Category Archives: Healthy You

Living Healthy Tips for All Men

June is Men’s Health Month.  Paying attention to overall good health is something that all people should do, but this month is a good reminder to men to make sure they are doing a few easy things to help keep them healthy in day-to-day life.  The following are all health tips for men that are adapted from WebMD, as well as a few of our own.  We hope that you listen, pay attention and follow – for the sake of your good health.

Find a Doctor – Finding the right doctor is vitally important to establishing good health.  You want to develop a good relationship with a doctor, who becomes familiar with you and the things in your health that make you unique.  You also want to have a doctor that fits your personality.  Do you respond better to a stern doctor or someone with a more gentle touch.  Do you want someone who is always serious, or someone that can joke with you when appropriate.  These considerations are all important.  If you just don’t click with your doctor’s personality, that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t a good doctor.  But, it does mean that you might want to shop around a little bit.  You need to be able to comfortably tell your doctor intimate details of what is going on with your health, so personality is important.

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Schedule Regular Exams – Now that you have an established doctor, schedule your regular exams.  For most people, a yearly checkup is all that is needed.  But, you may have a certain condition that a doctor will monitor on a more frequent basis.  Or, your doctor may suggest a screening to be done in addition to your regular checkup.

See the Doctor When Unusual Symptoms Develop – Many men downplay health symptoms or wait to see a doctor until the symptoms are very bad.  Don’t ignore things like black stools, vision loss or chest pain.  These and other out-of-the-ordinary symptoms can be signs of bigger problems.  Usually, the earlier these things are caught, the more likely they can be fixed.

Get the Right Amount of Sleep – Sleep is so important to good health – for everyone!  Most healthy men need at least 7 hours of sleep per night.  Don’t cut corners or vary from that too much.  Sleep deprivation can lead to more serious health issues.

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Eat a Nutritious Diet – That doesn’t mean you can’t have a beer and chicken wings while you watch football or occasionally have a hot dog at the baseball game.  Just don’t make a habit of it.  On a daily basis, you should pay attention to the nutritional content of the food you eat.  Make sure to include things that promote good health like whole grains and green leafy vegetables.  Dark chocolate is also good for heart health.

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Get Regular Exercise – Here is something else that you should discuss with your doctor.  Depending on your health conditions, there may be things you need to avoid.  But, overall you should get regular exercise, which can include walking, jogging or swimming or any number of things that get your body moving and your heart pumping.

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Keep Your Feet and Legs Healthy – This one is very important, especially for people that have chronic health issues like poor circulation or diabetes.  Good gradient compression socks like those from Therafirm can help promote better circulation.  Diabetic Socks from SmartKnit can help keep your feet cool, dry and free of irritation.

There you have it.  Now go live life and be healthy!

Tips for Summer Travel with Health Conditions

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Summer is right around the corner and what says summer more than a summer vacation!  Are you planning any vacations – near or far – in the coming months?  Now is the time to enjoy life, so don’t let health issues get in the way of your trip around the world or even the weekend visiting the grandchildren.  Just follow these helpful travel tips and you’ll be on your way to a memorable vacation.

Medications
If you are dependent on medication to control your health conditions, you’ll want to make sure you plan well ahead.  They last thing you want is to run out of your medication in the middle of the Amazon (or even Disney World).  Get your prescriptions renewed ahead of time and bring enough for the duration of your trip, plus a little extra.  You never know what your vacation might entail.

If any of your medications are temperature-dependent, you’ll want to plan for this, too.  A wide-mouthed, insulated thermos is very handy.  Just fill the bottle with ice ahead of time to cool it.  Once cool, dry it and place medications inside.  They should stay cool until you arrive at your destination.

Insurance Cards and Other Health Documentation
When it comes to visits to the doctor or hospital on your vacation, it’s good to plan for the worst and hope for the best.  That said, you’ll need to make sure you have any insurance and prescription cards with you, as well as any other medical records or documentation that may be handy to an unfamiliar physician you may have to see if it becomes necessary for you to seek medical care.

