Tips to Safeguard Your Medicine Cabinet

700x700_FB_Tips to Safeguard Your MedsMedicine cabinets tend to be proverbial dumping grounds for old, unused and long forgotten medications. As parents, friends and family members, we’re consistently reminded to keep our medications out of sight and reach. However, this step is mainly meant to keep small children safe. In reality, young children are in danger of unintentional poisoning, but are not the only ones in danger – adolescents and adults are also at risk if they have access to unsupervised medicine cabinets. Reports indicate that thousands of teens use prescription drugs intended for someone else every day. You can take steps to prevent poisoning, theft and abuse by managing your medicine cabinet.

Consider the Dangers
Reduce unfortunate situations with prescription and over the counter drugs by protecting them at all costs. Be mindful of situations that could lead to diversion, misuse, abuse and even overdose. Social occasions, real estate open houses, garage sales, children visiting your home, these are all instances when medications may be sought out and stolen. Unfortunately, the effects of taking these drugs may be worse than the individual realizes. This is a real problem in our community, and it will continue to grow if medications are not stored properly.

Managing your medicine cabinet can be accomplished in three simple steps.

  • Monitor – Know what meds are in your home. Keep the medications in their original containers, inventory all prescriptions and over the counter medications and know the quantities.
  • Secure – Lock up your medications. Store them in a combination safe, a locked cabinet or locked drawer. Prescriptions drugs and over the counter medications are the source of unintentional poisoning, theft and abuse because they are easily accessible.
  • Dispose– Safely dispose of all expired and unused medications. Safe medication disposal can mean bringing your unused medications supplies to a “drop-off” site such as a local police department. Watch for community drug take-back programs in your area that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. As a last resort you can dispose of these substances by making them less appealing. For example, mix the prescription with hot water to dissolve and add them to an undesirable substance such as coffee grounds or kitty litter before throwing them away. Visit altru.org/drugdisposal for more information on safe disposal.

When you have decided it’s time to manage your medicine cabinet, think one step further and consider other areas where unused medications may be hiding.

450x450_Where to Look

Getting in the habit of routinely reviewing your medications, properly disposing of unused and unwanted drugs, keeping your medications organized, locked, secured and out of reach of young children are effective ways to help you and your family stay safe.

Avoid Wasted Calories With These Healthy Cooking Methods

Cooking-methods_1Healthy cooking doesn’t mean you have to become a gourmet chef or invest in expensive cookware. You can use basic cooking techniques to prepare food in healthy ways. By doing so, you can cut fat and calories.

Consider, for instance, that each tablespoon of oil you use when frying adds more than 100 calories. To put it in perspective, adults should target fat calories within 20 to 35 percent of their total daily calories. For a 1,500 calorie diet, that means no more than 525 calories from fat a day (58 grams); for a 1,200 calorie diet, no more than 420 calories (47 grams). Switch to roasting and you not only eliminate added fat, but also allow any fat in the food to drip away.

The following healthy cooking methods capture flavors, retain nutrients and minimize the need for added fat or salt.

Bake
Besides breads and desserts, you can bake seafood, poultry, lean meat, vegetables and fruits. Place food in a pan or dish; cover or uncover depending on your recipe. Baking generally doesn’t require you to add fat to moist foods, but to prevent burning of hard and dry foods like root vegetables, spray lightly with oil. Test your baking skills with a chicken breast for these chilled chicken tortilla rolls.

Braise
This technique involves browning, also known as searing, the ingredient first in a pan on top of the stove and then slowly cooking it partially covered with a small quantity of liquid, such as water or low-sodium broth. In some recipes, the cooking liquid is used afterward to form a flavorful, nutrient-rich sauce. My favorite braised dish is pork tenderloin. Add apple slices while it bakes and serve with steamed green beans to complete the meal.

