Posts Tagged ‘exercise’



Get ready! It’s Pennsylvania Teen Health Week!


Help us celebrate!Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Laura Offutt, MD, whose digital health resource, Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, developed Teen Health Week in collaboration with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health with support from the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Laura is a volunteer internal medicine physician, youth mentor and advocate who uses social media and her blog-based website to engage adolescents with teen-friendly, accurate health information.

Get ready! This week is Pennsylvania Teen Health Week! As proclaimed by Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Teen Health Week to focuses on the overall health of teenagers from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to have such a statewide proclamation and observance – but soon Teen Health Week will be a national celebration!

It’s easy to be a part of this special week.  Involvement can be as simple as hanging a flyer announcing the week in your school, church or community center, or wearing lime green, the official color of Teen Health Week.  We even have a toolkit which is full of easy ideas for activities, sample social media posts, and a variety of resources which are organized around the broad themes covered in the week.

Each day has a specific broad health focus:

Monday: Healthy Diet and Exercise

Tuesday: Violence Prevention

WednesdayMental Health

Thursday: Sexual Development and Health

Friday: Substance Use and Abuse

Why is Teen Health Week important? Well, did you know that in Pennsylvania more than a third of our young feel depressed or sad most days?  Or that many teens think that driving after smoking marijuana is safer than after drinking? Or that 1 in 3 high school students have been in an abusive relationship? Or that fewer than one-tenth of our teens broke a sweat for one short hour in the past week?  And that fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds account for nearly half of the cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Pennsylvania?

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to have a week focused on teen health here in Pennsylvania!

Don’t worry – it’s not too late to take part in this fun and special week!  Here are a few ideas of how you can be a part of it:

Wear lime green. It’s the official Teen Health Week color.

Get artsy. Use post-it notes and set up a New Year’s Resolution wall that week – where teens can put anonymous health resolutions for 2017! You know, like “eat a fruit every day.”  Or, “make sure to get enough sleep.”

Hashtag for health. Share or post educational announcements or social media posts focused on each day’s health theme with friends or students. (Find these in the toolkit, or on SafeTeens’ social media channels.)

Help us celebrate! Attend the kick-off at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg on January 9th, or the Friday the 13th celebration at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Plus, there are a lot more easy and fun ideas already created for you in our toolkit!



Spring Into Action With Some Fun Outdoor Activities


This year, March 20 marked the first day of spring! Most can agree that the change of season brings with it an even better change: warmer weather, more sunlight and blue skies. With the weather almost seeming to be at the perfect temperature, spring is a great time to become more active outdoors. Not only will outdoor activity provide you with the exercise necessary for good health, but the nice weather and bright sun will also work as a great mood-booster.

Here are some ideas of fun outdoor activities that will keep your spirits up while staying active:

-Do you live within a safe walking-distance from your school? Instead of hitching a ride home after the school day ends, ask a friend who lives nearby if they want to walk home instead. This will not only provide you with exercise but also some quality time to catch up and talk with your friend.

-Fan of the treadmill? Provide yourself with a change of scenery and go for a run around your neighborhood instead.

-Have a dog that you love? They need exercise too! Use the nice weather to get both of you active and take them for a walk or bring them to a local dog park to play with some friends.

-Join one of your school’s outdoor sports. Most schools offer a variety of spring sports including soccer, baseball and track and field. If joining the team isn’t possible, show your school spirit by attending a game or two and cheering on your team.

-Go to the park. Bring out your inner child and take advantage of all the fun stations that the park has to offer. Challenge a friend to see how high you can swing or who could make it all the way across the monkey bars.

-Go for a hike. There are several local state parks that have safe, closed off hiking trails for visitors to enjoy. While you’re there, check out the other outdoor activities the park has to offer such as kayaking, paddleboats and canoeing.

Getting outdoors is a free and fun way to keep you active and happy. Try some of these ideas or think up your own way to get out and enjoy these beautiful spring days.



Healthy Eating During The Holidays


When thinking of the holiday season, three things usually come to mind: spending time with family and friends, shopping for that perfect holiday gift, and last, but certainly not least, the festive holiday foods.

Food has become such a large part of holiday tradition; however, when you’re around the dinner table with your family or out at a holiday party with some friends, it’s easy to overeat or make unhealthy food choices.

Here’s the good news: you won’t have to give up your favorite holiday pie or pass on that extra piece of turkey in order to remain healthy. There are some traditional holiday favorites that when altered just a bit, can make for healthier choices while still packing your favorite flavor.

  • Pumpkin and Sweet Potato, found in many holiday dishes and delicious pies, is a good source of fiber and vitamin A.
  • Stuffing can be turned into a healthy dish by adding beneficial ingredients such as nuts, dried fruits, carrots or celery.
  • Cranberry contains antioxidants that may help prevent bladder infection and other related conditions.
  • Turkey, which is a main course at holiday dinner, is a good source of protein. It lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease and also boosts your immune system.

So what do you do if you make unhealthy choices around the dinner table? You can use this time of year to go out and get active in ways that you will enjoy.

Decorating for the holidays is a tradition that allows you to spend time with your family while staying active. You can also call up a friend and go shopping for some holiday gift ideas. Even if you don’t buy anything, it will provide you quality time with a friend as well as health benefits. While you’re browsing, maybe pick up some healthy gift ideas such a decorative water bottle and encourage someone you know to make healthier choices with you this holiday season.