Carry-On Bag
Medications and insurance cards should be carried in your carry-on bag.  The airlines do their best to make sure your checked bags arrive at the correct destination with you, but things happen from time to time.  You will not want to be without these most important items.

Inform Others of Your Condition
You may find it prudent to inform TSA agents, flight attendants or other officials of your medical conditions.  If you experience a medical emergency mid-travel, it will be helpful for them to have fore-knowledge of your conditions.  They will be able to act faster and more efficiently to help if they are aware of any conditions up front.

Dress Comfortably
Travel has a way of being uncomfortable as it is.  The more comfortably you dress, the less discomfort you’ll experience.  Seamless socks from SmartKnit will help prevent your feet from becoming irritated, especially if your travel will include a lot of walking through airports.  Compression Travel Socks from Therafirm are also a good choice to help prevent deep vein thrombosis or DVT – a dangerous condition that travelers are at risk for.

And of course, we always recommend that you follow a doctor’s instructions for any health condition.  But, we hope these tips will help you enjoy a memorable summer vacation with minimal risk to your health.  Bon Voyage!

 

Surviving Daylight Savings Time

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Image courtesy of num_skyman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

That’s right, folks!  On Sunday, March 13, we lose that hour of sleep as we all move our clocks forward one hour.   Sleep is sometimes hard to come by, so that lost hour might be hard to swallow.  Here are a few tips to help make this transition easier.

  1. Transition into the time difference gradually. – Get up and go to bed 15 minutes earlier everyday between now and Sunday. Taking baby steps toward the earlier day will make the transition a little bit easier to bear.
  2. Add a nap into your day. – Adding an afternoon nap for a few days will help your body adjust to the time difference a little bit quicker. Just make sure it isn’t too close to bed time.
  3. Keep your normal number of sleep hours. – It might be hard to convince your body that it’s bedtime, but it’s important to do so. You’re getting up early already, so make sure to carry that over to bedtime.  Keeping your number of sleep hours and avoiding staying up that extra hour, will help you adjust to the time difference quicker.
  4. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants at bedtime. – You’re probably trying to avoid these anyway, but don’t be tempted. Going to bed an hour early might be hard enough, but adding caffeine will make it harder.
  5. Control the lights. – The body’s natural melatonin, which helps to induce sleep, increases when the environment begins to get dark.  Going to sleep at an earlier time will be easier if the environment is adapted to feel more like night. One way to help induce sleep is to turn off all electronic devices 30 minutes prior to going to bed.

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Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Okay, now that we’re all ready to Spring Forward, Therafirm says Bring it On!

Sitting: The Silent Killer

What is something that most Americans do every day, but is just as unhealthy as smoking?  Would you be surprised to find out that it is sitting?  Knowing that sitting for long periods of time isn’t the best for you is one thing.  Knowing that it is as dangerous as smoking is another.  It’s a game changer.  So how can sitting possibly be as bad as smoking?  We wanted to know why.

This is what we learned.  The production of enzymes that burn the body’s fat declines with each hour of sitting.  Sitting for long periods of time can slow the metabolism and affect things like HDL (good cholesterol) levels.  Sedentary behavior increases the chance of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breast and colon cancer.  That certainly is comparable to the health risks of smoking.

What can we do to help improve our health when so many people sit at desks all day for their jobs?

Exercise

Silent Killer #1

Do you exercise?  If so, this is great.  Keep it up!  But it isn’t the only thing you should be doing.  Studies show that your health is at risk if you’re primarily sedentary even if you do have an exercise regimen.  So, continue your exercise regimens, but make sure that you add in other things to make your daily habits less sedentary.

Be Aware

Silent Killer #2

The first step to sitting less is just being aware of how much you are sitting.  Once you truly see how many hours per day you spend sitting, you can set goals to help you reduce that number.

Short Breaks

Silent Killer #3

If you spend every day working at a desk, take a short break every half hour or so.  Get up for two to three minutes and move.  Take laps around your office, or if that isn’t feasible, walk in place at your desk.

