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November is Men’s Health Awareness Month and the Movember Foundation uses the month to bring awareness to and support of those tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide. June is Men’s Health Month; the purpose is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. The following are recommendations that are supported by evidence from scholarly journals and professional organizations and associations to improve men’s health.

Throughout the world, women live longer than men, although this gap varies tremendously in less developed countries. According to the CIA World Factbook, in the United States, average longevity for women is 82.2 years for women and 77.2 years for men, a five-year gap.  Many men have the mentality of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” so if they cannot see or feel an external stimulus, they will think there is nothing ever wrong.  A majority of men are just not aware of what they can do to improve their health and live healthier and happier lives.

At a very least, get vaccinated. Everyone needs immunizations to stay healthy, no matter their age. Even if you were vaccinated as a child, you may need updates because immunity can fade with time. Vaccine recommendations are based on a range of factors, including age, overall health, and your medical history. Ask your health care provider or a pharmacist about the recommended vaccinations.

Recommendations for men’s health beginning at age 20 and beyond

  • Get an annual physical exam by your primary care provider, including blood pressure, and height/weight checks.
  • Annually screen for testicular cancer that includes monthly self-exams.
  • Have cholesterol testing every five years.
  • Screen for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver problems, and anemia.
  • Depending on risk factors, screen for skin cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infection, and alcohol and drug misuse.
  • At 30, screen for coronary heart disease, especially with a strong family history of the disease and/or risk factors.
  • At 40, screen for thyroid disease, liver problems, anemia, and prostate cancer.
  • At 50, screen for cholesterol every five years; annually screen for Type II diabetes; lipid disorders; and skin, colon, and lung cancer. Obtain a shingles vaccine.
  • At 60, screen for depression, osteoporosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and abdominal aortic aneurysm. Have a carotid artery ultrasound.
  • At 70, depending on previous findings, some screenings may be done every six months.

Recommendations for men’s health regardless of age

  • Men have more difficulty handling stress than women, partially because women have better social networks and more friends with whom they can confide. Thus, men should seek out more friends, whether they are male or female.
  • Laughter increases endorphins, thereby increasing longevity. Get a sense of humor and engage with others with whom you can laugh.
  • Avoid tobacco products and non-prescriptive drugs.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure.
  • Research the reliability of vitamins or herbs before starting them. Make sure it is recommended by professionals, not just the manufacturer of the item.
  • Don’t become a workaholic; it increases stress and can lead to health concerns such as hypertension and weight gain. Get a hobby that helps you decrease stress, exercise in the manner you prefer, and seek help with diet to maintain a desirable weight.
  • Men, especially young men, are known for engaging in risky behaviors. Wear seatbelts, helmets when riding bicycles or motorcycles, don’t text or talk on the telephone when driving, and avoid friends who encourage illicit drug use and high alcohol consumption.
  • If sexually active, get tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections. You might think you are safe if you engage in sexual activity with only one person, but that person might be having sexual relations with others, a concept called serial monogamy.
  • The Guttmacher Institute reports that some boys start having sex at the age of 10 and that number increases each year until by the age of 20, 75 percent of men and boys engage sexual activity by the age of 20. Therefore, start safe-sex education at home and in school beginning at age of 10.

Disclaimer: The Men’s Health Awareness views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Excelsior College, its trustees, officers, or employees.

By Larry Purnell, PhD, RN, FAAN

Originally posted on Excelsior.edu

is a long-lasting health condition that affects how your body converts food to energy. Diabetes patients are unable to make enough of the hormone called insulin or cannot use the insulin that is made in their body efficiently.  When this happens, your body can respond in some serious ways that include liver damage, heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body just stops making insulin. These patients are usually diagnosed as children, teens, or early adults. Type 2 diabetes is a result of your body not using the insulin produced in an efficient manner. About 90% of all diabetic patients are type 2 cases. But, through education and prevention, the effects of diabetes on a person’s body can be lessened.

How is food converted to energy?

When you eat food, most of it is converted to sugar (glucose) and released into your bloodstream to provide you with the energy you need to do daily tasks. When your blood sugar levels increase, your pancreas is then activated to release insulin into your body’s cells and use it for energy. Insulin not only helps convert glucose to energy, but it also helps our body store glucose for future energy use.

Diabetes = Broken Process

In some people, the conversion process is interrupted and the message to the pancreas to release insulin into the cells to use for energy is done ineffectively. These patients have trouble balancing the correct amount of insulin in their cells and so therefore have a harder time maintaining energy levels. Diabetic patients try to get rid of extra sugar (blood sugar level of 180 +) through the kidneys and therefore have the need to urinate more often. When releasing large amounts of sugar through urine, it means that there is less available to convert to energy and leads to lethargy, loss of appetite, and excess burning of body fat.

