SLCo Healthy Lifestyles Blog
Ultraviolet Light Rays
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Ultraviolet Light Rays
Ultraviolet (UV) light rays are a small portion of the suns light but have a big impact on our skin. We can be exposed to UV rays through artificial sources like tanning beds. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States. In 2011 over 65,000 people (38,000 men, 27,000 women) in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin. In the same year over 9,000 people (6,000 men, 3,000 women) died from melanomas of the skin1. The incidence rate of melanomas of the skin in Utah is 31.9, which is significantly higher than the national average of 19.7. The death rate of melanomas of the skin is also higher in Utah, 3.5, than the national average of 2.72.
Dear 16-year Old Me
ABC’s of UV Rays
In our quest to prevent cancer it’s important to understand UV rays and protections. There are three primary types of UV rays:
- UVA Rays: These are the rays primarily associated with aging and wrinkling and can increase the risk of certain skin cancers. UVA rays have the potential for the deepest penetration of skin layers because of its longer wave length compared to the other UV waves. Exposure to these types of UV rays is most common.
- UVB Rays: These rays have more energy than UVA rays and are associated with sunburn and a majority of skin cancers. These waves have a shorter wave length than UVA rays and do not penetrate past the upper layers of skin. Most of the UVB rays are cannot get through earth’s atmosphere.
- UVC Rays: These rays are the most energetic and have the potential to do the most damage because of they are relatively the shortest length in comparison with the other UV rays. The good news is that no UVC rays make it to earth’s surface because the atmosphere filters all of it.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. It is the frontline of defense against weather conditions, hazardous and unhazardous materials, and especially against factors we can’t see. The proper sunscreen routine can increase your skin’s securit.
- SPF 15: This is the minimum threshold for incidental UV ray exposure. With this you can block up to 93% of UV radiation in casual, short-term exposure .
- SPF 30: This is the minimum threshold for prolonged UV ray exposure. With this you can block up to 97% of UV radiation in extended, intense exposure.
- SPF 50: Similar benefits of SPF 30, blocks up to 98% of UV radiation.
How the Sun Sees You
The UV rays of the sun are the strongest from the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can test the sun’s intensity by using the height of your shadow. If your shadow is shorter than your height, then you are out during the most intense exposure of UV rays. Appropriate clothing options can offer protection from UV rays as well. If you put your hand under an article of clothing and can see it through the fabric, then you know you would be getting very little protection from UV rays.
With the arrival of spring and anticipation of summer, now is the time to, not only enjoy the outdoors, but also ensure a safer future by protecting ourselves from harmful UV light rays. Although we have a higher risk of developing skin cancer because of our location, we can apply effective prevention practices that allow us to live a happy and healthy life.
Walking and Brain Health
We know that walking is a great form of physical activity that can have positive effects on our heart and body, but it is the benefits for our brain that can increase our interest in walking.
The pathways of our brain are vital for memory and creative thinking. As we age, those pathways naturally disintegrate, which directly affects brain function. Degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s disease are common in older adults and cause series of nerve damage that eventually lead to cell death1. Millions are affected worldwide but there is steady progress in delaying the onset of these disorders.
Walking Protects Your Mental Wealth
Gabriel Axel, a Neuroscientist, provided insight that our brain has a default mode that relates to self-referencing and episodic memory2. By resting this default mode, we allow the mind to reframe itself. When the default mode is activated again, the reframed mind is now susceptible to increased creativity.
Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne echoed Axel’s findings by adding that these creative abilities can be accessed through walking2.
Walking has also been found to add years to our life. In a study primarily authored by Arthur Kramer, director of the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, participants aged 55-80 were assigned to two different groups, a walking group and a stretching/yoga group. After a year the walking group showed brain growth that is the equivalent of preventing age-related loss by one to two years3. (full article:
Adolescences have also shown benefits from walking through increased comprehension, standardized test scores, and creative thinking2,4.
Step to a Brighter Future
Research has shown that as little as 20 minutes of walking helps to not only stimulate the brain, but also prevent the shrinking and disintegrating as we age4.
The physiological benefits of walking are the increased blood flow to brain cells and the release of chemicals that affect brain cells and vessels in growth and survival5. Cognitive benefits of the brain are related to various stimuli from the surrounding environment. Axel and Whitbourne agree that distractions such as music while walking will not allow the default mode of the brain to be at rest. They encourage connection to the environmental stimuli to regulate the reframing of our minds. Take advantage of opportunities to walk without distractions and allow your mind to reframe. The physical and cognitive benefits of increased walking can be available as the frequency and intensity of your walking increases.
Walking For Your Brain
Degenerative Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2015, from Brain Facts:
Kohli, S. (2014, September 08). How Walking Can Make Your Brain Healthier And More Creative. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from The Huffington Post:
Simon, N. (2011, February 15). Keep Your Memory Strong by Walking. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from AARP
Brodwin, E. (2014, August 11). The Scientific Reason You Should Take a Brief Walk Every Day. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from Mic
Godman, H. (2014, April 9). Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publications
Love Your Body
We have so many images, videos, and sound bites coming at us everywhere we turn. The media consumes our world and promotes false ideas about what we should look like. Media tells us that our appearance is what matters in life; and that the way to happiness and fulfillment lies in what we see in the mirror. Even worse than this false promise of happiness is the promotion of ideals that are fake and impossible to achieve. The beauty we so often see around us is distorted. We can bring more peace to our minds if we learn to recognize the falsity in the majority of the media we consume.