Conference Walks

Silent Killer #4

Do you sit in on conference calls during your day?  Take them on your cell phone instead of at your desk and go for a walk.  Or if can, plan to take a walking meeting.

Standing Lunch

Silent Killer #5

Eat lunch standing instead of sitting.  Or better yet, walk somewhere near your office to pick up a bite for lunch.

Treadmill Desk

Silent Killer #6

This is a great option for those that work from home.  Create a work surface above a treadmill.  A specialized stand out to fit a monitor and keyboard allowing you to be in motion all day.

Standing Desk

Silent Killer #7

A standing desk or a workstation at a high table or counter seems to be a trend that’s picking up steam.  The health benefits of standing desks are still not completely clear, but it is a better alternative to sitting.  And, some of history’s truly great minds have used them – like Leonard Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway and Benjamin Franklin. Great company!

TV Time

Silent Killer #8

When at home and watching TV, don’t forward through commercials.  Get up and move around during commercial breaks.

The bottom line is get moving and keep moving.  Limit your total daily sitting hours to the minimum.  You’ll burn more calories, feel better and best of all, live a healthier lifestyle!

 

The Impact of Sugar on the Body

This week (January 18-24) is Sugar Awareness Week.  We thought this was a perfect opportunity to explore all the negative ways that sugar can affect your body and your health.

What is sugar, anyway?  It’s actually more of a generic name for a number of different sweet, soluble carbohydrates found in many foods and drinks.  It can go by a lot of different names like sucrose or fructose.  This makes it easier to disguise in foods.  These added sugars are high in calories, but have zero essential nutrients.  Zero!  No proteins, no essential fats, no vitamins or minerals . . . just pure energy.  In other words, empty calories.

Diabetics typically have to watch the amount of sugar they consume daily, but with the number of serious problems that sugar can cause to your body, we all should.  Here are just a few ways in which sugar can negatively impact your health:

 

  1. Brain – Sugar has huge effects on a person’s brain. Sugar, much like many street drugs, releases chemicals that set off the brain’s pleasure center, like dopamine.  And just like street drugs, you can develop a tolerance for sugar, meaning that you’ll crave more sugar in order for your brain to get its “fix”.  Chemical FormulasEssentially, the difference is the nitrogen atom present in cocaine, but missing from sugar.  Further, the large releases in dopamine, create true addiction in many people.  Sugar also works against the part of the brain that makes you feel full, convincing you to take in more calories leading to other health issues.
  2. Face – Not nearly as serious as the effect on the brain, but still something to think about is your face. When a body has sugar in the bloodstream, the sugar will attach to proteins forming harmful molecules.  These molecules attack nearby proteins, damaging them.  Some of these key proteins are collagen and elastin, the components keeping your skin firm and elastic.  Over time, too much sugar leads to wrinkles and saggy skin.
  3. Teeth – This one seems to be the most obvious thing that people tend to think about, and it is definitely a real concern. Sugar is the most damaging substance for teeth that we’re eating.  When sugar sits on your teeth, it creates decay more efficiently than any other food.  This is because it provides easily digestible energy for all the bad bacteria living in your mouth.
  4. Heart – Have you ever thought about how sugar can affect your heart? Probably not, but it is a very real concern.  We know that diabetes is directly affected by one’s sugar intake, but heart disease and diabetes are intertwined.  Among people with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke are the number one cause of death.
  5. Liver – Added sugars trigger your liver to store fat more efficiently. Over time, a diet high in sugar leads to a fat buildup around your liver, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Studies show that people with fatty livers consume up to 2-3 times as much sugar as an average person.
  6. Pancreas – Insulin, which is made in the pancreas, is very important to the body. It allows sugar to enter the cells from the bloodstream and tells the cells to start burning sugar instead of fat.  Too much sugar in the blood is highly toxic, so the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugar is very important.  Too much sugar can cause the cells to become resistant to insulin.  When cells become resistant to insulin, the pancreas is geared up to make more insulin.  Eventually, the pancreas isn’t able to keep up with the demand.  Without enough insulin, blood sugar can reach dangerous levels.
  7. Blood Vessels – Excess insulin in the bloodstream can also take a toll on arteries. High insulin can lead to tense artery walls, leading to high blood pressure.  Ultimately, this makes stroke and heart attack more likely.
  8. Aging – Most people want to slow the aging process, but did you now that a high sugar intake can lead to faster aging. As stated previously about the face, we know that sugar in the bloodstream attaches to proteins and forms harmful molecules that attack components such as collagen and elastin.  But, this loss of elasticity can prematurely age all the body tissues, from skin, to organs, to arteries.  The more sugar in your blood, the faster the damage occurs.
  9. Cancer – Cancer is the uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells. Because insulin is a key hormone in regulating this growth, many scientists believe that elevated insulin levels (as we’ve already seen, a consequence of high sugar consumption) can contribute to cancer.
  10. Obesity – We’ve already seen how sugar is just empty calories, and also how it leads to cravings of more sugar and more food in general due to its ability to make you feel hungrier. It’s not difficult to see how a diet high in sugar can lead to obesity.
  11. Stress – When we’re stressed, our stress hormones rise. These chemicals prepare the body for attack or escape, etc.  These very same stress hormones are released when the blood sugar is low.  After a blood sugar spike and compensatory dive, the body releases these stress hormones, leading one to feel anxious, irritable and shaky.
  12. Immune System – The body is made up of trillions of good bacteria, which help digest food, produce vitamins and protect the body from germs and diseases. But, consuming too much sugar can alter the balance between good and bad bacteria weakening immune systems.

