Home » Archive by category "Uncategorized" (Page 3)

Take Steps Now to Reduce or Prevent Orthopedic Problems


Whether you’re a fitness buff or a couch potato, a teenager or a senior, even everyday activities can put you at risk for bone, muscle or joint-related injury. The good news: there is much you can do to prevent injury so you can stay fit and active throughout life.

It’s a lot more effective to prevent orthopedic problems than having to fix them once they occur with surgeries and long-term medications.

Here are other simple guidelines:

Recommended Guidelines

Build Your Core Muscles

If your core muscles are weak, you are far more prone to injuries from overuse or even simple activities like bending and lifting.

Most people think of the core as just the “six pack” abdominal area. But your body’s core is made up of all those muscles from the diaphragm to the pelvic floor and buttocks, from front to back and all the way around your torso. All of these core muscles support your spine, hips and other musculoskeletal structures.

These muscles work together as a team. When a muscle is injured, it fails to fire accurately. That can start a cascade of other issues and it becomes a vicious cycle of more complex problems.

Make Posture Perfect

Whatever you’re doing, from jogging to sitting at your computer, it’s important that the natural curves of the upper, middle and lower spine are well aligned. This is called “neutral spine” and it’s the safest, strongest position for your back.

Mom Was Right: Drink Your Milk

It’s certainly possible to prevent osteoporosis-related fractures by building and maintaining bone density. This is especially important for women, because declining estrogen speeds up the loss of bone mass.

Because we reach peak bone density in our teens or early 20s, it’s important to build strong bones while still young – and then maintain bone density throughout our life – through adequate calcium and vitamin D intake and weight-bearing exercise. If you are approaching menopause or are post-menopausal, it’s recommended to talk with your primary care doctor about how to reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

The Right Moves

Many people at the gym incorrectly exercise and misuse equipment, leading to needing physical therapy down the road. Proper technique and good body mechanics are really important. Ask for advice from the gym staff before you’re feeling pain.

It’s also important to know your body and listen to what it’s telling you. If you feel pain when you’re working out, stop or switch to a pain-free activity. Be as physically active as you can tolerate, but respect your body’s age and condition. Choose activities that won’t further stress an already weak area, or build strength in that area slowly with appropriate exercise.

Mix it Up

Vary your workout routine to gain maximum physical benefit and avoid overuse injury. Include a good balance of cardiovascular exercise, strength and core training, weight-bearing activities, and activities to improve flexibility and balance such as t’ai chi or yoga.

Everything in Moderation

Don’t jump into a new sport or amp up your fitness routine overnight. Begin slowly, and build up the duration and intensity in a gradual progression. Always warm up, stretch and cool down. Give your body a rest several days a week.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before beginning any fitness activities if you have had previous orthopedic procedures or have a chronic condition such as arthritis, heart or pulmonary disease. If you need a doctor, visit our online physician directory for Ministry or Affinity.

For More Information

  • Try this basic strength-building exercise:

    Try this exercise to improve your strength.

    For this exercise, bring one knee up and then return. Do this for both legs. Keep your pelvis still – do not let it rock backward or forward.

The Power of Positive Self-Talk & Weight Management

yes I can

Have you ever stopped to think about the way you talk to yourself? No, it’s not crazy and yes, everyone talks to themselves. Self-talk is the running dialogue of thoughts in the mind that occur throughout the day.

From early morning thoughts: “I don’t want to get up today,” “I wish I had better clothes to wear to work,” and ongoing throughout the day, we have internal conversations.

The question is, how aware are we of what we are saying to ourselves and the impact it can have on our actions and behaviors?

Self-talk can be positive or negative in nature. Negative self-talk such as “I can’t do this,” “I’ll never be successful,” “this day is ruined,” “everything is going wrong,” can serve to increase stress levels and lead to undesired behaviors in response.

On the other hand, positive self-talk can serve to calm and reduce stress. Research continues to link positive self-talk as a key factor in successful weight loss and maintenance (Reyes, Oliver, Koltz, et al, 2012).

In addition to many other factors, positive self-talk plays a key role in weight management. Think about your own common thoughts that might get in the way of feeling positive about lifestyle change. For example, how often do thoughts like: “I am never going to lose weight so why even bother trying,” “I can’t control myself around food,” “I never stick with anything” surface when thinking about weight?

