Category Archive

Lifestyle and Wellness

Time-Efficient Calorie Burns

It’s not always doable to block off big chunks of time for long walks, leisurely bike rides, or hours in the gym. The good news is that there’s an incredibly effective method of exercise that you can fit into 20 minutes of your day. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, combines very short, very intense periods of cardio-based exercise with periods of rest. For example, if you sprinted for 30 seconds and walked or jogged for a minute, and repeated this cycle for 10-15 minutes, you’ve done a HIIT workout.

HIIT workouts are proving to have many health benefits. They may be more effective than traditional forms of exercise for fat loss. They improve your overall fitness, strengthen your muscles, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, and help manage high blood sugar. If you’re already regularly exercising, they can increase your speed, agility, and strength.

Click HERE and HERE for some examples of HIIT workouts you might try – many of them take less than 15 minutes! The key is to get your heart rate up to 80% of its maximum (check HERE for an age-based chart). You can check your heart rate by either counting it over a 20-second period and multiplying that number by 3, or by using a heart rate monitor.

It’s important to know your current fitness level and work within it. If you’re not used to regular cardio-based exercise, be sure to ease into it. Additionally, if you have any health concerns, especially heart- or lung-related, make sure to check with your doctor before starting a new type of workout.

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training Exercise Really Works | Time
Short Workouts – Well Guides – The New York Times (

The Umbrella of Grief

All of us deal with grief in many shapes and forms throughout the course of our lives. It might be lesser, like the loss of a career opportunity, or greater, like the death of a loved one. Coping with loss is never easy, and while everyone handles their grief differently, here are some actions to help move through grief.

  • Accept and express your feelings. Grief is natural. There is nothing wrong with the feelings that come along with grief, such as anger and frustration. It is healthy to recognize that you’re experiencing those feelings and to talk about them with trusted friends or family.
  • Take care of yourself. Experiencing grief is often exhausting. Make sure you’re sleeping well, drinking enough water, and eating nourishing food. When you have the energy to, do activities that bring you joy, whether it’s taking a walk somewhere scenic or reading a good book.
  • Recognize that grief is a complicated process. Grief is not a straight road. You may feel better for some time before feeling overwhelmed with sadness again. That’s okay and normal, even though it may not feel that way.
  • Talk to someone who can help. There are many kinds of therapy that can help you talk through your grief and learn how to process it. Your company’s Employee Assistance Program may provide a number of counseling sessions that you and your covered family members might be eligible for. Many medical plans have also mental health benefits that apply to therapy.

Grief: Coping with the loss of your loved one (
Coping With Grief | NIH News in Health

Going Keto?

A recent trend in the dieting world is the ketogenic diet, or “keto” for short. The premise is that by consuming a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, you will force your body to burn fat it has stored for fuel instead of carbs – a process called ketosis. This sounds promising on the surface, but is going keto good for you?

On a practical level, keto diets are extremely restrictive, requiring you to eat fewer than 20-50 grams of carbohydrates a day (for comparison, a single banana has roughly 27 grams of carbohydrates). It’s also restrictive of protein, which is a key nutrient for maintaining your muscles. This means up to 90% of your daily calories have to come from fat. These restrictions can lead a number of side effects, including the following:

  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Liver and kidney problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Brain fog and mood swings

There are not a lot of long-term studies done on the keto diet’s impact on a human body. Some studies suggest that people on the keto diet will lose weight in the short-term, but long-term, a keto diet is not more effective or lasting than a low-fat diet. (Other studies, however, have shown that the ketogenic diet is beneficial to some people with epilepsy.) If you’re looking to eat more nutritiously, consider talking to a dietitian or licensed nutritionist. They can help you create a balanced diet that’s best for what your body needs.

Should you try the keto diet? – Harvard Health
Is the Keto Diet Safe? What are the Risks? – UChicago Medicine

Bright Screens, Tired Eyes

man rubbing eyes

Advances in technology allow us to watch content on demand, talk in real-time with someone across the world, or download a book on a whim.

As a result, we spend a lot of time looking at screens. Per a recent study, Americans spend an average of 28 hours a week just on recreational screen time – not factoring in work-related screen time.

