Less than 3% of adults have a healthy lifestyle.

   Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

The results of a study published this week in Mayo Clinic Proceedings  found that of the 4,700 people asked about four habits consistent with a healthy lifestyle, no smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercise and low body fat, only 2.7% had all of them. Of the other 97.3%, most (71%) didn’t smoke, and 11% did not have any of the healthy habits.

 Preidt, R. Less than 3 percent of Americans Live a Healthy Lifestyle [Internet] HealthDay; 2016 Mar 23 [cited 2016 Mar 27]. Available from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_157897.html

For journal article abstract go to: http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196%2816%2900043-4/abstract

Use this news

If you are among the 97.3% of people who do not have all four healthy lifestyle habits, identify the ones you don’t have and begin to make small changes to improve your health.

If you smoke, see last week’s blog (below) about quitting and check out the information at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  - CDC's Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site

If you are overweight or obese, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) website Aim for a Health Weight https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/wtl_prog.htm, provides guidance on how to select a weight loss program, healthy weight loss tools, and other useful information.

To find body mass index (BMI)  (the ratio of your height to weight) used to determine overweight and obesity, use the BMI calculator at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html

To learn the recommended weight for your height see the BMI chart at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi_tbl.pdf

Also check out the information at the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/index.html

Keep in mind that losing the weight is the easy part, keeping it off is the hard part. So, don’t “go on a diet.” Instead, commit to making changes in what you eat, how much you eat, and becoming more active to use the energy (calories) you eat instead of storing it as fat.

If your diet is less then healthy, use the information at ChooseMyPlate.gov  to help you make the changes needed to improve this lifestyle habit.

Some tips for eating healthy include:

                        Eat a variety of foods in all different colors
                        Control portion size, learn servings sizes
                        Aim for 2.5 cups of vegetables a day and 2 cups of 
                        Eat whole grains (be aware that multi-grain is not
                              necessarily whole grain –  check the food label
                              and look for 100% whole grain or 100% whole
                              wheat, etc.)     
                        Limit sugar and refined grains (white bread, regular 
                        Eat fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, trout,
                               mackerel), nuts, avocado and olive oil or canola
                       Eat less red meat, processed meats, and animal fat.

 (From Berkeley Wellness at: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-                    eating/food/slideshow/14-keys-healthy-diet)

If you are inactive, that is - you do not get the recommended 30 minutes of moderately intense activity everyday, try walking more aiming for 10,000 steps a day. The information at Shape up America http://shapeup.org/10000-steps/ will help you get              started on your way to 10,000 steps a day.  

Other moderately intense activities (from The American Heart Association) include:
    • Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
    • Water aerobics
    • Tennis (doubles)
    • Ballroom dancing
    • General gardening
For more examples see: https://www.k-state.edu/paccats/Contents/PA/PDF/PA%20by%20Intensity.pdf

For more information about healthy living see:

Centers for Disease Control - Healthy Living

National Institutes of Health – Healthy Living



"Cold turkey”
may be a better way to quit smoking.

   by Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES


  In the March, 2016 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers report on the results of a study comparing two smoking cessation methods, abrupt quitting (cold turkey) and gradual quitting (cutting back ). Four weeks after the subjects quit,  49% of those who quit cold turkey were still not smoking compared to 39% of gradual quitters. At six months, 22% of the cold turkey quitters were still not smoking compared to 16% of those who cut down gradually and then quit. Said another way, 84% of those who quit gradually were smoking again within 6 months compared to 78% of those who quit cold turkey.

Source: HealthDay[Internet}. HealthDay;©2016. Cold Turkey May Work Best for Quitting Smoking.; 2016Mar 14[cited 2016 Mar 20}. Available from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_157753.html

An abstract of the journal article is at: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2501853

Use this news

Quitting smoking is very difficult, as any smoker who has ever tried, will attest. It usually takes a few tries before a smoker can stay quit. But, it's important that they keep trying because
smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It contributes to approximately 400,000 deaths a year. Smoking is a preventable risk factor for a number of cancers,  heart disease and lung disease (bronchitis, emphysema and asthma). Think about it - cigarettes are the only product on the market, that when used as directed, can kill you.

If you smoke (or if you know a smoker) and are ready to quit, you might want to think about “going cold turkey.” Following are tips from Quitsmoking.org to help you prepare -

1.        Educate yourself about the withdrawal symptoms (both physical and psychological) so you’ll know what to expect when they happen, because they will.

2.       Have a plan in place to help you handle the withdrawal symptoms and remember, the physical withdrawal symptoms will be worse the first few days. They include:

                   Excessive mucous production
                   Stomach upset

         The psychological withdrawals symptoms may be more 
         challenging and threaten your “quitting” more than the
         others. They can last anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks. They

                   Extreme mood swings

           The American Cancer Society suggests the following to    
            get you through the few   weeks it may take for the    
           psychological withdrawal symptoms to stop:

           - Remind yourself that the feelings are temporary.
           - Do something physical, take a walk, rake leaves, play
               with a pet, ride a  bike, dance.
           -  Limit your caffeine intake
           - Try meditation or other relaxation techniques, take a hot
               bath,  or breath  deeply through your nose and out 
               through your mouth for 10 breaths.

3.      Set a quit date.

4.      Tell people around you that you are planning to quit, and  

5.      Remove all nicotine/cigarettes from your house, car,
         workplace, including ashtrays with butts.

6.      Change routines and things that are smoking centered and
          likely to trigger cravings– for example, your morning
          routine or your break at work, drinking coffee or alcohol.

If cold turkey is not for you,  there are a number of other methods available  - see the link below to smokefree.gov. However, they all seem to work best if done in combination with counseling.

