Healthy communities

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!

 

 

may header

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.   

What Exactly IS the Trail Modeling & Assessment Platform, and Why Do We Care?

Our guest blogger today is Tracy Hadden Loh with the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Tracy Hadden Loh (right) and colleague with the pedestrian counter outside the CTH.

Tracy Hadden Loh (right) and colleague with the pedestrian counter outside the CTH. The counter was installed on one of the coldest days of this winter (high of 10 degrees!).

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a national membership-based nonprofit dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people. We serve as the national voice for more than 160,000 members/supporters, 30,000 miles of rail and multi-use trails, and over 8,000 miles of potential trail. When RTC was founded in 1986, there were less than 250 miles of rail-trail in the United States. Today, there are more than 21,000 miles of trails of serving some tens of millions of people each year.

However, that mileage number is about all we’ve measured with any precision. We don’t actually know how many people in the United States use trails each year. We know that these miles of trail are a great way to create healthier places and healthier people – for example, a recent meta-analysis of published research on the cost-effectiveness of population-level interventions to promote physical activity found that a rail-trail was the #1 most effective intervention. On the basis of similar evidence, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize trails as a proven strategy that works to increase physical activity, reduce risk of chronic disease, and improve mental health and wellness. So we know we’re on to something good – but how good? When it comes time to make room for trails in the budget, can we show a dollars-and-cents return on investment?

To that end, RTC has launched the Trail Modeling and Assessment Platform (T-MAP), a three-year research initiative to measure, model, and value trail use in the United States. The first phase of this project involves establishing a national network of trail traffic monitoring stations, so that we can continuously measure trail use across the different climactic zones of the US. We’ll use these data to develop two tools: a trail use demand forecasting model to estimate traffic volumes on existing trails or predict volumes on future trails; and a health impact assessment calculator for estimating health care costs avoided due to physical activity on trails.

Taken literally, RTC’s focus on “health” means that there are times when our mission overlaps with that of hospitals and health care systems. Under the Affordable Care Act, non-profit hospitals are now faced with a requirement to assess the health needs of the community, and based on that assessment draw up an implementation plan. We see that as an opportunity to make the case for trails!

Our partners at the Kaiser Permanante Center for Total Health already get it. Located in the heart of downtown Washington, DC right on the Metropolitan Branch Trail, the CTH is helping us implement T-MAP through the installation and maintenance of their very own trail traffic monitoring station, contributing critical data to the project from a unique trail location that is co-located with an urban sidewalk, and dominated by pedestrians. As they learn about how the trail relates to their facility, we’re learning about the trail and collecting the data necessary to accurately estimate the true magnitude of trail use in the United States, and what it’s worth.

 

Data from the CTH Pedestrian Counter

Data from the CTH Pedestrian Counter | February 15, 2015

You Too Can Have Healthy Meetings!

Panel discussion featuring, from left:  Kathy Gerwig, Marilyn Chow, Kelly Kearney, and Erin Meade.

Panel discussion featuring, from left: Kathy Gerwig, Marilyn Chow, Kelly Kearney, and Erin Meade.

On Monday, February 2nd, our friends at Kaiser Permanante’s Garfield Innovation Center hosted a great event focusing on delicious, healthy food. “A Taste of the Garfield Center” featured local Bay Area caterers to showcase menus that adhere to Kaiser Permanente’s “Healthy Picks” policy, along with a few presentations on healthy meeting and working practices.

I was certainly humbled to be on a panel with Kathy Gerwig, Marilyn Chow, both of Kaiser Permanente, and Kelly Kearney of Pacific Fine Foods (a favorite at the Garfield Center) – three incredible women. I was inspired that 100 Kaiser Permanente employees made time in their busy schedules to attend the event so that they could go back to the office with a better understanding of healthy picks to share with their teams. The audience included administrative assistants, lawyers, nurses, designers; many expressed trepidation about trying to change habits from their relatively junior positions. “After all,” said one assistant, “we aren’t all vice presidents.” Marilyn’s answer – sincere, honest, and inspiring – was simply, “We all lead from where we are.”

Kelly and the Pacific Fine Foods Team (showing off their VERY delicious kale chips)

Kelly and the Pacific Fine Foods Team

The Center for Total Health was one of the earliest adapters of the Healthy Picks guidelines, about a year ahead of schedule. As a team, we love helping our guests explore healthy AND delicious menus (ideally paired with some physical activity) for their meetings and events, and we are lucky to get to work with colleagues from inside and outside of the organization.

Now, I’m going to challenge YOU to make your next meeting healthier! Here are some tips and tools to help you start:

1. Get agreement for the concept of healthy meetings as a concept before introducing it for a specific meeting. Then hold people to it (especially the boss and other leaders).
2. Ease in! You don’t have to do a 180 degree change overnight. Try making healthy substitutions (lowfat yogurt, leaner meats, more fruits and vegetables) to start.
3. Healthy food can be tasty and fun – look for menu items with herbs and spices instead of sauces, and consider interactive options like a build your own salad bar to get people engaged in (and excited about) what they’re eating. Bonus: no one can complain about what’s in their salad!
4. If you’re ordering from a large chain, they are legally required to provide nutrition information on their menus. Use it! If you aren’t sure what is best, try consulting the USDA’s Healthy Plate guidelines or Kaiser Permanante’s own Healthy Picks guidelines. You might also like our Healthy Meetings Essentials toolkit, which has information about menus, activity, sustainability and more!

We’d love to hear more suggestions from you, and let us know if you’re working on making your meetings (or work environment) healthier!

