All posts filed under “Summer

Summer Jog
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Exercise triggers brain cell growth and improves memory

Recent studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) shed new light on a link between exercise and memory. By exercising regularly, you can increase your ability to retain learned and new information. Scientists examined the muscles during exercise to determine which proteins are released. The studies revealed that a protein called cathepsin B is released during aerobic exercise. The protein travels to the brain after being released. Cathepsin B triggers new brain cell growth, scientists believe this is key in the link between memory and exercise.

Researchers discovered an increase in the protein cathepsin B when examining mice who regularly ran on exercise wheels. The mice who exercised produced greater amounts of the protein than the mice that did not exercise. Further, mice that released cathepsin B displayed better results in memory tests than the mice that did not.

Dr. Henriette van Praag, a neuroscientist at the NIA states, “Overall, the message is that a consistently healthy lifestyle pays off.” In humans, the release of cathepsin B is also triggered by exercise. This means that simply increasing physical activity can aid in an individual’s ability to perform better on complex tasks and memory retention.

To read the full article click here

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bbq
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Grilling safety tips

Memorial Day is just around the corner and it’s time to get your grill ready for summer cooking on the patio.  According to the Insurance Information Institute an average of 5,700 grill fires take place on residential property every year, causing an annual average of $37 million in damage, 100 injuries and 10 deaths

The National Fire Protection Association offers general grilling tips to keep your next BBQ safe:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

If you have a gas grill, be sure to check for leaks prior to use.  Watch this video showing a simple way to check for leaks.

By following a few simple safety rules for you BBQ you’ll enjoy many nights of safe grilling.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Jing

Sprinkler
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Fun in the sun

Windows down and music up, there is nothing like cruising around on a sunny day. Unfortunately, there is also nothing like the feeling of the summers first sunburn. As the sun starts to shine through don’t forget to take proper care of your skin. A sunburn is more than just a change in skin color. When viewed under a microscope, visible damage to the cells and blood vessels can be seen.  This is true whether the burn turns in to a tan or you peel.

Today, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Constant sun exposure without proper protection greatly increases your chances of developing skin cancer over time.

What benefits does the sun have?

Exposure to sunlight increases the body’s vitamin D production. This is important because vitamin D is not found naturally in most foods.  However, as food production methods have changed, vitamin D found in the foods you eat has increased. Many foods are now fortified with enough vitamin D to help you sustain proper levels. That being said, barbecuing with family, playing a sport or hiking in the sun, is still better for you than watching television inside. Don’t forget that you can still protect your skin while enjoying your time in the sun.

How to limit the harmful effects of sunlight

Of course, staying out of the sun is the best way to stay protected, but who doesn’t want to enjoy the sun when it makes an appearance? Try to take the following steps when exposed to sunlight to keep your skin healthy and looking its best:

  • Don’t leave the house without wearing sunscreen. Apply it every day and make sure it’s a habit, just like brushing your teeth!
  • Between the hours of 10am and 3pm be extra cautious; avoid the sun when you can, and apply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming, getting wet or sweating. (Ultraviolet rays are strongest between 10am and 3pm).
  • Long sleeves and slacks help protect from the sun, especially when in the sun for long periods of time.
  • Don’t forget your shades! Wear sunglasses that can filter UV light.

Three little letters; SPF

Everyone has seen them, but what does it really mean? SPF stands for sun protection factor. The greater the SPF number, the greater protection one will get from UVB rays (the burning rays). Choose an SPF that is 30 or higher no matter your complexion. If you have had skin cancer or precancer, it is recommended to increase the SPF to 45 or higher.

Sunscreen is important for everyone, regardless of age, sex, complexion or profession. Protection from the sun and the damage harmful rays can do to your skin makes applying sunscreen very important; whether or not you burn. Remember to check the label in order to determine the proper amount to apply.

See the full article here

 

caption-arrow Feature photo by  echoroo

Hiking in nature can be very beneficial both physically and mentally.
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How hiking helps the brain

Hiking kicks out negative thoughts

Rumination is defined as the tendency to continuously think about upsetting situations, causes, and consequences that might be burdening an individuals mind. Luckily, the National Academy of Sciences recently conducted a study which found that going on nature-filled hikes can significantly curb these thoughts, encouraging not only physical well being but also mental prosperity. By measuring neural activity and levels of rumination in the two different groups, researchers found that urban environments have distinct correlations with depression and negative disposition while the natural environments show to lower levels of rumination as well as neural activity in the part of the brain that is intimately linked to mental illness.

Hiking can boost brain power, and help keep you focused

Other studies contrasting urban vs. natural environments have found that not only can hiking in nature prevent negative thoughts, it can also greatly improve cognitive performance! Researchers realized that a nice long hike away from urbanization and technology can reduce mental fatigue, boost creative thinking, improve memory, and even remarkably reduce symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Along with all of these incredible benefits, it is proven that people who work out outside are much more likely to continue their routine rather than quit shortly after starting. Whether it’s for a minute or an hour, everyone should make an effort to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquility of nature whenever possible. Good for the mind, body, and soul, hiking in nature is an excellent way to stay healthy and happy.

 

For the full article, click here.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Loren Kerns

 

 

Time to get back in to the classroom
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Transition from summer to school

The days are getting shorter and thoughts of getting kids back to school are in full swing.  Every parent faces the inevitable task of transitioning kids from a summer schedule to a school schedule.

