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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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Top tags: physical  Social  Intellectual  Emotional  Nutrition  wellness  inspiration  Occupational  Spiritual  Health  diet  Exercise  Wellness In 10  Emotional wellness  Fun Facts  Quotes  Mental Health  Stress  Worksite wellness  Environment  Mindfulness  physical wellness  Depression  Weight Loss  Sleep  International Wellness  Policy  Children  Obesity  resilience 

Don’t Just Educate People, Legislate People?

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Laws and HealthEducation isn’t enough; fighting cancer requires legislation, too. This is the newest sound bite from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

What could this mean for the average person? There may be more laws that govern buying tobacco products, tobacco product cost, when tobacco products can be used, selling tobacco products, etc. The good news: Having these laws in place is correlated to lower smoking rates. (These laws might be helping you reduce your tobacco consumption or even quit!) 

In a February 2014 report (World Cancer Report 2014, http://www.iarc.fr/en/publications/books/wcr/wcr-order.php), scientists from this organization projected that cancer deaths would continue to increase worldwide at a rate that requires "urgent attention.” The most common causes of cancer deaths will be lung, liver, and stomach cancer.

While poor countries will suffer the increasing percentages to a greater degree, many of the deaths will be avoidable, according to the report. Moreover, the cost of treating cancer will damage even the strongest economies. 

"Avoiding” cancer deaths will involve everything from access to cancer treatments (including diagnosis) to prevention and, most importantly, legislation.

The report found that, especially in wealthier countries like the United States, prevention is good, but prevention and legislation together is better. The report goes on to propose researching similar approaches to regulating other unhealthy resources (e.g., alcohol, sugar, fat, pollution).

For more information on this report visit: http://www.iarc.fr/en/publications/books/wcr/wcr-order.php

Tags:  Intellectual  Legislation  March 2014  Occupational  Wellness Law 

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One Step at a Time to Tobacco-Free!

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

As you may have heard, CVS Caremark will stop selling tobacco in all CVS stores by October 1, 2014.

CVS Caremark’s decision has not gone unnoticed by other retail pharmacies. According to an article by the Supermarket News, Walgreens is evaluating tobacco sales, but will still continue selling tobacco products for now. Rite Aid has a "Committed to Quit” campaign intended to highlight the nicotine replacement and smoking cessation products, but has not announced any plans to end the sales of tobacco.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CVS Caremark's decision to end tobacco sales was fueled by the company’s belief that now is the time for retailers to act. The article goes on to say if other retail pharmacies follow the CVS lead, tobacco products will be harder to get. This move by CVS helps to educate consumers on the idea that tobacco products are contrary to health and wellness.

For more information about changing social norms to reduce the acceptability of smoking check out, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services video and podcast series: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/initiatives/tobacco/sgr50-video-podcast-series.html.

What this means for you: If you or someone you love uses tobacco products, they may find those products to be more difficult to get. Both public and private institutions recognize the undeniable research that tobacco products are harmful to our wel-lbeing and the well-being of those who come in contact with these products through second- and third-hand exposure.

Brennan, Trevor MD, MPH, Schroeder, Steven MD (2014, February 5). Ending Sales of Tobacco Products in Pharmacies in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Retrieved February 6, 2014, from http://jama.jamanetwork.com.ezproxy.uwsp.edu/article.aspx?articleid=1828530

Public Health Service, Office of Surgeon General (2014). The Health Consequences of Smoking--50 Years of Progress, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf

Angrisani, Carol (2014, February 5). Walgreens Evaluates Cigarette Sales. Supermarket News. Retrieved February 6, 2014, from http://supermarketnews.com/health-amp-wellness/walgreens-evaluates-cigarette-sales

Tags:  Intellectual  March 2014  Physical  Social  Tobacco 

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Inspiration: From the Bookshelf

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Heavy: Finding Meaning after a Terminal Diagnosis, A Young Family’s First Year with ALS, published February 2014, provides hope and encouragement to those facing a terminal diagnosis and individuals facing hardship in general.

Summary: After Todd Neva’s diagnosis of ALS in 2010, the Nevas felt that many of the published books dealing with grief did so only after the fact. They wanted to write something about the feelings and emotions that accompany the process of loss…as it is happening. In doing so, they wanted to provide hope, spirit, perspective, and insight to those who faced tragedy and those who are not.

As a preview to the book, below are collection of quotes from Todd and his wife, Kristin, taken from the pages of the book. Both Todd and Kristin believe in God. The practice of wellness only asks that we be connected to something bigger than ourselves. For some this is God, for others it is nature, or an undefined spirit, or something else entirely. In any case, Todd and Kristin’s message is a powerful one.

