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dog

Have a Fit Vacation with Fido

While most people picture their ideal vacation as lazing about on the beach getting roasted by the sun and sipping Mai Tais, you are not like most people. If you’re going to take time off and travel, you want to make the most of it and be active during your travels. A great way to stay motivated is to bring your dog along. When you travel with your pooch, the two of you can spend your time exploring cities on walks, traversing hike and bike trails, and generally being more active than your usual lazy vacationer.

Safety First

Whenever you travel with your dog, you want to remain safe at all times. While many dogs love trying new things, they can also be overwhelmed in unfamiliar situations. Always keep your dog on a leash unless you are in a designated off-leash park. To stay safe even when off-leash, be sure your pup has updated ID tags1 and that their microchip has your current contact information. Dogs shouldn’t go to public places without vaccinations and parasite prevention products, including heartworm medicine and flea/tick/mosquito repellant. If your dog gets in a scuffle with another pooch at the park, be careful not to get in between them; instead, work at distracting your dog to get out of the fray as soon as possible.

Enjoy the Open Road

If you’re going to bring your dog on vacation, keep the locale within driving distance. Airlines may technically be able to “ship” your dog to your destination, but the process of crating, drugging, and shipping your dog in an airplane’s cargo hold is traumatic2 for the little guy. In fact, the Humane Society strongly advises against animals traveling in cargo. Beyond the stress that it causes dogs, airlines also have a habit of losing — and sometimes killing — dogs. Instead of risking it, plan a trip within driving distance so you know your dog is in good hands.

A Lot of Personality

Dogs differ in personalities3 just like people do. While some dog owners know their pup would love a day touring microbreweries in the city by foot, others would feel anxious surrounded by all those strangers’ feet and the smell of alcohol. Keep your dog’s personality and how they respond to situations in mind when planning activities. For instance, don’t take a little dog with short legs on a 10-mile hike up a mountain. Or, if your dog isn’t big on water, don’t book an afternoon kayaking in hopes that this time he will get used to it. Remember: this is your dog’s vacation too — he wants to enjoy it just as much as you do.

Take a Breather

While a fun and active vacation is great, don’t over-exert your pup. Even the most high-energy breeds need to rest. Be sure wherever you’re staying is shaded and cool if outdoors or climate controlled if indoors. Always bring a supply4 of freshwater and a travel bowl that your dog is comfortable using. Whether hiking, biking, kayaking, or simply walking around the city, your dog needs frequent water breaks to stay hydrated and healthy. Finally, it’s okay to spend a little time apart — your dog doesn’t have to be the center of the social spotlight 100 percent of the time. If you are staying in a dog-friendly room and only plan to be gone for a couple hours, he should be fine hanging out there for the time being. If you want to take a little longer than a couple hours, look into a local doggie daycare5 or pet sitter that will watch your pup while you shop, go to a museum, or do whatever not-so-dog-friendly activity you want to do.

When you bring your dog on vacation, you can’t sit around and be lazy. Beyond the daily activity a dog needs, you have to be mentally alert and stay on top of their safety. Dogs generally shouldn’t fly — you’re going to want to plan a road trip for this excursion.  Keep your pup’s personality in mind, and don’t put him in a situation that will cause anxiety. Finally, find ways to take breaks so your dog doesn’t get too worn out by this vacation.


Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.

References:

1 Dog Park Safety Tips – Angie’s List
2 United Airlines had most animal deaths in 2017… – Market Watch
3 Dogs Have These 5 Major Personality Types – I Heart Dogs
4 Planning on Taking Your Dog on Your Next Vacation? – Whole Dog Journal
5 What’s the benefit of doggy daycare… – Mother Nature Network

selfcare

Self-Care Is Good For Your Mental Health

Stress and addiction are closely linked together. In fact, stress is one of the key factors(1) of addiction initiation, maintenance, relapse and treatment failure, according to Psychology Today. It is important to differentiate between chronic stress and normal stress. Normal stress can be healthy and even seen as pleasant.  However, chronic stress can have harmful effects on your physical and mental health.(2) One of the biggest sources of chronic stress is in the workplace. As a result, chronic stress can cause employees to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs and alcohol.(3) Luckily, self-care can help you cope with this stress in a healthy way.

