Blog

Category

Close
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Showing 0 results
Evidation Highlights
September 28, 2022

Community Results: What types of things influence how we feel day-to-day?

3 minutes

How do things like day of the week, time of day, sleep, and exercise influence how Evidation Members feel on a day-to-day basis? Find out in our latest community insights blog post.

We’ve been asking our members how they feel every day since June, in what was previously called the Daily Mood Survey. We’ve since renamed this offer to the Daily Check-In, and we’re excited to share an update on our findings. 

Screenshot of the daily check-in offer in the Evidation app

In our last community results post, we talked about the connection between how you feel and your activity levels. Since that last post, the percentage of responses for feeling “Good” has gone up—from 57% to 61%. See average results for July and August below:

  • Good: 61%
  • Okay: 33%
  • Bad: 5%

With over 7.7 million responses to-date, today we’ll take a deeper dive to see how things like day of the week, time of day, sleep, and exercise relate to how our members feel day-to-day. 

Day of Week & Time of Day

The last community results post showed that when it comes to how members feel, the "best" days were Saturday and Sunday and the "worst" days were Monday and Thursday. 

What has continued to ring true is that people are generally in good spirits on the weekends—Saturday and Sunday remained the "best" days for responses in July and August.

However, alongside Monday (no shock there), Wednesday replaced Thursday as one of the two “worst” days in terms of how people felt.  

But what about time of day? We found that the hours of the day when people respond most optimistically are mornings and early afternoons, specifically:

  • 9AM-10AM
  • 12PM-1PM 

For the time periods above, Good = 62%.

We can compare this to the least optimistic hours, which are 12AM-4AM (Good = 55%).

Amount of Sleep

For members who track their sleep, we took a look at how the amount they sleep in a given night affects how they feel the next day. 

We found that when members slept at least 7 hours the night before, they were more likely to respond that they felt good the next day (56% vs. 52%). 

This indicates that people feel better when they get an adequate amount of sleep.

bar graph showing the number of hours slept and the responses for how members felt: good, okay, or bad

For example, if Evidation Member "Sally" sleeps less than 7 hours on August 1, and more than 7 hours on August 2 she is more likely to respond that she feels good on August 3, which is the day after she slept more than 7 hours. 

If we combine "Sally's" data with data from all of our members, we find that members are about 7% more likely to feel good on days they slept for more than 7 hours.

Exercise

For members who’ve connected their workout data to Evidation, we wanted to see if working out affected how they felt in the 24 hours post-workout. 

We found that members who worked out in the 24 hours prior to their response were more likely to respond that they felt good (65% vs. 59%). 

bar graph showing how members felt on days they worked out and days they did not

Additionally, this finding lines up with a survey we shared in August asking our members if they felt better when they were more active. Out of 40,000 responses, 91% of members responded "yes".

Want to receive personalized insights for how things like sleep, exercise, and more affect how you feel? Connect an activity app or wearable to your Evidation account, and be sure to answer the Daily Check-In offer (found on the app home screen) as regularly as possible. 

Better yet, you’ll receive more points to reach your 10k point goal!

The Daily Check-In offer is only available in the app at this time. If you typically log in on the web, be sure to download the app.

In the News
September 26, 2022

Mesothelioma Awareness in the Military Community

3 minutes

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer found in the lining of the organs - often in the lungs or abdomen, but can also be found around the heart or testicular area

Mesothelioma Awareness Day is September 26th - a time dedicated to spreading knowledge, education, and support to those diagnosed or at-risk for asbestos-related cancer.

For decades, products containing asbestos were used across the U.S. military for its low cost and fire-resistant qualities. Once its harmful health effects became known, asbestos use decreased, but it’s still found in many products and materials in use today. Studies show that asbestos exposure is still a problem, even after the widespread ban enacted over 40 years ago. 

To support our military community, in today’s article we’re breaking down everything you need to know about this service-related condition and the steps you can take to help spread awareness about veterans and mesothelioma.

What is mesothelioma? 

Who is at risk? 

What symptoms should you look out for? And what type of support options are available? 

Keep reading to learn more.

What is Mesothelioma? What causes it?

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer found in the lining of the organs - often in the lungs or abdomen, but can also be found around the heart or testicular area. Unfortunately, people with this form of cancer will not show symptoms until the cancer has progressed.

Because this cancer has a period of up to 50 years before the first onset of symptoms, the average life expectancy after prognosis dwindles to between 18 – 31 months.

Mesothelioma develops after being exposed to a small, fibrous mineral called asbestos. When inhaled or swallowed, these tiny fibers attach to the lining of the body’s organs called the mesothelium. Depending on where the mesothelioma develops, will determine the type of mesothelioma that’s diagnosed.

Who is at risk?

Anybody who has ever been exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing mesothelioma. Large quantities of asbestos products and materials were used in every branch of the military. Today, 30% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are veterans.

Women in the military community are particularly at risk. As our recent highlight shows, women tend to delay their own healthcare due to childcare issues, distance, and scheduling conflicts.

But veterans aren’t the only ones at risk of mesothelioma - family members of veterans could also have been exposed to asbestos through the clothing, body, and hair of a person close to them. Even the simple act of washing a contaminated uniform could have put a person at risk.