Education & Prevention is Key

For people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, understanding how your body processes sugar and maintains healthy blood sugar levels is paramount. Those with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin shots to keep blood sugar levels even. These patients are unable to reverse this autoimmune disease and solely rely on insulin shots to level out glucose levels. Those with type 2 diabetes can control the progression of this disease by making healthy diet choices and exercising regularly. In some cases, type 2 diabetics also have to include insulin shots or diabetes pills.

November is National Diabetes Month and is a great opportunity to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Maintaining blood sugar levels through diet and exercise as well as becoming aware of the effects of the eating choices you make is key to understanding this disease. For more information on diabetes and how to make good choices, visit the American Diabetes Association website.

There’s no denying that summer has arrived. In fact, the news has been abuzz with Alaska’s heat wave in July that sent temperatures soaring between 20 and 30 degrees above average. When you are caught in the middle of a heat wave, it may seem like there’s nothing you can do to keep cool. But, there are ways for you to beat the heat this summer and stay safe from heat related illnesses.

Avoid the Heat

It may seem like a no-brainer to avoid the heat to prevent a heat related illness but some professions work solely outdoors. In those cases, there aren’t many options for avoiding the heat.  Be aware of the hottest time of day and limit physical activity outside during that time.

Reduce Activity Levels

Plan the most active job of the day to be in the morning when the sun and heat aren’t as intense. Heatstroke can occur when a person engages in strenuous activity for long periods of time in the heat. If possible, arrange workflows to include times of rest and times to visit a cooling station.

Drink Fluids Regularly

The underlying factor in most heat related illness is the inadequate supply of fluids for your body, in other words, drink more water! Heavy sweating depletes a person’s body of fluid and salt and this in turn can cause heat cramps and heat exhaustion. If this occurs, drink cool water or an electrolyte-replacement beverage like Gatorade. To prevent these two illnesses, drink plenty of water before you know you will be outside in the heat so that your body has sufficient fluids in reserve.

Have a Buddy System

When you know you will working outside or even playing outside in the heat of the day, make sure you have someone with you. If you should experience a heat related illness while alone, there would be no one available to offer first aid or call for help. As in the case of heatstroke, confusion and weakness along with fainting and possibly convulsions could occur. These are all series symptoms and require immediate action for treatment. The buddy system gives you a safety net of someone else who can recognize these symptoms and can act to save them.

Take a Dip!

The best way to beat the heat is by cooling off your body. Not everyone has access to a pool when spending time outside in the heat so if that’s the case, use cold compresses or ice and ice packs to lower body temperature. You can also remove excess clothing and spray your body with cool water. If you do have someone with you and you are experiencing a heat related illness, make sure they are watching you if you jump into a pool.

By following these easy tips to beat the heat you can safely be outside when temperatures are at their peak. Enjoy your summer and stay cool!

Ever notice how you can get an overall feeling of well-being after taking a long walk, shoveling snow, dancing, or playing Frisbee with the kids? It’s not just because you can check “get some physical activity” off your to-do list. Turns out, there are physiological reasons why you get that feeling. And for people who suffer from a mental health condition like depression, anxiety or ADHD, exercise can relieve symptoms almost as well as medications, and can sometimes help certain symptoms from coming back.

How does it work? Researchers aren’t completely sure. But we do know that physical activity causes certain substances that affect brain function to kick in. These include:

  • Endorphins– brain chemicals that reduce stress or pain and increase feelings of well-being
  • Serotonin– a brain chemical that affects mood
  • Glutamate and GABA– chemicals that influence parts of the brain that affect emotions and mental clarity
  • BDNF(brain-derived neurotropic factor) – a protein that protects nerve cells in the brain that help control depression-like symptoms

Many people have found that exercise helps keep anger, stress, and muscle tension at bay and can help you sleep, which helps lessen stress, boost concentration, and improve self-esteem. In addition, it can help you cope with challenges in a healthier way, instead of turning to behaviors like drinking alcohol, which can actually make symptoms worse.

Recommendations for physical activity are the same for mental health benefits as they are for physical benefits: try for at least 150 minutes per week. But even one hour a week has been shown to help with mood disorders like depression and anxiety and even substance use disorder. But people suffering from mental health conditions may find it hard to do even that small amount. No matter how much you try to convince yourself to get up and move, you just can’t get motivated.

If this happens, remind yourself that just a walk around the block is a great start. Don’t set yourself up for failure by telling yourself you “should” be doing more. Just start somewhere, and hopefully the benefits you start to notice will keep you motivated to build up from there. Finding an activity you actually enjoy can really help you stay motivated.

