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Take steps to make it easier to exercise year-round.

If “get fit” is one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2014, you’re not alone. Losing weight and getting fit always rank near the top of the list of most popular resolutions for Americans. And for many people, getting fit means exercising more.

Getting and staying motivated to exercise, however, can be a challenge. Here are some things you can do to find and keep the motivation you need to exercise throughout the New Year.

Have Realistic Expectations

Don’t set a goal of having a toned body too quickly, or losing a lot of weight fast. Setting goals too high makes you more likely to stop exercising if you don’t see the immediate results you hoped for.

Choose the Right Environment

If exercising outside your home, look for a gym or club that's:

Exercise with Other People

Exercising with a friend or with a group of people makes it easier to stick with an exercise regimen. You can take large classes at a club or work with a trainer in smaller groups. You can get even more social support by posting your activities and progress on social media websites.

Consider a Personal Trainer

If you find it hard to motivate yourself, a personal trainer may be the answer. A trainer can:

  • Tailor exercise to fit your needs
  • Offer encouragement and praise as you strive for your goals
  • Serve as a good role model for someone just beginning to exercise regularly

At North Hills Hospital, we know the value of exercise for promoting good health. Whatever health concern you might have, we have the doctors, nurses, and staff who can help. If you need a physician referral, call us at 1-855-5NHILLS.

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How to Stay Fit in the Heat

 

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Stay active in winter months to combat the symptoms of arthritis.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area doesn’t see as much severe winter weather other parts of the country do, but temperatures still fall, which can impact arthritis sufferers. One study showed they experience more pain with each ten-degree drop in temperature, and fewer hours of daylight during the winter means many people spend less time exercising than they do other times of the year. A 2011 study confirmed this among arthritis sufferers in Chicago.

If you have either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, you probably already know that exercise is one way to ease the pain of your condition. Given that, here are some ways you can stay active during the winter months.

Exercise Outdoors

On warmer winter days, you can take part in a variety of outdoor activities that help reduce arthritis pain. These include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Cycling
  • Doing yard work
  • Playing golf

If you choose to exercise outdoors on cold or damp days, take precautions to keep your joints warm. Some things to do include:

  • Wearing loose layers of clothing
  • Putting on gloves or mittens
  • Using waterproof shoes or boots to keep feet warm and dry

Exercise Indoors

When winter weather is more severe, you can get your physical activity through a variety of exercises. Classes for some of them might be offered at community or recreational centers, while others you can do at home. Some of these include:

  • Practicing yoga, tai chi, or Pilates
  • Swimming or doing water aerobics
  • Using a treadmill or stationary bike
  • Working out with free weights or weight machines
  • Walking indoors at a mall

Stay Active Throughout the Day

Often you can get the physical activity you need as part of your daily routine. Some ways to do this include:

  • Doing household chores
  • In public buildings, using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator
  • Doing simple exercises while watching TV
  • Dancing to your favorite music

At North Hills Hospital, we know how arthritis can make the simplest activities painful. Staying active year-round is one way to cope. But at times, joint replacement might be necessary. In those cases, our Joint Replacement Program is ready to help. You can reach its resource line at (817) 255-1691.

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The simple act of washing your hands can prevent many illnesses.

“Did you wash your hands?”

For many of us, that was a question we heard often when we were growing up. But hand hygiene is not just for kids. Proper and frequent handwashing is a key way to promote good health. Since National Handwashing Awareness Week is underway, we’re offering some facts about this simple but important act.

Dirty Hands Can Spread Disease

Respiratory and other illnesses can spread if bacteria and viruses get on the hands and the hands touch mucous membranes. Thorough handwashing can limit the spread of such illnesses as:

  • The common cold
  • Influenza
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Salmonella and other gastrointestinal disorders
  • Hepatitis A
  • Meningitis

When to Wash

Recommended times to wash your hands can be grouped in several categories:

  • Handling Food:

    • Before cooking
    • While cooking
    • After cooking
    • Before eating
  • Addressing Medical Issues:

    • Before and after taking care of a sick person
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound
       
  • Dealing With Pets:

    • After touching an animal or its waste
    • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • Dealing With Bodily Fluids

    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

You should also wash after touching garbage.

How to Wash

The best way to wash is with clean, warm, running water and soap. When soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is a good substitute. Some procedures to follow include:

  • Removing all hand jewelry
  • Creating a soapy lather and be sure to scrub between fingers and the back of the hands
  • Humming “Happy Birthday to You” to yourself twice, to make sure you wash the suggested 20 seconds
  • Washing and drying your hands thoroughly

The team at North Hills Hospital knows the importance of good hand hygiene. We also know that the you might still develop an illness no matter how well and how often you wash. We’re here to help any time you get sick. If you’d like a physician referral, call us at 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Learn why newborns are screened before leaving the hospital.


 

Before your new baby leaves the hospital, she’ll be screened for a variety of conditions. From blood tests to hearing tests, these important screenings can save your baby’s life. Learn more about the tests your baby will undergo before being discharged.