Broil and Grill
Both broiling and grilling expose food to direct heat. To grill outdoors, place food on a grill rack above a bed of charcoal embers or gas-heated rocks. To broil, place food on a broiler rack below a heat element. Using a low-fat marinade helps lean proteins taste juicy and delicious. Proteins aren’t the only things you can grill; for a sweet ending to your barbecue, try stuffed peaches on the grill.

Poach
To poach foods, gently simmer ingredients in water or a flavorful liquid, such as broth, vinegar or wine, until they’re cooked through and tender. Food will retain its shape during cooking. For stove-top poaching, choose a covered pan that best fits the size and shape of the food so that you only need a minimal amount of liquid. This adds moisture to lean cuts of meat and will draw salt out of meats like frozen chicken breast which are often injected with sodium. Learn how to poach the perfect egg.

Roast
Like baking, only at higher temperatures, roasting uses an oven’s dry heat to cook the food. You can roast foods on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. For poultry, seafood and meat, place a rack inside the roasting pan so any fat in the food can drip away during cooking. To maintain moisture, cook foods until they reach a safe internal temperature, but don’t overcook them. Enjoy savory, tender and slightly sweet cauliflower by chopping into inch-wide pieces, brushing lightly with olive oil and roasting at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. I love to add curry powder and a dash of salt to the oil before brushing.

Sauté
This method is great for cooking relatively small or thin pieces of food. If you choose a good-quality nonstick pan, you can cook food without using fat. Depending on the recipe, use low-sodium broth, cooking spray or water in place of oil. Try these tangy, high-fiber sloppy joes the whole family will love.

Steam
One of the simplest cooking techniques is steaming food in a perforated basket suspended above simmering liquid. If you use a flavorful liquid or add seasonings to the water, you’ll flavor the food as it cooks. Cabbage, snap peas, broccoli, beets – there’s not many veggies that can’t be steamed. Consider a blend of 2 parts olive oil, 2 parts white wine vinegar and 1 part lemon juice for a zesty dressing.

Stir-fry
A traditional Asian method, stir-frying quickly cooks small, uniform-sized pieces of food while they’re rapidly stirred in a wok or large nonstick frying pan. You only need a small amount of oil or cooking spray for this method. Try this cashew chicken recipe, submitted by a participant of Altru’s Weight Management Program.

Using Herbs and Spices
This is one of the best ways to add color, taste and aroma to foods without adding salt or fat. Choose fresh herbs that look bright and aren’t wilted, and add them toward the end of cooking. Add dried herbs in the earlier stages of cooking. When substituting dried herbs for fresh, use about half as much. For a cool treat this summer, give this fresh and juicy herb watermelon and feta salad a try.

Looking for other Altru dietitian approved recipes? Check out the Healthy Recipe Corner on enrich, your source for tips and insight from your local experts at Altru Health System.

Adapted from mayoclinic.com

Crist, JohnJohn Crist is a Registered Dietitian at Altru Health System. He is especially interested in discussing strategies to create a healthy and positive relationship with food. In his free time, John enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and finding new ways to be active.

A Fine Line: Ensure That Your Exercise Routine Isn’t Harming Your Heart

700x700_FB_RecoveryIs your elevated heartbeat a product of vigorous physical activity or a warning sign of something more serious?

“An elevated heart rate is a physiologic response to increased activity, but alone it is not a specific warning sign. For patients with cardiovascular risk factors, the most important thing to know about exercising is when to stop,” says Jason S. Go, MD, cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiologist with Altru Health System. “If you’re at risk for heart disease, pay particular attention to symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, dizziness, unusual heart palpitations, jaw pain, back pain or clammy sweating.”

Move Safely
Always visit your primary care physician for an assessment before beginning a new exercise routine. Not having risk factors doesn’t mean you don’t have cardiovascular disease, and the only way to know for sure is to see your healthcare provider. Your physician can help you determine appropriate activity levels for your health.

