SLCo Healthy Lifestyles Blog
Written by Charles McGregor
When you typically think of summer, what normally comes to mind? For
most of us, it might include going on a summer vacation, spending time with
family and friends, and even completing that long list of projects you’ve been
putting off all year. But if your list includes making improvements to your
home, it’s important to remember before you start tearing down walls and
pulling up that old vinyl flooring in the kitchen to know if, and where,
asbestos could be hiding out in your home.
It wasn’t all that
long ago that asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral known for being
incredibly heat-resistant and durable, could be found in thousands of products.
The one-time wonder mineral was included in everything from home construction
and automotive applications to everyday products like ironing board covers and
crock pots. However, once doctors and researchers determined asbestos was a carcinogen, the
government acted swiftly to try to change course. The Toxic Safety Control Act
of 1976 heavily regulated asbestos and banned its use in certain types of
products like spray insulations.
newly-manufactured products may only contain up to one percent asbestos, but in
homes built or renovated before the mid-1970s there is the potential risk of
coming into contact with errant airborne asbestos fibers. In many cases, if a
product containing asbestos is left alone and in good condition, it doesn’t pose
a hazard to people. It’s when the materials are disturbed (broken, cut or
damaged), that asbestos fibers become friable and are released into the air
where they could be ingested or inhaled.
When asbestos is inhaled
or ingested, the tiny fibers enter the lungs and settle. Eventually, those
fibers become lodged in the mesothelium (the lining of the lungs), where they
irritate and inflame the area, causing several diseases. Asbestosis and
mesothelioma are two diseases
most commonly connected to asbestos exposure, and
both carry latency periods spanning anywhere from 10-50 years. In the vast
majority of cases, those who develop mesothelioma are older folks who were
exposed to asbestos decades ago, though cases of the disease have been
documented in people as young as their 20s and 30s. While mesothelioma is also
typically found in the lining of the lungs, it can also develop in the linings
of the abdomen or heart, though those cases are considered very rare.
If you’re planning to do
any sort of renovations to your home, first try to determine whether or not
your house contains asbestos. While there is no sure-fire way to determine on
your own if you have asbestos, there are several assumptions you can make based
on clues hidden in and around your home. For example, houses built before the
mid-1970s should be assumed to contain asbestos somewhere, simply because the
products were available for use and were included in new construction. Other
signs include the use of vermiculite insulation, which runs the risk of
asbestos contamination, and the presence of old pipe insulation or popcorn
ceilings, which were also known to contain the mineral.
The easiest way to determine if your home
contains asbestos, however, is to hire a licensed professional to come in and
inspect the areas where you suspect the mineral may be hiding. If asbestos is
found, a professional can easily determine the best way to handle the problem,
whether by encapsulating the materials or by abating them. They may also
suggest that the materials are safe as long as they aren’t disturbed, so be
sure to provide details as to where the renovations are expected to take place.
Asbestos abatement is relatively expensive, but the additional costs now are
much better than possibly exposing yourself and others to asbestos while
performing do-it-yourself work.
Taking the right
precautions now can save you time, money and trouble down the road, and as the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) state, there is no safe level of
exposure to asbestos. Don’t let asbestos ruin your renovation
projects and get in the way. Do yourself a favor and leave the dangerous work
to the professionals. That way, you can ensure the work has been done right,
and safely, the first time!
Stretching: Not just for athletes!
Written by Megan Tucker, Health Educator
As we gear up
for Summer Corporate games it’s a good reminder to not forget to stretch both
before AND after our games to prevent injuries so we can continue having fun
(and win a medal or two)! But even if you aren't participating in Corporate Games or doing other strenuous activities, should you not worry about stretching daily? Definitely not.
is sometimes considered an afterthought after an intense workout or competitive
sport, but it is something we should all do daily to help our
mobility and independence. Stretching helps to
increase our range of motion and extensibility of our muscles.
our muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. Without it, our muscles shorten and
become tight. Then, when we do engage in a more strenuous activity, those tight
muscles are unable to extend all the way, which puts us at risk for joint pain,
strains, and muscle damage. For those of us who work a more seated and
sedentary job, stretching is even more important!
What is the best way to
- Rethink your Warmup: When we think of warming
up, we typically think of stretching first THEN doing some light activity like
walking. Research has shown that we
need to rethink our routine because stretching the muscles before they are warmed
up can actually be harmful and put us at more risk for injury. So, before you
stretch, do a few minutes of light activity, such as walking. This will get
blood flow to the muscles and make them more flexible.