Mental Benefits of Self-Care

Self-care has a number of key health benefits. In its most basic form, self-care is simply taking care of yourself. Exercising, for example, can prevent several diseases and disorders including heart disease.(4) However, self-care also has a number of mental benefits as well.

Taking time away to take care of yourself provides you with a way to recharge your batteries. After a long, hard day at work, coming home and taking a relaxing bath can be akin to hitting the reset button. This makes you able to withstand everyday stressors better and enables you to stay focused and more productive when you are working.

But, now that you know the benefits of self-care, how can you actually implement it in your everyday life?

Sleep

Sleep is important for our mental and physical health, but it is very often overlooked. According to ResMed, sleep helps you heal damaged cells, boost your immune system, and recharge your heart and cardiovascular system for the next day.(5) On top of these physical benefits though, getting the correct amount of sleep also has tons of mental health benefits. No one feels 100 percent when they haven’t had enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation can prevent you from focusing, make your irritable, and cause you to crave unhealthy foods. It is hard to deal with even basic, everyday stress when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. To help you get the sleep you need, it is important to have a set sleep routine and schedule. While it might seem like you can get more work done if you stay up, it is generally a much better idea to get the sleep you need and come back to your work later.

Take a Break

Taking a break can be helpful when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. No one can concentrate on one task for long, especially if it isn’t a task that is fun or exhilarating. So, instead of trying to focus on a task for longer than you could do accurately, take regular breaks. This can help you stay focused while you do work and decrease the amount of stress you’re under, especially at work. We recommend taking at least one break an hour and possibly even more if the task you’re doing is particularly difficult.

Eat Healthily

Eating healthy can improve your physical and mental health. Healthy food helps to boost your mood and can keep you from being stressed. Keeping healthy snacks close at hand and having regular meals can greatly enhance your overall mood and your mental stability.

Self-care can do wonders for your mental health and can prevent relapse. By preparing your body to handle stress well, you can keep your outlook positive and handle whatever the world throws at you.


Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.

References:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201705/stress-and-addiction
  2. https://www.verywellmind.com/chronic-stress-3145104
  3. https://rockrecoverycenter.com/blog/work-stress-and-substance-abuse/
  4. https://draxe.com/benefits-of-exercise/
  5. https://www.resmed.com/us/en/consumer/diagnosis-and-treatment/healthy-sleep/what-happens-during-sleep.html
plane-travel

Travel is Medicine for Your Mental Health

Do you know the difference between hard work and overwork? For most professionals, the answer is likely ‘no’. While this New York Times article helps explain the difference, even those who know they are overworking may not know a way out of the trap our professions can put us in.

Pressure put on us because of financial and professional expectations can be overwhelming, and the consequences of this work-related stress can have irreparable health effects. So, if you have vacation days, take them. They serve as the best way to improve your health by escaping the negative effects of overwork, even if it is only temporary.

Work and Health: An Often Negative Relationship

We would all love to have a career that truly mirrors our passions. For most, this is not possible. Even if we are doing what we are good at, or something we truly love, finding the perfect job can be near-impossible. For this reason, most of us face stress related to work that can seem an unshakeable burden.

The Huffington Post explains how the nature of many jobs – even ones not considered to be overly stressful – can have serious health consequences. Sitting, a seemingly unavoidable part of most white collar jobs, puts serious strain on our cardiovascular health. The Mayo Clinic adds how work-related stress can diminish our mental and physical well-being. Those who work jobs that are computer-dependent develop computer vision syndrome (CVS), at a clip of 64% to 90%, according to U.S. National Institute of Health.

All of this is to say, wasting your vacation days means further endangering your health. We arguably take years off of our life just from working, and turning down our vacation days adds to these already unavoidable work-related problems.

The Flipside: How Travel Benefits Your Mental and Physical Health

Travel days aren’t just must-takes because work is boring. Travel can actually provide health benefits that begin to take effect before you even step aboard a plane. That’s right, the anticipation of a trip alone can provide an elevated mood and decreased stress.