“I always take the individual into consideration when designing an exercise program,” says Rachel Aure, health and wellness specialist at the Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics. “Some people may need to exercise in a medical setting to have their blood pressure and oxygen, among other things, monitored to track how their bodies react to the exercise.”

National recommendations for adult activity include 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week and at least two days of strength training.

“Being sedentary is a major risk factor for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, so exercise can improve and even reverse those risk factors,” Rachel says. “Find an activity you enjoy and stick to the level of intensity your body can handle.”

Prime Your Engine with High-Quality Fuel
Proper nutrition also plays a role in heart health. Choosing the right combinations of foods before and after a workout can help your heart and other muscles perform smoothly.

Altru’s registered dietitian nutritionists recommend consuming heart-healthy foods that provide nutrients and energy to support performance during exercise and help speed recovery.

Choose easy-to-digest foods that contain mostly carbohydrates for meals and snacks less than one hour prior to exercise. You’ll want to limit the fiber to prevent stomach discomfort. A banana is a good example of a pre-exercise, heart-healthy food.

Recovery food and meals eaten three to four hours prior to exercise should include a blend of whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein sources. Suggested combinations include:

  • Oatmeal with milk, blueberries and walnuts
  • Sliced turkey and avocado wrap with red grapes
  • Whole-grain toast and natural peanut or almond butter with sliced banana

Recovery

 Eating right and designing a proper exercise routine can help your ticker stay strong and healthy. If you aren’t sure where to start, discuss your concerns with your primary care provider. Understanding your risks and personal health picture can help you to make an informed decision about your health and fitness needs.

 Altru’s Heart & Vascular Services takes a team approach to your care. Learn more at altru.org/heart.

Move for Life: Staying Active with Healthy Muscles and Joints

700x700-FB-Move-for-lifeLooking for the fountain of youth? Exercising daily is one of the most effective ways to help your body stay healthy and agile.

The benefits of physical activity are abundant and include everything from improved mood to more restful sleep. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, regular exercise helps strengthen the heart so it can pump blood more efficiently to your entire body. As a result, every system can work more efficiently, decreasing the risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis

“Low-impact fitness programs can decrease pain and improve overall health,” says Jeremy Gardner, MD, orthopedic surgeon with Altru Advanced Orthopedics. “Exercise has been shown to have a protective effect on our joints, including the ankles, knees and shoulders. I advise patients to focus on improving core strength and managing weight with activities such as Pilates, swimming and yoga.”

What’s Right for You?
To find the most healthful exercise routines for your body, choose activities that are accessible, enjoyable and realistically fit into your daily life, such as walking after dinner every evening or riding a bike for 20 minutes every morning before work.

“If you are unsure where to begin, find someone to help you,” says Amanda Leavy, PT, physical therapist at the Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics. “Talk with your doctor about a plan that complements your body’s abilities, and don’t be afraid to try something new.”

The Right Stuff
Before you begin any workout routine, make sure you are well-equipped for safety. Consult with a certified instructor if you are trying new exercises or equipment to ensure you maintain proper form and avoid injury.

Also, make sure you are wearing the appropriate shoes for activities such as hiking and running. Look for well-fitting shoes with proper arch support and extra cushioning for your feet that will help protect your knees and hips.

The Power of Prevention
When engaging in any regular exercise routine, remember to follow these steps to help prevent injuries to your muscles and joints:

  • Fuel up with foods such as berries and salmon, which contain anti-inflammatory properties to benefit joints.
  • Stretch before and after your workout to balance and lengthen muscles.
  • When in pain, stop! Sharp, shooting sensations signal that something is not right. If the pain persists, speak with your doctor.

Repair or Replace?
Healthy cartilage, which can sometimes be damaged by injury or wear and tear over time, is critical to the proper function of joints. Cartilage can be restored through a surgical procedure available at Altru Advanced Orthopedics.

“Cartilage restoration is our first line of defense to avoid joint replacement, which we want to delay as long as possible,” says Darin Leetun, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Altru. “It’s like fixing potholes to delay paving a whole road.”