As a consequence, digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, is on the rise. Looking at screens makes your eyes work harder than they would if you were reading printed text or looking at real-world objects. Computer vision syndrome can manifest in eye strain, headaches, blurry vision, and dry eyes. If you already have vision-related issues such as astigmatism or age-related eye changes, you may be at a higher risk of developing computer vision syndrome. (The amount of harmful blue light your eyes experience from screens may also hurt your retinas.)

Give your eyes a break by following the 20-20-20 rule:

If you have off-screen tasks, try to spread them out during the day to give yourself regular breaks. If you experience eye pain, dryness, or ongoing strain, talk to your eye doctor. They may recommend special computer glasses with certain lens designs, tints, or coatings to give your eyes the help they need.

Computer vision syndrome | AOA

Dealing With Phobias

woman with mouth covered

Fear is a deeply rooted human response that helps keep us safe from dangerous situations. It is the feeling and physical reaction most of us would experience upon encountering a dangerous animal or getting too close to a cliff edge.

Even though we sometimes experience fear in situations that are not life or death – think public speaking or having a difficult conversation with a family member – these experiences rarely keep us from living our lives to the fullest.

Some fears, however, are irrational, persistent, or both, and can hamper people from living healthy and productive lives. Phobias are uncontrollable, persistent, and irrational fears about certain situations, actions, or objects, often divided into two categories: avoidance and reaction. These may range from fear of heights and spiders to going outside or being in tight spaces. Some of these objects and situations are easy to avoid, but some are present in everyday life.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used to help someone with a phobia learn methods to deal with their fear. CBT helps people learn how to live with and overcome their fears. Professionally guided exposure therapy is also a helpful treatment, especially for people with phobias of specific objects or situations. It gradually brings the person closer to the object of their phobia to help desensitize them to the phobia. Sometimes doctors will also recommend anxiety medications or sedatives for occasional use.

If you are experiencing fears of specific situations or objects that interfere with your daily life, speaking to your doctor or a mental health professional is a great place to start.


Phobias | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Therapy for Phobias: What Are the Options? (

The Sunshine Vitamin

woman on stairs in the sun

What vitamin does the human body produce when it is exposed to the sun? Vitamin D! This vitamin is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, supporting overall health, muscle function, and brain cell activity. It is essential for maintaining bone strength from head to toe.

The amount of vitamin D your skin makes depends on many factors, including the time of day, season, latitude, and your skin pigmentation. Studies have shown that individuals with darker skin pigmentation require longer or more intense ultraviolet radiation exposure to synthesize sufficient levels of vitamin D. If you have darker skin, you tend to make less vitamin D in the sun than people with lighter skin.

Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, vitamin D production might decrease or be completely absent during the winter months. Sunscreen, while important for skin cancer prevention, can also decrease vitamin D production. If your doctor suspects you’re not getting enough vitamin D, a simple blood test can check the levels of this vitamin in your blood. Chronic deficiencies may cause hypocalcemia, a calcium deficiency disease, and hyperparathyroidism, which can produce the following symptoms:

  • Bone fragility, especially in older adults
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle twitching or pain
  • And more

Many older adults don’t get regular exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D. To boost your levels, you could take a multivitamin with vitamin D and eat foods high in vitamin D, such as egg yolks, cheese, mushrooms, fortified milk and cereals, and more.


Easy Mood-Boosters

Sometimes when you’re having a bad day, it’s hard to boost your mood so you can move forward. Here are a handful of simple suggestions to get you started.

Go for a walk. Have a park nearby? Pop out for a 10-15 minute walk. This kind of gentle physical movement helps your body create hormones related to good moods. Research shows that being out in nature even for very short periods can and overall help your brain work better.

Take time to laugh. While laughter may not be the best medicine, it’s often a good one. In the short-term, it can improve your circulation and help relax your muscles, relieving physical symptoms of stress. Long-term, laughter may even improve your immune system and relieve pain. Watch a comedy, read a funny book, or chat with a friend.

Smell something good. There is research suggesting that smells associated with positive memories can make you feel better. Take a quick sniff of an essential oil you enjoy, put on scented lotion you like, or make an aromatic cup of peppermint or Earl Grey tea — just be mindful of those around you who might have sensitivities to odors.

