As we age, changes in vision are common and our risk of developing vision problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration increases.
If you are one to make New Year’s resolutions, considering adding this one to your list: “take good care of my eyes.” Your vision is priceless and you should take steps to protect it:
Losing weight and getting fit may be as easy as participating in the wellness programs your employer offers.
Many companies are introducing health and fitness initiatives or adding to their existing wellness programs to improve employee health and reduce health care costs.
By encouraging employees to increase their physical activity and make better food choices, employers hope to help them lead healthier lives and prevent disease.
In January 2012, the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management, conducted its annual survey to gather information on the types of benefits employers offer to their employees.
The survey revealed that more than one-third of companies offered incentives for completing certain health activities. About 20% provided a discount for not using tobacco products, 15% offered discounts for participating in a wellness program and 9% provided health care premium discounts for participating in a weight-loss program.
According to a Health Affairs report on U.S. workplace wellness and disease-prevention programs, every dollar spent by employers on wellness programs resulted in a reduction of medical costs by $3.27 and absenteeism costs by $2.73.
Ways Companies are Promoting Employee Health
Weight Loss Programs – Companies subsidize all or part of the cost of weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers® and/or host on-site meetings before or after hours or during lunch. Employees report they enjoy the camaraderie of attending the meetings and losing weight together.
Low-calorie Lunches and Snacks - Whether its once a week or every day, companies have their food service vendors feature low-calorie, low-fat menu items. They also work with their vending machine suppliers to stock healthier options.
Smoking Cessation – Employers encourage employees to stop smoking and support their efforts by offering assistance such as telephone-based counseling services, subsidized access to online smoking cessation support and providing self-help materials.
On-site Fitness Centers – Companies create on-site fitness centers with treadmills, stair climbers and free weights. Many offer fitness classes such as aerobics and yoga and access to personal trainers.
Employers also offer additional programs and benefits to help with preventable and chronic conditions. These include hosting seasonal flu vaccination clinics and providing screening programs for high glucose or high cholesterol levels.
If your employer offers wellness programs, take advantage of them and if it does not, talk to your human resource representative about the benefits of these types of programs to both employee health and the company’s bottom line.
Exercise Can Lower the Risk of Diabetes in Overweight Children
Yet another study has reinforced the message that children should spend less time in front of the TV and computer and more time exercising.
According to a study published in the September 19 issue of theJournal of the American Medical Association, regular aerobic exercise can help overweight children reduce their risk of diabetes.
Today, one-third of elementary school-aged children in the United States are overweight or obese. Children who are obese are at risk of developing serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes.
The study assessed more than 200 inactive, overweight or obese children (average age of 9.4 years) and looked at how different amounts of aerobic exercise affected the following:
- Diabetes risk factors, such as insulin resistance
- Levels of overall body fat
- Levels of abdominal fat
Researchers randomly assigned some children to the “low” aerobic training group (20 minutes per day) and some to the “high” aerobic training group (40 minutes per day). These children participated in aerobic training five days a week for an average of 13 weeks. They were then compared to a control group of kids who maintained their normal level of physical activity.
Children in both the low and high group experienced greater reductions in insulin resistance and overall body fat and abdominal fat than those in the control group.
This news points out the importance of daily exercise for healthy, fit children. Making exercise a regular habit for children is easy and fun when the family plays together. Parents can encourage daily aerobic exercise by:
- Designating one evening as family fitness night. Each week, a different person chooses a “workout” everyone will do together. Whether it’s swimming, rollerblading or disc golf, everyone gets a chance to pick an activity he or she enjoys and exercise is never boring.
- Taking their kids for brisk walks or bike rides in the neighborhood or at a local park.
- Putting on some upbeat music and holding a dance party in the living room.
- Shooting hoops with their kids.
- Going for a family bike ride.
- Playing soccer in the front yard.
- Spending TV time with their kids playing a fitness video game - not watching a show!
Be Sun Safe to Prevent Skin Cancer
By taking precautions to protect yourself from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun, you lower your risk of developing skin cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States and it estimates there will be more than 76,000 new cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, this year alone.
While skin cancer can often be treated successfully when caught early, it is best to prevent exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
Reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by taking these steps:
- Limit the amount of time you spend in the sun when its rays are strongest – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Cover up as much as possible when you know you will be outdoors. Wear long pants, shirts with long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats.
- Keep an umbrella handy. They are not just for rainy days, they are great for blocking the sun too.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater and apply it generously. It takes approximately one ounce (about a shot glass full) to cover the arms, legs, neck and face of the average adult.
- Apply sunscreen to allexposed areas at least 15 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or more often if swimming or perspiring. Always apply sunscreen before makeup or insect repellent.
- Avoid indoor tanning.
And remember these four words whenever you are about to step outside for some fun in the sun: “Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap!”
- Slip on a shirt
- Slop on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher
- Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
- Wrap on sunglasses.
Like other form of cancer, early detection is key to the successful treatment of skin cancer.
Have your physician check your skin during visits and be vigilant about self-examining your skin once a month. Note any new moles, changes to existing moles or anything about your skin that concerns you and notify your physician.