SLCo Healthy Lifestyles Blog
Animals and Health
The Animal Advantage
As Americans, we love our four-legged friends! According
to the Humane Society 56% of households in the US have at least one pet,
and about 63% of pet-owners consider their pets to be a member of the family.
The Creature Connection
Humans and animals have a long
history of friendship. Although scientists cannot pinpoint exactly when humans
first domesticated animals, they believe that dogs
were our first animal companions. It is generally estimated that man’s best
friend was domesticated between 13,000 and 30,000 years ago! Despite our
ancient bond, little research has been performed in the field of human-animal
The founder of modern nursing,
Florence Nightingale, first
recognized the healing potential of animals in the 1800s. However, it was
not until the late 1900s that animal assisted therapy became a respected
therapeutic technique. More recently, the National
Institutes of Health hosted a series of meetings with leading researchers
in the field to discuss their findings and ongoing research. They found that
pets can benefit our health in many ways.
The Benefits of Beasts
There’s no doubt that pets give
us warm, fuzzy feelings, but there are also many science-backed ways our furry
friends improve our well-being. Here are just a few of the health benefits of pets:
- Heart Health: Owning pets is associated
with reducing your risk
of heart disease due to lower cholesterol, stress, and blood pressure
- Fun Fitness: Studies show that dog
owners are more likely to take regular walks and be more active overall. It
turns out taking Fido for a walk is good for you too!
- Avert Allergies:
Contrary to popular belief, evidence
has revealed that having pets as a child may reduce the risk of allergies later
- Social Support: While
our pets provide companionship, they can also help
us build human friendships and social support.
- Emotional Encouragement: Pets do more than make us smile
- our animal
companions can also decrease feelings of stress, depression, and
- Animal-Assisted Therapy: Animals have helped
patients cope with a number of illnesses in nursing homes, rehabilitation
centers, and hospitals.
Because research in the field of
human-animal interaction is still in its infancy, this may just be the tip of
The Pleasures of Pets
It’s important to keep in mind
that you shouldn’t adopt a pet just for the health benefits. The best reason to
adopt a companion is to provide a loving home. If you have been considering
bringing home a new family member, you may want to start at SLCo Animal
Finally, don’t forget to pay your
pet back! Always take simple safety
measures like washing hands after direct contact, supervising small
children, and keeping vaccinations up to date. Now, don’t you think Mr.
Whiskers deserves some extra scratches when you get home from work today?
Did you know May is National Pet Month?
In celebration of our animal companions, this month’s Health
Hub will focus on the mental, physical, and social health benefits they
Written by Amanda Clarke:
to walk outside?
Walking outside can seem scary for various reasons, but
you can Follow the “Ten WALKmandments to stay Safe”:
Traffic : Try to find a designated path or
sidewalk, if you have to walk on a road always walk in the direction facing
2. Dress to
Lessen the Stress : Ensure that you are dressed to be
seen. Be vivid as possible. Wear light-colored or reflective clothing. Bring
out the neon orange or that bright white.
3. Walk & Talk : If at all possible, walk with a
partner. It will increase your safety while walking. If not, always tell
someone which route you will be walking and what time you expect to return.
4. Pedestrian Question : Don't simply assume that all road-users know about the 'pedestrian has right-of-way' rule.
5. Ditch the Bling : Leave the valuables back home.
6. Vary Your Routes : Don't establish regular patterns by walking the same route at the same time every day. Keep one step ahead of danger by randomly varying your routes and the times that you go out. Not only is it safer, but it's a lot more interesting!
7. Embrace The Mace : Always stay alert. Carry around self-defense spray. Be careful to practice with it as you don’t want to unintentionally spray yourself.
8. Who Are You? : Always carry some form of identification in case of an accident or medical emergency.
9. Choose The Right : If you're walking on a cycling or pedestrian path, always walk on the right hand side so that faster walkers, runners and cyclists can easily pass.
10. Hear: Make sure you are able to hear your surroundings. Especially on busy roads or crossing the street, turn off the music so you can be aware of what is going on.
Eye Health March 2016
Eye Health- March 2016
life would be like if you couldn’t see well. Reading might not be possible.
Enjoying the beauty and serenity of the great outdoors could be tough. Without
our vision, life would be extremely different, and too often, we take our vision
the world, about 39 million people are blind and roughly 6 times that many have
some kind of vision impairment.