Express Travel Clinic breaks down the health benefits of travel into four fairly basic categories:

1) improved happiness

2) reduced anxiety, stress, and depression

3) improved physical health

and

4) an overall healthier mind

Regardless of your current physical and mental fitness, it is difficult to argue that we could not all use more of these travel-related boosts in our lives. This is especially true for those who are in recovery from addiction. Vacation can provide an opportunity for new perspective on life, self-reflection and healing, and the chance to experience activities that could fill the void formerly occupied by your addiction.

Anybody who travels should consider whether or not they want to bring their pet – typically dogs – and this is true of those in recovery, too. The companionship can help provide a sense of responsibility and stave off the urge to return to former habits; they’re a wonderfully rewarding.

Traveling is good for us, there are no two ways about it. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, you name it. The stress we feel from work – especially overwork – can cause irreparable health consequences, both physically and mentally. So, if you have travel days, take advantage of them. And if you don’t, you should at least consider a job that has a more reasonable approach toward your well-being.


Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21480937

Fibromyalgia signs

Living a Happy Life with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Pain

A chronic pain diagnosis can sneak up from nowhere, throwing our lives into a whirlwind. You might feel overwhelmed, depressed or even terrified. Perhaps you’re uncertain of where to turn for help coping with your symptoms.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Hundreds of millions of people live with chronic pain. In the United States alone, tens of millions of individuals suffer from fibromyalgia – just one of many conditions which can cause long-term pain. If you have fibromyalgia, chronic pain or any associated conditions, keep reading for some ideas for how to improve your quality of life.

Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the simplest – yet quickest – ways to manage chronic pain and other troubling symptoms of fibromyalgia. Simply put, when you feed your body wholesome, nutritious foods, you’re giving it the fuel it needs for healthy organ function, fighting off illness, and even healing. Enhancing your diet with a few select superfoods can help with fibromyalgia pain, and you probably already have many of them in your kitchen! Red grapes have a compound called resveratrol that helps keep muscle tissue strong, ginger and cherries have natural pain-fighting properties, and fish rich in omega-3s gives your brain the boost it needs to send relief to tender spots when they send pain signals. Similarly, there are lots of foods that have anti-inflammatory properties – like whole grains, leafy greens, tomatoes and olive oil – which should replace all or most of the processed foods consumed by fibromyalgia sufferers. That’s because the additives in processed foods may increase pain sensitivity, making physical discomfort feel even worse. If you’re enduring chronic pain, it’s critical that you take a look at your diet, and choose nutritious, natural foods over unhealthy, high-processed foods as often as you can.

Despite our best efforts to take care of ourselves, when your health starts to feel out of control, you might find yourself frustrated with your physical body and your life. During these difficult times, experts say it can be helpful to refocus your mind.

Author and transformational coach Sean Meshorer recommends redefining the things that make us happy. Meshorer can speak to the power of the bliss method from his own personal experiences living with chronic pain. This allowed him to develop “the bliss method” which completely focuses on finding happiness, contentment and peace – all without depending upon external factors.

By refocusing our minds to search for happiness within ourselves, we can better cope with our chronic pain. These techniques also help ease the depression, anxiety and fear that can come with our diagnosis, and help keep us from practicing harmful coping methods – like turning to our prescription pain pills – for comfort. In fact, you may be able to ease up some of your pain naturally via vitamins B, C, and D. If you aren’t already taking a vitamin supplement, it is worth looking into. There are several trusted brands, such as Ceregumil Vitamix Plus, which are great for joint pain.

Dr. Joseph Christiano, ND, CNC, agrees. “Refocusing the brain, using mental imagery, and practicing [breathwork],” he says, “are a few of the many techniques used for managing chronic pain in order to thrive while moving closer to pain-free living.”

Once you begin shifting your attention to the positive aspects of your life, you’ll find it easier to tap into your own potential for happiness. This is a skill that can be learned. Start by getting a piece of paper and a pencil, and creating a list of all the enjoyable things you can still do despite your chronic pain diagnosis.