Alongside the military community, industrial workers in construction or shipbuilding, firefighters, miners, and mechanics are equally at risk of asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma.

Symptoms and diagnoses

General symptoms of mesothelioma cancer can include:

  • Chest pain or abdominal pain
  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Symptoms of mesothelioma appear once the cancer forms tumors and starts to spread. However, symptoms are commonly misinterpreted as other diseases - making it harder to determine the correct prognosis.

Tracking your health and being aware of the risks and symptoms of asbestos-related mesothelioma is the key to early detection and positive health outcomes.

Treatment & support options

One of the best ways to improve your health outcome is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet, when able. A combination of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation, or surgery are common treatment plan options.

Experimental therapies are available to qualifying patients through clinical trials. Alternative medicines are another path to consider.

Alternative medicines include:

If you, or a loved one, are a veteran with mesothelioma or have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, there are several resources available.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers resources for veterans with mesothelioma such as disability, pension, and healthcare benefits. Veteran dependents can also seek special compensation benefits if a veteran passes away from a disease related to asbestos exposure.

Conclusion

For veterans, every day should be mesothelioma awareness day. Being proactive, knowing the risks, and tracking your health is the best way to help prevent mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Do your part and tell your friends, colleagues, and loved ones about mesothelioma to keep others safe from asbestos cancers and disease.

Fitness & Exercise
September 21, 2022

Yoga Awareness Month: Health Benefits of Yoga

4 minutes

Yoga is great for physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. But it can be challenging to understand the different types and what’s right for you. This Yoga Awareness Month, we’re focusing on sharing information to help you decide what's right for you.

Yoga has become a popular form of exercise in the U.S. in recent years. 

In fact, from 2012 to 2020, the number of yoga participants in the U.S. increased from 20.4 million to over 55 million people.

During National Yoga Awareness Month, we look to shine a light on this powerful practice as a way to improve physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

In today’s article, we’ll be talking about what yoga is, its origin, the risks and benefits, and how you can include yoga practice in your wellness routine.

Keep reading to find out more!

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient and complex practice that stems from Indian philosophy. We can trace its origin back to northern India over 5000 years ago. 

Originally thought of as a spiritual practice, yoga has become a method to promote physical and mental well-being too. Today, yoga is a worldwide practiced technique for spirituality and mental and physical health.  

Classical yoga embodies many elements, but in the United States it places a large emphasis on: 

  • Meditation
  • Physical postures
  • Breathing techniques

There are many different forms of yoga. Some are more physically demanding, and others are more gentle and calming. 

A few of the most popular forms of yoga practiced in the U.S. include:

  • Yin yoga - this is a slower-paced, gentle yoga where you stay in supported positions that are held for longer periods of time.
  • Hatha yoga - Hatha combines a variety of poses with breathing techniques. It is one of the most common forms of yoga practiced today. 
  • Hot yoga - this is a more vigorous form of yoga that's performed in a very humid and warm studio.
  • Iyengar yoga - this practice focuses on detailed and precise movements as well as alignment. In a session of Iyengar, practitioners take different postures while they control their breath.

These are just some of the many yoga practices out there. There are a variety of options to choose from, no matter your experience and skill level. 

Are there risks?

When performed properly and under the guidance of a qualified instructor, yoga is a safe practice.

But are there risks otherwise?

Just like any form of physical exercise, there’s a risk of strains, sprains, and more. But the risk is less likely compared to more physically demanding forms of activity. 

To best prevent injuries from occurring, you should:

  • Practice with a qualified teacher
  • Avoid more dangerous and extreme practices like headstands unless you are physically ready for advanced techniques
  • Be aware of any risks specific to the form of yoga you are practicing. For example, hot yoga, where there’s the possibility of dehydration and overheating. 

What are the benefits?

What are the benefits of yoga?

There are a variety of benefits to practicing yoga. Some benefits might include:

  • Weight loss
  • Stress relief
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved balance
  • Improved quality of life
  • Support for quitting smoking
  • Relieved neck and back pain
  • Relieved menopause symptoms 
  • Improved mental and emotional health
  • Increased ability to manage anxiety and/or depression 

Research suggests yoga can help improve asleep. It’s also said to relieve symptoms of arthritis, and it may even contribute to healthier hearts due to its ability to relieve stress and reduce inflammation. 

If you’re looking to get into yoga, we recommend you find a qualified teacher or Yogi. Being new puts you at risk of making mistakes in your form and technique. 

Following guidance from a professional can reduce the risk of injury, improve the benefits, and lead to a better experience. 

How to take part in Yoga Awareness Month?

How can you take part in Yoga Awareness Month?

You can take part this month by not only educating yourself on the many aspects of yoga, but also by spreading awareness.

You might have a friend, family member, or coworker who's dealing with neck pain, or maybe they're looking to improve their mental and physical health with an all-in-one practice.

Recommending and sharing what you’ve learned in this article can help them make a decision about trying yoga.

You can share what you know in person, or on social media. 

The idea is to spread the word and encourage people to take part.