The most important part about the holidays is sharing it with those you love and enjoying the time you have with them. Keep these tips in mind and share them in order for you and those around you to have a healthier, happier holiday season.



Keeping Sports Safe & Fun


Participating in sports is a fantastic way to make friends, get in shape and learn important lessons about cooperation, determination and being part of something bigger than you. Whether you specialize in just one sport, or enjoy switching it up every season, the benefits you’ll receive will follow you even after high school and college. But so can painful injuries.

Participating in a sport leaves you open to a multitude of accidents. Your body is moving in complicated ways. Balls, sticks and other gear for the sport are flying everywhere, and bodies a hitting each other, the ground and who knows what else.

If you aren’t careful, you could rupture a tendon, tear a muscle, break a serious bone or damage your joints beyond full repair. Forget about being benched for the next game, you may be benched for the rest of your life. Many young athletes make mistakes that stick them with a life full of knee surgeries, slipped discs, neck injuries, permanent limps, or even brain damage.

It’s time to get protected!

Most people probably don’t think of this as a crucial part to preparing for a sport, but getting a screening physical by a nurse or doctor will evaluate whether it is safe for you to be playing sports in the first place. If you have certain health issues, sports may not be the right activity for you.

Once cleared for participation, you can use these tips to ensure you don’t suffer a painful and potentially life-long injury.

1)     Make sure you have all the necessary protective gear for your sport, that it fits you properly, and is in good condition. Wear it EVERY TIME you practice and have a game or match.

2)     Stretch your body before and after. Go beyond the minimum. Hold each pose for a slow 20 seconds. The more flexible your joints and muscles, the better your body will accept the strain and impact of your sport. Maybe take up yoga in addition to your sport! Fifteen minutes a day will help your body stretch and strengthen, as well as clear your mind.

3)     HYDRATE! Not drinking enough liquids throughout your day can cause exhaustion, headaches, severe cramps and even a trip to the ER. Carry a reusable water bottle around with you where ever you can.

4)     Know your sport. Understand the rules and regulations. They’re there to allow you to play aggressively while keeping yourself and others safe.

5)     Keep your head up! Watch out for rogue players who might not see you standing there. If they aren’t paying attention, make sure you are.

6)     Don’t play if you’re already injured. We know the pressure is on to perform, but you won’t be helping your team or yourself if you’re already hurt. You could risk aggravating your injury. This is an easy way to take a minor injury and turn it into a life-threatening one.

7)     Remember, it’s just a game. It’s not worth pushing yourself too hard, or dieting to the extreme to meet weight or body performance qualifications. Your body can handle a lot of strain and work, but it has a natural limit! Listen to what your body is telling you. Take breaks, and eat a healthy diet rich in the nutrients necessary for you to be a strong athlete and competitor.

As your gearing up for your fall sport to go into full swing, remember how important it is to keep yourself safe. If you’re passionate about being athletic and active, then it’s important to remember that one small accident can jeopardize your mobility for life.

All that being said, have fun this season! Set some new personal goals and team goals, and push to meet them! Just make sure you get to stay in the game to see them through.



What Is Exercise Bulimia?


Most of us have heard of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and overeating as serious eating disorders, but one that slips through the cracks often is exercise bulimia.

Exercise bulimia (or exercise addiction) is hard to recognize by even the one engaging in it. Don’t they tell you to be active? Isn’t exercising healthy for you? Won’t this prevent me from getting sick in the future? Yes, but people who suffer from exercise bulimia push their daily exercising to the extreme.

Exercise bulimia is a form of bulimia where those affected by it use exercising as a way of purging through sweating and burning calories. They will go to the gym every day for hours at a time, and possibly multiple times a day, and are obsessed with how many calories they burn while there.

They frequently skip social events, classes, work and appointments in order to get their workout in, and if they miss it they suffer severe depression and work twice as hard the next day. They never take a recovery day, which is very important for your body when getting in shape, and those with exercise bulimia will work out even if injured. They judge their self-worth by how well they do at the gym that day or during their run or game.

Many people who develop this disorder start as athletes who are judged by their physical performance to begin with. Their desire to be perfect takes over and spirals out of control. But lately, our culture has seen an increased emphasis on fitness and less interest in actual dieting, switching the preferred method of weight loss to exercising for the everyday person.

People who suffer from anxiety or other codependent disorders, like obsessive compulsive disorder, are at a higher risk of developing a disorder like exercise bulimia. It gives them a sense of control over external life events.

Problems that occur from exercise bulimia can include stress fractures, strains and sprains, extreme fatigue and dehydration, heart problems, reproductive problems, amenorrhea (the stop of menstruation in women), and even arthritis and osteoporosis.

It is seen a lot on college campuses, where eating habits are weird and many people gain weight after high school. Students will work out for hours at their school’s gym to compensate for all the beer and pizza that now make up their diet, and frequently it can go too far.

Most who suffer from exercise bulimia will burn more calories than they take in during their day. Because they are ending in negative nutrition and calorie levels, this can be considered a form of anorexia as well.

It is suggested for those recovering from exercise bulimia to refrain from exercise for three months, and then be reintroduced to it in a more normalized and healthy manner. If you think you or one of your friends may be at risk or suffering from this hidden eating disorder, you should talk to an adult, a friend or a counselor. Find someone to confide in. Exercise is necessary for a healthy life, but like most good things, too much can be harmful.