BTW2016

Bike to Work (or Lunch) Day 2016

Across the country, bike commuting grew 62% from 2000 to 2014. Washington, DC is among the top ten cities for bike commuters with over 13,000 in 2014 (an increase of 124% from 2005) according to the League of American Bicyclists. As the annual Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day (both of which fall right in the middle of Bike Month) is upon us, the Center for Total Health team hit the streets for a mid-day bike break.

Bike commuting isn’t for everyone – some people may not have access to a bike, may not feel comfortable riding on city streets, or may simply work too far from home. However, for those who are able and interested, DC’s Capital Bikeshare provides an affordable opportunity to access bikes. Since arriving in DC in 2008 (as SmartBike DC), Capital Bikeshare has become increasingly popular. In the past six years, Capital Bikeshare has grown from 114 to 378 stations, with a total of 12.8 million trips as of April 2016. This system has undoubtedly contributed to the increase of bike commuting in Washington, DC and across the region.

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In honor of Bike to Work Day, our team took a mid-day break to Bike to Lunch together. If biking isn’t for you, consider commuting on foot to celebrate active transportation and build exercise into your day. And please, don’t forget a helmet if you’re getting on a bike today. After all, bike helmets are the new seatbelt.

 

A year of tracking on a complete street: The Metropolitan Branch Trail

Infographic - tracking a complete street - a year of active transportation - center for total health

Infographic – tracking a complete street – a year of active transportation – center for total health (View on Flickr.com)

The Center for Total Health just marked its one year anniversary of population sensing on the street outside our building, 2nd Street, NE, which also happens to be the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

We learned through sensing the trail that it’s very much alive – up to 1,200 people walk it every day!

In 2015, the section of the trail we innovate on also added a Capital Bikeshare station, and became a complete street, when both sides of 2nd Street were completed.

With the help of Washington, D.C.’s Open Data Diplomat, Michael Schade, we created an infographic showing how we can quantify our streets and communities in the 21st Century.

If you’d like to learn more about our program to quantify the trail:  What Exactly IS the Trail Modeling & Assessment Platform, and Why Do We Care?

Feel free to share, and let us know if you have any questions. Active transportation is the future, and it’s the present for us 🙂 .

Caffeine: How Much is Too Much?

Sure, many of us love our cup of joe every morning.  Some might like it so much that one cup becomes three or four.  We joke about it.  We laugh about it.  It is part of our culture as Americans.

But what about caffeine and kids?  Not only are kids drinking soda, they are also downing caffeinated energy drinks and coffee-based beverages.

feature-boy-doing-homework-274x168As kids head back to school, it’s a good time to consider just how much caffeine our kids are consuming; more importantly, how much is safe.  As school gets underway and kids must manage not only their academics but also extracurricular activities and jobs, it is easy to turn to caffeinated beverages for a quick pick me up.  But that habit can quickly grow out of control.

This episode of Total Health Radio can help.  Called Caffeine and Kids: What’s the Buzz?, the show shares one family’s personal story of the risks of caffeine consumption in kids.  It also features tips from a physician on recognizing signs of excessive caffeine — and for helping your kids know how much is enough…versus too much.

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Celebrating Summer

Looking to trim down this summer?  Take advantage of the warm weather, skip the gym, and get active outside!

  • Explore your city or town.  Play games at the park, go for a bike ride around town, or do laps at the local pool.
  • Pack your snacks.  Plan ahead for your day and bring along fruit, nuts, and other healthy treats.
  • Bring water.  Avoid the temptation of sugary drinks by staying hydrated from the start.
  • Wear your sunscreen.  And remember to reapply it regularly if you’re outside all day.

If you live in a place that gets really hot, think about hitting the streets early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun isn’t a factor. Or save these ideas for the cooler fall weather that will be here before you know it.

Want to learn more about a healthy weight? Click here.

 

 

Summer is fun. Here’s how to keep it safe, too.

Excited about the arrival of summer? For good reason. Warmer weather brings with it favorite activities — vacations, swimming, camping, cookouts and lazy days in the sun.

To access a full-size PDF of perfect for printing, click here.

To access a full-size PDF of this infographic perfect for printing, click here.

But summer also means something less fun: an increase in visits to the emergency room. With kids out of school and spending more time outdoors — and especially around Independence Day — safety becomes a very real concern.

To help protect yourself and your family this 4th of July holiday weekend and in the coming months, here are highlights from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Red Cross and Kaiser Permanente on how to have a safe — and fun — summer.

Water Safety

Swimming and cooling off in the pool is one of the best things about summer. Be smart, and do it safely:

Spending Time in the Sun and Heat

When you’re spending time in the sun – or even if you are in the shade but the temperature is climbing – protect yourself from the sun’s rays and the summer heat.

  • Heat-Related Illnesses. Take them seriously and drink plenty of water. Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke escalate quickly and can be especially serious in children and the elderly.
  • Know Your SPF. Not all sunscreens are created equal. Learn why.
  • Sun Safety and Skin Cancer. Guard yourself and your family against the long-term dangers of the sun.

Healthy Getaways

Whether you’re taking a road trip with friends and family or the vacation of your dreams, plan ahead for a safe time away from home.

  • Camping. Keep campouts fun by planning ahead. Learn the ins and outs of insect repellent, safe food and water, campfires and cookouts, and emergency preparedness.
  • Travel. Before you embark on your journey, let your travel clinic or physician help. From vaccines to prescription medication, learn how to plan your travels with your health a priority.