Conclusion - Yoga Awareness Month

Whether you’re looking to get more exercise or practice a form of mindfulness, yoga could be a great choice for you!

As it increases in popularity, and more studies help us understand the benefits involved with this practice, we’re slowly learning how it can improve our quality of life.

Did you learn anything new?

If you did, make sure to share this article with a friend or family member who you think could benefit from adding some yoga to their daily routine!

Your Health
September 14, 2022

Healthy Aging Month: How to maintain and improve your health as you age

7 minutes

We’re honoring Healthy Aging Month by sharing information and tips to help you stay healthy, active, and happy as you age!

September is Healthy Aging Month - an annual event focusing on the positive aspects of growing older. During this time, we look to highlight the importance of habits that can help you stay healthy as you age. 

Why is this important?

Maintaining good health can help you continue to live a productive, active, and independent lifestyle. 

But what steps should you take to maintain your health?

What areas should you focus on?

In today’s article, we’ll be sharing tips to help you live a healthy, independent, and active lifestyle as you age. 

Keep reading to learn more!

Physical activity

We all know that staying active is key to maintaining our health.

Studies show that exercising continuously can help us live longer. And Harvard Health suggests that exercise can improve quality of life as well. 

But what does that mean?

It means that regular exercise can help you maintain your health, independence, and overall mobility as you age. It may also aid your energy levels, sleep, strength, and more.

Exercise can also reduce the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and obesity and it may even help prevent different forms of cancer like prostate and colon cancer. 

It can also help preserve muscle mass. In a 2019 study, researchers found that moderate to vigorous intensity exercise is a strong part of aiding muscle function in older adults.

So, what can you do to live a more active lifestyle?

Before participating in activities, it’s important to gauge where your fitness levels are. It’s best to start off slow and work your way up to longer and more intense exercise as you adjust and get comfortable. 

Some common forms of exercise include:

  • Cycling
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Playing sports
  • Light to moderate weight lifting 

We recommend you find something you enjoy. That way it’s easier to stick with it!

Healthy eating

Diet can play a huge role in how we feel and function. 

It has a direct influence on health and well-being in many ways. From bodyweight to the prevention of conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes.

It’s best to avoid empty-calorie foods like baked goods, soda, and alcohol. Empty calories may provide immediate energy, but it’s often short-lasting. They offer no nutritional benefits and they don’t build muscle, supply vitamins, or promote the sense of fullness needed to keep energy levels well balanced throughout the day.

It's also best to stay away from trans fats. Trans-fats can lower “good” cholesterol and increase “bad” cholesterol, and they also increase the risk of certain diseases. 

For most adults, a healthy diet includes:

  • Healthy fats - Health experts recommend monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (healthy fats) versus bad fats like trans fats. These types of fats lower the risk of certain conditions. 
  • Complex carbs - this form of carbohydrates digests slower and supplies a long and steady release of glucose (energy) into the bloodstream. This prevents energy crashes and creates longer-lasting energy. Complex carbs also provide more vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are important nutrients in the healthy functioning of the body.
  • Good amounts of protein - every cell in the body contains protein. Protein helps repair and build bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. It also plays a role in regulating hormones and it can aid in digestion.

Some sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, chia seeds, fatty fish, and nut butters.

Complex carbs come from foods like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, whole grains, beans, peas, and even certain vegetables.

Most meat contains protein, but it’s ideal to eat lean sources of meat such as poultry and fish. This prevents the ingestion of bad fats that come from meats like beef and pork.

Protein is also found in non-animal foods like lentils, quinoa, beans, and more.

Getting enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle. It allows the body and mind to recharge. In return, this leads to better energy levels, more clarity, and focus. 

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, memory, and cognitive function. 

In one study of adults over the age of 65, adults who had a poor quality of sleep had a harder time concentrating and problem-solving than those who had a good quality of sleep. In another study that looked at data from close to 8000 people, researchers found that those in their 50s and 60s that had 6 hours of sleep or less were more at risk of developing dementia

Getting a good amount of sleep is also associated with a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, and lower rates of insulin resistance.

But how can you get a better night's sleep?

There are several things you can do to get good sleep. Some of which include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding caffeine close to bedtime
  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
  • Not taking naps later in the day and evening

Finding ways to relax and unwind before bed is also a great way to promote sleep. You can try reading, taking a warm bath, or even mindfulness meditation. One study found that mindfulness awareness practices like meditation actually improved sleep quality.

Avoiding unhealthy habits

Certain habits can be harmful to your health and wellness. A few habits you should consider avoiding to encourage a healthy lifestyle include:

  • Smoking - quitting smoking can lower the risk of certain diseases, improve circulation, and improve your ability to exercise. 
  • Alcohol and other substances - excessive alcohol use can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and more. It may also weaken the immune system and increase the odds of getting sick. 