According to Dr. Leetun, ideal candidates for cartilage restoration are people between the ages of 20 and 50 who will likely need joint replacement later in life.
“Joint replacement isn’t something you want to do more than once,” Dr. Leetun says. “Because the typical lifespan of a joint replacement is between 15 and 20 years, we want to buy younger patients some time. Cartilage restoration helps keep patients moving without pain.”

Time to Replace?
Constant pain in the hips, knees or shoulders may warrant joint replacement surgery, which should only be considered after conservative treatments have failed.

“In the field of orthopedics, there are only a few cases where surgery is the only option,” Dr. Gardner says. “I work with my patients to first maximize nonoperative options such as physical therapy. If your quality of life is compromised, then joint replacement can be very beneficial.”

Thanks to the latest surgical technologies, joint replacement procedures can be performed using minimally invasive techniques such as the Direct Anterior Approach (DAA) for hip replacement. Available at Altru, DAA disrupts less muscle and tissue than conventional procedures, resulting in faster recovery times and reduced scarring.

“The goal is to have a well-positioned hip that will last for the rest of the patient’s life,” Dr. Gardner says. “I use DAA because it allows for better evaluation of leg length and implant position.”

For information about Altru Advanced Orthopedics, visit altru.org/ortho or call 701.780.2300.

6 Grilling Tips for a Safe and Savory Sizzle

6 Grilling TipsThere’s nothing quite like the smell of meat and veggies as they brown and sizzle on the grill. Besides being delicious, these savory foods make us feel satisfied because of their protein and fiber content. Make sure your family stays safe and healthy while enjoying freshly grilled grub.

  1. Wash, wipe and spray

Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after touching any meat that isn’t fully cooked. Pack moist towelettes or hand sanitizer if running water and soap aren’t available. This will reduce your family’s risk of food poisoning from bacteria on meat. Bacterial contamination isn’t as rare as it used to be; a recent sampling by Consumer Reports found that 97 percent of chicken breasts were contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria.

  1. Marinate

Not only does marinating make your meat and veggies juicy and much more flavorful, it also reduces nasty carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) created when food is cooked. Try a marinade of Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, salt, pepper and your favorite herb or spice.

  1. Cook lean meats

White meat chicken and fish are naturally lean, so they give you plenty of protein without cholesterol-raising fat. Fat from steaks, chops and burgers drips off during grilling, which might seem like a good thing. Unfortunately, when that fat hits the flames, it releases carcinogens which then coat your meat. Choosing leaner meats or cooking burgers and other high-fat meats in foil will keep the carcinogens down.

  1. Keep your grill clean

A good scrub with soapy water and hose-down before cooking will keep the nasty black stuff from last week’s cookout from getting on this week’s filet. Not only is it old, charred and bitter, that black stuff is another source of—you guessed it—carcinogens. There might also be some nasty week-old bacteria on the grill just itching to make your bathroom visits much more frequent.

  1. Cook only as long as necessary

Perfectly browned but not overcooked is the goal. Use a metal meat thermometer (plastic will melt and glass will crack) to check your meat for doneness. Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, burgers to 160 and steak to 145. It’s tough to tell whether meat is safe by looking at it, so using a thermometer is the best approach.

  1. Keep it cool

Grilled foods will keep for three to four days after cooking, if they are quickly refrigerated. Any cooked foods that aren’t eaten should be refrigerated within two hours of serving. If you’re going to be out for a while, keep a cooler with plenty of ice on hand as a portable refrigerator. Cold foods should be kept cold, either by keeping them on ice or bringing them out of cold storage in shifts of two hours. When everyone is done eating, pack leftovers in the icebox or take them inside to your fridge. When it’s time to re-serve hot foods, heat to 165 degrees to kill bacteria that may have grown during storage.

Happy, healthy grilling!