Cooking and Eating

  • Summer Food Safety. Find out how to best protect you and your family from food poisoning, foodborne illnesses, cross contamination — and learn and the importance of cooking temperatures.
  • Grilling Safety Tips. When dealing with open flames, propane, charcoal or starter fluid, help prevent burns, injuries and damages with these precautions and general guidelines.

Injury Prevention

  • Sports. Know how to help your children prevent injuries from sports and recreational activities — including using the right protective gear or equipment.
  • Technology and Youth Violence. Learn more and talk with your kids about the emerging public health problem of “electronic aggression” among young people.

Bottom Line: Be Prepared

Even with the best planning, accidents still happen. You can ensure you’re ready to help if the need arises with professional training. Find a Red Cross class in First Aid and CPR near you and get certified — or take a refresher course.

Keeping the Men in Your Life Healthy

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 4.22.59 PMMany men avoid visiting the doctor. We often joke about it, but when our dads, brothers, partners or friends put off having something looked at, it can result in very real consequences. Even though women on average visit the doctor 20 percent more often than men, it is men who have much higher hospitalization rates for preventable conditions.

So why do men seem to go out of their way to prevent calling the doc? Many men simply aren’t used to communicating about how they feel and aren’t comfortable asking for help.

Total Health Radio has dedicated an entire podcast episode to this topic, including tips for supporting the men in your life in staying healthy. You can check it out — along with additional information and resources — at its official web page. You can also listen to it here, via Stitcher
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And to see the above infographic in its entirety, click here for the full-sized version.

Stay Safe This Summer

While most of us look forward with great anticipation to summer’s long days filled with warmth and fun, there is a less sunny side to the story: ER visits actually peak in the summertime months.

kp-infographic-2015-er-summer-months-550x730Fear not: There are things we can each do to plan ahead and protect our family and ourselves. From heat-related illness to water safety, travel to cookouts, this piece from our friends at KP Share has it covered — not to mention a handy infographic perfect for printing out and putting up on the fridge as a reminder (you can also click on the image for a larger, printer-friendly version).

Check out all of the resources and tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Red Cross and Kaiser Permanente in the full article.

Wednesday is National Running Day

running day blank logoThis Wednesday, June 3rd, is National Running Day, a day for running enthusiasts (nuts?) like me to celebrate our love of the sport and for those who want to start to get out there. The thing I love most about the running community is its acceptance of everyone, whether you run a 5 or 15 minute mile, go out once a week or twice a day, started 20 years ago or 20 days ago. So, if you’re a runner, get out there this Wednesday and celebrate your love of this sport with the community. If you’re not a runner, but think you might want to be, this is the day!

You can find official running day information and groups on Facebook and Twitter. If there’s not one in your city, try a local running club or make your own with some friends. See what your fellow runners are up to by following #RunningDay on the usual .social media platforms.

I’ll be out there for an early morning run with a new running club, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages but somehow always avoid. Here’s to new adventures, whatever they may be!

 

 

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Celebrate Change This Spring

Maybe it’s because it’s (finally) gotten warm enough along the East Coast for us to leave our parkas at home, maybe it’s the time of year, but I feel like every third woman I see right now is pregnant. Pregnancy brings great joy, excitement, and questions. When you’re eating, drinking, and sleeping for two (or more!), it’s the perfect time to commit to healthy changes. Find information about how to be your healthiest self – before, during, or after pregnancy – on Kaiser Permanente’s website.

As it heats up, many of us reach for iced tea. Try making it a healthy option by picking unsweetened. Jazz it up yourself with this recipe for homemade peach iced tea.

Peach Iced Tea

Ingredients
1 tablespoon dried mint leaves
4 cups water
2 cups pureed peaches, chilled
Fresh mint (garnish)

Directions
Steep mint leaves in hot water for 3 minutes.
Pour peaches in a sieve to remove chunks.
Once the mint tea is cool, mix with strained peach puree. Serve cold, garnished with fresh mint.

 

 

A Prescription for Activity

This week, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) convened a meeting to address key issues related to establishing a physical activity prescription at every visit as a medical standard of care. Kaiser Permanante’s own Robert Sallis, MD, was in attendance and helped lead a walking break to visit the Supreme Court. You can find a full set of images from the roundtable here.

Dr. Bob Sallis leads a walking meeting to the Supreme Court.

Dr. Sallis leads a walking meeting to the Supreme Court.

There is overwhelming evidence on the health burden of a sedentary lifestyle, and regular exercise has been proven to prevent and treat a wide range of diseases.  For this reason, every health care provider should be assessing the physical activity habits of their patients and recommending they engage in 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise (like a brisk walk), which is consistent with the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines.  While it has become a standard of care to ask patients at every visit about smoking and to assess their weight and BMI, exercise is often not routinely assessed.

For this reason, on April 27 and April 28, a roundtable was convened by the American College of Sports Medicine and Kaiser Permanente: A “Call to Action on Making Physical Activity Assessment and Prescription a Medical Standard of Care”.  This was held at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington, DC, and it was chaired by Robert Sallis, MD, a Kaiser Permanante family physician and chair of the Exercise is Medicine Global Health initiative.  The meeting was attended by individuals representing a range of major medical organizations with a goal of developing a consensus around including physical activity assessment and prescription at each patient visit.  One of the outcomes of the roundtable will be a white paper that outlines a plan to make this happen in the near future.