There’s no doubt that physical activity is beneficial for mind and body. And even just short spurts are helpful. But if you are having symptoms of depression, anxiety or another mental health condition, physical activity may not be enough. Always talk to your doctor or a therapist if your symptoms are troublesome — you may benefit from medication and/or talk therapy.

Whatever you do to boost your activity level – even taking the smallest of steps – give yourself lots of props. Getting started isn’t easy and staying motivated can be challenging. But try. It just might leave you feeling great.

By Bill Olson

Originally posted on ubabenefits.com


Spring is here! That means it’s time to ditch those Winter layers, and even that excess Winter weight. No matter what your current fitness level, Spring is a great time to refocus your habits and spruce up your routine.

Get a Check Up or a Physical

Before starting any new fitness regimen, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor. Your medical professional will be able to assess any potential risks associated with starting a new fitness routine and may advise you on the types of activities you should try or avoid. For example, if you suffer from low back pain, your doctor can suggest the types of activities that will strengthen your muscles without extra risk of injury, and they may even suggest avoiding certain types of workouts.

Hit the Trails

If you enjoy walking, jogging, or biking, it’s time to take your workouts into the great outdoors. Indoor workouts are convenient, not to mention climate controlled, but it’s time to take advantage of the Spring weather and enjoy those activities out of doors for a nice change of pace. While you’re at it, change your pace! Try increasing your speed or adding in some hills and add the extra challenge your current fitness level.

Sign Up for a Race

Spring is a great time to walk, jog, or run in a charity race. Whether it’s a cause close to your heart, or an event close to home, there are lots of 5K’s and fun-runs to choose from. Try searching on Facebook events for upcoming races. Sometimes the simple act of paying a registration can be all the motivation needed to get your running or walking back on track–figuratively and literally.

Join a Local Team

All work and no play can make for a very boring fitness routine. Try joining a local recreational sports league. Check with your local parks and recreation office for adult leagues. It can be a great way to get fit while making new friends. Soccer, softball, volleyball and even dodgeball are common. If you can find coworkers to join you, consider starting an office team of your own. Bragging rights can be very effective motivational tools!

Start a Fitness Challenge at Work

Start a sports team isn’t the only way to get the office involved. Consider starting an office fitness challenge. It could be something as simple as a “30-Day Water Challenge” or a “Biggest Loser” weight loss contest. The most important part of a fitness challenge at work is the opportunity to motivate one another, to challenge one another, and even to hold each other accountable.

Start by assessing your current fitness level, consult a medical professional as needed, and set realistic goals for improvement. From there, the possibilities are endless.

Heartbreaks are painful, but did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 630,000 people dying from the condition each year. This equates to one in four deaths attributed to this awful disease. The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which is what can cause heart attacks.

CAD is caused when a substance called plaque builds up in a person’s arteries. As the buildup grows, the opening of the arteries gradually closes until blood flow is blocked and the patient experiences a heart attack. While these statistics are sobering, there are several ways we can prevent heart disease. Knowing the “why” about this disease can aid in prevention. First, let’s learn about the big three risk factors of heart disease:

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (HBP) is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. This is what your nurse checks when she puts the blood pressure cuff on your arm and pumps air into it at your check-up. She is listening for the pressure when your heart beats and the pressure for when your heart is at rest between beats. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms so it is very important to keep your annual physical appointments with your doctor and to follow her recommendations if she diagnoses you with HBP.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is when you develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. These deposits can lead to narrow vessels and increase your chance of a heart attack. It is determined through blood tests. While high cholesterol can be inherited, it can also be prevented through medication, diet and exercise.

Smoking

Smokers are four times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers. The nicotine in smoke reduces your blood flow, raises your blood pressure, and speeds up your heart. Quitting smoking will not reverse the damage done to your heart, but it greatly reduces the damage going forward to your heart and arteries.

In addition to the three key risk factors, it’s important to explore what we can do to prevent it. Prevention behaviors can take you from the danger zone of heart disease and put you on the path to a healthy heart.

Heart Disease Prevention

Healthy Diet

According to the Mayo Clinic, simple tips to prevent heart disease by diet include tips like these:  controlling portion size, eating more vegetables and fruits, selecting whole grains, limiting unhealthy fats, choosing low-fat protein, reducing sodium intake, and limiting treats.

Healthy Weight

Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease. One measure used to determine if your weight is in a healthy range is body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight website. When in doubt, consult a physician who can help in calculating whether your health is at risk due to weight.

