Vacations are meant to be taken

When we think of summer we think of sunshine, outdoor activities, flip-flops, bar-be-cues and vacations among other things.   Vacations are beneficial in many ways, they play an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  I’m sure there are some who feel otherwise, that work is the best therapy, so let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of vacations.

I am in favor of vacations being that I just came back from a trip to Cancun, Mexico.  I had an amazing time, the trip inspired me to blog about it.  There are many reasons why people don’t take a vacation, because for some its out of their control.

PROS

Taking a break from it all, giving your body a rest is so important.  Getting away helps to relieve stress, your mind has a chance to recharge, so to speak.

You will see an improvement in things such as relationships and work performance.  You are feeling relaxed, focused and happier I’m sure.

Vacations improve overall health by helping to prevent illness such as heart disease and hypertension.  Studies such as the Framingham Heart study found that men who did not take a vacation regularly were about 31 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack as opposed to those who did and 50 percent of women who went on a vacation at least twice a year were less likely to experience a heart attack. Framingham Heart study.

Why would anyone not want to take a vacation?  I am sure there are some good reasons, for some being able to take time off is beyond their  control.

CONS

Fear that your job can get along without you.  If you take time off and things go on as normal your boss might realize he doesn’t need you after all.

Expensive – Vacations can be expensive, that is why planning ahead and budgeting are crucial.

Some people just can’t afford to take time away from work.  This is especially true if you own your own business, time is money.

The main reason for not wanting to take a vacation centers around the workplace.  Concerns such as being viewed as a slacker or striving for that perfect attendance award that could boost your career goals all add up to the disadvantages of taking time off.

   

 

If you just can’t afford to take a trip now there is always the good old Staycation.  The stay at home vacation allows you to stay at home yet enjoy activities that are local and don’t need an overnight stay.  This cuts down on expenses, it may not be the best option, for some people prefer to continue working and save money for a real vacation.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Try and make it your goal to take at least one vacation per year, you won’t realize how much you need it until you actually take it, and once you do it you will be glad that you did.

Posted in airports, health, holidays, safety, stress, Time, travel, vacations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fun in the sun – safety

Now that summer is around the corner, it’s time to break out those umbrellas, sunglasses and other protectants such as sunscreen.  It is important that parents take the right approach when protecting children from over exposure to the sun.

When we are outdoors we are susceptible to invisible ultra violent rays that can damage the cells in the skin eventually leading to medical conditions involving skin cancer. Ultra violent rays (UVA) are the rays from the sun that cause the skin to tan and ultra violent B (UVB) cause the skin to burn, so when you are outdoors is important to protect yourself from these dangerous UV rays.

We all know to wear loose, absorbent, light-colored clothing and try to avoid going out the time of day when the sun the sun is the strongest.  Sunscreen is a vital part of  summer safety.  It shields the skin from the sun in various ways  – reflecting, absorbing or scattering the rays from the sun.

Which one should I use?

While there are many sunscreen products to choose from, some things you might want to consider when choosing:

  • Use a sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15, while 30 seems the norm.
  • Make sure that it is resistance to water.
  • Provides both UVA and UVB protection, usually will state broad spectrum on the label.
  • Use it and use it often. Cover all the areas that will be exposed to the sun.
  • Apply 15-30 minutes earlier before going outdoors, that gives the skin time to soak up the lotion or cream.
  • Reapply every 2 hours or so, more if you are swimming or sweating or any activity where you might wear it off.

As for sunscreen sprays, the cream seems the desired choice.  Although the spray has its advantages especially with younger children, being that its easier to apply, take caution with the spray, due to the possibility of inhaling it, and be sure to avoid sparks or flames when using it.  A few other sunscreen precautions: avoid sunscreen with ingredients that can cause skin allergies and lastly, babies 6 months and under are kept out of the sun.

Remember on those days where it seems cool outside the sun is still there, those UV rays can still penetrate through the clouds, be sure to apply that sunscreen.   So let’s prepare.  Happy Summer!