Why are newborn screenings performed?
According to the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation, newborn screening is performed to find out if your baby is at risk for disorders that require early treatment or management. In many cases, early management can prevent intellectual disability, physical disability, or death.

When are newborn screenings performed?
Unless your baby is born prematurely, newborn screenings will probably be performed within 24 to 48 hours after birth, while your baby is still in the hospital. This allows the hospital staff to begin treatment immediately if necessary.

How are newborn screenings performed?
Medline Plus explains that newborns receive three major screenings before leaving the hospital. The most well-known newborn screening is a blood test done with a quick prick at the baby’s heel. This test looks for 30 or more inherited disorders. In addition, babies are given a hearing test and a quick skin test that measures how well a baby’s heart is performing.

What if a screening is positive?
There are many courses of action if early newborn screenings determine that there may be a problem. Further testing will be used to confirm a diagnosis. In many cases, these tests show that everything is fine. In the rare case that your baby has an issue, the hospital’s medical team will move forward with a treatment plan.

Keep baby's safety in mind as she grows and develops. Kid-friendly ER at Alliance is here for all of your emergency needs. If you would like help finding a doctor, give our physician referral line a call at 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Learn more about the benefits of vegetables, fruits and fiber in your diet.

You already know that eating well is good for your health. During More Matters Month, look at the facts. Learn why getting plenty of vegetables, fruits and fiber in your diet can help you lose weight, make you feel great and lower your risk of disease.

The benefits of fruit
While supplements are recommended for some, the best way to get vitamins and nutrients is generally from food. Fruit is high in many vitamins and minerals, while being lower in calories. Fruit contains no cholesterol. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, fruit contains nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).

The benefits of vegetables
Vegetables are a versatile, delicious part of a healthy diet. When deciding what to eat, remember that 100% juice, frozen vegetables, canned vegetables and fresh veggies all count. Increasing your intake can help fight disease and improve your heart health. Eat a variety, including leafy vegetables, dark green vegetables, brightly colored vegetables, beans and peas, and starchy vegetables. Try to work veggies into every meal.

The benefits of fiber
Fiber in your diet has tremendous benefits. According to the National Fiber Council, fiber in your diet can reduce the risk of heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and certain cancers. It helps with your intestinal health and can help lower your cholesterol. With so many benefits in mind, make an effort to choose foods that are high in dietary fiber with every meal. In addition to whole grains, many fruits and vegetables also contain fiber.

Learn more about food and nutrition at our health library. To learn more about North Hills Hospital, visit us online or call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral. Take control of your health today!

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Simple Ways To Keep Your Kids Safe

Learn how to help your kids have a safe, happy school year.

It’s hard to believe that we’re already approaching back to school time. As you shop for school supplies and school clothes, keep safety in mind. Try these simple back to school health tips to give your child a healthy advantage this school year.

Keep up to date with vaccinations
Consult with the National Network for Immunization Information to find out which immunizations your child needs before the school year starts. When flu shots are ready later in the year, make sure your child gets his or her flu shot.

Prepare healthier school lunches
Avoid foods that are loaded with sugar and preservatives when you pack your child’s school lunches. Stick to whole foods as often as possible, and switch things up to keep your child engaged. Get older kids involved with shopping for lunches and preparing them.

Teach your child about bike safety
Kids grow quickly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends making sure helmets fit properly and bikes are fitted properly to the rider. Check your child’s size before school and take time to review basic safety rules.

Talk to your child about peers
Don’t ignore the social aspects of school. While it’s important to focus on education and study skills, you also need to talk to your kids about their social encounters. Have age-appropriate conversations about difficult topics such as cheating, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, and peer pressure.

Discuss healthy habits
Remind your child to wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom and before meals. Make a habit out of encouraging everyone in the family to wash their hands as soon as they return home from school and work.

Learn more about kids' health at North Hills Hospital. To find a doctor to speak with, please call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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This summer, bring your little ones on the road without stressing out.

Having a new baby may make summer travel more complicated, but it doesn’t make it impossible. This year, enjoy your time away with these simple tips for new parents that will help make traveling with children much easier.

Consider renting baby gear.
If you’re heading out of town and it’s difficult to take items like a travel crib or rocker with you, consider renting baby gear at your destination. Do research online to find reputable businesses that rent items like cribs, car seats and other items to vacationers. If you have friends or family with young babies, you may be able to borrow items that are difficult to travel with.

Buy diapers when you get there.
Some items, such as diapers, are easily found everywhere you go. When you pack, avoid packing bulky items like diapers and wipes. Instead, hit a major retailer when you arrive at your destination. Just avoid convenience stores and tourist destinations, as the prices will likely be inflated.

Always have a change of clothes on hand.
You never know when a diaper incident is going to ruin a perfectly good outfit. Keep a change of clothes for baby tucked in your diaper bag, and while you’re at it, tuck away a spare clean shirt for yourself. Things happen when you least expect them.