Physical Activity

Among the many benefits to getting enough physical activity can, it can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. From walking, to swimming, to cycling, adding even moderate activity to your routine can have a great impact on your heart health. Just remember, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.

Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit, and you can find many other helpful resources, including creating a tailored plan to help you quit at SmokeFree.gov.

Limit Alcohol

There’s a good reason your doctor asks about routine alcohol consumption at each check-up. Drinking too much alcohol can drastically raise blood pressure and binge drinking can increase heart rate. For heart health, the medical guidelines state that men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one. Talk to your doctor if you aren’t sure whether or not you should drink alcohol or how much you should drink for optimal heart health.

 

Check out these great resources to better educate yourself and others on heart health:

American Heart Association—Healthy for Good

American Heart Month Toolkit

Heart Health Information

Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease

 

A highly productive person probably doesn’t bolt out of bed in a panic after a short night’s sleep or hit the snooze button several times — they more likely have nighttime habits the evening before which help set them up for success the next day. As a yoga instructor, I know the importance of both sleep and peace of mind. So if you’re looking to wake up well-rested, bright-eyed and actually excited about your day, here are 10 nighttime rituals to help you on your way!

 

1. Unplug to Recharge

Even your beloved smartphones can’t go nonstop without being recharged, and your mind is no different. At least 30 minutes before going to bed, turn off all your devices to allow your mind time to relax and unwind. You may notice the inevitable side effect of feeling more present to enjoy the final moments of your day.

2. “Un-wined”

Put down that glass of vino! “Rose all day” on weekends if you want to, but if you want to wake up alert, focused and productive, avoid alcohol before bed. It can lead to frequent sleep interruptions in the later half of the night as blood sugar levels spike. And those disruptions to your REM sleep can cause next-day drowsiness. Try some herbal tea to wind down instead!

3. Stretch It Out

Take some time to give your muscles and joints a little love! They work hard for you all day and deserve a little TLC each night. Try a few overhead stretches, heart openers and hamstring lengtheners. And don’t forget to open the hips! Preventing physical tension in the body helps keep mental tension at bay as well.

4. Prepare for Tomorrow

Take some time the night before to choose and lay out your wardrobe for the next day. Pack your bag or briefcase too, and don’t forget a healthy lunch! Being prepared the night before makes mornings less hectic and gives you time to consciously ease into your day.

5. List Your “Big Three”

Take just a few quick moments to write out the three main things you want to accomplish tomorrow. Make sure they are achievable tasks that help you elevate your productivity. Think “practice patience” rather than “meet and marry Brad Pitt.” This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you feel successful the next day.

6. Set Aside “You Time”

Budget at least 20 minutes of intentional decompression time before bed. Whether it’s a candlelit shower or reading a feel-good book, give yourself some personal time to celebrate a successful day!

7. Have a Pajama Party

Put on those PJs! Experts say that a conscious transition into “bedtime” mode actually helps your body and mind begin to prepare for sleep. Choose something loose-fitting, cool and comfy for optimal relaxation.

8. Practice Gratitude

Avoid the habitual trap of replaying negative events or encounters from your day over and over again at night. When you’re tired, your brain tends to find things to worry about simply based on your conditioning. Reprogram your mind by taking five minutes to meditate on things you’re thankful for. You’ll find yourself going to sleep feeling content and abundant, which makes for better dreams.

9. Forgive and Forget

Keep a journal by your bed and take a few minutes each night to pour into it anything from your day that you want to get out of your brain. This can be a fantastic mental release as you practice forgiving those who have challenged you during the day. It’s also essential to your well-being that you forgive yourself for any mistakes or mishaps so you can start fresh the next day feeling great about yourself. Get it all out into your diary pages and go to sleep free from swirling negative thoughts.

10. Stick to Your Bedtime

Set an earlier, non-negotiable bedtime for optimal sleep. Getting a full night’s rest (seven to nine hours is the optimal range) gives your body time to replenish. It can help regulate your hormones, recharge your body on a cellular level and refresh your mind as well. A good night’s sleep is one of the best and most scientifically proven ways to enhance our mood, energy and productivity.

by Elise Joan
Originally posted on LiveStrong.com

Understandably, some employers (and employees) have mixed feelings about the gig economy. While many enjoy the freedom gained and overhead saved, others miss office camaraderie and routine. No matter your position, research shows that the trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. By 2021, 9.2 million Americans will work on-demand jobs, and so employers need to start asking themselves how they plan to keep employees of all stripes engaged in office work and culture.

As HR Technologist cautions, employee engagement goes both ways.While employers should be concerned about the reliability and loyalty of their freelance pool, they must also maintain strong relationships with their current full-time employees. Best practices for addressing this include providing similar perks to all workers, using in-depth onboarding services and training, and maintaining meticulously open lines of communication.