Mental health

Mental health plays a big role in health and quality of life. Learning to manage stress and depression, and practicing self-care is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Different aspects you should be aware of include:

  • Social isolation and loneliness - it’s important to maintain social connections throughout your life. Isolation and disconnect can inevitably create feelings of loneliness. Studies show that loneliness causes a higher risk of heart disease and depression in older adults. Make sure to stay in touch with family and friends through each stage in life. Scheduling time every day or every week is a great way to maintain social connections.
  • Stress - according to a recent study, cortisol (the stress hormone) levels naturally increase after middle age. This increase in stress may actually cause changes in the brain. Learning to manage stress is key in minimizing its effects. You can do this by meditating, journaling, exercising, or taking part in activities you enjoy.  
  • Depression and mood - depression is often associated with intense feelings of sadness. But sometimes, someone might experience numbness or disinterest in activities they normally love. Depression may also increase the chances of developing dementia. In a study with over 1000 adults, researchers found a connection between the number of depressive episodes a person had and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Depression can be serious, but it's treatable. As soon as you notice symptoms, you should visit a healthcare professional. From there you can determine the best treatment options for you.

If you think you’re in need of immediate help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. Or you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Cognitive health

What is cognitive health? 

Cognitive health is the ability to think clearly, remember, and learn. It can often change with age. Many older adults experience changes in thinking ability and memory. 

Making small changes in daily life can help you maintain and improve cognitive health. In a study with 3000 participants, researchers found that the following 5 healthy lifestyle factors played a big role in maintaining cognitive health:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating a high-quality Mediterranean diet
  • Not drinking large quantities of alcohol 
  • Engaging in mentally stimulating activities like playing games or writing.
  • At least 150 minutes every week of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity

Researchers found that following these lifestyle choices greatly reduced the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease. 

Those who took part in at least 4 healthy lifestyle choices, actually had a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease

Healthy Aging Month Conclusion

Healthy Aging Month is a month dedicated to spreading awareness and educating people on the importance of maintaining health throughout the natural state of aging.

Learning the best practices to improve health as we age can help us live longer, higher-quality lives.

We hope you learned a lot from today’s article and the healthy aging tips we’ve shared. Make sure to share this around in your community, and let people know your biggest takeaway from this article! 

two researchers in a lab examining data with the Research 101 and Evidation logo overlayed
Research
September 7, 2022

Health Research Studies on Evidation

3 minutes

In 2018, Evidation launched the DiSCover Program, a study designed to help us gain a better understanding of what it’s like to live with this condition. More than 10,000 members participated in the program over the course of a year. 

With almost 5 million members, we’ve been able to launch a variety of health research efforts that study topics like chronic pain, how people use their wearable devices, and sleep patterns. 

We've partnered with healthcare and life sciences companies to launch large-scale research programs that look at type 2 diabetes, heart disease, the flu, Alzheimer’s Disease, and most recently COVID-19, to name a few.

With over 77 research publications, we’d like to highlight two notable studies to give you a better idea of the impact our members have when they decide to participate in a study.

DiSCover Program (Digital Signals in Chronic Pain)

About 50 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. 

In 2018, Evidation launched the DiSCover Program, a study designed to help us gain a better understanding of what it’s like to live with this condition. More than 10,000 members participated in the program over the course of a year. 

We looked at patterns in activity levels and asked participants to take daily surveys in order to get a better understanding of the day-to-day impact of living with chronic pain. 

Here’s what we learned from these participants:

  • Chronic pain had an impact on participants’ physical activity. On average, they were about 25% less active than those without chronic pain.
  • Chronic pain affected participants with many different conditions (for example, fibromyalgia, cancer, arthritis, etc.).
  • To manage their pain, participants used a wide range of treatment options from over-the-counter pain medications and prescription opioid medications to meditation apps, medical marijuana, and acupuncture treatment.
  • Participants with chronic pain reported lower quality of life and had higher rates of depression and anxiety symptoms than those without chronic pain. 

Through their participation, these study participants helped our researchers understand their lived experiences with chronic pain.

COVID Signals Study

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Evidation and our study partners launched the COVID Signals Study.

Over 800 individuals who were at higher risk of getting COVID-19 (for example, doctors, nurses, and first responders) joined the study. They provided data from wearables, lab tests, and surveys for over 3 months. 

Together, these participants completed: 

  • 59,485 daily surveys 
  • 7,571 weekly and monthly surveys
  • 6,328 weekly COVID-19 test kits
  • 841 final surveys

This information is helping us explore if there are ways to predict when someone might be sick, and what their recovery might look like. 

How can I learn more?

These are just a couple examples of how participants like you make research possible. As a result, individuals living with conditions like chronic pain, COVID-19, and others can potentially benefit from this new research. 

Want to know more about any of our Evidation Studies and how to get involved? Check out How to Get Involved in Evidation Studies, or reach out to us at study@evidation.com and one of our friendly team members can help you get started. 

If you want additional general information on health research, we recommend checking out the following public resources: 

Fitness & Exercise
August 31, 2022

Health Mythbusting: is 10,000 steps a day really the magic number?

5 minutes

10,000 steps is the magic number…or is it? We take a look at the science behind this common health myth and break down how many steps you really need in our latest post.

According to the CDC, walking is the most popular form of aerobic physical activity. 

From maintaining a healthy weight to strengthening bones and muscles, walking is a powerful way to take care of your body.