 

 

 

 

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Spin your stress away

Reducing or relieving stress is important whether it is an adult or child that is searching for a way to cope.  It is a given fact that stress can affect the body in many ways physically and mentally which makes it so important that we recognize stress as well as how to manage it, especially for children.   Let’ take a look at Fidget Spinners – a stress relieving toy.

The latest fad?

Fidget Spinners is a toy that is designed  to counteract anxiety, tension, basically a stress reliever.  The spinner itself consists of a bearing in the center of the toy and is made from a variety of materials such as steel, copper and plastic.  These bearings are used to adjust how it vibrates, how much it makes and spin time.  It was invented in 1997 in the United States and by 2005  companies began to produce them in different shapes and sizes.  Wikipedia

 

What does it do?

The toy has prongs that surrounds the bearing that is in the middle which allows you to spin it in your hand.  They come in many different versions such as snowflakes , stars, rainbow and even in the form of Batman.   Supposedly this toy helps to reduce the fidgeting and improve student s ability to focus.

Adults have taken a liking to the Fidget spinner as well, and I can understand that for we all have sat in meetings and classes and clicked our pens or doodled as a way to focus on the matter at hand.  I have  a stress ball that is in the form of an apple, it fits perfectly in the hand and you simply squeeze it  when need be.   

 

Why the big deal?

While some people feel that the fidget spinners are the greatest thing since sliced bread, others beg to differ.   Schools across the country have banned them.  I know my school has after two first grade students got into a disagreement  over them (it was the fifth argument between students in a month).

It appears the students trade them or play with them instead of performing class work.  So instead of helping them to stay focused it has created the opposite effect.   While it benefits some students, overall I would have to say that a majority of students don’t really need them.  They  were invented to help children with ADHD and autism  as a way to focus.  To say fidget spinners are a threat to society and are destroying the world is going a bit overboard, why not just ask students to put them away or simply don’t bring them to school.

Tell me what’s your opinion of these fidget spinners?

 

 

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Stand up, no sit down

In order to keep up in this ever changing society we find our selves constantly adjusting the ways in which we carry out things such as how we process information that’s presented  to us.   The learning process and environment for children has changed also, gone are the days of students sitting straight and stiff at their desks arranged in neat rows, here to stay are desks that you can adjust to sit, stand or rest your feet on a footrest.

These desks are popular in the workplace and in  now in education from Elementary to High School.   It seems that children can’t seem to sit still and focus for periods of time.   I have found this to be the truth, so many times I have visited my colleagues classrooms and the students would be working diligently, but the first thing I would notice is how they were sitting, slumped in their chair, sitting on their hind legs, or sitting on one leg and swinging the other.

 

To me it looked uncomfortable, but the students seemed to focus, where in another class I visited, the teacher ask the student to sit properly, the student complied, but I noticed the concentration wasn’t as good as it was before.   They just might be on to something with these adjustable height desks because I can’t help thinking how useful it would be for the students.

What are adjustable height desks?

These desks also known as stand-baised desks are ergonomically designed and have found to have a positive impact on helping children learn.    Sitting for long periods of time can prove to be hazardous to your health causing problems such as low back pain and poor circulation.   It seems that with these height adjustable tables, by allowing children to stand as they work it helps to burn calories.   Improving attention span of children has been linked to these tables in that children seem  more alert in class and more productive because they have the opportunity to alternate between sitting and standing, eliminating the need to fidget.  There is a foot rest to rest your feet on as well as a stool for when you decide to sit down.

Schools across the country are slowly grasping the concept of being “ergonomically correct” so to speak.   According to CNN a middle school in Alexandria Virginia is said to be one of the first in the nation to provide adjustable height desks in the classroom.  I say slow because the desks can be costly ranging from $260 -$550 each and with schools facing  budget cuts, grants and donations seem to be the only option for now.

There was a study conducted by Benden at Texas AM & N Environmental and Occupational Health Center where it compared the classrooms with the stand-sit desks to the classrooms with the traditional desks for grades 2, 3 and 4 and found that the stand based desks can be useful in promoting physical activity because using them burn 15 – 25 percent more calories than those who use the regular desks.

