5 Things You Should Know About Stretching and Mobility

One of the greatest debates in athletic history has to be the whether or not stretching is beneficial. I remember when I was in school the latestand greatest technique was bouncing into the stretch, it was part of – not before the warm up and feeling the burn was a good thing. The more the better.

So what are the leaders in the field now saying about stretching? Let’s take a deeper look into it and find out 5 essential things you should know about stretching and mobility. [Read more...]

Your Health Guide For Staying Well While Traveling Abroad

stay healthy while traveling

Dodging polio or malaria while overseas starts with prevention. The following is a preventative guide for staying healthy while traveling abroad and tips on what to do if you get sick in a foreign country.

Trip Prep Basics

  • Learn what you’re up against. Crossing an ocean to a foreign land can expose your health to vulnerabilities and risk for infection. Learn about your destination by accessing the Consular Information Program’s Country Specific Information by the State Department’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS). Click on the map to see the health and medical considerations of your destination country.
  • Get vaccinations and immunizations. Catching measles, mumps or rubella can seriously wreck your trip. Get the appropriate shots to prevent diseases such as the food and water-borne hepatitis A. Make sure your vaccination records are up-to-date and visit Travelers’ Health by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about travel-related diseases and essential country-specific vaccines and medicines. The World Health Organization also provides a health profile for WHO countries.
  • Visit your doctor or a travel health expert at a specialized travel medicine clinic. After researching your destination country, talk to a specialist about your current health status, individual risk factors and mandatory or recommended vaccines. You’ll also need an International Certificate of Vaccination, also known as Yellow Card.
  • Check your health insurance policy and available medical services. Imagine paying around $10,000 for a medical evacuation. You’ll want to prepare for an unexpected illness or accident with short-term travel medical insurance. Ask what type of medical services are available during an emergency while dealing with a foreign medical system. The U.S. Passports & International Travel and Bureau of Consular Affairs site offers a list of U.S.-based travel insurance companies for overseas travelers. The CDC also details everything you need to know about travel health insurance and medical evaluation insurance.
  • Prepare prescription medications. Ask your physician for proper medical documentation or records and carry medications in your carry-on bag in their originally prescribed containers. Make sure to bring emergency refills, extra doses and the contact information of your doctor and pharmacist.

If You Get Sick While Abroad

  • Use your tablet for research. For instance, diarrhea is a common health problem, and 30 to 70 percent of travelers experience it in the high-risk regions of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Before you seek medical attention for a non-emergency health problem, look into MeMD online for a diagnosis of common medical ailments and treatments like diarrhea, allergies, earache, fever, and nausea. If your problem persists or worsens, consult professional medical help.
  • Visit a pharmacy for a diagnosis of run-of-the-mill conditions and remedies. European travel expert Rick Steves also recommends that European travelers go to a hospital for life-threatening emergencies and clinics for non-emergency health problems. If you’re charged a fee, you may have to pay out of pocket, despite having medical insurance. Return home with a copy of the bill to file a claim for reimbursement, and contact your travel insurance as soon as possible to report the injury.
  • Contact the US embassy. Register with the US embassy in your destination country by creating an account with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Consular officers can help provide medical assistance and even aid in funds transfers. Medical care resources recommended by the CDC also include the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (you’ll need a membership) and the Joint Commission International.

Yes, Dear, Smoking Dope IS a Big Deal

Dear Mr. Dad: My 15-year old daughter has been suspended from school several times for smoking marijuana on campus. She also regularly comes home from parties smelling like pot. My wife and I smoked when we were in college (we don’t anymore), but we’ve told our daughter that she shouldn’t. She just calls us hypocrites and says that smoking weed isn’t that big of a deal. We’re worried about her. What can we do?

A: Step number one is to quit worrying about your daughter’s dope smoking and start actually doing something to make her stop. Cities across the country—and two entire states (Colorado and Washington—have either decriminalized or completely legalized marijuana use. So it’s no surprise that many of your daughter’s peers agree with her that smoking it is “no big deal.” In fact, that misguided opinion has been gaining popularity among teens for quite some time. In 2005, 74% of eighth graders and 58% of 12th graders said that being a regular marijuana user was dangerous. Today, it’s 61% and 40%, respectively.

A recent study done at Northwestern University found that teens who smoked marijuana regularly had “abnormal changes in their brain structures related to working memory and performed poorly on memory tasks.” But what does “regular” mean? In the Northwestern study, it was every day for three years. But according to addiction researcher Constance Scharff, from Cliffside Malibu (an addiction treatment center), “regular” could mean as little as once a week. “Pot damages the heart and lungs,” says Dr. Scharff. “And it increases the incidence of shorter tempers, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, and it can trigger acute psychotic episodes.” Regardless of your definition of “regular,” the younger one is when lighting up for the first time, the greater the damage.

Some say that marijuana isn’t addictive, but a growing amount of research shows that as many as one in six smokers—especially those under 25, whose brain is still developing—will become addicted. Many experts also consider marijuana to be a “gateway drug,” meaning that smoking it increases the likelihood of trying other, more dangerous—and more addictive—drugs.

Here’s what to do to get your daughter to quit:

  • Explain. The pot you smoked when you were in college was nowhere near as strong as what’s available today. Plus, in your day, most people didn’t start experimenting with drugs until about age 20. Today, kids as young as 11 or 12 are trying drugs. By the time they reach 20 they’ve already done major damage to their brain.
  • Get tough. If she gets an allowance, cancel it (If she doesn’t have money, she won’t be able to buy drugs, and her friends will get tired of her mooching off them). If she’s hoping to get a driver’s license or permit anytime soon, cancel that too. Take away her phone, ground her. If she any of those things back, she’ll have to earn them by taking regular drug tests (you can get at-home kits at many drugstores) and staying clean for several months.
  • Eat together. Children who have regular meals with their parents tend to have lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse. But the meals themselves aren’t magic—it’s the conversations and clear messages that mom and dad care that do the trick.
  • Encourage sports. Athletes tend to care about their body and they tend to stay away from things that could negatively affect their performance.
  • Get help. If none of this works, you’ll need to find a therapist who has lots of experience–and success—working with teens who have drug abuse or addiction issues.

What Men Should Know & Do About the Flu

Spring is on the horizon, and you may be thinking that flu season is a thing of the past. But, the truth is flu viruses can circulate as late as May. As of February 21, CDC data shows flu activity remains elevated nationally but is decreasing. Young and middle-aged adults, including those with chronic conditions and those who are otherwise healthy, have been among the hardest hit by flu this season. However, there is good news to share about the flu vaccine this season – it is providing solid protection to people of all ages. In fact, new information released on February 20 finds that the flu vaccine reduced a vaccinated person’s risk of having to go to the doctor for flu illness by about 61% across all ages. CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccination. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet this flu season, CDC urges you to do so now.

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Cleanse Diets: Are They Worth It?

Around the new year, people are determined to get in shape and be healthier in general. This usually includes going to the gym more often, limiting your late night trips to the golden arches, and dieting. With so many people facing similar goals and challenges, diets have become almost an annual fad that we see in the early months of every year. In recent years, we’ve seen the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, and so on. One of the most recent diets that society seems to have taken a liking to is the “Master Cleanse” diet. [Read more...]