And many of us have heard that we should aim for 10,000 steps a day to really see health benefits.

But is there truth to this?

Or is it just a myth? 

In today’s article, we’ll be diving deep into the concept of whether 10,000 steps a day is the magic number for health or not. We’ll share where this idea comes from, whether it truly is the magic number, and more. Keep reading to learn the truth!

Where does the 10,000 steps a day idea come from?

Whether you heard it from a friend, or read it on a fitness app, this message has been circling the health community for some time now. 

But here’s the truth. 

There doesn’t appear to be any scientific data that 10,000 steps a day is the optimal goal for health.

In fact, the whole idea might actually stem from an old marketing strategy used by a Japanese Pedometer company in the 1960s. 

Is 10,000 steps really the magic number?

One study followed 2,110 adults with an average follow-up of 10.8 years. During this study, people taking at least 7,000 steps a day compared to those taking less than 7,000 steps a day had a 50% to 70% lower risk of mortality.

This doesn’t give any evidence that 10,000 steps is the magic number. But it does indicate that more exercise is better than less. 

So is 10,000 steps the magic number or not?

Amanda Paluch, a lead researcher studying the link between how many steps people take and cardiovascular disease, led a team that analyzed seven earlier studies that followed participants who wore step counters and tracked their cardiovascular health.

They brought all the studies together for a more diverse sample. They found that as the number of steps increased, the risk of cardiovascular disease decreased. 

But the message isn’t that 10,000 steps is the magical number.

The message is to move more.

Paluch goes on to explain that just increasing your steps incrementally could be helpful to your cardiovascular health. So, we shouldn’t get caught up in a set goal of 10,000 steps or any other number. 

There is no “all or nothing” when it comes to the benefits we get from walking.  

How many steps a day should you be getting?

So how many steps should we be getting every day?

Anything below 4,000 steps a day is considered a low level of physical activity. So, if you’re regularly walking less than that, and if you aren’t limited by mobility or health conditions that prevent you from walking more, it might be a good idea to step up your step count. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to push for 10,000 each day. 

Certain health benefits from walking are prevalent way before we reach 10,000, especially for those who are inactive or have low levels of activity. 

Here’s the takeaway.

The number of steps you should take each day depends on several factors. 

Your age, health, present fitness levels, and fitness goals can all directly affect the appropriate amount of steps you should be aiming for. 

The CDC’s recommendations for the amount of physical activity you should aim for are based on your current fitness level. 

There are 4 levels of aerobic activity the CDC refers to:

  • Inactive - this means that there’s no extra physical activity taking place besides the basic movements required for daily life. 
  • Insufficiently active - this is when someone does a moderate amount of exercise. Either less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. 
  • Active - this is the equivalent of someone doing 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. This is the key guideline target range for healthy adults. 
  • Highly active - this is when someone does more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. 

But what does moderate-intensity exercise include? 

Moderate-intensity is anything from brisk walking to house and yard work. This means we can achieve 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity by walking. 

And according to the American College of Sports Medicine, 7,000 to 9,000 steps a day may be the equivalent of the recommended 150 to 300 minutes of activity each week.

If you’re inactive or insufficiently active, it may be challenging to work towards a goal of 7,000 to 9,000 steps right away. It might be best to slowly work your way up. 

As time progresses, and you begin to learn your physical capabilities, you can start to aim for a particular number. 

If you deal with certain health conditions, it may be best to consult with a healthcare professional to learn about precautions you should take.

How to add more steps in your day

Taking more steps in your day might seem like a hard thing to do, but there are actually many ways you can incorporate more walking into your daily life. Here are a few ideas:

  • Take the stairs - avoiding elevators and escalators or anything that decreases how much you walk could be a great way to naturally add more steps into your day.
  • Walk with a dog or friend - taking some time out of your day to walk your dog can be a great way to clear your head while also adding in more steps and getting your dog to exercise. And if you don’t have a dog, it might be a great chance to spend some time with a friend and catch up!
  • Park further away or walk rather than drive - whether you’re taking a trip to the grocery store or meeting up at a friend's house, taking time to take those extra steps either by walking or parking further away from your destination might be a great way to add more steps into your daily routine.

Conclusion - Is 10,000 steps a day really the magic number?

To sum it up, there’s no evidence or research that shows 10,000 steps is the optimal walking goal for health.

But that doesn’t change the fact that more steps could be better. 

Although we shouldn’t get caught up in the number of steps we should be taking, we can strive to get better each and every day, one step at a time.

Whether that means you aim for 6,000 steps a day or 5,000, there is no standard number that every single person should be aiming for. It changes based on several factors.

This is just one of the many topics we’ll be tackling in the coming months. Be sure to watch for future articles where we’ll be breaking down more common health myths. 

We’ll be speaking on topics like whether apple cider vinegar can help you lose weight, and if an apple a day really does keep the doctor away! 

Stay tuned for more!

Your Health
August 24, 2022

What is Psoriasis: signs, symptoms, and treatments

5 minutes

Psoriasis is a painful skin condition affecting more than 8 million people in the US. Learn more about signs, symptoms, and treatments in our latest post

More than 8 million people in the US have psoriasis.