- 80% of
vision problems worldwide are avoidable or even curable.
average blink lasts for about 1/10th of a second.
heal quickly. With proper care, it only takes about 48 hours for the eye to
repair a corneal scratch.
is such a big part of everyday life that it requires about half of the brain to
Visiting an eye doctor regularly is important to our overall
health. Just like it’s important to go to the dentist every six months or the
doctor every year, it is important to visit an eye doctor every one to two
years in order to prevent the onset of disease and help ensure proper vision. If
you’re experiencing blurred vision, eye pain, flashes of light, seeing stars or
floating lights you should see your doctor immediately. If detected early
enough, you can correct, slow down, or stop the problem before it worsens or causes
loss of vision.
Here is what to expect
when getting a comprehensive eye exam:
- Overview of personal and family medical history
- Vision test to see if you have nearsightedness,
farsightedness, or astigmatism
- Test to see how well your eyes work together
- Eye pressure and optic nerve tests to check if
you have glaucoma
- External and microscopic examination of your
eyes before and after dilation
As we age it is normal that our vision worsens, which is why
we should all take preventative measures in protecting our eyes in order to see
for maintaining eye health include:
- Eat for
good vision: Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc,
and vitamins C and E may reduce risk of age-related vision problems. It is
important to regularly include these foods into your diet:
- Green, leafy vegetables- spinach, kale, and
Salmon, tuna, halibut and other oily fish
- Eggs, nuts, beans, and other non-meat protein
- Carrots, oranges and other citrus fruits and
- Whether you’re at home or on the job, wear
safety glasses or protective goggles at all times if you’re around hazardous or
- Wear protective eyewear if you’re participating
in an activity or playing a sport that calls for protection.
- Choose sunglasses that block 99%-100% of both
UVA and UVE rays—too much UV exposure can increase your risk of cataracts and
- Take a
break: If you have any of these symptoms: eyestrain, blurred vision,
trouble focusing at a distance, dry eyes, headaches, neck, back or shoulder
pain, it may mean that you’ve been staring at your computer for too long. Follow
the steps below, in order to protect your eyes:
- Try the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20
minutes, look away from your computer for 20 seconds, look 20 feet into the
- Avoid glare on your computer from windows or
lights in the room. Use an anti-glare screen if needed.
- Practice good posture.
- Make sure your glasses and/or contact lens
prescription is up-to-date.
Smoking: Smoking can increase risk of developing age-related
macular degeneration, optic nerve damage, and cataracts, all of which can lead
In case you
aren’t familiar, if you’re covered by the county’s insurance plan, you qualify
for one FREE eye exam annually with
an in-network provider (out of network, not covered). Also, new with
benefits—Lasik eye surgery is now covered in some cases. Schedule an eye appointment today!
Contributed by Paul Wuthrich
Have you ever wondered why you connect on deeper levels with some people more than others? Why you seem to ‘click’ with people and others you never feel like you are on the same page? There is a lot that goes into developing a relationship, whether it is a romantic relationship (new or old),
a sibling/parent, a coworker, or just a good friend. Relationships play an important part in our social well-being, as well as help us identify ourselves and find meaning in our lives. Good relationships are rewarding and sometimes challenges. Understanding our paradigms and others influences our success in all types of relationships.
The Rules of Life
Your paradigm is the way to choose to perceive the world around you. Yes, this is a choice you make every day! However we are often unaware we are making these choices. But these choices have noticeable consequences.
Your paradigm includes your ‘life rules.’ The rules you have in your head about how you should behave in certain situations- public or private. It also includes your rules for how others should behave. It includes your expectations for what people should do and say, and how they should do and say
When we meet someone with a similar paradigm, it is easier to connect with them. Often times we feel like these are the people that ‘speak our same language’ and find it easy to ‘be on the same page.’ On the contrast when we encounter people who have different
paradigms than we do, the same words have different meaning, discussions are relatively fruitless, and frustrations can arise.
Imagine you are given a big blue rubber ball as a child. You are taught that the proper way to play with this ball is to bounce it and throw it with your hands. You are taught to dribble and shoot. If you were to label the game you are playing, you would
call it basketball. Now imagine you go to school with your blue ball, and you take it out to the playground. Another kid asks if he can play with you and your ball, but when you throw it to him he does not catch it. Rather he runs after it and proceeds to kick the ball and play with his feet. How would you
respond? That is not how the game is played! As you explain the rules he does not understand, as he explains his rules of how to use the ball you are perplexed and confused. Who would do such a thing? That’s not what rubber blue balls are made for!
Some people see life as a soccer game, some approach life as a basketball game. When these two people meet, if they are unaware of the game they are playing, and fail to recognize others might play a different game, it doesn’t matter how long they argue about the
rules, they will never come to an agreement, much less an understanding to move forward.
