Posts Tagged ‘wellness’

Gain Outer Strength & Inner Peace with Yoga

September is National Yoga Awareness Month! Last year around this time, we posed a question to our friends on Facebook, “There are many physical and psychological benefits realized from yoga. Because it’s National Yoga Awareness Month, we’re asking for your feedback. If you participate in yoga let us know what studios you recommend for others who are interested!”

Yoga Facebook Emory Healthcare

With about 12 million Americans participating in yoga and that number steadily on the rise, this time around, we’re outlining some of the benefits of participating in yoga, how you can join them and try yoga as a new student for free.

Health Benefits of Yoga

There are many styles and types of yoga, but despite their differences, there are similar health benefits provided by each. The poses and meditative nature of yoga provides opportunities for participants to build core strength, improve flexibility and balance, reduce stress, lose weight, manage and reduce symptoms of existing and chronic health conditions such as stress, anxiety, and osteoporosis, to name a few, and improve mental focus.

Atlanta Yoga Studios & One Free Week

If you’ve practiced yoga at a studio in Atlanta, and would like to shout them out or provide feedback, please feel free to use the comments area below! If you’re looking for a yoga studio in Atlanta, check out Yelp’s yoga listings.

National Yoga Awareness Month

To celebrate Yoga Month, the folks at the Yoga Health Foundation are offering one week of free yoga for beginners. You can search for yoga studios by city here.

We hope the above resources will inspire and prepare you to give yoga a try. Please consult with your physician before participating in yoga if you have an existing health condition that may be exacerbated by the practice of yoga. Again, we welcome your comments about all things yoga below. Namaste!

Indoor Tanning & Tanning Beds – the Bad, the Ugly and the Uglier

Indoor Tanning & Skin CancerOne in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. It is the most common of all cancers and accounts for nearly half of all cancer cases in the United States. More than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are found in the U.S. each year. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, will account for 70,230 new skin cancer diagnoses in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society. Now, let’s juxtapose these numbers with the fact that nearly 30 million people tan indoors in tanning beds in the U.S. every year and 2.3 million of them are teens. Furthermore, on an average day, over one million Americans use tanning salons1.

So, just how bad are tanning beds and does the increase in their use correlate with the increase in melanoma incidence rates over the last 30 years? Findings released in 2009 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health organization, demonstrate that indoor tanning beds and tanning devices are more dangerous than we previously thought, and as a result, the IARC moved UV tanning devices such as tanning beds from their Group 2A category, “probably carcinogenic to humans,” to their Group 1 list of the most dangerous cancer causing agents. Inclusion of a cancer causing agent or substance is listed in the IARC’s Group 1 means that agent or substance is definitely carcinogenic to humans. Other agents listed in Group 1 include plutonium and cigarettes.

As is mentioned above, 2.3 million of the people using indoor tanning beds and devices in the U.S. are teens. Because skin cancers such as melanoma can take a substantial amount of time to develop, along with moving tanning devices into their Group 1 category, the IARC also now recommends banning commercial indoor tanning use for people under the age of 18 in an effort to lower their risk for developing skin cancer later in life.

Back in 2006, the IARC took its efforts to identify the impact indoor tanning can have on skin cancer risk a step further by evaluating 19 studies conducted over 25 years that looked at the relationship between indoor tanning and skin cancer. Findings from this evaluation reveal:

  • there is an association between UV-emitting tanning devices and ocular melanoma (cancer of the eye)
  • there is an association between indoor tanning and both squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, two dangerous forms of skin cancer
  • the DNA damage caused by UVA and UVB rays can lead to skin cancer in laboratory animals. Most indoor tanning beds and devicese emit UVS rays.

But, the most notable finding from their evaluation is a scary one– the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer increases by 75% when indoor tanning device and tanning bed use starts before the age of 35.2

Hopefully these numbers and findings are enough to make you reconsider using tanning beds this summer and in future years. As the research continues to pour in, it becomes more and more clear just how dangerous indoor tanning (and outdoor tanning, for that matter) are.

For more information on tanning beds and the risks associated with their use, visit: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm186687.htm There you can also find guidelines for how to reduce your risk for skin cancer in you do decide to continue tanning indoors. But we encourage you to change your tanning habits and prioritize your health! If you’re seeking a golden bronze glow, why not try self-tanning lotions? What else do you recommend for lowering risk for skin cancer or alternatives to tanning? Let us know in the comments area below!