- Take it Slow: Always stretch slow and
smooth into the desired position, to your own comfort
level, without experiencing any pain. The more you stretch, the easier it will
become. You will
probably feel tension during a stretch, but you should not feel pain. If you
do, stop stretching that muscle, and talk to your doctor. Here are some tips
for safe stretching provided by the American Heart
- Breathe & Hold: Relax and
breathe normally while stretching. Then stretch while pushing the breath slowly
out your mouth. Count to 10 slowly or time yourself for 10-30 seconds. Be sure to repeat each stretch 3-5 times. Breathe
normally during the stretch. A stretch should always be smooth and slow, never
jerky or bouncy. This can cause muscles to tighten and may result in injuries. Don't forget to keep your joints slightly bent, never "locked" in a straight position.
As you become more flexible, try reaching farther in each
exercise. A mild pulling feeling during a stretch is normal but don’t aim for
pain. Sharp or stabbing pain or joint pain means you should stop, you're
stretching too far!
To prevent major
injuries, try to make stretching a habit, and notice the difference in how you
feel and how you perform your daily activities. Even if you aren’t planning on
a more intense activity like 3 on 3 basketball or a 5K, stretching daily can go along way
in improving your mobility. You can find a variety of stretching routines to
meet your needs online or try out a rec center class that focuses on
flexibility (discounted passes for employees and their families!).
Here are a
few to get you started:
Boost your Health - Get a Hobby!
Written by McKenna Morais, Health Educator
As children it was easy to be involved with activities that
brought us joy – swimming with friends, reading a sci-fi novel, exploring
outside, playing on a sports team, sketching, playing an instrument, or
building sandcastles. Developing hobbies were built into our daily lives. As
adults, however, we may find it nearly impossible to find any leisure time to
do what we love. It turns out though, that
making time for our hobbies has more health and wellness benefits than we once
7 Reasons to Discover your Hobby
Buster: Having a pastime we enjoy promotes eustress, or “good stress” that can
help us combat the negative
stress that can build up in our lives. We all need a timeout for self-care
and hobbies like playing music or learning a language can provide that much
needed break while also giving us a sense of purpose.
- Boosts Creativity:
A variety of activities such as watercoloring, improv, floriculture, and cake
making can enhance our creativity and allow us to explore. They stimulate our
mind which gives our brain some mental exercise.
your Social Circle: Where we live or what we do for a living can help build
relationships but only within a small circle of people. Rescuing homeless pets
or joining a chocolate club can be shared across a wide range of ages,
ethnicities and economic groups. Getting out of our regular social circle through
the connection of a hobby helps us to meet new people and fosters new
Work Performance: Research has been finding that employees who take time
for creative hobbies like writing short stories or origami not only improve
their wellbeing outside of the work hours but also during the work day.
Having a hobby helps us to be more creative at work, helps us avoid burnout,
and to be more satisfied with our job.
balance: Life is a balancing act, full of different obligations that all
require our attention. While it is important to have family time it is also
important to go roller blading with friends or take some solo time to build bonsais.
Hobbies help us to refocus so that we can practice finding balance in our
a Sense of Accomplishment: There is nothing quite like seeing a project
through or progressing a skill every week. When we see skilled improvements
over time such as perfecting a new song on the harmonica or completing a
woodworking project, we boost our self-esteem. This improved sense of
self-worth can help support us when we are faced with life’s challenges.
Overall Health: A good hobby can do more than just help us build skills or
make new friends. Memory improvements, reduced
risk for Alzheimer’s and Dementia, lowered blood pressure, reduced risk for
depression, and enhanced overall physical health are just a few of the benefits
So, hobbies are great for our well-being – how do we find
something that works for us? Here’s a few tips to get started:
Channel your Inner Child: Chances are the things
you did when you were young, wild and free still hold true today. Were you a
constant tree climber? Try rock climbing. Did you make friendship bracelets
nonstop? Try a jewelry-making class. Often our core interests that developed as
a child will still emerge throughout our lifespan.
Consider what you Value: A good hobby becomes
great when it’s aligned with our personal values. If you enjoy knitting,
consider making items to donate to a local
charity. If you like to work on jigsaw puzzles, why not work on one
together with residents at the Senior Centers of SLCo. Love animals? Consider volunteering for Animal Services or another animal shelter. There are
many ways to put your skills to use in a way that makes a positive impact on
you and those around you.