There is pain and suffering in this world, but there is also joy, and not just suffering here and joy there, but suffering and joy in the very same place. – Todd

I am forced to be humble, receiving help when I am weak and unable to return the favor. Those who help me are fulfilling the Apostle Paul’s admonishment to ‘help the weak,’ and they are blessed. I am blessed to receive their help, but I would still rather have the blessings of giving. I’ll have to find new ways to give. – Todd

It comes down to attitude. I’ve reflected on the past, in light of my condition, that I’ve worried about so much when there was really nothing to worry about, and now that I really have something to worry about, I haven’t many worries. –Todd

I have time to build memories, to live well. My children will see a man who lived to his last breath. Though I have limited physical strength, I can demonstrate mental toughness. So much of life is out of my control, except for my attitude. Shouldn’t this be how we all live, whether we have six years or sixty? I have decided to live well. –Todd

Sometimes swearing feels like the best expression of my anger about our situation. On Sunday, I worshiped in the morning and swore in the afternoon; it did not seem incongruent to me in my situation. I did both with my whole heart. – Kristin

In hard times, I am more desperate, and desperation brings me to God. We all experience hard things. We can dull our desperation with TV, the Internet, alcohol, shopping, or fun while we wait for things to get better. Or, we can come to God. – Kristin

I can’t wrap my mind around God’s sovereignty paired with the bad things that happen in life. But maybe I don’t need to. Maybe the point of the story of the blind man is that God, through His grace, can redeem any situation, and even bring out of it purpose and meaning. – Kristin

Tags:  ALS  Inspiration  Intellectual  March 2014  Physical  Spiritual 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Facts About Sleep

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wellness in 10 is inspired by National Sleep Awareness Week (March 2–9, 2014), sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org).

1. We need different amounts of sleep at different ages. As adults, we need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Make sure to adjust your schedule so you can be fully rested.

2. Sometimes insomnia is caused by stress, but sometimes it can be caused by an underlying medical condition. If you have a prolonged bout of sleeplessness, visit your healthcare provider to make sure there isn’t something more serious occurring.

3. Studies have found a relationship between the quantity and quality of one's sleep and many health problems such as obesity. It may be easier for you to get a good night’s sleep if you make it a priority.

4. According to the Sleep Foundation, three 8 oz. cups of coffee (250 milligrams of caffeine) per day is considered a moderate amount of caffeine. At a moderate intake level, it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated. Think about your sleep when you order a cup of coffee or energy drink late in the day.

5. Gastrointestinal reflux (GERD) is a common ailment that can cause sleep disruptions. If you are having trouble sleeping, one of the following could be the culprit: fats, onions, chocolate, spicy foods, large meals late in the day (2-3 hours before you lay down), your head and shoulders are not elevated enough, you are sleeping on your right side (sleeping on your left side could reduce symptoms), you consumed alcohol, or you smoke.

6. According to the National Institute’s of Health (NIH) (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthysleepfs.pdf), we need sleep, not to rest our brains, but to re-charge our brains. Sleep helps us to think clearly, react quickly, and create memories.

7. Sleep helps us grow. The NIH reports that deep sleep releases more of the growth hormone that triggers growth in children and boosts muscle mass and the repair of cells and tissues in children and adults.

8. Sticking to a schedule can help you improve your sleep so you are not constantly re-setting your biological clock.

9. Relaxing before bed can help promote sleep. Meditate, listen to soft music, read, take a hot bath, etc.

10. According to NIH sleep researchers, if you are lying in bed awake for more than 20 minutes, it might be best to get up and take part in a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy again. Watching the clock may increase anxiety and actually prevent sleep.

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  March 2014  Physical  Sleep  Social 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Facts about Women in Sports

Posted By NWI, Saturday, February 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014

Woman SportsFebruary 5
National Girls & Women in Sports Day
Women’s Sports Foundation


In honor of National Girls & Women in Sports Day, here are 10 fun facts and recent studies about why exercise and physical activity is good for women.