4 Ways to Integrate Positive Thoughts

Once aware of the negative self-talk, the key to success is finding some positive self-talk to replace or alter the unhelpful thoughts. Here are a few key factors to keep in mind when finding positive thoughts to integrate into the day (Whitborne, S., 2013):

  1. Stay in the present. Think about the things that are positive right now or something that is being done well. Think “I am” phrasing: for example, “I am working on changing my diet” or “I am doing better at exercising more often.”
  2. Keep it personal. Focus on the things that you are doing and resist the urge to compare to other people or what “should” be going on. “I am doing the best I can,” “I have things that I want to change, but I am doing something about it.” Think about what you are doing rather than not doing.
  3. Find the positive side. This can be easier said than done. Retraining from negative to positive can be difficult, but think about what you are saying and whether it is constructive, helpful, and something you would say to someone else. Calling yourself an idiot doesn’t give you any idea of what to do in the future and you probably wouldn’t say that to a friend or coworker.
  4. Practice makes perfect. Repeat whatever positive phrases work for you multiple times a day. Thoughts directly affect emotions; the more positive feedback, the more confidence in abilities. The more often positive self-talk is practiced, the more likely it will be adopted into a habitual way of thinking.

There is a clear link between positive self-talk and improved mood, performance on tasks, and confidence. Incorporating more positive self-talk on a regular basis can be another effective tool in maintaining healthy lifestyle changes.


Reyes NR1 , Oliver TL, Klotz AA, Lagrotte CA, Vander Veur SS, Virus A, Bailer BA, Foster GD. Similarities and differences between weight loss maintainers and regainers: a qualitative analysis. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Apr;112(4):499-505

Whitbourne, S. (2013, September 10). Make Your Self-Talk Work for You. Retrieved August 4, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201309/make-your-self-talk-workyou

Food Cravings vs Hunger


Most people have struggled at one point or another with the strong desire to eat a specific food item or type of food. Cravings are common but can often present a challenge to those who are working to alter their current lifestyle. Many factors contribute to food cravings, but there are also many strategies to reduce the potential impact food cravings may have on your journey to reach your goals.

First, it’s helpful to recognize that being hungry and craving a food are two different things.

What’s the difference?

Cravings come on suddenly and you may feel a sense of urgency to satisfy
Hunger comes on gradually; you typically feel your body’s need for food over time

Cravings are specific, desiring a certain food or type of food and nothing else will do. This is usually a desire for instant gratification (often with sugary or fatty foods)
Hunger is broad and you are likely willing to adjust or choose from a variety of options in order to fulfill physical hunger

Cravings may not be satisfied when your stomach feels full, feeling “stuffed” or discomfort
Hunger dissipates after eating enough and you are more likely to be able to stop eating and move on with your day

Cravings are usually time-sensitive, meaning that the desire for food may dissipate if distracted.
Hunger may increase as time passes or go away but then come back with intensity

Cravings are more likely to happen during certain emotional states (feeling bored, feeling stressed, feeling upset)
Physical hunger is more likely to be predictable (when having not eaten in several hours or eating very little)

That information itself may increase your mindfulness of checking in with yourself before deciding to eat. However, there are many other strategies to keep in mind as well

What can help?

Monitor your sleep – certain body chemicals increase when you are sleep deprived, this is the same chemical that controls appetite and desire for food

Distract – studies show that when people crave a specific food they have in their minds a visual image of that food. The more you think about the particular food the more your body responds anticipating that food. Focusing on another task that requires concentration, or visualizations that involve other body senses have been shown to impact the intensity of food cravings (ie imagining the sights and smells of the beach, aromatherapy, puzzles, etc)

Prepare – Everyone experiences food cravings and it is not realistic to be able to control they occur entirely. Think management or “riding the wave”. Have pre-packaged snacks on hand, a go-to pleasant picture or mental image, a planned option for distraction (particular phone game, activity, pencil and paper to draw with, etc.) that is accessible in whatever situation you are in during the day.

Take breaks – delaying diving into a meal or snack may help determine if it is hunger or a craving. Waiting 5 minutes as well as taking breaks while eating can help build train your brain to practice impulse control.

Be positive– negative and self-critical thinking can lower Serotonin levels which increases food cravings and increase Cortisol levels (stress hormones) which increase the urge to seek comfort often with food. Eliminate “can’t” statements such as “I can’t stop myself” or “I can’t eat this,” with more positive phrases such as “I will get better at this” or “I choose not to eat this” which gives you a sense of control.

Just Get Started


The biggest hurdle for weight management patients is just getting started. Clients often say, “I can’t walk 30 minutes because of my knees” or “I can’t bike for 30 minutes because of my back.” Of course, if you have never exercised before, you are not going to be able to do this amount of activity.

The key is to pick an activity that you enjoy and to get started. That may mean three times a day you are going to walk to the mailbox or to the end of
the street. Or perhaps you will use your recumbent bike for 5 minutes per day with no resistance. Start where you feel comfortable and set small goals.