Listen to music. Songs you enjoy can give you many benefits, such as reducing anxiety, improving focus, and relieving stress. (If you’re listening through headphones, make sure to keep an eye on the volume to protect your hearing.)

It’s important to note that these suggestions are meant to help you through an ordinary case of the blahs. If you find yourself feeling consistently down or stressed, you might want to talk to your doctor or to a mental health professional to see whether anything more serious is going on. If you are experiencing feelings or thoughts of harming yourself or others, call the crisis lifeline at 988.

Mood Boosters: 7 Strategies That Don’t Cost a Thing (

More Than Snoring

For many people, snoring is annoying. For some, though, it can be just one sign of a much more serious condition called sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when you stop and start breathing during your sleep. This can happen due to issues with the muscles in your airway, or, less commonly, due to your brain not sending the proper signals to your breathing muscles.

In addition to snoring, there are many potential symptoms:

  • Breathing shallowly, gasping, or choking upon waking up
  • Restlessness or frequently waking up at night
  • Fatigue from poor sleep
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Dry mouth or sore throat on waking up
  • Sweating at night

Sleep apnea can cause serious health problems. High blood pressure, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are just a few potential complications. Some people are more at risk than others. People who smoke, use alcohol or sedatives, are older, or are overweight are at increased risk of developing sleep apnea.

If your doctor suspects you may have sleep apnea, they may do a physical exam or have you complete a sleep study. Depending on the severity and type of sleep apnea, treatments range from lifestyle changes such as losing weight or stopping smoking to getting a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask to help you breathe (and sleep) deep.

Sleep apnea – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
Sleep Apnea – What Is Sleep Apnea? | NHLBI, NIH

Splashing Around

Aerobic exercise, which is physical activity that increases your heart rate and use of oxygen, has many benefits.

It can strengthen your heart, improve blood flow, keep your arteries clear, and reduce the risks of many health conditions. Walking and running are the forms of aerobic exercise most people think of, but there’s another type that is just as good for you and easier on your joints – swimming.

Swimming is a full-body workout that involves your major muscle groups and your cardiovascular system. Because it doesn’t involve impact, as walking and especially running do, it is a good option for people with arthritis, certain disabilities, injuries, or other conditions that rule out high-impact exercise. (One study indicates swimming may even relieve joint pain and stiffness for people with arthritis, and another showed reduction of pain for people with multiple sclerosis.)

Swimming is also a great form of exercise for older adults who may be dealing with joint pain, as well as pregnant people. (Of course, it’s always recommended to check with your doctor before starting a new type of exercise, and if you have asthma, you may want to look for a salt pool instead of a traditional chlorine pool.)

If you’re looking for a pool, you probably have a few local options. Many YMCAs have pools with set times for lap swimming, as do some neighborhood pools and other gyms. Some employers partner with local gyms to offer discounted memberships, and Lifestyle Spending Accounts may also cover those fees.

Aerobic exercise: Top 10 reasons to get physical – Mayo Clinic
Health Benefits of Swimming | Healthy Swimming | Healthy Water | CDC

Top-Down Dental Care

It’s easy to think of a bright smile as the primary outcome of dental care, but there are many whole-body health benefits you can get from a regular visit to your dentist.

During these routine checkups, your dentist will examine not just your teeth, but also your gums and mouth as a whole. This exam will let them spot any oral problems such as cavities, teeth grinding, or gum disease and recommend treatment plans to address them.

Additionally, keeping your mouth healthy can boost your overall health. Our mouths are full of bacteria (mostly harmless), and keeping that bacteria under control by daily brushing and flossing helps reduce the odds of other conditions, such as certain cancers and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s commonly recommended to get a dental checkup every six months, but certain health conditions might necessitate more frequent visits. For example, diabetes is often linked to gum disease due to high blood sugar levels. Frequent consumption of alcohol and tobacco is linked to a higher rate of permanent tooth loss and oral disease. Genetic factors also matter – if there’s a history of oral disease in your family, you may want to get a checkup more frequently.

Most dental benefits will cover 1-2 preventive checkups per year, as well as some further services. Check your benefits information to see what’s covered. Additionally, you can use Health Savings Account and Flexible Spending Account funds for dental services to keep your smile bright and body healthy.

Oral health: A window to your overall health – Mayo Clinic

How Often Should You Get a Dental Checkup? (