Crist, JohnJohn Crist is a Registered Dietitian at Altru Health System. He is especially interested in discussing strategies to create a healthy and positive relationship with food. In his free time, John enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and finding new ways to be active.

Give Yourself a Break: Tips for Preventing Blood Clots while Traveling

Blood-clotsAre you traveling on a long trip or sitting for an extended period of time? Remember to take five, and give yourself a break at least once per hour. Your body will thank you for getting the blood flowing again. Here are some basics on deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and information about what you can do to prevent blood clots.

Risk Factors
Everybody is susceptible to DVT; however, factors such as surgery or injury increase risk. Other risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Dehydration
  • History of blood clots
  • Smoking
  • Taking estrogen (oral contraceptive tablets or hormone replacement therapy)
  • Having a chronic condition (congestive heart failure, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], IBD [inflammatory bowel disease], nephrotic syndrome)
  • Lack of movement
    • Risk is three times higher when on a “long haul” – eight or more hours on a plane, car or train.
  • Age
    • After age 60, risk of blood clots increases considerably.
    • There is an 80-fold increase in risk of blood clots for an 80-year-old versus a 20-year-old.

Ways to Prevent Blood Clots
Getting blood flow back from the leg to the heart demands muscle movement. Preventing blood clots can be as simple as walking down the aisle while flying or wiggling your toes while cruising through the countryside.

When traveling, wear loose, comfortable clothing. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated (and lay off the alcohol). Do not smoke right before flying. If you have had a pulmonary embolism in the last three months, you should not travel. Airlines are especially risky since they’re pressurized to lower oxygen levels.

Sitting at a desk all day? Every hour, take a quick walk down the hall for water or a bathroom break. All it takes is a few calf raises or foot taps to encourage blood flow. For those in a wheelchair, foot movements are still beneficial, as is active assistive range of motion.

If you are at higher risk of DVT, preventative measures may include wearing graduated compression garments (knee highs) or taking a mini dose of blood thinner before the trip.

Blood-clots-infographic

(Click to view larger.)

Symptoms
Since 90 percent of all blood clots occur in the legs, the most common symptom is pain in one leg. The area might be swollen, reddened and warm to the touch.700x700_FB_PAD

If you are experiencing sudden shortness of breath and pain in your chest when you breathe deeply, it is possible that the clot isn’t allowing blood flow into your lungs’ arteries. If this happens, seek immediate medical attention.

To find out more about DVT and available treatment options, visit Altru’s Heart and Vascular Services or schedule an appointment by calling 701.780.6400.

Swanson, Keith 4C

Keith Swanson, MD, is a vascular medicine physician at Altru specializing in peripheral arterial disease management, chronic venous disease, limb swelling, venous and arterial thrombotic disorders, and chronic non-healing limb ulceration. In his free time, he enjoys physical fitness, watching his kids participate in sports and sitting around the campfire.

 

 

See also:

Sleep Well, Be Well


SleepNow that summer is here, we’re all busier it seems. We’re staying up later enjoying outdoor activities, going on vacations and heading to the lake on the weekends. It can be hard to get the proper amount of sleep needed to stay healthy and feel good.

Along with nutrition and exercise, sleep is one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle. Adults typically need 7-9 hours of sleep. Why is healthy sleep important? It promotes physical health and mental well-being. It also boosts performance and reduces safety risks.

Here are some sleep tips you can follow to establish healthy sleep habits:

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends or during vacations.
  • Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least seven hours of sleep.
  • Establish relaxing bedtime rituals. Light readings, listening to calming music or taking a warm bath are just a few ways to relax yourself before bed.
  • Use your bed only for sleep or sex. Put the screens away.
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature and limit your exposure to light close to bedtime.
  • Don’t eat a large meal close to bedtime. If you are hungry, eat a light, healthy snack.
  • Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime.
  • Resist the urge to nap late in the day (especially after 3 p.m.). Generally, nap for only 30 minutes.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine or using nicotine in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol less than three hours before bed. It might help you fall asleep, but as the alcohol breaks down in your body later, it causes interruption in your sleep.
  • Reduce your fluid intake in the evening so you don’t have to wake up to use the bathroom.