Our physical appearance shouldn't consume large amounts of our time or determine our self-esteem; we have so much more to offer
the world than our looks! Our bodies allow us to engage with the world and the people around us. They are the tools we use to accomplish all we do. It is essential to notice and appreciate all the things our bodies allow us to do as opposed to focusing on how they look. When we change our focus from how we look to how we do (a verb of action), we can enjoy life so much more! Pay attention to the thoughts that come into your head about your appearance and try to challenge them with thoughts of what your body can do. Check out this
article for more information on why seeing ourselves as an agent of our lives instead of an object is so important.
- Start focusing on what your body allows you to do in everything you do- work, relationships, exercise, etc.
- Become aware of the distorted messages that media portrays and pay attention to how you feel after viewing these advertisements. Fight them and their influence on your body image.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Push out thoughts about comparing yourself to others. Make a list of what makes you unique and what you like about your body.
- Stop fat talk in your head and when others around you fat talk, change the conversation into something positive and educate your friends, family, and co-workers about the damaging effects of fat talk. Check out this
article and this video about fat talk.
- Take a break from media and notice the difference in your outlook on life.
- Stop a negative thought about yourself when it comes into your head and replace it with a
- Be compassionate and recognize that struggles with body image are had by all genders, sizes, races and ages.
For more ideas on how to improve body image and change the definition of beauty click
Watch this Ted Talk about beauty sickness and how the media affects us. It is geared towards women, but it is a gender neutral issue:
An Epidemic of Beauty Sickness
Ever find it overwhelming to go grocery shopping? With so many choices and options it can be confusing to know where to start.
Check out this month's Health Hub education piece to learn a few easy tips to healthify our shopping trips!
Before your next visit to the grocery store, check out the resources below for some great tips and tricks.
Build a grocery list with this smart phone app and avoid unplanned purchases.
NIH's guide for healthier and more economical food shopping.
It’s Not Just a Woman’s Issue!
Q: What is Body Image?
Body image is the subjective picture of how our body looks and moves and how we think others perceive us. In
medicine and psychology, body image refers to a person's emotional attitudes, beliefs and perceptions of their own body, including height, weight and shape.
Q: What shapes our body image?
A: Our body image is
shaped by both positive and negative perceptions, emotions, and sensations. Cultural messages and popular standards of beauty – as portrayed through the media (TV, internet, magazines, etc.) can significantly influence our body image. Family and parental attitudes also influence our body image.
Q: What are the adverse consequences of negative body image?
: Over-concern with body image can have damaging effects on both our physical and mental health. According to the
NationalEating Disorders Association, poor body image is associated with an increased risk for developing an eating disorder, feelings of depression, isolation, poor self-esteem and a hyper-focused approach to weight loss. Additionally, negative body image can
increase feelings of anxiety and shame, and can lead to difficulty concentrating. Not only are the physical/mental/emotional consequences, but there are social ones too! When you feel bad about your body, you often don’t want others to see you at all, which can result in loss of friendships/relationships, job opportunities, and other socially negative effects.
Q: Isn’t body image a female problem?
A: Historically, body image dissatisfaction has been viewed as a women’s problem. However, is not the case, as both men and women experience issues pertaining to body image. Did you know that an estimated
50 million men worldwide have body image issues? Additional studies have found 21% to 47% of males diet as a means to increase weight and
Q: Why is positive body image important?
A: How we feel about our bodies greatly impact the amount of value and love we share with ourselves and others. Working towards having a positive body image will improve your self-esteem, self-acceptance, and health outlook for the future.
Q: What can I do to improve my body image?
A: Having a healthy body image is an achievable goal. Here are
some tips to help you get started:
- Focus on your positive qualities, skills, and talents
- Say positive things to yourself everyday
- Avoid self-talk that is berating or negative
- Focus on what your body CAN do and HAS done
- Set positive, health-related goals rather than weight-related goals
- Avoid making body comparisons to others
- Make a conscious decision about what to read and look at
- Talk positively about your body in your home and around others
Q: What role does the media play with body image issues?
A: The media (TV, magazines, movies, internet sources, etc.) promote a very narrow, specific version of ‘beauty’ and by being constantly exposed, men and women learn to internalize the same view of beauty. Not only does this contribute to how we see other people, but it also affects how we see ourselves. This is dangerous because the images in the media
havebeen altered (‘photoshopped’) drastically. In many cases, the celebrity is
nothinglike the image on the magazine cover, and the alterations are so severe that they are usually unrealistic. This creates an impossible standard that we are comparing ourselves to, which can only lead to poor body image and dissatisfaction with our bodies.
YouTube Video: TED Talk