Create an on-the-go essentials kit.
Put together a basic kit with items you need when traveling. This can include feeding gear, medicine, baby wipes, disinfecting wipes and pacifiers. You know your baby’s routine the best, so cater your kit to what you find you need every day. Don’t forget plenty of basic rags for wiping up spills and covering baby when you need to. As part of your planning, make sure you know how to access and contact the local hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends purchasing additional travel health insurance if needed.

If anything should happen, keep our kid-friendly ER at Alliance in mind during your summer travels. If you would like help finding a doctor, give our physician referral line a call at 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Find out what you need to know before you consider setting off consumer fireworks.

Fireworks are an iconic part of summertime celebrations, but they’re also a major cause of injuries and visits to the emergency room. This year, before you set off fireworks at home with your family, take into consideration these surprising facts about consumer fireworks. You may discover that your best and safest option is to watch a professional display from a safe distance.

Sparklers aren’t safe for kids. Did you know that sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Farenheit? That’s as hot as a blowtorch. Don’t assume that sparklers are safe for kids. If you must use sparklers or any fireworks, keep water nearby.

Fireworks pose a fire risk. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks caused fires that amounted to $36 million in direct property damage in 2010. These fires also caused dozens of injuries and eight deaths. Consider the risk to your property and your family before you set off fireworks at home.

Fireworks aren’t always legal. Consumer fireworks are illegal in some states, such as Delaware and New York. In other states, certain types of fireworks are illegal. Make sure you research your local laws before purchasing and setting off fireworks.

Fireworks can cause severe injuries. The Cosumer Product Safety Commission recommends avoiding buying fireworks packaged in brown paper. This is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays, not consumers. Keep in mind that even legal fireworks can cause serious injuries, including burns and eye damage.

Accidents happen, especially during the busy summer months. Visit kid-friendly ER at Alliance if anyone in your family needs urgent care. If you would like help finding a doctor, give our physician referral line a call at 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Discover five simple ways to make your home safer for babies and young children.

When you have a baby or young child in the home, it’s important to child-proof and avoid common hazards. Remember, child-proofing has to be customized for every home and its individual features and dangers. Carefully evaluate every room in your home. If you’re not sure where to start, begin with these tips.

1. Avoid recalled furniture and toys
Stay on top of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) list of recalled items. Never purchase used car seats and be aware that older used cribs may fail to meet modern safety standards. Used toys, especially toys that contain small magnets, may not be safe for children even under supervision.

2. Keep all medication and hazardous material out of the reach of children
It takes a serious sweep around your home to remove and lock up substances that could be harmful if swallowed. Make sure all adults and older kids in the home know the poison center's phone number: 1-800-222-1222.

3. Be aware of furniture and appliance dangers
The CPSC reports that on average, a child dies every two weeks from a furniture tipover accident. Heavy television sets on unsteady furniture are a common culprit in these tragic accidents, but as you child-proof your home, you should ensure that any heavy furniture is properly bracketed to the wall.

4. Use caution with blinds and drapery cords
Window blinds present a strangulation hazard to kids. Look for newer models that have complied to recent safety standards. Shop for child-proofing devices that eliminate long, hanging cords to lower and raise blinds.

5. Child-proof sources of electricity
Cover all outlets in the home with sturdy outlet covers to reduce the risk of children inserting fingers and objects into outlets. Keep electrical cords out of reach of kids and teach them from an early age not to play with cords and cables.

Sometimes accidents happen despite the best safety measures. The kid-friendly ER at Alliance is here for you when you need help in an emergency. If you would like help finding a doctor, give our physician referral line a call at 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Do you think you might have Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Learn more about this common syndrome.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects up to 20% of adults in the United States according to WomensHealth.gov. It’s a commonly diagnosed syndrome that involves symptoms that appear for at least three months. Because it involves bowel movements, it’s a disorder that isn’t talked about openly as much as other medical issues. Don’t be embarrassed by IBS. Get the facts and how you can get help.

What is IBS?

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse describes IBS as a group of symptoms that occur together. As opposed to a disease, it’s a cluster of symptoms that can include abdominal pain or discomfort, cramping, and diarrhea or constipation. Some people experience diarrhea and constipation.

How is IBS diagnosed?

There is no surefire way to diagnose IBS. It is often diagnosed by ruling out other issues such as colon cancer, celiac disease and infection. Doctors will conduct tests to make sure you don’t have other issues. If your doctor believes you have IBS, you can start treating symptoms and trying to avoid them.

Who gets IBS?

IBS is more common in women and often appears before the age of 35. It may be more common in individuals who experience stress and anxiety and those with other issues of the gastrointestinal tract.

How is IBS managed?

While there is no cure for IBS, many individuals can manage symptoms through diet adjustments, medication and therapy. Because IBS is strongly linked to stress and anxiety, it often helps to manage psychological aspects of the syndrome to in turn help the physical symptoms. Your doctor will help you adjust your diet to remove triggers and may prescribe medication or supplements to help with irregular bowel movements.

Discover whether or not your symptoms could be a sign of IBS. Visit the North Hills Hospital online health information section to learn more about irritable bowel syndrome. If you would like help finding a doctor to speak with, call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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