Improve any relationship
There is a lot of advice to improve relationships. Here are just a couple of things to keep in mind no matter what relationship you are trying to develop.
Know your role- Every relationship has a different purpose. Everyone has their own unique connection with everyone else. Take time to identify what your role in the relationship is. What are you bringing to the table? What would you like to contribute? Are you contributing more or
less than you would like to? Also establish clear and reasonable expectations of what you want from the other person. Is what you want from them realistic? Are they doing more or less than you would like? Keep in mind the answers to these questions are generated by your own
paradigm. You may have to change your expectations or your “rules” in order to
come to a compromise. Discuss these ideas with the other person, remembering they have their own rules and expectations.
Do something! If you have had a good heart to heart discussion on how to improve your relationship, then the time has come to do something about it! Often times these changes will not happen right away. Lasting behavior change takes time and work. Be patient with yourself as you
strive to become better in your role, and be patient with others as they do the same. We are not born with the relationship skills we need. They must be taught and practiced, just like learning a language!
Health Hub Jan 2016
"It Won’t Happen To
Written by: Jordan Bradfor :Health Educator
commute to work on December 14th seemed to last forever; freeway
traffic was crawling due to the massive snow storm that hit overnight. Radio traffic updates would report accidents resulting
from 8 inches of valley snow. Listening
to those traffic updates my first thought was, “It’s a good thing ‘THAT’ never happens to me”. I realized how naive that thought was; of
course it could happen to me – I was still only just halfway to work!
There is a term used to describe the
“it will never happen to me” tendency we often experienced, psychologists call
bias. It is important to recognize this attitude in
ourselves, because when we underestimate the likelihood that we could
experience an adverse event (such as a car accident), we are more likely to
disregard precautions and safety measures (such as wearing a seat belt), intended
to reduce risk (Moss,2009).
Optimism bias occurs often when it comes to adverse
events that impact our health. Unfortunately,
heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the
United States. Most of us personally
know individuals and families whose lives have been impacted by this terrible disease
or other adverse health conditions.
Disease is always a difficult and painful situation to deal with for all
people involved, not just the diagnosed individual. Yet do we ever consider the
possibility that one day we may be diagnosed or impacted as well? On average 735,000 Americans
experience a heart attack each year.
Does that cause us to ponder our own individual risk and the safety
measures we could take?
The purpose of this article is not to scare people,
but to encourage everyone to avoid optimism bias so they don’t overlook
precautions they can take to help reduce the risk of disease. Here are just a few of the recommended
Knowledge is power. Knowing what disease and conditions we might
be at a higher risk for allows us to be better prepared and take additional preventative
measures. For example: If a relative (immediate family, parent, or
grandparent) has ever had a stroke or a heart attack you are at higher
risk. There is a strong correlation for
developing heart disease and having a family history of heart disease (AHA, 2015). Unhealthy behaviors can
also increase risk of developing certain diseases. For example: Individuals who
smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer (CDC, 2015).
checked and screened
This is probably one of the best measures of prevention –
screenings and annual physician check-ups.
The purpose of screening is to catch developing disease or additional
risk factors early when it is usually easier to treat (NIH, 2015). This is why your blood pressure is taken at
doctor visits and at your healthy lifestyles screening. Sometimes referred to
as the “silent killer”, high blood pressure has no warning signs or symptoms –
but it can greatly increase risk of heart attack or stroke. Getting checked also helps you to have a
better picture of your health. (Don’t
forget to mention your family medical history to your primary physician as this
may influence what screening tests are done upon your visit)
Last but not least is to develop a healthy lifestyle! This is at the core of our values at healthy
lifestyles – to create healthy, lifelong, and sustainable habits. The LiVe Well campaign gives a great list of 8 to LiVe By healthy habits to “have more energy, feel stronger, and stay a
healthy weight.” (IHC, 2014)
- ALWAYS EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
- EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
- LIMIT SWEETENED DRINKS
SLEEP AND SUPPORT
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP
- EAT MEALS TOGETHER AS
- BE POSITIVE ABOUT FOOD
AND BODY IMAGE
Give these 8 healthy habits a try this year. You can read about more healthy habits and tips in our monthly Health Hub articles, and you
can even come up with some on your own! What
is most important is that we all take ownership of our health. By knowing our risk factors, getting
checked or screened, and developing healthy habits we are taking precautions
and following safety measures that could be lifesaving. We hope your Holidays
were bright, and we look forward to another year with you, promoting Healthy