Here are several areas of transition to concentrate your focus:

1. Anxiety – Both kids and parents may have anxiety about going back to school.  Talk with your kids about their anxiety and help them with a plan to return to school. Recognize the anxiety and plan a fun day to celebrate the end of summer.

2.  Sleep schedule – If your kids are used to staying outside late to play it can be a hard  shift to catching an early school bus.   Start at least one week before school by shifting the wake up and go to bed time by 10 minutes each day.

3. Healthy eating  - The ice cream truck will soon be gone and it’s time to start moving the kids from summer sugary and salty snacks back to healthy and natural snacks and meals.

4. One-on-one time – Kids grow up so quickly, try to schedule good quality time with each of your kids before everyone gets busy with the school year.  Make some final summer memories just the two of you.

If you’re kids are riding the bus for the first time, check out the School Bus 101 guide on tips to ease any fear or anxiety – for both of you.

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  USAG – Humphreys

10 best sunscreens for kids
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How to protect your kids from sunburns the right way

We’re still in the midst of the summer sun.  By now the kids, and yourself, might have a slight “kissed from the sun” glow to your skin.  But it’s never too late to stay vigilant against the damaging UV rays that cause sunburn, premature aging or skin cancer.

With so many products on the market it may be hard to make an informed decision while the kids are waiting in the car (air conditioner running) and the cooler is packed with healthy snacks.  Everyone just wants to get to the river (lake or ocean).  You hear in your head “c’mon, let’s just go, I won’t burn, I promise.”  But you’re too smart for that.

Here is a list of the top 10 sunscreens to protect your kids.  Remember to read the directions and re-apply as often as instructed.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  AnnCN

 

 

Pacific Northwest Hiking
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No-nonsense tips for safe hiking

There’s still so much of summer left.  Have you ventured out to a hiking trail in the beautiful Pacific Northwest?  Whether you’re a novice or seasoned hiker there are many simple steps to keep yourself safe and enjoy your hike.

Follow the Hiker Responsibility Code.

Be prepared:

1. With knowledge and gear.  Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.

2. To leave your plans.  Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you will return and your emergency plans.

3. To stay together.  When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group.  Pace your hike to the slowest person.

4. To turn back.  Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike.  The mountains will be there another day.

5. For emergencies.  Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening.  Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.

6. To share the hike code with other. 

REI, the leader in outdoor equipment, also has a great list of 10 day hiking essentials to make your day fun and safe.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Loren Kerns

How to avoid your enemy and know if you've been bitten.
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Quick guide to spider bites

Spiders seem to be more plentiful after a mild winter.  Along with spiders comes the increase of spider bites.  Luckily not all spiders are poisonous, but if you’ve ever been bitten by a venomous spider you should know how to treat the bite.

The Pacific Northwest can claim several varieties of spiders that carry a bite to be medically important.  To know the difference between venomous, dangerous, and low-risk non aggressive spiders, refer to the USA spider identification chart.  In the unlikely event you’ve experienced a bite, know when to seek professional medical care vs simple home care of the bite site.

Remember, prevention is the first defense in avoiding a nasty spider bite.

Per the Mayo Clinic, here is how to prevent spider bites :

  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt, hat, gloves and boots when handling stored boxes or firewood, and when cleaning out sheds, garages, basements, attics and crawl spaces.
  • Inspect and shake out gardening gloves, boots and clothing that have been unused for a while.
  • Use insect repellents, such as DEET or Picaridin, on clothing and footwear.
  • Keep insects and spiders out of the house by installing tight-fitting screens on windows and doors, and caulking or sealing cracks or crevices where spiders can come in.
  • Discard old boxes, clothing and other unwanted items from storage areas.
  • Store items you want to keep off of the floor and away from walls.
  • Remove piles of rocks or lumber from the area around your house.
  • Avoid storing firewood against the house.
  • Vacuum spiders and spider webs and dispose of them in a sealed bag outside to prevent re-entry into the house.

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Ray Bouknight

Myappleaday.com
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Sunglasses: Look cool and be safe

Are your sunglasses a fashion statement? Whether they are or not, wear them to protect your eyes from the sun. The sun’s UV rays can hurt your eyes any time of year, even on overcast days. The damage adds up over your lifetime, and it can lead to vision problems like cataracts.

Before you buy sunglasses, here are some things to consider:

  • Choose sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays
  • Green, brown or gray lenses are best
  • Bigger is better
  • Wraparound styles can block rays that sneak in from the side
  • Wearing a hat with your shades gives you even more protection

Make your sunglasses a daily habit. Even kids who spend much time outdoors should protect their eyes from UV rays.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Mike Mozart

Watch your sun exposure
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Bad sunburn art could increase melanoma risk

Crazy trends are just that…..CRAZY!  And this one ranks right up there as one of the worst.  Instead of the previous summer quest for no tan lines some people are going in the opposite direction and are deliberately using their skin and the sun to create temporary art on their skin.    What?  Since when is melanoma art?  The American Cancer Society website has great information on skin cancer causes and prevention.   The biggest culprit is prolonged exposure to UV (ultra violet) rays.

There are other ways to have temporary art on your skin that aren’t cancer causing or permanent (tattoos).  How about Henna ink?  Seems like a safer choice. 

Let’s hope this trend fades like a tan  before you have to see the Oncologist

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Alan Light