SLCo Healthy Lifestyles Blog
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!
Decluttering and Your Health
Decluttering and Your Health
Written By Christina McWhinnie
All of us
are mentally, physically, and emotionally bound to our “things.” Clutter causes
anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia and can make it harder to reach our
health goals. Imagine strings that are attached from your body to everything
you own; do you feel the weight and burden of those strings? Now imagine taking
scissors and cutting some of the strings; do you feel lighter? Can you focus a
little better? Do you feel calmer? This is how we are affected by clutter. “Research shows that clutter affects your brain’s ability to
concentrate and process information.” (1) This is why we can’t find our keys or
Removing clutter is physically healthier because
it removes dust particles and toxins from the air, which can improve allergy
symptoms and overall wellness. (2)
Stress and anxiety levels decrease as the clutter in the home lessens while
healthy habits improve, like better sleep and intuitive eating.
Decluttering makes room
for new things to come into our lives. Getting rid of the “stuff” that is
consuming us, frees up our time to have new experiences, meet new people, and
nurture relationships. The fewer knick-knacks we have, the less time we use to take
care of them by dusting and cleaning, giving us free time to have tea with a
friend or go for a walk. Ultimately, this leads to more happiness and
satisfaction in life.
Geralin Thomas, a
professional organizer who appears often on the A&E network’s show Hoarders
says, “Your house has to be something other than just a container for your
stuff. You need to figure out if your possessions orient you toward having or
being.” Clearing out the junk in our lives, in turn clears out the patterns of thoughts
and behaviors that prevent
us from achieving health goals, strong relationships and living the life we
Other people can make
good use of items you are ready to part with. Here are some ideas for places
that accept donations:
- Catholic Community Services Refugee
Program – Donate
unused household items such as shower curtains, dishes, sheet sets, towels,
- Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore – Donate building materials, furniture,
appliances, tools, yard supplies.
- The Road Home – Donate used clothing (adult and child), coats, shoes, blankets, baby
diapers and bottles, padlocks, etc.
- SLCo Jail library – Drop off your paperback books to any Salt
Lake County Librarian (let them know the book(s) are for the jail), and they
will get them to inmates.
- ShelterKids: (SLCo
Youth Services) – School supplies, craft & art Items, blankets,
wallets, watches, Lego sets, puzzles, etc.