Total Health Questionnaire: Alice Patty

Alice Patty is a senior program manager for Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit team. Included in her portfolio is management of the Thriving Schools program in the Mid-Atlantic Region. 

Alice Patty

Alice Patty

Q: What does Total Health mean to you?
A: Support for the body, mind, spirit and community.

Q: What’s your first health-related memory?
A: Breaking my arm on the swing set and having it set at the ER.

Q: Which person, living or dead, is your health hero or role model?
A: Probably my husband. We support each other in healthy eating and active living. Whenever I need a boost of confidence or encouragement he is there for me.

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: 
Favorite meal is salmon with asparagus.

Q: What do you value most in your work? What inspires you to continue?
A: The ability to help people. The people I work with are constantly inspiring me to do more and grow as an individual.

Q:  If you could change one thing in health care, what would it be?
A: Access for everyone to prevention services. Dietitians, personal trainers and life coaches as a covered benefit.

Q: Where would you most like to live?
A: Paris.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
A: Working in the field of obesity prevention for over a decade. I have seen a lot of changes in the way we address and prevent obesity. I am proud to have contributed to this field.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
A: Margaret Thatcher, Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth I.

Photo of the Week: Carla Sandy, MD

As part of National Health IT Week,  Carla Sandy, MD, Chief of OB/Gyn for Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group of Kaiser Permanente, discussed integrated, technologically coordinated care to support nationally recognized birth outcomes yesterday in Washington, DC. 

Dr. Sandy speaks at Congressional briefing.

Dr. Sandy speaks at Congressional briefing.

Dr. Sandy brought her son Calvin along, who found a fan in DC Mayor Vincent Gray.

Mayor Gray meets Calvin

Mayor Gray meets Calvin.

running

Don’t Let the Heat Keep You on the Couch

For those of us who live in the swamp also known as Washington, DC, hot and humid summer days are nothing out of the ordinary (it’s a special thing when “feels like 90″ is a relief after days of “feels like 105!”). Even for veterans of the heat, it can be a convenient excuse to take a day — or two, or three — away from activity.

With seemingly unusual weather patterns hitting the United States this summer, it seems like a good time to share some hot weather exercise tips:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Not just before you exercise, but during and after, and just in general. Water is  your friend.
  • Exercise early in the morning, or later in the evening (personally, I think the morning is WAY more comfortable and has the benefit of fewer people and cars out).
  • Hit the gym and work out inside, in the glory of air conditioning.
  • Cut back a little (run a shorter route, or bike slower, or take more breaks).
  • Dress for the temperature in wicking materials (with built-in SPF, if you have them) and light colors.
  • Think about location, and opt for a walk, run, or bike on a route with more trees and less sun. Save your track workout for a cooler day (or before sun-up, if it’s a safe area).
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen (this won’t keep you cool, of course, but you should still do it!).
  • Consider hitting the local pool for some laps. Built-in heat relief!
  • Love the sweat. Embrace it as a sign of your hard work, rather than dreading it. Believe it or not, this helps. A lot.

If the heat wave is short, maybe you can take a day or two off, but don’t let the heat keep you on the couch for too long!

Check out these specific tips for runners and bikers, and learn more about heat-related illnesses to keep yourself safe here.

 

 

salad bar

Healthy Picks for Happy Meetings

We’ve all been to meetings with food that runs counter to our best efforts. You know the drill – you wake up, maybe go for a run or hit the gym, eat a healthy breakfast and get ready for your day. You head to a great meeting, full of interesting conversation and great colleagues, only to sit down and be immediately faced with the sugared-up carb du jour and not a lean protein in site. Follow this up a few hours later with heavy lunch, and you’re ready for a nap by 2 p.m.

All smiles at the DIY Salad Bar

All smiles at the DIY Salad Bar

Kaiser Permanante has long offered guidance to employees with our “Healthy Picks” Guidelines – nutrition information and guidance to help employees select healthy meals for meetings and events. On May 1, 2014, the guidance became a policy, meaning that it’s the law of the land. Led by several executives, including Kathy Gerwig, vice president of employee safety, health, & wellness, Kaiser Permanente has made it company policy to have healthy meals provided at company events. The transition is not always easy, but it is catching on as people see that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring.

The Center for Total Health committed to these guidelines more than a year ago. Working with an exclusive caterer, we have succeeded in removing sugary beverages and most desserts from the Center, while bringing in more lean protein and tasty fruits and veggies. One of the most popular innovations we’ve seen is our DIY salad bar, which lets guests build their own salad. It gets rave reviews every time.

If you’re interested in bringing healthier food to your meetings and events, please check out our guidelines. For more healthy meeting suggestions, check out the full guide from our HealthWorks team.

 

The Team

Inaugural Build Your Best Life Health Festival

On Saturday, May 31, the Center for Total Health hosted the first-ever Build  Your Best Life Total Health Festival in partnership with Capital Pride, Whitman Walker Health and several other organizations. We were excited to welcome more than 150 guests from the community to receive health screenings and information, enjoy a healthy snack, and even do a little dancing!
pride dance
It was a great day of learning, talking, and listening to better understand and navigate LGBT health in the national capital region, complete with workshops and presentations on topics from dating to retirement. Festival participants included many great partners:

• Kaiser Permanente
• Whitman-Walker Health
• AARP DC
• SMYAL
• Casa Ruby
• Mixology – Matchmaking with a Twist
• Rainbow Families DC
• SAGE Metro DC
• Freestyle Fitness
• Mary’s House for Older Adults
• Gay Love Project

A huge thanks to all who stopped by and our amazing partner organizations! Happy Pride!

Explore the Center for Total Health Take Video Tour