The damage sugar does to your body is real.  But, since cutting out sugar altogether is very difficult, what can be done to decrease sugar intakes?  Here are a few tips;

  1. Cut down on sugary beverages – Sodas, juices (even 100% juice), sport drinks and smoothies all contain high amounts of sugar.  To start with, drink a glass of water before everything else.  You may find you are no longer thirsty!
  2. Read labels – Sometimes sugar is hidden in foods you wouldn’t think contain sugar like oatmeal, salad dressing, yogurt and processed foods.  Watch for high fructose corn syrup.
  3. Be leery of healthy alternatives – Phrases like “sugar free”, “low calorie” and “all natural” can be misleading. These phrases don’t necessarily mean the food is healthier.
  4. Make the change gradual – Remember how sugar is addictive.  Don’t change your eating habits overnight, but make a gradual change towards a low sugar diet.  The slow change will be easier on your body, especially if your sugar addiction is real.

Sugar** Disclaimer – Not to take the place of medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor about health concerns.

*** Sources: prevention.com; atkins.com; authoritynutrition.com

TheraSport and Resolutions for 2016

Here we are in January – the month of New Year’s Resolutions and generally getting healthy.  It’s time to try out all that new workout equipment and apparel you received for the holidays.  Did anyone get knee high running socks?  These seem to be quite the trend in athletic and running apparel – convenient for those of us who like to wear athletic compression socks like our new TheraSport socks, as well as our Core-Sport socks.

 

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Gradient compression, which is compression that is greatest at the ankle and gradually decreases as it moves upwards, is known to improve blood flow from the ankle to the heart.  The increased blood flow improves oxygenation and enhances athletic performance.  Athletes that wear athletic compression garments may experience less delayed onset muscle soreness, less fatigue, improved performance, less edema post-competition and faster recovery.

Gradient compression is common in the medical world, but virtually unknown in athletic compression, despite all its advantages for athletes.  Most athletic compression on the market is the more basic all over compression.  TheraSport and Core-Sport socks both feature lab-tested gradient compression available in 15-20mmHg and 20-30mmHg.

TheraSport Athletic Performance and Recovery Socks, the newest addition of gradient compression socks to Therafirm’s line, are breaking the athletic compression mold.  Not only do they offer the wearer the true gradient athletic compression, but they also have a number of other benefits that make them ideal for today’s most serious professional and amateur athletes or anyone who prefers a sports style sock.

