All posts by Holly Riker

It’s HOT Out There: Exercise Safe!

July and August can be some of the hottest months in South Dakota. Along with a drastic change in temperature, many individuals participate in a variety of different sports and spend prolonged periods of time in the sun during this seasonal change. The human body serves as a great temperature regulator, but without practicing proper safety precautions, it is possible for the body to overheat.

Exercising in the heat increases your sweat rate, fluid loss, and your risk for dehydration. Sweating is how your thermoregulatory system within your body cools you down. If you become too hot, it is hard for your sweating rate to keep up and keep body temperatures down. Thus, with the increased temperatures outdoors, there is an increased risk for heat illnesses. Additionally, children are less efficient at regulating their body temperatures and can become overheated and dehydrated much quicker than an adult. If you as an adult feel hot, your child probably feels a lot warmer.

Common Heat Illnesses

Common heat illnesses include heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Below are some common signs and symptoms for heat illnesses:

  • Heat Cramps: Muscle twitching, cramps, spasms
  • Heat Syncope: Pale skin, slowed heart rate, slowed breathing rate, nausea, weakness
  • Heat Exhaustion: Excessive thirst, dry tongue/mouth, fatigue, weakness, nausea, slightly elevated temp, mental dullness, excessive sweating
  • Heat Stroke: Central nervous system abnormalities (i.e. fatigue, confusion, headache, possible loss of consciousness, etc.), decreased or lack of sweating, rapidly increased heart rate and blood pressure

Safety Considerations

When engaging in physical activity during hot summer days or if you are going to be in the sun for prolonged hours follow these safety precautions:

  • Wear loose-fitting, breathable, light-colored clothing
  • Monitor hydration/fluid intake:
    • Drink plenty of water – even if you don’t feel thirsty!
    • Take frequent water breaks, especially during intense physical activity
    • Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as pop or soda
    • Drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes can also be consumed
  • Find shelter in shaded areas
  • Watch for signs and symptoms of heat illnesses (above)
  • Avoid physical activity during peak heat, instead try early morning or late evening times
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Rest often and take it easy

Be mindful and pay attention to your body, if you suspect a heat illness seek medical help immediately. Dizziness, cramps, nausea, vomiting, confusion and headaches are all causes for alarm. If you need to, move your workout indoors for a few days.

Additional Resources

See more at iGrow

Why Walk 20 Minutes?

There are mountains of research, tons of studies, and endless reports stating Americans need to be more physically active. Of course, the truth is – most of us already know we should be more active – it can’t hurt right? But, it seems like everywhere you turn there’s different advice on how much exercise is the right amount. Which is why finding the right amount of physical activity, combining it with the right intensity level, and balancing that with the rest of a busy life can feel a tad overwhelming.

why_20_minz

We do our best to keep up with the latest research and recommendations and here are some of the reasons adding about 20 minutes of physical activity to your daily routine makes sense to us and why we think it’s a good goal to start you on the path to better health:

1. South Dakotans Need More Physical Activity
According to South Dakota’s 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, only 18.4% of adults achieved the recommended level of both aerobic and muscle strengthening physical activity, and 25.8% of adults are getting NO physical activity outside of work. What’s even more concerning is that 72% of South Dakota youth (9-12 grade) does do not get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity. Bottom line, we all need to get more exercise.

We checked in with South Dakotans on the subject and here’s what we found:

Walking works.
When we think about adding exercise to our list, walking is the number one activity of choice, and the one we are most likely to engage in most often.

Walking is more fun with someone.
Friends, family, pets, or co-workers make walking (aka: exercising) easier, something we can look forward to, and something that we will do more regularly.

Walking covers a lot of bases.
No special equipment or membership required. You can walk fast, slow, up, down, in or out. No matter what your personal level of fitness, walking is something that almost everyone can add to their daily routine.

2. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Goal: 150 Minutes Per Week
The federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion works with a variety of federal and state agencies and keeps track of all kinds of data. Based on this data, they have recommended Americans increase the amount of physical activity we get. Specifically, for adults, they recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous intensity.

That might sound a little intimidating, but when you break it down… it’s really only about 20 minutes per day.

150_minutes_breakdown

3. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities
Recently, the Surgeon General also weighed in on the need for more physical activity, pointing to the numerous health benefits of walking with a Call to Action to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities. And, because walking is one of the easiest and most common forms of exercise, it only makes sense to make walking a national priority.

4. Take The First Step – About 20 Minutes At A Time
There are plenty of sources, reports and recommendations pointing to walking as an easy way to increase levels of physical activity. And most experts will agree that adding between 20 and 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine is a good place to start. The best part about walking for about 20 minutes a day is that it’s an attainable goal. It’s long enough to provide a number of benefits to your overall health, and short enough to fit into your regular routine.

