4 Ways to Maximize Your Workout — At Work

Most of us see exercise as a separate time commitment, like we have to go the gym for so long and sweat so much. The truth is that there are a lot of ways to move during the day that count as exercise, and anything that keeps you active and moving is a great way to drop some pounds. Here are some ways to maximize the amount of movement you get during the day.

Take the Stairs

Pretend like the elevator doesn’t exist! If you work on the 20th floor this could be difficult, but start off slow and work your way up. Including this healthy habit will lead to increased flexibility and resilience, not to mention increased muscle mass and endurance.

Park Far Away from the Entrance

The farther away you park from the door, the more steps it takes to get there. Keep this in mind wherever you go–the grocery store, the mall–to get in some more movements. Walking just a quarter mile a day can help improve a sedentary lifestyle.

Take Five for Exercise

Take a five-minute break at work for some energy-building movements. It’s best during those afternoon hours when you feel like taking a nap. Instead of reaching for more coffee, do some active reps, stand up at your desk, or take a lap around the floor. Who cares if you look strange doing lunges down the hallway, you’re staying active!!

Challenge a Friend

If you stay active with your co-workers, you’re more likely to commit to being healthy. I once worked at a place where we would race each other down 12 flights of stairs. This helped keep us awake and was also fun to do with a buddy. You could also wear a pedometer and compete with each other to see who has the most steps. Friendly competition keeps it interesting and fun!

What are some other ways to move and improve at work? Let me know what you think in the comments!



Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Today I’m sharing some ways to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer, since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s important for women to get a mammogram screening as early as age 35, so your doctor can have a baseline image of your breast tissue. Early detection is still so important.

To reduce your risk of breast cancer:

  1. Get vigorous exercise twice a week. High-intensity workouts can cut your risk of breast cancer, and help you stay at a healthy weight. The American Cancer Society recommends that the average adult get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Vigorous exercise should increase your heart rate, make you sweat, and make it harder for you to catch your breath. Don’t pass out, though! The vigorous activity also reduces inflammation and activates natural killer cells, two things that may protect you from cancer.
  2. Choose your water bottles and containers carefully. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in hard plastics like reusable water bottles and other containers. This chemical has been linked to a higher breast cancer risk because it simulates the effects of the female sex hormone estrogen, which can fuel breast cancer. Choose stainless steel and glass containers instead, or look for those that are labeled BPA-free.
  3. Choose the right dairy. Studies from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute showed that women who ate yogurt regularly had a lower risk of breast cancer. However, those who ate more hard cheeses, like American and cheddar, had a 53 percent higher risk of getting breast cancer. Cheese is high in fat, so those women who consumed a lot of cheese may have had less healthy diets and been heavier, which may have led to them getting cancer. Eat your cheese in moderation!
  4. Don’t feel guilty about soy. Some studies claimed that soy was bad for women and could increase the risk of breast cancer, because it was an estrogen-mimicker. However, the majority of research indicates that soy is safe to eat. A Tufts University study showed that women who ate soy actually increased their chances of survival. Soy is found in tofu, soy milk, and edamame.
  5. Don’t be dense. Ask your doctor about the denseness of your breast tissue. Younger women have more dense breasts due to having milk glands and ducts for breastfeeding. If the breast tissue continues to be dense after age 45 or so, then that’s a risk factor for breast cancer. If your breasts are more than 75 percent dense, you may need to do a breast MRI or 3-D mammogram to get screened. These methods are better at detecting tumors in dense breast tissue.

Always be proactive with your health! Get your yearly OB/GYN checkup and regular mammograms as recommended. Early detection helps to save lives!



Are Nurses Fueling the Opioid Crisis?

In nursing school we are taught that pain is the fifth vital sign, next to temperature, respirations, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation levels. We are also taught that pain is what the patient says it is, leading us to constantly ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10. We are asked to re-evaluate their pain after our interventions, leading us to often tell the physician that a patient’s pain isn’t well-controlled. On top of this, our hospitals are reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid based on patient’s pain control through the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. With all this focus on pain, combined with the monetary incentives to control pain, is it any wonder that so many people are addicted to pain medications?

Our intense focus of alleviating a patient’s pain in all ways possible has lead to many patients becoming addicted within the hospital system. When they can no longer get opioid prescription medication, they turn to illegal drugs like heroin. Many of my patients come in with abscesses from heroin injections. According to the American Nurses Association:

  • 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose
  • At least half of all opioid overdoses involved a prescribed medicine
  • Sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, but the overall amount of pain Americans report has not changed
  • Heroin-related overdose deaths have more than tripled since 2010

As nurses, we should advocate for more drug-free ways to relieve pain. After all, pain is a part of life, but so many people are afraid to feel it. There are alternative pain treatments out there, such as meditation, acupuncture, guided imagery, hypnosis, exercise, and so many more. Hospital treatments are almost solely focused on medication, and it’s time for that to change if we want to rid ourselves of the opioid epidemic in this country.