It’s not just the quantity of sleep that is important, but also the quality. Millions of Americans have an untreated sleep disorder that prevents them from sleeping well. They may spend eight hours in bed but never get quality sleep. Chronic insomnia, loud snoring, obstructive sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are just some of the problems that can disrupt your sleep.

Poor sleep can lead to many health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, stroke and depression. It also affects performance at school and is a factor in work safety and productivity.

Make sleep one of your top priorities – you must sleep well to be well.

Altru Sleep Center is home of an accredited six-bed center that offers sleep studies six nights per week featuring the latest technology, expertise from registered polysomnographers and respiratory therapists, and state-of-the-art equipment. Altru Sleep Center provides comprehensive clinical evaluations and treatment to patients with a variety of sleep-related disorders.

Each month, Altru Sleep Center offers the public free sleep screenings. Saturday, July 11, join Altru Sleep Center for a free sleep screen and C-PAP check at Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention and Genetics. For more information please call 701.780.5484.

20150614_114610~2Sheila Thompson has worked at Altru for over 20 years, with 18 being in Altru’s Sleep Center. In her spare time, she enjoys walking, reading and hanging out with her grandson and family.

Get out on the Greenway [Infographic]

Whether you adore being outside or you’re looking for ways to be more active as a family, the Greenway of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks has something for everyone. Map your next adventure together!

WEB - Greenway1_infographic(Click image to view larger.)

Break the Code
Orienteering is a great way to get outdoors and hone your compass and map-reading skills. Download the course map from groundupadventures.com to get started, and then enter the codes you find along the way for a prize.

Fun With Fido
The off-leash dog park at Lincoln Drive Park offers a place for you to run and play with your favorite furry friend.

Cruise the Red
The waters of the Red and Red Lake Rivers are perfect for launching your boat or trying your hand at canoeing and kayaking.

Try Camping
Enjoy a night under the stars in the Red River State Recreation Area, featuring 113 campsites. If you have a motor home, take advantage of one of the 85 electric sites offering sewer and water hookups.

Train Like a Pro
Have a race day in your future? Use the 8.5-mile loop trail to build endurance before the competition.

Hit the Links
The Greenway boasts two unique golf courses––Lincoln Golf Course and Valley Golf Course––so you can perfect your swing.

For a complete listing of activities and upcoming events, visit greenwayggf.com. Getting active after a long winter? Talk to your Altru physician about your exercise regimen first.

 

No Gym Required: Enjoy the Benefits of Training Outdoors

No Gym RequiredRemember when you were growing up and you used to go outside to “play,” but now as an adult, you end up inside a gym to “workout?”

Gyms have brought us countless health benefits, but it seems our culture has developed a disconnect between gym exercise and physical activity. We drive to the gym to walk on a treadmill, and many of us are guilty of driving around the parking lot to find the closest parking spot. These examples may seem silly, but are commonplace in our society as we seem to have lost touch with the fact that being physically active is exercise!

If you are looking to shake up or start an exercise routine, step outside into a world that was designed for activity. There are countless options to choose from (after, of course, you’ve consulted your doctor to make sure you’re healthy for exercise).

Swimming
Swimming is a near perfect total-body exercise. Not only is it a full-body low impact workout, it brings high results by strengthening your muscles without picking up a weight. It’s easy on your joints, expands lung capacity and causes fewer injuries than some forms of exercise.

Besides a bathing suit, you don’t need any fancy workout equipment. Swimming is a fun way to get your body moving and your heart rate up. 

Biking
Bike riding is great cardio training. This activity can be done alone, with your family or a group of friends. Make your next ride a little more fun and plan a route to a specific destination. Instead of setting out to simply bike five miles, pick a coffee house five miles away and get a group together to bike there once a week.