August is Psoriasis Awareness Month - the perfect time to emphasize the importance of educating, spreading awareness, and working toward a shared goal of finding a cure for this common condition.

What exactly is psoriasis? 

What sort of symptoms are common with this condition?

How is someone diagnosed? 

And what are some of the treatment options available?

In today’s article, we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about psoriasis, so you can educate, spread awareness, and most importantly, participate during this month of awareness. Keep reading to learn more!

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a disease that affects the skin, creating itchy and scaly-like patches. It most commonly affects the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp. 

It occurs when skin cells grow faster than usual. There’s no known reason for why this happens, but it’s presumed it’s caused by a problem with the immune system. The theory is that cells that fight off infections mistakenly begin to attack healthy skin cells.

Psoriasis is a long-term, fairly common condition. And at the moment, there’s no cure. 

But that’s one of the many reasons awareness is so important.

Psoriasis can be painful, making it hard to concentrate or even get a good night's rest. It's clear psoriasis has a physical impact on our health, but it can also affect us emotionally. It can cause an increased risk of anxiety and depression. And people with psoriasis may also feel the need to cover their skin and altogether avoid social interactions during a flare-up. 

The disease can go through cycles. It can flare for a few weeks or months, and then subside. And certain things may trigger a psoriasis breakout such as cuts, infections, burns, and even certain medications.

Symptoms and diagnoses

Some common symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Itching
  • Burning 
  • Soreness
  • Dry and cracked skin that may bleed
  • Rashes that flare for a few weeks or months and then subside
  • A variety of different colored rashes. On dark skin they may appear purple with scales of gray, while on light skin they can be pink or red with silver scaling
  • A patchy rash that varies in how it looks from person to person, it can range from small spots of dandruff-like scaling to major cases that cover most of the body

These are just some of the general symptoms. There are many different forms of psoriasis, and because of this, the skin condition can vary in its signs and symptoms. 

Some different forms of psoriasis include: 

  • Plaque psoriasis - this is the most common form of psoriasis. It causes raised skin patches that are dry and itchy. Usually appearing on the elbows, scalp, lower back, and knees. There can be an eruption of many, or just a few.
  • Nail psoriasis - this skin condition solely affects the finger and toenails. Creating pitting, discolorations, and abnormal nail growth.
  • Guttate psoriasis - young adults and children are primarily affected by this form of psoriasis. It’s identified by small drop-shaped scaling spots on the legs, arms, or trunk. And it’s usually triggered by some form of bacteria such as strep throat.
  • Inverse psoriasis - mainly affecting the skin of the buttocks, groin, and breasts. This form of skin disease causes smooth formations of inflamed skin that can worsen from sweat or friction. Fungal infections may be a trigger.  
  • Pustular psoriasis - this is a rarer type of psoriasis. It causes pus-filled blisters and can occur in small patches or widespread formations. One form is found primarily on the palms of your hand or soles of your feet.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis - this is the least common form. It creates a peeling rash that can cover the entire body. It may itch or burn intensely, and those affected by it could experience it for short or long-term periods of time. 

Understanding the symptoms can help you take proper action to get a diagnosis. 

A health care provider will examine your skin, nails, and scalp and ask questions about your health in order to diagnose the issue. 

In some cases, they might take a small sample of skin for more examination under a microscope. Doing this can help rule out other disorders and determine the specific type of psoriasis someone might be experiencing. 

Treatment options

What are the treatment options available?

There are a variety of treatments for psoriasis. Some of which include:

  • Light therapy 
  • Topical therapy
  • Alternative therapies
  • Oral or injected medications

Some different forms of topical therapy include:

  • Corticosteroids - this is used to treat mild to moderate psoriasis. These are the most commonly prescribed medications. 
  • Vitamin D analogues - these synthetic forms of Vitamin D (calcitriol and calcipotriene) work to slow skin growth. They’re sometimes used alone, or with topical corticosteroids.
  • Salicylic acid - Shampoos and scalp solutions with salicylic acid help reduce scalp psoriasis scaling. 

Forms of light therapy might include:

  • Sunlight - exposure to sunlight might actually help psoriasis.
  • UVB broadband - using controlled doses of UVB broadband light from an artificial light source can help treat single patches and widespread psoriasis. It can also help treat psoriasis that isn’t improving from topical solutions.
  • Excimer laser - this form of light therapy uses a strong UVB light targeting only the affected skin. Because a more powerful UVB light is used, excimer lasers usually require fewer sessions than traditional phototherapy. 

Some oral and injected medications used to treat psoriasis could include steroids, biologics, retinoids, methotrexate, and more. 

Studies also suggest certain alternative medicines not practiced within the traditional forms of Western medicine may help alleviate symptoms of psoriasis. Some of these alternative therapies include Oregon grape, fish oil supplements, and aloe extract cream. 

We suggest consulting with a health care provider if you’re considering using alternative treatments for psoriasis.

Conclusion - How to take part in Psoriasis Awareness Month

How can you take part in Psoriasis Awareness Month?

For starters, educating yourself is a crucial step you can take. Building knowledge around the topic allows you to help others and spread awareness. 

You can help others during this time by sharing information about causes, treatment, symptoms, and even certain triggers.

And you can even get more involved by participating in events or donating to causes working toward finding a cure.

So what are you waiting for?

Be sure to share this article with your friends, colleagues, and family so you can do your part and help spread awareness around this very common condition.

Healthy Eating
August 17, 2022

Eating for insulin resistance: diet tips

5 minutes

40% of people live with some level of insulin resistance which can lead to prediabetes. Learn more about how this can affect your health and how to eat to maintain healthy blood sugar levels

A recent study found that approximately 40 percent of young adults experience insulin resistance, even without having diabetes. 

Insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes which affects an estimated 84 million Americans aged 18 and older.  

That’s why eating for insulin resistance can be so important. 

But what is insulin resistance?

How does it develop?

What are the symptoms we should look out for?

And how can we eat a diet that keeps our blood sugar at healthy levels and helps to improve our insulin resistance?

In today's article, we’ll be answering all these questions. Keep reading to find out more about insulin resistance and certain diet tips to help you deal with it.

What is insulin resistance? How does it develop?

To understand insulin resistance, we first need to take a look at what insulin is.

Insulin is created in the pancreas. It’s a hormone that helps glucose in our blood enter other cells in our muscles, liver, and fat so our bodies can use that glucose for energy. 

Glucose is the main sugar found in our blood, and it’s our body’s main source of energy. We get glucose from the foods we eat, and it’s also produced by our liver when required. 

When glucose levels rise in our blood, the pancreas releases insulin to help glucose enter other cells and aids us in maintaining a normal range of blood glucose levels. Keeping a normal range of glucose is important because high levels can cause damage to our blood vessels, nerves, and even organs. Insulin works to prevent that. 

This explains insulin and why we need it. 

But what is insulin resistance, and what causes it? 

Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in your muscles, liver, and fat can’t take up glucose from your blood effectively. These cells don’t respond well to insulin. As a result, your pancreas creates more insulin in hopes of offsetting this resistance from your cells.

So long as your pancreas creates enough insulin to counteract your cell's weak response, your blood glucose levels will stay in a healthy range. 

But, if your cells become too resistant to insulin over time, it could lead to elevated blood sugar levels which can cause prediabetes and eventually Type 2 diabetes.

But, how does insulin resistance actually develop?

It’s still unknown exactly how insulin resistance happens. Some genes have been identified that may cause an increased likelihood of its development, and older aged people might be more susceptible.

It’s thought that excess body fat and a lack of physical activity could be two main contributing factors to insulin resistance.

What are the symptoms of insulin resistance?

If someone has insulin resistance, but their pancreas is still managing to produce enough insulin to counteract the resistance, they won’t have any symptoms.

But if their insulin resistance gets worse with time, they can experience elevated blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). Some symptoms of high blood glucose levels include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Slow-healing sores and cuts
  • Blurred vision and headaches
  • Skin and vaginal infections

It’s important to be aware of common symptoms of high blood sugar levels as it can help you take the proper precautions and get the help and diagnosis you need. 

Diet tips for eating with insulin resistance

Because your diet can affect glucose levels, it’s important to know the foods to avoid and low insulin foods that may be more suitable to include in your diet. 

When adjusting your diet due to insulin resistance, it’s important to reduce the consumption of simple sugars (simple carbs). 

Some foods to avoid if you have insulin resistance include: 

  • Prepackaged and processed foods
  • Simple carbohydrates like white rice and white bread
  • Foods high in saturated fats like bacon, milk, and sausage
  • Foods or drinks with added sugar like juices, sweets, and soda 

It’s recommended that someone experiencing insulin resistance should eat a diet with whole grains and high amounts of non-starchy vegetables and raw fruits.

Non-starchy vegetables are full of fiber, minerals, and vitamins and they’re usually low in carbohydrates and sugar making them ideal for someone with insulin resistance.

Fruits are naturally higher in carbohydrates and sugars, but in their whole and raw form, they cause lower blood sugar spikes compared to candy or treats with added refined sugars. They also have plenty of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. 

Some great vegetables and fruits you can add to your diet include:

  • Kale
  • Plums
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes
  • Cantaloup
  • Asparagus
  • Berries (blueberries, blackberries, etc.)

Fruits and vegetables are important components of any diet. But you also need a source of energy. And carbohydrates are a key source of fuel for keeping you going throughout the day.

But what are good sources of carbs for someone experiencing insulin resistance?

It’s best to aim to get your source of energy from complex carbs and whole grains. Some examples of whole grains and complex carbs include:

  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice 
  • Buckwheat
  • Steel cut oats
  • Whole wheat bread

We’ve talked about vegetables, fruits, and carbs - but what are some good sources of protein?

There’s evidence that saturated fats worsen insulin resistance. With this in mind, it’s best to avoid foods with high amounts of saturated fats and get your protein from lean meat sources. If you follow a plant-based diet, certain legumes and beans might be more suitable for you. 