This is an excellent way to channel some of  that restless energy and encourage movement all the while enhancing learning.     It’s as if you are addressing two problems at the same time, my what will they think of next?

 

Posted in children, Ergonomics, fitness, health, school | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Spring is in the air

Although it may not seem realistic to some but Spring  is right around the corner, the proof is the daylight savings time and turning the clocks forward.   I, for one find it hard to believe (heavy snow and low temperatures in the forecast for me), nevertheless  soon children as well as adults will be able to toss those winter coats aside and get outside and move around.  Here are a few Spring activities to get started.

Parks – A park in the spring allows you to see nature at its best.  The arrival of spring means flowers blooming, green grass and sunshine, so why not try a picnic in the park.  This is also a good time for kite flying, and if they have never flown one what better time to teach them than now.   You can find a park in your area: Find a Park (U.S. National Park Service) – NPS.gov

Zoo – For children there is something about going to the Zoo in the spring, it’s a great time of year,  not to mention the spectacular sights.

Museums – offer a range of activities in conjunction with spring break.  Check out the local museum in your area for fun things to do such as free classes for children, movies and storytelling.

Garden – gardening is a great way to get children involved in nature, whether the task is planting a flower, tree or shrub or maintaining the ones you have, try to involve the kids they will enjoy it.

Bike riding – Learning to ride a bike is a memory that stays with you for the rest of your life.  A simple, inexpensive activity that has multiple benefits from improving overall health to aiding in the learning and development of children.

Spring sports – Softball, Baseball, Lacrosse and Soccer are some sports that are offered in the spring if you think now is the time to let your child join a sports team.    Whatever you decide to do I’m sure the kids will love it, I must admit I’m definitely looking forward to Spring.

 

Posted in Fitness ideas for children, health, holidays, Spring | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blogger Recognition Award

Many thanks to BellisimaFitness for nominating me for this award.  Being able to share my thoughts and inspirations is so important.  The support system is great, and this blogger’s award is a prime example.  My gratitude to all that have offered encouragement and advice.

The rules

  • Thank the blogger who recommended you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a  post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide a link to the post you created.

I attempted to start a blog about 10 years ago, I had just received my Doctorate and after writing my dissertation it left me wanting for more.   So I attempted to start one, but became overwhelmed by it, I wasn’t really confident in what I was doing as a result it kind of fizzled out.  In September I got the urge again but this time I went about it differently, I researched everything from how to start a blog, the cost as well as what it took to maintain it.  This time around I had better results.

My two pieces of advice to new bloggers:

  1. Blog about what you know, if you have a topic that you are passionate about you will never lack for inspiration or information.
  2. Network as much as you can for it will help you to grow your blog, gain useful information and connect with other bloggers.

The bloggers that I nominate for this award are:

https://devouringbooksandlattes.wordpress.com

https://chetnatripathi.com

https://jirahmerizz.wordpress.com

https://hangoutwithlucia.wordpress.com

https://pinkfordays.wordpress.com

https://moneymoneyskills.wordpress.com

https://Thecomicvault.wordpress.com

https://luimariablog.wordpress.com

https://MissAbigail.wordpress.com

https://Confusedthoughts.wordpress.com

https://Msmeehnia.wordpress.com

 

 

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My 200th follower

I have reached a small milestone in my blogging career, I’ve gained my 2ooth follower on WordPress and I am so excited.  I am not exactly sure why, maybe it’s because I have tried to be as diligent as possible as far as keeping with a routine of posting at least twice a week.  My hat is off to those of you that post everyday, my goal is to one day to be as good as you.

I would love to be able to do  that, but there are just some days where I feel as if I have nothing to contribute and I have to wait for the moment to come.  I’m sure there are some of you who can relate to that.  I’m learning a great deal about the blogging community, such as appreciating my “followers” and there is more to networking than clicking the “like” and “follow’ button.

 

Reading others blogs provides me with useful information, I’ve also found that commenting and reading others comments helps me to strengthen my network as I build up my blog.  It can be tedious at times, but when I see the email stating I have a new follower, I feel like I’ve gained another friend and I have – another blogger friend.