You can also take advantage of the summer weather and bike to and from work. Not only will it help you feel better; you’ll be saving the environment as well. Remember, safety first: wear a helmet. (Need a new one? Check out these options available through Safe Kids Grand Forks.) 

Stairs
Stairs can be great exercise. Before you begin, walk up and down the flight to make sure they’re sturdy. Then, get creative and move up the stairs straight, in a zig-zag pattern or add footwork drills by hopping, bounding or shuffling. Stairs are also great for tricep dips, step-ups or incline push-ups.

Hill Climbing
Although a little hard to come by in these parts, hills provide just enough incline for a great workout. Try pumping your arms on the way to the top, and remember to stay light on your feet. Perform a circuit of push-ups, squats, crunches, jumping jacks and lunges before heading back up for another round.

Walking
Remember the simplest exercise of all – walking. It’s a great no-fuss way to get in some cardio. All you need are comfortable walking shoes. Investing in a pedometer or fitness tracker can serve as good motivation to track exactly how many steps you take each day. Aim for 10,000 steps per day and try to keep your pace up, walking as fast and as comfortably as you possibly can. Once you know how far you’ve gone, log your miles through Healthy Choices Greater Grand Forks’ Walking Challenge.

Grab a pair of Nordic walking poles and increase your calorie burn up to 30 percent while sculpting your upper body. You can also try a weighted vest to safely ramp up your intensity and blast more calories without straining your joints. Here are some ways to increase intensity:

  • Run 20 seconds, walk 20 seconds. Repeat five times.
  • Walk five minutes with two 10-second sprints spaced in the middle.
  • Repeat a pattern of walk 40 seconds, jog/sprint 10 seconds, walk 10 seconds.

There is always an opportunity for exercise. Sometimes it’s easier than you think to fit a walk into your day. Just leave your car at home, lace up those sneakers, get outside and get moving! There really is no better feeling.

Emily SpicerEmily Spicer is a health and wellness specialist at Altru Health System. With a positive approach to overall wellness, she inspires people to take control of their lives through a focused commitment toward better health and to make that choice a habitual and natural one. In her free time, Emily enjoys a good workout, playing tennis and spending time with her family and friends.

Run Right: Tips for Putting Your Best Foot Forward

700x700-FB-tempate_run-rightWithout the proper footwear and form, running could be doing your body more harm than good.

Improper running mechanics can cause musculoskeletal pain and injury. To diagnose a problem, first determine how your feet roll when they strike the ground. Most runners have too much inward roll, called overpronation.

“If you overpronate, start with more supportive running shoes and gradually transition to more minimalist-style shoes,” says Amanda Leavy, PT, physical therapist at the Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics. “A minimalist shoe promotes proper running form, but it may take time to learn the right technique before switching shoe styles.”

Best Foot Forward
To achieve proper running form, Amanda offers the following instructions:

  • Lean forward slightly, engaging your core, spinal and pelvic muscles.
  • Hit the ground mid-foot, more toward the ball than the heel. Footstrikes should be quick and light.
  • Strike underneath your center of gravity, letting your forward stance create momentum.
  • Use your hamstring to lift your foot.

“Listen to your body and make any needed adjustments,” Amanda says. “You’re less likely to experience pain hotspots after correcting your running form.”

Improve your running form with a gait analysis at the Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics. To schedule an appointment, call 701.732.7620.

Leavy, Amanda_2015_4CAmanda Leavy, PT, is a physical therapist at the Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics. She and her husband, Paul, have two young boys, Corban and Colten. Her favorite things to do besides being with family are CrossFit, running and watching Sioux Hockey.

Ps. For 30 Days, push yourself just a little harder toward your fitness goals. Even if you don’t run, walk a little farther, swim one more lap or keep cycling a few minutes more. Learn more about #30DaysofRunning.