Your personal reasons to stay positive might include having a warm, loving relationship or finding creative, new ways to serve humanity. Write down your favorite show to binge on Netflix. Be sure to include relaxing in bed with high thread count sheets, if that’s your ideal day. Whatever it is that brings you joy, write it down – and don’t be afraid to get creative. These are the things that will give you hope each day.

Many people also find a sense of calm, purpose and well-being by helping others. For some of us, that could mean blogging about our illness, with the underlying hope that others with chronic pain will realize they’re not alone. If you’re not a writer, you can still help others by donating to your favorite charity or finding other ways to help those in need.

Why are these techniques so powerful? The answer might have something to do with cortisol, the stress hormone. Many doctors now screen chronic pain patients for cortisol levels. Cortisol levels can be naturally reduced through lowering environmental stress factors. Activities such as yoga, meditation and massage also help by stimulating a calming neurotransmitter in the brain.

As you can see, there are various ways to cultivate hope and happiness, even with a chronic pain diagnosis. From yoga to bodywork, from acupuncture to meditation, try a variety of practices until you find something that works for you. As always, check with your doctor before trying any new activity or holistic treatment method. You’ll want to make sure it is safe for your personal condition, and that it won’t contribute to further pain or illness.

If you have a chronic pain diagnosis, you can still live a blissful life. Don’t give up; use the tips above to train your brain. Keep searching for things that bring you joy. Your body and mind will thank you for it.


Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.

References

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html
http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/diet-tips-fibromyalgia
http://bodyredesigning.net/how-to-thrive-when-battling-chronic-illness.asp
https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/pain/cortisol-screening-chronic-pain-patients
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/eating-healthy-important-7166.html
http://www.aarp.org/food/diet-nutrition/info-03-2011/pain-fighting-foods.html
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html
https://www.healthcentral.com/article/vitamins-b-c-d-may-prevent-pain
http://www.drugrehab.org/the-45-warning-signs-of-prescription-drug-abuse/

Electronic bathroom scale and glucometer with result of measurem

How You Can Fight Diabetes At Home

Unfortunately, diabetes is becoming a common disease in the United States and elsewhere. Some of that is genetic since you are at a higher risk if your parents had the disease, but an unhealthy lifestyle can contribute to it as well.

When you received your diagnosis of diabetes, you had to make some immediate changes to keep your blood sugar in check. Taking prescriptions and insulin will help, but there are some things you can do right at home to stay healthy and keep your glucose levels in the right zone. But do you know exactly why that’s so important?

What Uncontrolled Diabetes Can Do

How do you know if your diabetes isn’t under control? The best way is through your testing kit. That’s why you need to regularly test your blood glucose level. But Everyday Health lists some other signs of uncontrolled diabetes you should be on the lookout for:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Sores or cuts that heal slowly.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Is having such high blood sugar that bad? You know that the long-term effects include vision loss and losing sensation in your feet, but those are so drastic that it can be hard to accept them as real. Here are some other problems that come from uncontrolled diabetes:

  • Difficulty using your bladder and bowels.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Bleeding gums and gum disease.
  • Blurry vision or seeing dark spots.
  • Dry, itchy, or cracked skin.
  • Pain in your extremities.
  • Muscle aches and pain.

Simple Changes To Your Diet

With all that can go wrong with uncontrolled diabetes, it’s not hard to see why you need to work on keeping your blood sugar in check. Besides taking prescriptions as ordered, you can do this by making some changes to your diet.

One of the most obvious is lowering the number of carbs you eat. That can be hard, especially since sugar and carbohydrates are addictive. Healthline.com has a great list of ways you can reduce your carbohydrates at home:

  • Stop drinking regular soda and other sweetened drinks. These are a major source of sugar, so eliminating these can really help your diabetes.
  • Cut back on the amount of bread, pasta and rice that you eat.
  • Give up fruit juices like orange juice or apple juice. Although they have good vitamins, they’re also full of sugar.
  • When you snack, focus on protein and fiber.