So what are you waiting for? Take the first step, grab a friend, and take a walk! All you need is about 20 minutes! Walk, walk, walk!

Sources & Other Helpful References:
2013 South Dakota Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
Get Movin’! Infographic
South Dakota Physical Activity Study
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
HealthyPeople.gov
Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Promote Walking and Walkable Communities
America Walks
EverybodyWalk!

More Communities Encourage Breastfeeding-Friendly Businesses

Rapid City Regional Health has taken the pledge to be a Breastfeeding-Friendly Business. All 48 South Dakota Regional facilities are showing their support for breastfeeding moms by creating breastfeeding-friendly environments for both patients and employees. Rapid City Regional Health is the first healthcare system in South Dakota to take the pledge system-wide.

“As healthcare providers, we at Regional Health know how important breastfeeding is for mother, baby, and family,” said Shanon Waldner, Director of Women and Children Services. “We have certified lactation consultants in Rapid City and Spearfish to help new mothers. All of our postpartum nurses are trained to assist with breastfeeding, and we have outpatient services available in Rapid City and Spearfish.”

Rapid City Regional Health, along with a number of Black Hills area businesses, were inspired to join the movement that has been working its way across the state and now includes nearly 100 cities and towns.

The Breastfeeding-Friendly Business Initiative, launched in 2015, aims to make breastfeeding in public and pumping at work a non-event. Breastfeeding provides many health benefits for both mom and baby, but it’s also good for business:

  • Breastfeeding mothers are more likely to patronize businesses where they feel comfortable.
  • Businesses with breastfeeding programs have higher employee retention rates.
  • Breastfeeding moms miss work less often.
  • Breastfeeding moms report higher work satisfaction and productivity.

Businesses can take the pledge to:

  • Provide a welcoming environment where breastfeeding mothers are able to breastfeed in public spaces within the business.
  • Encourage a welcoming attitude from staff, management, and to the fullest extent possible, other customers.
  • Place the Breastfeeding Welcome Here window cling in each public entrance to the business establishment.
  • Accommodate breastfeeding employees to allow appropriate time and space necessary to pump, to best of their ability.

Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding-friendly environments and take the pledge to join the over 600 pledged businesses in South Dakota.

In 2015, Brookings was selected by the South Dakota Department of Health as the pilot community for the Breastfeeding-Friendly Initiative. Aberdeen area businesses joined the initiative in 2016. For more on how these communities adopted the initiative, download their press releases and press kits.

Rapid City Regional Health Press Release

Aberdeen Press Release

Brookings Press Release Packet

Walking Toolkit: Improve your health, well-being & quality of life

Did you know that walking is the #1 physical activity of choice for South Dakotans? We walk for fun. We walk for exercise. We walk for transportation, and we walk to connect – with each other and with our environment. This toolkit is for anyone who wants to walk more and inspire others in their community to Get Movin’!

Learn what walkability is, why it matters and how to create more access to walkable areas. Learn the basics of starting a walking program and find lots of resources to help make walking easy and fun for everyone.

We’re challenging all community leaders, health champions, wellness directors, worksite wellness coordinators, healthcare providers and walking enthusiasts to download, read up and… Walk! Walk! Walk!

Make Better Choices at the Vending Machine: Learn the Munch Code!

With so many food options available to people on the go, it’s hard to know what a good choice is, especially when it comes to vending machines, snack bars and concession stands.

The Munch Code is a color coded labeling program reminding us that snacks in the GREEN category are the healthiest and we can “Eat a bunch!” YELLOW foods may have added sugar, fat or calories and we should be careful to have “Just a little!” Foods falling into the RED category are on the “Not so much!” list and should be avoided.

The Vending Munch Code (South Dakota Healthier Vending and Snack Bar Toolkit) was developed to help make it easier to choose the right snacks.

Our hope is, that over time, this simple color code will make it easier for anyone who snacks between meals to make healthier choices that can ultimately impact their health. When we snack healthier, we eat healthier!

Visit the Munch Code Vending section on Healthy SD for more information!

South Dakota Physical Activity Study 2014

At 53.7%, South Dakotans recently surpassed the National median (50.6%) when it comes to meeting recommended physical activity guidelines for aerobic exercise. However, we still rank lower than many of our surrounding states. Studies have shown that 71% of “inactive” South Dakotans are either overweight or obese, putting them at significant health risk. In November 2014, Healthy South Dakota commissioned a statewide telephone survey, the purpose of which was to provide information about “inactive” South Dakotans and in so doing, discover why it is that they are inactive, what types of physical activity they would be most likely to do repeatedly, and what it would take to persuade/motivate them to do so.

The Surgeon General recently released a Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities, and the South Dakota State Plan for Nutrition and Physical Activity 2015-2020 goals include the adoption of healthy community design principals and access to places and spaces to be physically active. The Physical Activity Phone Survey Highlights offers some insights into what our top priorities should be.