To progress your activity, add one minute each day to your walking program or 2-3 minutes weekly to biking. Distance is not the important indicator; it is most important to look at time. With that being said, you first want to increase your time in small increments and then increase your intensity (speed or resistance) once you have reached thirty minutes of continuous activity. Always remember that as you increase your time, you should include 5 minutes of warm-up and 5 minutes of cool down. Also, your time in your intense work out will be the area that also increases, while also allowing for warm up and cool down.

Avoid Boredom During Exercise

To make this time more enjoyable and to stay accountable, you may want to engage a fitness buddy. Exercising with a friend increases you enjoyment, safety and motivation. To avoid boredom, it is also helpful to vary your routes or add music with a quick beat to enhance your exercise. Watching TV or listening to a book on tape can also help to pass the time, but be careful not to get so engrossed in the program that you lose your focus on your exercise.

Choose the Right Exercise Equipment

Another factor to consider when starting out that can help you be successful is to make sure your equipment is in good working condition. Treadmills should be lubricated per manufacturer’s recommendations and bikes should have seats that can be positioned to the optimal length for performance with your leg outstretched and knee still slightly bent. If the seat is too low or close, the hips and knees will have to bend too much. If the seat is too high, the joints are overextend and the muscles are less efficient.

Wear the Right Shoes & Clothing

Shoes are another piece of equipment to consider in terms of the exercise program. Make sure your shoes fit appropriately, with a thick, firm, flexible sole. The closure should hold the foot snug, be made of breathable upper material, have good arch support and a large toe box. Shoes should feel comfortable right away and not require a breaking in period. Wearing sandals, flip flops or shoes with a heel are not appropriate for long distance walking. Even if you are just walking to the mailbox, get in the habit of donning your walking shoes.

Clothes are also very important. Wear loose fitting cotton or moisture wicking fabric and sun protection in all seasons. The sun’s rays are still working even when the air temperature cools. Wool gloves and hats and layering are best in cold weather. And if you choose to walk in the rain, wear a raincoat or hat, but avoid umbrellas to allow your arms to swing freely.

Whooping Cough Prevention and Treatment

whooping cough child

According to the CDC, there were over 18,000 cases of whooping cough (pertussis) reported in the United States in 2015. In 2016, there have been 966 cases reported in Wisconsin so far.

Starts like a cold and easily spreads

Pertussis or whooping cough usually starts like a cold with a mild cough, runny nose or fever. After a week or two, severe coughing fits may begin.

“Whooping cough is very contagious and can cause serious illness (even death) in infants,” said Emily Olson, MD.

Unfortunately, not everyone who has whooping cough has symptoms. During the two weeks they’re contagious, they can easily spread it to others.

“That is why it is very important for any person spending any time around children should receive the whooping cough vaccine,” said Dr. Olson.

Whooping cough symptoms

One symptom of whooping cough is the loud “whooping” sound people make during violent and rapid coughing fits. As air is drained from the lungs, the person is forced to inhale or gasp for air.

People who experience extreme coughing fits may also vomit or become exhausted. This symptom can last for up to 10 weeks.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Sore, watery eyes
  • Lips, tongue, and nail beds may turn blue during coughing spells

Click to hear what whooping cough sounds like.

It is important to note that people with less severe cases of pertussis may not develop the tell-tale cough, but they still have the disease and are still contagious.

Most dangerous for babies

Whooping cough is most dangerous for babies younger than 1 year of age. According to the CDC, about 50% of children less than 1 year of age who contract whooping cough need hospitalization.

  • 1 in 4 babies will develop pneumonia (lung infection)
  • 1 or 2 babies in 100 will have convulsions
  • Two thirds of babies with whooping cough (67%) will have slowed or stopped breathing
  • 1 in 300 babies will develop encephalopathy, a disease of the brain
  • 1 or 2 in 100 will die

Teens and adults are also vulnerable

Besides risking developing pneumonia, teens and adults can also develop the following complications caused by the coughing fits:

  • Weight loss (33%)
  • Loss of bladder control (28%)
  • Passing out (6%)
  • Rib fractures from severe coughing (4%)

Prevention through vaccination

Fortunately, whooping cough is easily prevented with Tdap vaccines given to children starting at 2 months of age. Dr. Olson strongly recommends that children and adults receive the vaccination.

Ministry Health Care also adopts Tdap cocooning, which is a process of vaccinating anyone who comes in contact with the baby in the first few months of life, including the expectant mother.

However, if a child develops whooping cough, it is very important that their parents bring them into the doctor’s office to be properly tested and treated.

“Not only is treatment necessary for the well-being of the child but it is also extremely important in helping prevent the spread of whooping cough to others,” said. Dr. Olson.

For more information about whooping cough vaccines and treatment, contact a local Affinity or Ministry pediatrician.

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.