 

TheraSport socks are made with a super soft and lightweight material for exceptional comfort.  A comfortable band provides a non-binding grip to help the socks stay up.  High tech, moisture wicking yarns, as well as breathable mesh paneling and moisture-wicking fibers keep feet cool and odor under control.  A unique “Y” heel stitching helps to keep socks in place.  Additional Achilles and foot protection provide greater support and stabilization.  Finally, a lightweight cushioning helps to absorb shock and protect feet during athletic activity.

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But, let’s not forget how cool they look!  Seriously, these things look great, all the while providing beneficial gradient compression.  It’s a win-win.  So, get a pair, put them on and get to those resolutions!

Thanksgiving Travel Tips for People with Health Issues

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Halloween is over, which means we’re exchanging jack o’lanterns for turkey and pumpkin pie.  The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner!  Thanksgiving weekend is known for being one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  According to AAA, last year 46.3 million Americans packed their bags and journeyed at least 50 miles away from home to spend the holiday with family or friends.

Thanksgiving weekend travel can already be stressful due to the sheer numbers of fellow travelers, but travelers with health issues may experience extra stresses.  So, if you’ll be among America’s travelers in a few weeks, follow these travel tips to help you have a smooth and happy holiday trip!

  1. Pack Your Medications – The last thing you need is to be far away from home and not have your necessary medications. Whether you pack them first or last, don’t walk out the door until you’ve checked your medications off your list.
  2. Pack Snacks to Control Your Glucose and Monitor It – Make a pack of snacks that will help you control your glucose level. Make sure you can access it easily or that someone else could easily get to it.  Bring your glucose monitors and pack them close to your snacks.  Monitor your glucose levels as often as you would at home.
  3. Pack Insurance Cards and Other Documentation – No one wants to have a visit to a doctor or emergency room while out of town, but it’s best to be prepared in case it does happen. With the proper cards and documentation, you can better focus on getting the treatment you need, instead of insurance red tape.
  4. Plan Out Time Zone Changes – If you’re going to be in more than one time zone, plan your snacks and monitoring accordingly. Also, ensure that you’ve accounted for time zone changes when taking medications or monitoring glucose levels.
  5. Pack Insulin or Other Temperature-Dependent Medications So That It’s Kept Cool Until Reaching Your Destination – You can use a wide-mouthed, insulated, non-breakable bottle or thermos to help keep your medications cools. Fill the bottle ice or cold water before hand to cool it.  Then empty the bottle, dry it and place your medications inside.
  6. Get Plenty of Sleep – It’s important to get plenty of sleep – even extra sleep – before a big trip, but especially if you are dealing with health issues while traveling. Go to bed early before a trip, or take a nap before leaving.  Be sure to get good sleep during the trip, as well, so that you’ll be in good shape when traveling back home.
  7. Put Medications and Other Necessities in a Carry-On Bag – Carry all medications and any other necessities in your carry-on bag. Just in case your luggage is misplaced, you won’t want to be without your necessities.  You can always buy another toothbrush!
  8. Pack Lightly and Use Luggage with Shoulder Straps or Wheels – If you suffer from arthritis or other health problems, you won’t want to over exert yourself. Make sure to pack as lightly as possible, so you have less to carry.  Bags with comfortable shoulder straps or wheels will also help.
  9. Wear and Pack Comfortable Clothing That’s Easy to Get On – Comfortable clothing will make you comfortable all around, especially if it will be awhile before you can change. Wear Seamless Socks from SmartKnit to help keep your feet from getting irritated.  Or if you’re at risk for DVT, Compression Travel Socks from Therafirm will help prevent this dangerous condition.
  10. Pack Any Arthritis Aids You Regularly Use – If it’s something you use regularly, bring it, even if you think you won’t use it.
  11. Carry Cash – You will want to have cash for situations like tipping luggage assistants or toll payments.
  12. Inform Others of Your Condition – Inform TSA agents, flight attendants or any other officials of your health conditions. They’ll be more likely to be helpful and also to watch for changes in your condition.

Remember at the end of the road is that special turkey and dressing or pumpkin pie that you’ve been craving for months – as well as hugs and smiles and family memories.

** Note: Tips are not meant to replace medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor.