Healthy Living

Reversing the Epidemic of Inactivity

EVS Pic - Black Bold SmallerIn the final installment of her seven-part series on Exercise as a Vital Sign (EVS), Kaiser Permanente physician Latifat Apatira blogs about how far we have come and the long road ahead toward reversing what she describes as “the epidemic of inactivity.”

She writes that health care providers have a duty to evaluate each patient’s physical activity habits. And that Kaiser Permanente is moving in the right direction through efforts to work closer with community partners on a wide range of initiatives aimed at promoting exercise and healthy living.

“To combat inactivity, we need programs like EVS,” Dr. Apatira writes. “But we also need changes in our policies, built environments, and culture to reframe the role physical activity plays in our lives every day.”

Physical activity, she writes, needs to be something that people do not only because it’s the healthy choice, “but because it’s the easy choice, the comfortable choice, or the fun choice.”

Read the blog in its entirety:

What We All Should Know About Headaches

Is there anything that can get in the way of your day’s activities worse than a headache? We’ve all been there. But did you know that there are several different types of headaches you may be suffering from – and each has its own causes? It’s true. The good news: There are things you can do to deal with – and sometimes even prevent – the headaches plaguing you. In this episode of Total Health Radio, our guest physician walks us through the different types of headaches, shares how we can identify our own personal triggers, and explores options for how we can best manage headache pain when one strikes. Have a listen.

Caffeine and Kids: What’s the Buzz?

As your kids head back to school, you may notice that they — and many of their friends — seem to be weighed down with nearly as many commitments as adults. How they manage that level of responsibility is worth considering. With the rise of coffee house culture, the popularity of soda, and the explosion of energy drinks on the market, the amount of caffeine consumed by teens and even younger children is on the rise.

If you are concerned about the caffeine habits of a child in your life, this episode of Total Health Radio can help. In it, Kaiser Permanente’s Michael Nelson, MD, shares the symptoms that signal your child might have a problem, as well as how to broach the topic — and what you can do to protect your child’s health.

Teachers learning wellness best practices — for their students as well as themselves

Attendees stretch and bend during a fitness break built in to the symposium agenda.

Movement as medicine: Attendees learn stretches during a fitness break built right in to the symposium agenda.

As summer comes to a close and teachers prepare to welcome students back to school, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in DC and the Tri-state chapter of Action for Healthy Kids, coordinated the Teacher Wellness Symposium, August 11-12. This two-day event consisted of sessions to help teachers bring best practices to their classrooms, deepen their knowledge of wellness and, to improve personal health.

Hosted by Kaiser Permanente at the Center for Total Health and with more than 100 people in attendance, the symposium was open to teachers in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. During the two-day conversation about health policy, student health behaviors and trends, educators tackled tough topics.

Attendees reviewed the impact and design of the DC Healthy Schools Act, the Healthy Hunger Free Schools Act and, explored the connection between healthy students and academic achievement.

Other topics included how to form school wellness councils and shape wellness policies for individual districts and campuses.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Kaiser Permanente’s lead partner in the national Thriving Schools program, talked about creating a healthy school framework.

Educators walked the talk with a sample routine during a 90-minute yoga and stretching workshop coordinated by Yoga Foster.

Diversity and cultural sensitivity were foremost and during Creating Safe Spaces for LGBTQ youth, attendees looked at thecomplexities of LGBTQ youth’s experiences in the classroom and school system.

How Innovation brought Exercise as a Vital Sign to Life

Two years ago, a team from Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Consultancy was given the task of transforming patient data on exercise into actionable information that health care providers could use to encourage healthy behaviors. They called this initiative Project Move.

In part five of her seven-part blog series on Exercise as a Vital Sign (EVS), Dr. Latifat Apatira describes how the Innovation team went about the work of better understanding patients’ barriers and motivations regarding exercise.

The Innovators traveled to several Kaiser Permanente regions to analyze interactions between health care providers and members. They learned that patients are less active because of busy lifestyles. As for health providers, it was determined that they did not have time nor established resources to address their inactivity.

The group came up with several ideas to make EVS more actionable that are outlined in detail in the EVS blog, including screening questions from medical assistants and licensed vocational nurses that get entered into the medical record and passed along to the next level of care. Depending on how members answer the first round of questions, follow-up questions can lead to exercise prompts or referrals to health and wellness coaches.

While the results of the work are still being analyzed, new innovations are underway, including a website that helps members find resources for physical activity.

The Thursday Dish: Healthy Stuffed Rainbow Peppers

Stuffed-Rainbow-Peppers_593x473pxToday, it’s another tasty recipe from the Food for Health blog — but this one has a twist.

There’s a great story behind this recipe, one that features a 12-year-old being recognized for her culinary creativity with an invitation to dine with First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

According to our friends at Food for Health:

Grace Wetzler is a budding chef and healthy cooking advocate who took on the First Lady’s 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and decided to submit her recipe for healthy stuffed rainbow peppers into the contest.