  1. In 1972 Congress passed Title IX as part of the Higher Education Amendments. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance including athletics and sports. Funding for women in sports still faced several roadblocks, lawsuits, and barriers. In February of 1992, the Supreme Court in Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools held that victims may be awarded monetary damages in sex discrimination cases. This case was crucial in putting "teeth" into Title IX, allowing women to find lawyers willing to take their cases because of the possibility of damages awards, and threatening colleges in their pocketbooks if they refused to comply with Title IX.
  2. Exercise lessons the risk of type II diabetes. Study published January 14, 2014, in the online journal PLOS Medicine titled Muscle-Strengthening and Conditioning Activities and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study in Two Cohorts of US Women (http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001587).
  3. Postmenopausal women who followed a healthy lifestyle were at a third lower risk of death, including a 20% smaller chance of dying from cancer. Study published January 8, 2014, in the online journal Medical News Today, titled Diet and exercise: cancer benefits in huge study of women's health (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270843.php).
  4. Tired, moody and pregnant? Exercise may be the answer. Study published August 2, 2013 in the journal Psychology & Health, titled Tired, moody and pregnant? Exercise may be the answer (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08870446.2013.809084#.UtmledLnZR0).
  5. Women should lift weights. Weight lifting has many benefits for woman including reducing the likelihood of osteoporosis and aiding in the reduction of body fat. Click here for more information: http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/women/a/aa051601a.htm.
  6. It is natural for women to breathe harder than men during exercise because woman tend to have smaller lungs. For more information visit the Journal of Experimental Physiology (http://ep.physoc.org/).
  7. Exercise alleviates sexual side-effects of antidepressants in women. Study published December 10, 2013 in the journal Depression and Anxiety titled Exercise improves sexual function in women taking antidepressants: results from a randomized crossover trial (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/da.22208/abstract).
  8. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, P.L. 111-148 of 2010, includes provisions to improve the health of women. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) are the four government agencies that will oversee women’s health initiatives. For more information see the report here: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/federal-report/ACA%20Full%20Report.pdf.
  9. The two most prominent women's leagues in North America (in terms of television and overall media coverage) are the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA.com) and the National Woman’s Soccer League (http://nwslsoccer.com).
  10. Woman to watch at the Sochi Winter Olympics:

Julie Chu, hockey. (Fourth Olympics) 

Kelly Clark, snowboarding. (Fourth Olympics, two medals--gold 2002 and bronze 2010)

Gracie Gold, figure skating. (Works with Coach Frank Carroll, who helped Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek to Olympic medals)

Lindsey Jacobellis, snowboarding. (2006 snowboard cross silver medalist)

Sarah Hendrickson, ski jumping. (Reigning ski jumping world champion)

Lolo Jones, bobsled. (Former hurdles sprinter turned bobsledder)

Hannah Kearney, mogul skiing. (Gold 2010)

Ashley Wagner, figure skating. Reigning two-time U.S. champion) 

Heather Richardson, speed skating. (Currently sits in first place in the overall World Cup rankings for the 1000m)

Julia Mancuso, alpine skiing. (Gold giant slalom 2006, silver medals in downhill and super-combined in Vancouver)

Tags:  Emotional  February 2014  Physical  Social  Sports  Wellness In 10  Women 

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February Inspiration – Choices

Posted By NWI, Saturday, February 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014


We are our choices.
― Jean-Paul Sartre

We don't get to chose what is true. We only get to choose what we do about it.
― Kami Garcia, Beautiful Darkness

We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.
― Ken Levine

If you choose to not deal with an issue,
then you give up your right of control over the issue
and it will select the path of least resistance.
― Susan Del Gatto

Whatever you decide, don't let it be because you don't think you have a choice.
― Hannah Harrington, Saving June

I fell in love with him. But I don't just stay with him by default as if there's no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
― Robert Frost

Tags:  Behavior Change  Choices  February 2014  Inspiration  Wellness 

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Re-teaching Ourselves How to Think and Feel about Consequences for Better Health

Posted By NWI, Saturday, February 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014

ConsequencesA recent study that appeared in the journal Obesity suggested that individuals, in this case students, will make unhealthier choices when the consequences of their actions seem "far off” or detached from the current action.

The researchers, David Just and Brian Wansink of Cornell University's Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition, studied students in school lunch lines. They found students who paid in cash (immediate payment) made healthier lunch choices than students who paid with a school lunch credit card (payment sometime in the future).

While more research has to be done, grownups can take insights from this study.


Think about a habit or behavior you have that you would like to change. For instance, you may want to eat better. It’s Tuesday morning, you are late for work, your mate was a piece of work earlier and you have stopped to get coffee. You order a double mocha, triple whipped cream cup of deliciousness and a "real” blueberry muffin…the morning you’ve had you deserve something better than fat-free. In this moment are you thinking about how a lifestyle of choices like the ones you are currently making could lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes or any other of the chronic illnesses that are tied to poor diet? No…you are solving an immediate issue with consequences (or a payment) that is way off in the future.

February Wellness Challenge: Think of one habit or behavior you would like to change or improve. Just one. Every time you feel yourself wanting potato chips, that cigarette, to skip the gym, all wrapped up in stress and unable to unwind…take five deep breaths and think about the consequence of not correcting that behavior or habit.