It is also important to remember that integration like this can’t happen overnight. Building a strong and diverse team, whether fully remote or mixed, takes time. Many companies are engaging “future ready” practices, so that hybrid workforces can be available whenever a particular company is ready to consider open options. Such practices are rooted primarily in savvy digital platforms, allowing for collaboration and innovation, as well as clear conversations about benefits and salaries. Not only do such techniques strengthen the current team, but they also position organizations as solid competitors for rising digital talent. Finally, remember that talent management isn’t merely an agenda item. It’s also a driving tool for strategic decisions about innovation, growth, and performance ability.

While there is no one established way forward, it’s clear that employers who are cognizant of the growing gig economy trend are able to both deepen and strengthen their current talent pool while looking toward the future.

by Bill Olson
Originally posted on UBAbenefits.com

Since the ACA was enacted eight years ago, many employers are re-examining employee benefits in an effort to manage costs, navigate changing regulations, and expand their plan options. Self-funded plans are one way that’s happening.

In 2017, the UBA Health Plan survey revealed that self-funded plans have increased by 12.8% in the past year overall, and just less than two-thirds of all large employers’ plans are self-funded.

Here are six of the reasons why employers are opting for self-funded plans:

1. Lower operating costs frequently save employers money over time.

2. Employers paying their own claims are more likely to incentivize employee health maintenance, and these practices have clear, immediate benefits for everyone.

3. Increased control over plan dynamics often results in better individual fits, and more needs met effectively overall.

4. More flexibility means designing a plan that can ideally empower employees around their own health issues and priorities.

5. Customization allows employers to incorporate wellness programs in the workplace, which often means increased overall health.

6. Risks that might otherwise make self-funded plans less attractive can be managed through quality stop loss contracts.

If you want to know more about why self-funding can keep employers nimble, how risk can be minimized, and how to incorporate wellness programs, contact us for a copy of the full white paper, “Self-Funded Plans: A Solid Option for Small Businesses.”

by Bill Olson
Originally posted on ubabenefits.com

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard several cases with employment implications during their 2018 session, including the following four cases we covered in detail. (Click the case names to read the full articles.)

  • Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro: Encino shifted the burden of proof in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime exemption cases to the plaintiff, meaning that if employees cannot prove they were misclassified, they will not be entitled to overtime pay.
  • Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis: Epic held that employers may enforce class action waivers in arbitration agreements rather than being obligated to allow employees to unite in a class action suit.
  • Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: Masterpiece argued the key civil rights issues of discrimination versus freedom of religion. Although both sides declared a win, the court simply decided that the law is the law and employers cannot deny equal access to goods and services but also religion remains a highly-protected civil right.
  • Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees: Janus ruled that public sector employees are not required to pay fees to a union they choose not to join, even if they receive the benefits of the union’s negotiations.

Notable cases that SCOTUS declined to hear in 2018 touched on tip pooling, Americans with Disabilities (ADA) leave, age discrimination, sexual discrimination, and compensation during rest breaks.

The overall trend in the 2018 rulings was a tendency to favor employers. This conservative lean of the court was also reflected in its ruling in Trump v. Hawaii, where the court held the president lawfully exercised the broad discretion granted to him under federal law to suspend the entry of people from certain countries into the United States.

What’s Coming Up?

With Brett Kavanaugh’s potential confirmation as the new SCOTUS justice due to Justice Kennedy’s retirement, SCOTUS will likely continue on the conservative trend. The EEOC is speculating that cases potentially on the docket for the Supreme Court next season may be related to age discrimination, equal pay, sexual orientation, and gender identity, including possible appeals of these circuit court decisions:

  • Rizo v. Yovino: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that under the federal Equal Pay Act an employer cannot justify a wage differential between male and female employees by relying on prior salary.
  • EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes: The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employers may not discriminate against employees because of failure to conform to sex stereotypes, transgender, or transitioning status.
  • Kleber v. CareFusion Corporation: The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that an outside job applicant can assert a disparate impact claim under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. (Disparate impact refers to employment practices that appear to be nondiscriminatory but adversely affect one group of protected class individuals more than others.)
  • Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc.: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Other cases being considered include the applicability of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to small public employers, whether the Federal Arbitration Act applies to independent contractors, and whether payment to an employee for time lost from work is compensation subject to employment taxes.

Originally posted on thinkhr.com

Thank you for putting the Plan Document together for us!  It is a big accomplishment knowing that we are in compliance!   Once again we are grateful and thankful for your continuing support and enjoy the relationship that we share.

- Office Manager, Food Distribution Company

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