My 200th follower  -thanks to all!

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Children are losing sleep at night

When you get a good night’s sleep you wake up feeling refreshed, ready for the day.  But when you don’t get the amount of rest you need, it makes for a long day especially if you are in school.  It is hard to focus, no matter how hard you try, there is an inability to pay attention, because a lack of sleep affects how we act, think and feel.

According to an article that was published in the Journal of Medical Association Pediatrics, children are losing sleep at night because of media devices in the bedroom, and the devices don’t have to be on.  For it was determined that those not using it were still not getting adequate rest because of stimulation from the light of the screen.  This comes from children falling asleep with the device in the bed next to them, this is not a good idea.  Unless the device is shut off, any movement is likely to cause the screen to light up, that is why they should be off and put away for the night.

After combing through various articles I am amazed at the percentage of children that were found to have lost sleep because of the cell phones, tablets, televisions and other media devices.  Waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom is one thing, but to wake up just to check your social media feeds is a bit much.  Because they don’t just check it and get off, they interact and the next thing you know one hour or two or three has gone by and now it’s time to get up for school.

Sleep is necessary, it plays an important part in learning, it affects memory.  I know that as an adult when I don’t get the proper amount of rest, the next day I am irritable, groggy and just an overall feeling of being “out of it”.  I can’t imagine being a child 6 – 19 years old sitting in a classroom tying to absorb information, talk about painful.  But if 72% of children and 87% teenagers have at least one device in their bedroom as reported by the National Sleep Foundation, I feel its wise to look further into this issue before it becomes a serious problem.

Technology is here to stay, we all know that.  It is important that we use it safely, wisely and effectively.  Try to stick to the guidelines of screen time for children, I mentioned it in an earlier post (Out with the old, in with the new).  I know that this is  easier said than done, but children follow what they see, and if they see adults always on their devices, and it could be very well work related, they may feel that its ok for them to do it also.

Enforcing the no device rule at meal times and having a no device area in your home are good ways to start.  Too much screen time leads to increased sedentary behavior which leads to more problems such as childhood obesity.  Getting your child up and moving around is so important.

So remember, if your child is showing up at breakfast with a zombie -like stare AFTER you have called them about 10 times, then you might have a little problem with the devices keeping them up.  You are equipped to handle it, here’s to a good night’s sleep.

 

Posted in benefits of physical activity, children, fitness, inactivity reasons | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Good ole H2O

It is a fact that the body needs water in order to function.  Water is required for it to develop properly because just about everything in the body relies on water.  We drink it to quench our thirst and in turn it flushes out the things that are not good for  us.  There are guidelines regarding the amount of water that should be consumed by children on a daily basis, and it turns out that children are not taking in enough of this clear,  calorie-free drink.

A study was conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and was found that over fifty percent of school-age children were not consuming enough water.  How is this possible?  First let’s take a look at a few things starting with water itself.  What exactly is water ? We all learned in science class that it goes by another name – H20, which is the chemical name for it.  Water is a basic molecule consisting of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom and when these atoms bond together they form one powerful molecule – water, which covers about 70 percent of the surface of the earth.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC)  states that the water that we drink comes from many places such as private wells,  public water systems and bottled water.  This is good information to know, for we should all be aware of where drinking water comes from, how it has been treated and if it is safe to drink.

Barriers to drinking water

Having access to water that is safe to drink can present as a problem for some people.  The problem is that there is  a possibility of contamination from sources such as lead, so much that school systems around the country are now conducting tests for lead in drinking water.  The shocking part is that in some schools the results are coming back positive.  The tragedy in Flint Michigan set off a chain-like reaction where testing took place in schools such as Newark, New Jersey where according to a New York Times article, levels of lead were discovered in the water and the water fountains at 30 buildings, which were shut off until further tests could be conducted.  The  good news with that was that lead was not found in the city water supply as with the case in Flint.