"But until a person can say deeply and honestly, "I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday," that person cannot say, "I choose otherwise.”
― Stephen R. Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Tags:  Choices  Emotional  February 2014  Intellectual  Physical  Wellness 

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Tips to Prevent Cancer

Posted By NWI, Saturday, February 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014

In honor of February as National Cancer Prevention Month (sponsored by the American Institute for Cancer Research www.aicr.org and the American Cancer Society www.cancer.org), here are ten recommendations to help prevent cancer from the American Institute for Cancer Research: 

  1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods.
  4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
  5. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
  6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to two for men and one for women a day.
  7. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
  8. Don't use supplements to protect against cancer.
  9. It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months and then add other liquids and foods.
  10. After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.

Tags:  Cancer  February 2014  Intellectual  Physical  Prevention 

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5 Easy Ways to Offer Random Acts of Kindness

Posted By NWI, Saturday, February 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014

KindnessIn Honor of Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 10 – 16 (For more information contact Random Acts of Kindness Foundation,www.randomactsofkindness.org) we offer you a few simple ideas about spreading kindness and joy. Joy, happiness, social interactions and emotional support are all related to our overall wellness. Joy and happiness can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and make us more resilient.

  1. Buy a stranger coffee (or other small items). The internet is strewn with stories of strangers paying extra to cover the person behind them in line. It is a small, unexpected, inexpensive act that brings joy to a stranger.
  2. Take the time to notice what’s around you and compliment someone. It could be someone you know or even a stranger. Kind words can lift the spirit.
  3. If you live in a cold climate, there might be a person who has trouble clearing their sidewalk. They could older or taking care of children or just at work all day. What a nice surprise to come home to a clean walk. If you have co-workers and leave the office first, you may even clean a few windshields.
  4. Leave a small secret gift or note. Is there a team or person at work who is burning the candle at both ends? Lift their spirits by leaving a small gift in their in-box. It doesn't have to be big…from a pack of gum to a muffin…something unexpected might brighten an otherwise stressful day.
  5. Offer help. If you see someone struggling, maybe a parent at the airport with kids, luggage and a stroller that doesn't want to collapse, maybe a shorter person trying to get something off a high shelf at the grocery, maybe someone coming in the door behind you--offer help, hold the door, smile, spread joy!

The news is full of those who are not spreading kindness or joy. Maybe if we all tried to spread joy, just once a day, we could reverse that trend.


Tags:  Emotional  February 2014  Kindness  Social  Spiritual 

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February is all “Heart”

Posted By NWI, Monday, January 27, 2014

HeartEven if you are not a fan of Valentine ’s Day, February is the official month to remind us about all things "heart.”

In February we celebrate…

American Heart Month

Contact your local chapter of the American Heart Association or AHA National Center (www.americanheart.org) for more information.

February 7, National Wear Red Day (also called The Heart Truth—a National Awareness Campaign for Women About Heart Disease)

This event is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Health Information Center (www.hearttruth.gov or www.womenheart.org) or Go Red For Women Cause Initiatives American Heart Association National Center (www.goredforwomen.org/national_wear_red_day.aspx).

February 9 – 15, National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week

Contact the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) Office (www.aacvpr.org).

Here are 10 great things you can do for your heart right now:

  1. Know your HDL or "good” cholesterol, LDL or "bad” cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, weight, and body mass index (BMI) numbers.
  2. Look for ways to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids, which help to decrease inflammation in the arteries surrounding your heart, into your diet: 6 walnuts a day, a handful of peanuts, flaxseed (easy to sprinkle on other dishes), oily fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, oysters, and herring, Omega-3 fortified foods such as eggs, milk, and yogurt…
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables (without covering them in unhealthy sauces and salad dressings).
  4. Take a stress "time-out.” Even if you can only give yourself a few minutes a day, start practicing taking time for you.
  5. Quit smoking.
  6. Have one glass of red wine a day. Resveratrol and catechins, two antioxidants in red wine, may help protect artery walls. Alcohol can also boost HDL, the "good" cholesterol.
  7. Do some exercise and incorporate weight training. You don’t need to be a marathoner…start by leaving a seated position, maybe with a stroll around the block and 8-12 reps of weight lifting.
  8. Reduce your salt in-take to reduce your blood pressure. Salt can be replaced with savory herbs like rosemary and basil for an even better taste.
  9. Sleep. The average adult needs 8 hours a day.
  10. Know your family health history to better understand your risks.

Tags:  February 2014  Heart  Intellectual  Physical 

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