But eating well means more than cutting back on carbs. Here are some other tips for a diabetic-friendly diet:

  • Eat more non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or salad greens.
  • Make alcohol a rare treat, as beer and wine have a lot of carbs in them.
  • Add more lean protein on your plate, especially fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Exercising With A Home Gym

Besides eating better, you need to get some exercise. Not only will this help reduce your blood sugar levels, it can keep your body healthy — and diabetics need that more than others. But you don’t have to buy an expensive gym membership. In fact, you can create a gym in your own home. Redfin explains there are a few home gym essentials to focus on, including:

  • Dumbbells and kettlebells: easy to use and very versatile
  • Yoga or pilates mat: makes exercising more comfortable
  • Resistance bands: inexpensive and provide a lot of exercise benefits

In addition, look into apps and devices like Fitbits to help keep you motivated by seeing the results of your efforts.

Get Diabetes Under Control

Having diabetes is annoying, but there are many ways you can keep your blood sugar under control. Know the signs of high blood sugar, and make some smart choices with your diet. Then start exercising at home. This way, you can stay healthy for many years to come even with diabetes.


Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. He believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.
Seniors-by-pool

How to Maintain Physical and Mental Health After Retirement

Did you know that 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring from their careers every day? This enormous wave of new retirees has been steady as the cohort hits the 65-year-old mark, according to the Pew Research Center and the Social Security Administration. When retiring, it is important for seniors to focus on staying physically and mentally healthy to keep up their quality of life. Seniors not only want to live longer, but they want to age well.

Exercise 

Being physically active is one of the best things seniors can do for their health. Research has shown that just 15 minutes of exercise each day can boost longevity, ward off depression, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and decrease the risk of chronic illnesses.

Physical activities such as stretching, strength training, balance exercises, and aerobics will build endurance and flexibility. Try to incorporate a routine that includes walking, swimming, or cycling five times a week. Seniors can also participate in exercise classes at local community centers and YMCAs.

If older athletes want to remain competitive, they can train for local marathons or even compete in the National Senior Games.

Speaking of games

Seniors also can engage in games such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles to help sharpen their brains and prevent memory loss. AARP provides a variety of online games and apps for tech-savvy older adults.

Card games and bingo also may build bonds and a little friendly competition with other seniors. Retirees can invite friends over for a monthly game of Bunco.

Furry friendship

Contact with a pet can prevent loneliness and isolation for seniors who may have lost a spouse or have adult children far from home. Walking or playing with a puppy is a great source of exercise and eases the pain of arthritis. Dogs also can protect seniors in their homes. Even the barking of small dogs will deter burglars.

Volunteers can train their pets to become therapy dogs to visit long-term care facilities. Seniors will find joy in interacting with caregivers, as the therapy dogs become great conversation starters. Companionship with a dog is a great mood booster and provides emotional support.

Growing technology

Although many older adults do not adapt to technology as quickly as millennials, there is a movement to create easy-to-use, high-tech products geared toward health and safety. Falls are the leading cause of injury or death for seniors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contributing to about 27,000 deaths annually.

Fall-detection wearables that call for assistance have been around since the late ‘80s, but some companies have created more attractive and sleeker devices for seniors. For example, companies have designed smartwatches that can monitor the owner’s heart rate and step count and can call a designated family member if the wearer falls.

“Alexa” the digital assistant built into Amazon’s Echo also can help seniors to set reminders to take medications as well as adjust lights and thermostats in their homes.

These gadgets will alleviate the stress for family members and maintain seniors’ privacy.

Vacations for seniors

Retirees might be out of the workplace, but that doesn’t mean they should stop taking vacations. Seniors have more time and can avoid the crowds in places including the Caribbean, Hawaii, or Alaska.

Older adults also might want to consider vacationing to places that are English-speaking destinations in case they need to request medication or access to a doctor. Look for vacation packages that offer senior discounts.

There are many ways that seniors can maintain their mental and physical health after they retire. Steps seniors can take include exercising, playing games, spending time with a companion animal, and taking vacations.


Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. He believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.