Some good sources of lean protein, legumes, and beans include:

  • Trout
  • Shrimp
  • Lentils
  • Poultry
  • Lobster
  • Scallops 
  • Chickpeas
  • Egg whites
  • Black beans 

Avoiding unhealthy fats and working to ingest healthy fats is also crucial in maintaining a healthy diet with insulin resistance. 

This study found that eating more unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats can improve insulin secretion and resistance and can even lower blood sugar levels.

Some healthy sources of fat include:

  • Avocados
  • Chia Seeds
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts
  • Butters from nuts like peanut butter and almond butter

Closing thoughts - Eating for insulin resistance

With 40 percent of the population dealing with insulin resistance to some degree, understanding what it is and how to eat to manage it is a key to maintaining and living a healthy lifestyle.

Whether you have insulin resistance yourself or have a loved one or coworker who deals with it, we encourage you to share this article with them so they can understand it better and learn the best types of foods to eat and avoid.

Lifestyle & Wellness
August 10, 2022

Self-Care Tips to Boost Your Mood

4 minutes

Whether you’re adventuring, decluttering, relaxing or starting a new hobby, there are plenty of ways to find balance and give your mental health a boost.

Summer is here and the opportunities to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health are endless. Whether you’re looking to check in, refresh, or relax, these self-care tips are guaranteed to give your mood a boost this summer! 

Get Outside 

The sun is out and the weather is warm, giving you ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, a nearby park, or your own backyard. Spending time outside moving your body or just relaxing are great ways to get fresh air in your lungs and vitamin D into your system. Especially if you live in a region where frigid winters and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are common, time outside in the summer can bolster your immune system and mental health while lowering your stress levels. It’s also a great time to explore where you live, visit small businesses, find local hikes, or enjoy a day at the beach. 

Give Your Home A Refresh 

With the weather giving you access to outdoor spaces, now’s a great time to clean, declutter, and maintain your home inside as well. Small details add up to big results here, so you don’t have to worry about major projects and remodels unless they’re timely, affordable, and needed. Clearing cobwebs from corners and molding, washing pillows and bedding, and rearranging your furniture can make any space feel new again. 

If you want to take things a step further, consider going through your belongings one room at a time to sort out any broken or donatable items. Removing things like expired food, old children’s toys, or clothes that no longer fit can leave you with extra storage or even more space to leave open and refreshed in your home. 

If you’re a homeowner who finds yourself constantly stressed about maintaining appliances and avoiding a home emergency, look into appliance warranties that provide timely repair or replacement of items like your fridge and garage door opener. Also available for your home’s HVAC systems, these warranties can mean the difference between a broken air conditioner on a hot day and an efficient cooling system providing your family with fresh, clean air. This can contribute to your peace of mind all year long. 

Check In With Yourself 

Outside or in, spending some time alone with yourself this summer can do you a lot of good. Consider setting aside some quiet time to meditate, pray, journal, or rest. These moments alone can help you get in touch with how you’re really feeling and where your mental health is at, away from opinion and outside influence.

Perhaps the most important part of spending time alone is making sure you’re actually alone. This means removing any access you have to tech devices and finding a spot where you’ll remain uninterrupted. The more you practice this routine, the more comfortable you’re going to feel. Over time, these intentional moments can help you with goal-setting, communicating with others, and feeling more at ease. 

Spend Time In Community With Others 

This might seem contradictory to what we talked about in the last section, but it’s important that you balance your moments alone with time spent building relationships. Whether you’re with family or friends, or in a community of faith, healthy relationships with others carry a lot of benefits for your mental and emotional health. 

This is a great opportunity for those who experience social anxiety to practice their grounding techniques and create a safe, communicative environment with others. If you’re looking to keep busy or get creative, consider checking out your local YMCA or community center for cooking classes, weekly bingo, or recreational sports leagues. Other great community activities include volunteering together, having a picnic, or doing a paint ‘n’ sip evening. 

Clean Up What You Take In 

Just like you have a home for your body, your body is your home. If you’re cleaning and decluttering your physical space, consider making some changes to what you put into your body as well. With resources more easily available to us during summer months, it’s the best time to evaluate things like your food intake, screen time, and media exposure. 

We all know how easy it is to get lost in our phones these days. Between Tik Tok providing commitment-free bursts of entertainment and social media constantly jarring us with opinions, gossip, and unrealistic expectations, it’s important to log off and stay in touch with reality. It’s a simple truth; we can’t thrive off of knowing every minute detail of someone else’s life, especially if they’re a complete stranger. If you’re interested in cutting back, you’re not alone in the challenge it poses. Remember to start small, remove your phone or TV from one meal a day, commit to a device-free friend hangout, or – if you’re feeling brave – turn your phone off for an entire day of exciting activities. 

Another great way to clean up what you take in is to embrace a cleaner diet. The food you eat has a significant impact on your mental health and could be a game changer in your energy and mental clarity. Local farmers' markets usually run for most of the summer and provide healthy, affordable produce options and meats for you to enjoy. 

Conclusion 

Whether you’re adventuring, decluttering, relaxing or starting a new hobby, there are plenty of ways to find balance and give your mental health a boost this summer. Don’t be afraid to make the most of it, and remember that caring for yourself means that you can be a better person for the important people in your life