Trial and Error: The best way to uncover hidden
talents and discover what truly brings us joy is to try something new. Free
events, workshops, classes and more are always offered by the SLCo libraries, Clark Planetarium, Parks and Rec, and other local organizations. Online forums like Meetup provide an opportunity to
connect with other people that are trying new activities all the time. Still
not sure? Pick a random
activity and see what you can discover.
No matter what you choose, “A heart favors love, a head favors work, a
heart and head both favors hobby.” ― Amit Kalantri
Happy Hobby Hunting!
Written by Emma
Aahhh, summertime in
Utah. The mountains are green once again, the breeze is warm, and the sun is
shining. What better time to explore the countless outdoor adventures Utah has
to offer than during June - National Great Outdoors Month! It’s no secret that
going on a walk or hike can be beneficial for our physical health. However, it
may be surprising to learn that being surrounded by nature is equally as beneficial
for our mental health.
Easy Exercise – There is research that shows the color green can
actually make exercise feel easier. The study compared cyclists pedaling in
front of green, gray, and red images. The cyclists that were in front of green
showed the least mood disturbances and reported that they felt lower exertion
levels. An additional study showed that people who exercised outside were more
eager to return for a future workout when compared to those that stick to the
the next time you have a hard time finding the motivation to exercise, head to
a green space.
Aging Gracefully – Spending time outside daily may even help people
stay healthy and functioning longer as they age. In a study from the Journal of
Aging Health, participants that spent time outside every day at age 70 had less
complaints about aching bones, sleep problems, and other health-related
problems than those at age 77 that did not spend time outside each day.
Brain Function – One study showed that spending time outdoors can
skills. They compared concentration levels between children with ADHD that
played outside versus those that played inside, both after school and on
weekends. The children that spent time outdoors reported fewer symptoms of ADHD
(i.e. lack of focus). An additional study found that taking a walk outside may
also improve creativity
and influences novelty. There’s even evidence that shows a 20-minute walk
outside can wake you up JUST AS MUCH as one cup of coffee!
Stress Management – Some research suggests that spending time in
nature can reduce stress levels. Even though there isn’t clear evidence as to why it can be beneficial, there is physiological evidence (such as lower
heart rate) that supports spending time outdoors as a stress management
technique. One reason why nature might be such a great stress reliever comes
There are many scents that have been proven to decrease stress and increase
relaxation, like jasmine, lilac, rose, and even fresh pine. The next time you feel stressed, try taking a walk
outside and literally stop to smell the roses!
Where to Hike?
Luckily for us, Utah
has hundreds of parks, hikes and trails to explore. Some of the most popular near
Salt Lake City include:
White Pine Lake
The Brighton Lakes – Mary, Martha, and Catherine
Broads Fork Basin
And there are so many
more! One great way to discover new hiking trails is through the website (and
. This awesome
resource allows you to choose hikes/trails based on difficulty, what activities
it offers (i.e. camping, fishing, horseback riding etc.), and what there is to
see. Always remember to hike safely using these
provided by the American Hiking Society.
Bike to Work Month
May is ‘Bike to Work’ month!
you know people who bike to work are more satisfied with their commute than any
other mode of transportation? If full time biking intimidates you, consider cycling just one or
two days a week. Below we've hit some bike to work myths to give you the courage to give it try!
Myth 1- You can’t ride in normal clothes
Getting to work isn’t
exactly the Tour de France. If spandex is your thing go ahead and bring a
change of clothes, if it’s not no worries. If you look at European cities
you’ll see the whole spectrum of work wear on bicyclist, so don’t let that stop
you from getting a fun ride into work.
Myth 2- It’s faster to drive
In many places when
you include sitting in traffic it’s faster to bike or just a few minutes
longer.. Even if it's just a bit longer those extra 5 minutes can prove to be a lifesaver for your mental
Myth 3- I’ll need an expensive bike
planning on climbing big cottonwood on your way to work you are probably ok
without a carbon fiber racer. It’s a leisurely ride to get you to work a bit
happier and energized and can be done on any number of bikes. Look for deals on
KSL, the Facebook marketplace or the
bike collective if you’re just getting started.
Myth 4- You can’t
carry everything you need
Look for bikes with
saddle bags or baskets. A side bag or backpack also does the trick. Also try
biking for 2 or 3 days a week on the days you don’t have to carry so
Myth 5- You live too far away
More than half of US
commuters live within a 10-mile radius of their work place. If this feels a
little too ambitious to start try combining biking with the frontrunner or UTA
buses. The county offers discounted
UTA passes that you can purchase with pretax dollars!