New York  City which is said to have one of the best water systems in the nation followed what Newark, NJ did and found eight fountains at one elementary school contaminated and had them removed.  They conducted further tests and found the rest of their drinking fountains to be safe.  Lead levels have been noted in schools across the country, from an elementary school in California to Jackson, Mississippi. Guardian

The case with the school system is that water from the city supply is not necessarily bad, it’s that the pipes are so old that lead seeps into them causing them to become contaminated.   Bottled water was shipped in for the students and staff.  We have bottled water in our school, all the water fountains were removed.  Having a water cooler is not all that it is cracked up to be, it has its plus as well as minuses.  The plus side is that you are privileged to cool, refreshing water, the downside is that it requires having a cup or something to drink out of.   The students usually get paper cups (the cone-shaped ones), they seem so small to me, that in order for a student to quench their thirst they would have to drink about ten of them.

Provide support

Children need as much encouragement as possible to stay hydrated and it is imperative that they have access to safe drinking water.  It would be beneficial also to reduce the access of sugary drinks.  For instance at school this can accomplished by ensuring water is available in the cafeteria’s vending machine.  At home parents can continue to serve as role models and consume water instead of soda whenever possible.   When you make the snack or lunch for school, add a bottle of water to go along with that juice.  Use every opportunity to promote the need to drink water.

How much water does a child need?

The experts from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated that the amount per day depends on several things such as how much a child weighs, how old they are and whether they are a boy or girl.  Keep in mind that water sources come from many places such as food, as well as fruits and vegetables, so that gives you another reason to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Basically children need about 6 to 8 cups a day.  If they are exercising that should be taken into consideration, they made need to consume more water than they normally would.  If they are indeed physically active they should be drinking about a cup to two cups of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.  Here is a breakdown of the requirements:

Age                                                    sex                                          cups per day

4 to 8                                               girl/boys                                       5

9 to 13                                              girls                                               7

9 to 13                                              boys                                               8

14 to 18                                           girls                                                8

14 to 18                                           boys                                               11

As you can see the older the child the more water they are required to consume.  Now that we know that they are not drinking enough water and how much they should be drinking, what other choices are available?  Coconut water is a very popular drink, and is said to be quite healthy.  My colleagues swear by it, I have tried it but cannot acquire a taste for it.  The fruit smoothies are popular, be sure to monitor how much sugar is added.  Ice tea and lemon-aide are always a good choice, as far as ice tea, I like the ones that have just a little sugar added, where it’s not too bitter, but not too sweet.

Drinking sugary drinks all the time can add to a child’s weight as well as contribute to poor oral hygiene.  Dehydration is not a good thing, it’s not good for the mind for it impedes academic performance and it affects the overall health of a person.

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A heavy burden to bear

Back packs and book bags that are filled beyond capacity are a major concern for young children due to the fact that if they are too heavy, they can cause shoulder and back problems.  In today’s society, families have such busy schedules that the contents of the book bag could very well depend on what is going on that day in school as well as after school, be it a sports team practice, dance rehearsal, you name it.

 

Carrying that heavy load is not good, especially when it is over the shoulder (like I have a tendency to do), wearing it on one side doesn’t allow you to distribute your weight evenly.  Besides shoulder and back pain, carrying an overloaded bag can be a safety issue by causing one to lose their balance resulting in a fall.  In 2013 the US Consumer Product Safety Commission found that in that year alone, there were 5, 415 injuries treated at emergency rooms for back pack injuries.

How to lighten the load

  • Try to pack only the items that are needed for that day, such as textbooks.   My nephew in elementary school used to keep a textbook at home as well as at school, which reduced the weight he had to lug around all day.
  • Make sure the back pack that the child is using is a good fit for them.  The shoulder straps should be sturdy with ample padding, and is big enough to hold what is needed.
  • Backpacks are the best option for younger children.  It helps them to distribute the weight of the bag as opposed to a shoulder bag which would cause an imbalance.
  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic states that the rule of thumb when carrying a backpack – for a child it should not weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of his or her body weight.

It may seem like it’s not a big deal now, but the constant overload can eventually over time turn into a real problem.  So let’s keep that in mind and watch those loads.

Posted in children, stress | Tagged , | 5 Comments