1: http://www.skincancer.org/Skin-Cancer-Facts/
2: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm186687.htm

Top 5 Skin Protection & Skin Cancer Prevention Tips for UV Safety Month (and year round!)

UV Safety

Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Perhaps even more alarming– 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to UV radiation from the sun. With summer heat at its peak and because July is UV Safety Month, we’ve put together some tips to help you stay safe(r) when in the sun.

There’s No Such Thing as a Safe Tan

A recent article appearing in HealthDay confirms what those around the medical field have known for quite some time– there is no such thing as a safe tan. During summer months attendance at tanning salons skyrockets with people attempting to achieve a golden “base tan” to build on throughout the summer. But the notion of a base tan being a safe and affective way to achieve a bronze summer glow is simply false. “Tanning beds have become a particular hazard. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified the devices as within its highest cancer risk category — basically as potentially carcinogenic as cigarettes,” the article notes. And as Dr. James Spencer, a member of the American Academy of Dermatology board of directors adds, “The bottom line is excessive UV exposure increases your risk of skin cancer, whether you are indoors or outdoors.” So if you’re seeking a golden bronze glow, stay away from the tanning salon and if anything, take a step into your local pharmacy or grocery story where you can purchase temporary and topical bronzing creams and lotions.

Protect Yourself – “Slip! Slop! Slap! And Wrap!”

The American Cancer Society has a cool awareness campaign around UV safety to help you keep top of mind 4 easy steps you can take to protect yourself from damaging UV rays.

  • Slip on a shirt
  • Slop on sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Wrap on sunglasses

These 4 simple steps will help keep you protected from harmful UV radiation.

Assess Yourself

Check your skin regularly (at least monthly) for growth of new moles and changes to existing ones. New moles, moles that have changed in color or texture (i.e. darken or become raised), moles thath ave grown and changed in size, and sores that won’t heal are all changes you’ll want to keep track of and possibly have checked by your doctor. The National Cancer Institute has some great resources and advice on how to check your skin for potentially harmful developments.

Avoid the Obvious

A little common sense will go a long way when it comes to UV safety. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, particularly during peak hours (10am-4pm) and as you read above, stay away from tanning beds. When possible, it’s also a good idea to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun when near water, snow, or sand, all of which reflect the sun’s rays and can increase chances of burning.

Know Your Skin Cancer Risk

Any person can get skin cancer, but the risk is higher for groups of people with lighter coloring. In general, if you have blond or red hair, blue or green eyes, and white or light-colored skin with freckles, you may be at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. Furthermore, if you have a family history of skin cancer, are frequently exposed to the sun via work and/or play, or have a history of sunburns or regular indoor tanning, you could also be at a higher risk. For help assessing your risk for skin cancer, check out the CDC’s information on skin cancer risk factors.

What else? Did we miss anything? What do you do to stay sun safe and how do you encourage your friends and family to do the same? Let us know in the comments below!

H2O 101 – Stay Hydrated & Beat the Heat!

Health Benefits of WaterMaking up more than 60% of our total body weight, water is clearly a critical component to our health and well being. With peak Summer heat right around the corner, we thought we’d take a moment to share some water related tips and benefits to help you stay hydrated in the heat.

Dehydration

Dehydration is the number one cause of day time fatigue, but how do you know when you’re dehydrated? By the time you feel thirsty, you’ve already lost between 1-2% of your body’s total water content!

Signs and symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, dry eyes, muscle cramping, constipation, fatigue, and headaches, to name just a few. However, there are steps you can take to make sure you don’t become dehydrated.

Tips for Staying Hydrated:

  • Use Helpful Tricks/Rules to Keep Hydration Top of Mind – it is recommended that women intake between 2-2.7 liters of water a day, while men should consume between 3-3.7 liters per day. Not all of us think in liters so a good way to remember is by following the 8×8 or 10×10 rule, i.e. women should drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water per day, and men should try aiming for ten 10oz glasses.
  • Know Your Lifestyle – If you workout heavily and/or often, live in a hot climate or are out in the heat frequently, or even if you’re pregnant and/or breast feeding, all of these circumstances require a larger water intake each day.
  • Eat More Fruits and Veggies – You may not realize it, but many fruits and vegetables are packed with h2O. Furthermore, many of them include key nutrients that allow your body to better absorb and use the water you’re drinking.
  • Keep a water bottle (or mug, canteen, etc) within reach – The more you make drinking water something that requires extra effort (i.e. getting up to grab cup after cup), the less likely you are to drink enough of it. Keep a large sized water bottle or container of some sort nearby and within reach at all times. If it’s in front of you and easy to grab, you’re much more likely to drink it!
  • Put Down the Soda – They do contain water and there isn’t hard evidence to suggest they dehydrate you, caffeinated or otherwise, but when you consume sodas, you are drinking fluid, and therefore, feel like your thirst is being quenched. Because of this, many Americans end up unintentionally substituting soda for water, and not consuming enough water as a result.
  • Mix it Up – If you reduce your soda intake and don’t feel like you have enough fun in your beverage repertoire, mix it up! You can incorporate flavored waters or sparkling water, or try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or even orange to your standard purified water.

Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated:

We hope the tips above give you a few new ways to keep h2O top of mind. There are countless reasons to make hydration, and staying hydrated, a priority. To name a few…

  • Lose Weight – up your water weight and lose weight? Yes, you read right. Water is vital in flushing the by products of the fat breakdown process from your system. Staying hydrated aids in the weight loss process in this way, and by helping you feel fuller without the calories.
  • Fresh, Younger Looking Skin – Without water, your skin can become dry, wrinkled, and lose lots of elasticity.
  • Mental Energy – The brain is approximately 80% water. Staying hydrated helps you maintain mental energy while avoiding fatigue and headaches.
  • Physical Energy – Water plays a vital role in the body’s ability to flush toxins. Organs have to work harder when you don’t have enough water, thus, causing fatigue. Water also helps regulate your internal temperature, which means when working out, if you’re hydrated, you won’t put as much of a burden on the rest of your body to help in this process.
  • Prevent Sickness…& Cancer? Proper hydration helps reduce the risk for catching ailments such as the flu, arthritis, and even cancer. From a digestive perspective, for example, studies have shown that proper hydration reduces the risk for colon and bladder cancer.

If you have additional tips or ideas for staying hydrated that you want to share with our readers, please do so in the comments below!

Top 5 Tips to Beat Pollen Sensitivity This Spring

pollen allergy season

*Update*: On March 19, 2012, the pollen count in Atlanta was 8,164, breaking the old record of 6,013 set in 1999.

With today’s pollen count at a startling 2258, we thought it a good idea to share with you some tips for beating sensitivity to pollen as best you can this Spring. Over 35 million Americans are sensitive to pollen, if you’re one of them, this list should help:

Know the Pollen Count

Here’s a great website for residents of the Atlanta, GA area to check the pollen count, which changes daily – http://www.atlantaallergy.com/pollenCount.aspx Staying on top of the pollen count makes it easier to take proactive steps to avoid sensitivity before it starts. As a general guide, here are the ranges for pollen count levels:

  • Low: 0-14
  • Moderate: 15-89
  • High: 90-1499
  • Extremely High: 1500+

Exercise in the Evening

Pollen counts are highest in the morning, but because pollen travels freely on warm, dry and breezy days, pollen levels can often peak midday. If you exercise outdoors, plan on doing so in the evening, after 5 p.m. during days with high pollen counts. For your safety, please be sure to exercise with a partner.

Wear a Mask When Doing Yard Work

If you’re sensitive or allergic to pollen, it is not ideal to also be responsible for yard work. But if you must, wear a mask. You can pick one up at your local hardware store or pharmacy. Try doing yard work very early in the morning, while there’s still dew out, or in the later afternoon/evening, once pollen levels have subsided.

Proactively Treat Your Allergies

If you are allergic or particularly sensitive to pollen, there are plenty of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines available to help you control your symptoms.

You should consult your allergist for the medication and treatment plan that’s best for you, but getting your symptoms under control before they have the opportunity to get out of hand is wise during pollen season.

Protect Your Home, Your Car & Your Body

Keep doors and windows to your residence and car closed as much as possible when the pollen count is high. Pollen particles are no wider than a single strand of human hair, and they can easily pass through holes in window screens. Also, if particularly sensitive, change clothes and shower after returning home to remove pollen from your person and to avoid spreading it throughout your home.

If you’re interested in sinus, nasal, and allergy treatment at Emory, you can visit our Sinus, Nasal & Allergy website. Have any other ideas for how to limit pollen sensitivity this Spring? Feel free to share and leave them in the comments section below!