Quit smoking as soon as you are ready – your body will thank you because as the American Cancer Society (2014) tells us, here’s what happens when you say....


20 minutes after quitting
Heart rate and blood pressure drop.

12 hours after quitting
       Carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to normal.

2 weeks to 3 months after quitting
                  Circulation improves and lung function increases.

1 to 9 months after quitting
           Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

1 year after quitting
The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.

  5 years after quitting
          Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.

10 years after quitting
             The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.

15 years after quitting
The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a

                                             For more information

Guide to quitting cold turkey

CDC – What you need to know about smoking

Smokefree.gov – Ways to quit smoking

American Cancer Society – When smokers quit – quit smoking timeline

American Cancer Society – How to handle withdrawal symptoms

Let Thirst be Your Guide

Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

A recently published study in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirmed the message about the dangers of drinking too much water during athletic competitions, has not been heard.  Researchers looking at the 1100 triathletes competing in the Ironman European Championships between 2005-2013 found that more than 10% drank so much water  they diluted the amount of sodium in their bodies to dangerously low levels, which in medical terms is hyponatremia. At its worse, hyponatremia can be life-threatening.  

Part of the problem is that sponsors provide fluid stops all along the event course which sends the message that athletes should drink at every stop. Doing so would surely result in hyponatremia by the end of the event, offers Dr.  Lewis Maharam, chairman of the board of governors for the International Marathon Medical Directors Association.

Source:  HealthDay [Internet]. Health Day; ©2016. For 'Ironman' Athletes, Study Shows Danger of Too Much Water; 2016 Mar 09 [cited 2016 Mar 13]. Available from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_157682.html

Study summary is available at:

Study abstract is at:

Use the news

Hard as it is for us to believe, drinking large quantities of water is not healthy, and in fact, can be down right hazardous to our health. Although this is not new information, it is still not registering with some athletes. Excessive water intake dilutes sodium levels in the fluids surrounding the cells causing water to move into the cells - the results...swollen cells. The cells in our brains are very sensitive to this and as a result, many of the symptoms of hyponatremia occur because of swollen brain cells.

The symptoms include:

With the weather warming up, if you are a runner, triathlete or biker you are also warming up for another season of your favorite events. But, taking the lead from the information in this week’s article, be careful with how much water you drink during the event. As the International Marathon Medical Director’s Association (2006) recommends below, let thirst be your guide.

Try to drink to thirst. This advice seems way too simple to be true; however, physiologically the new scientific evidence says that thirst will actually protect athletes from the hazards of both over and underdrinking by providing real time feedback on internal fluid balance. If you are not thirsty, try to refrain from drinking. Do not feel compelled to drink at every fluid station nor follow the cues of other runners: their fluid needs are probably very different from your own. If you are “over-thinking” and feel you cannot rely on this way of thinking, experiment in your training with one of the other ways (at this link - http://www.aims-association.org/guidelines_fluid_replacement.htm) realizing each has its own cautions as well.”

For more information:

Mayo Clinic - Hyponatremia

American College of Sports Medicine – Exercise and Fluid Replacement


A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M., Inc.; ©2005. Low sodium level.; [updated 2016 Mar 02; cited 2016 Mar 13]; [about 4 p.]. Available from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000394.htm

Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, (2006). International Marathon Medical Director’s Association( IMMDA) Revised fluid recommendations for runners and walkers. Available from: http://www.aims-association.org/guidelines_fluid_replacement.htm

Lawn mowers and children are a perfect storm for injury

        Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

With spring just around the corner, the results of a study looking at the incidence of lawn  mower accidents among children, couldn’t be more timely. Investigators looking at data from trauma centers in Pennsylvania for the years 2002-2013 found that during this time, the average age of the children treated for lawn mower injuries was 8 years old with majority of them, (81%)  boys. More than half their injuries involved a riding mower with 66% of injuries occurring in the lower extremities and more than half resulting in amputation. 1

A summary of the research is available at:

Use the news

While it’s enticing to allow your child to cut the lawn using a lawn mower can be hazardous to his/her health. Nationally, more than 600 children a year end up with amputated limbs because of lawn mower accidents. In fact, limb loss in children under the age of 10 is most commonly caused by lawn mowers.1

Lawn mower injuries also include:
  • cuts through the muscle and tendons of the hands and feet from the blade.
  • burns from touching the hot engine or gas tank which can go deep and affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments and even the bone.
  • broken bones from the blade3

The American Academic of Pediatrics recommends the following:

 - Before teaching your child how to mow the lawn, he/she should show the maturity, good judgment, strength and coordination that the job requires and should be at least:
         12 years of age to operate a walk-behind power mower or 
         hand mower

          16 years of age to operate a riding lawn mower

-   Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.

-   Wear sturdy shoes, not sandals or sneakers.

-   Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower or is in the vicinity wear polycarbonate protective eyewear at all times. 

-    Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.

-    Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, inspecting or repairing lawn mower equipment or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.

-    Use a stick or broom handle (not your hands or feet) to remove debris in lawn mowers.

-    Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers and keep children out of the yard while mowing.

-    Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover.

-     Keep lawn mowers in good working order. When using a lawn mower for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.

For more information:

American Academy of PediatricsLawn Mower guidelines

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Lawn Mower Injury in Children and First Aid.


  HealthDay [Internet]. HealthDay; © 2016. Lawn Mowers Can Cause Severe Injury to Kids. 2016 Mar 3 [cited 2016 Mar 4]. Available from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_157537.html 

2.       Amputee Coalition. (2015). Lawn mower accidents cause needless amputations.  Available at: http://www.amputee-coalition.org/lawn-mower-accidents-cause-needless-amputations/

3.       American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2012). Lawn mower injuries in children.  Available from: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00611