“I was on spring vacation when I heard about the contest from my cousin. I thought about it and thought about it and tried to come up with some recipe ideas. And then the recipe just came to me on a whim. I put the ingredients together and it just worked! So I submitted my entry.”

Indeed, out of approximately 1,500 entries that were submitted, Grace’s delicious and nutritious stuffed rainbow peppers were among the 54 winners that made the cut. Grace was eventually notified that she was a winner and that she’d be headed to the White House to celebrate and enjoy a State Dinner with the First Lady and other dignitaries.

This colorful recipe is a great example of how Grace is already showing imagination in her cooking.  And it has the nutritional stats to back it up — 392 calories, 10 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 27 grams of protein.

Check out the recipe here.

Helping patients ‘Find Their Thing’ is key to Exercise as a Vital Sign

Latifat T. Apatira, MD, MPH, fourth-year internal medicine and preventive medicine resident, believes that in order for Exercise as a Vital Sign (EVS) to succeed, health care providers need to help connect patients with resources in the communities where they live – outside of the exam room.

Part four of her seven-part blog highlights the community-clinic component of EVS, in which health care providers point their patients to a wealth of diverse programs and initiatives for fitness – what Dr. Apatira calls “finding their thing.”

The blog features several examples of community-clinic integration that Kaiser Permanente is exploring, as well as Dr. Apatira’s ideas of how to link patients to community resources.

Resources include:

  • City/Community Listings – Most official city websites have listings for activities that support physical activity.
  •  Parks Prescription – A movement to strengthen connections between the health care system and United States public lands, Park Prescription works with providers to encourage patients to get physically active at their local public parks.

Read the full blog to see more of Dr. Apatira’s health and fitness tips, including apps that track exercise levels.

In search of healthy recipes? Look no further than the Food for Health blog.

Has this ever happened to you?  You visit your local Farmers Market, feel overjoyed by all of the amazing produce, come home with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables — and then feel stumped about what exactly to do with your bounty.cherry-tomatoes-593x395

We’ve all been there.  Luckily, a new blog recently launched dedicated entirely to sharing recipes for healthy dishes.  Food for Health is published by Kaiser Permanente and features favorite foods of doctors, nurses and other organization leaders.  Check out this colorful recipe for roasted cherry tomatoes.

You can find many more recipes at the blog — like Mojito Fruit Salad, Mango Guacamole, and Saffron Yellow Pepper Soup, to name a few — so stop by and find a fresh new dish to try.

Photo of the Day: Human Resources in Action

The Center for Total Health team was excited to host our colleagues from the area Human Resources Department for their quarterly meeting yesterday. They were truly models of health, with a meeting that included skits, walking breaks, and healthy meals. We asked them all to strike a favorite pose or stretch, and here’s what we got.

Action!

When asked what their passion in health is, we heard great responses ranging from service to innovation to happiness. Here’s to this great group for working hard to keep the Kaiser Permanante team healthy and happy!

More on Community Access to Healthy Foods with Elevation DC

On Tuesday, June 24, an panel came together for a discussion about food in our neighborhoods – where it comes from, what barriers keep healthy foods from some communities, and solutions that are working. Kaiser Permanente and Elevation DC hosted the discussion right here at the Center for Total Health.

Food writer Mary Beth Albright moderated a lively conversation among Laine Cidlowski, an urban sustainability planner for the D.C. Office of Planning; JuJu Harris, culinary educator with the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture; and Ted Eytan, MD, physician director at the Center for Total Health. Panelists shared different perspectives about D.C.’s food system and considered the economics of good health.

This discussion was a prime opportunity to consider the consequences as well as the opportunities related to food in neighborhoods. According to Cidlowski, communities of high poverty that are more than a 10-minute walk or one bus transfer away from a full-service grocery store are considered food deserts. D.C. liquor stores and fast food restaurants dominate some of the most vulnerable communities where grocery stores have gone out of business or have never existed. This condition leaves residents wanting – and to a large extent, vulnerable to chronic illness and low quality of life.

Organizations such as Arcadia farms, with its mobile market, are filling the gap by bringing fresh produce to people where they live and teaching residents about food selection and meal preparation. Harris, Arcadia’s culinary educator and SNAP outreach coordinator, hosts cooking demonstrations at the markets to help engage customers about what to do with the produce once they get home. She shared that even a 10-minute walk can sometimes be too much for people living in poverty.

Community gardens, gardening plots and urban farms are also part of the solution, however Cidlowski shared that with so much demand, there are now wait lists – some as long as three years – to use some green spaces. But with revitalization efforts in the city, much consideration is being given to food access in the District.

Eytan offered the physician perspective. He highlighted the connection between food and health and why this issue is integral to Kaiser Permanente’s total health mission. “We want to provide health care, not just sick care,” said Eytan, who encourages patients to make time for physical activity and healthy meal preparation, but acknowledges that healthy choices are difficult to make in many neighborhoods.

Enjoy more food for thought—read Elevation DC’s full story.

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