaturday, November 8, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to be a Big Brother or Sister. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class at the Central Branch for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding a baby. Resources for parents, too. Well & Wise event. Families; 30 – 45 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, November 8, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Time for a Spa-liday. Need to relax before the holidays? Paint your nails, learn relaxation techniques, listen to soothing music, and make spa treats such as coconut oil hand scrub, bath fizzies, and glycerin soap scrubbies at the Savage Branch. Recipes and ingredients provided. Ages 8-13. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.

Monday, November 10, 10:00-12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring at the Savage Branch offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, November 4, 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. Turkey Twist and Shout. Sing and shake your turkey tail to tasty tunes at the Elkridge Branch! Ages 2-5 with adult; 30 min. No registration required.

Thursday, November 13, 1:00 p.m. A World of Kindness. CCome to the East Columbia Branch and celebrate random acts of kindness. Share books, songs, and make a craft. Choose Civility event. Ages 3-5; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 7 to 9 p.m. Happiest Baby on the Block in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Learn successful techniques that can quickly soothe your crying newborn and promote a more restful sleep for your infant. Parent kits are included in the $50 couple fee.

Thursday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Great American Smokeout in the Howard County General Hospital lobby: includes information and literature to help you stop smoking. Free event.


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