Good health is vital to balancing the demands of work, home, school, church and community. You don’t have to make sweeping changes overnight to start becoming a healthier version of yourself. Learning something new and adjusting what you’re already doing can offer immediate rewards and long-term benefits. We hope you find our wellness tips helpful during your travels and beyond. 


7 Steps to a Longer (and More Fulfilling) Life

If you’re thinking about ways to stay feeling younger, you’re not alone. Although you can’t turn back the hands of time, you can take some practical steps to keep ticking longer than the expected 78.7 years. Check out these ways to add years to your life and life to your years!

  1. Make exercise a priority. You already know that you should hit the gym or exercise regularly, but do you know why you should? Heart disease is the number one killer of American men and women. If you’re interested in protecting yourself, exercise is our greatest defense. Get your heart pumping by biking with your family or working out with friends. Regular exercise protects again heart- and life-threatening diseases.   
  2. Schedule family and friend time. Getting together with close family and friends helps improve your emotional state. It can also lower your blood pressure, reducing your risk for heart disease. If everyone is busy, spend some quality time with your pets. Their companionship can also help lower your blood pressure and help you relax. 
  3. Ask questions. Want an easy way to get more involved in your health? Become your physician’s right-hand man (or woman)! It’s important to trust your doctor, but you also need all the facts. If you’re unsure about anything concerning your health – ask. No matter if you believe a medication error has been made or you want to learn more about alternative treatment options, your physician should be open to talking with you about your concerns. You know your body better than anyone – and you are your best healthcare advocate. 
  4. Think positively. Easier said than done, but studies have shown that optimism generates energy, keeps pain at bay and can even help you live longer! By choosing to look on the bright side (instead of dwelling on the negative), you’re helping lower stress levels. And while you’re at it, find some funny videos or reruns of your favorite sitcom to help lighten your mood. Laughing out loud helps you relax and sends signals to your body to release endorphins – your body’s version of ibuprofen. 
  5. Attend church – regularly. Staying involved with your church and adhering to religious principles is beneficial to your health according to several studies. Benefits include a drop is stress levels, more stable emotions, and an increase in a positive attitude. What’s more, connecting with likeminded family and friends can help you build resiliency in difficult times. 
  6. Take a chocolate break. That’s right – that delight of eating a little bit of chocolate every day may be better for you than you think! The National Institutes of Health say consuming a moderate amount of this heavenly substance (think a few M&Ms or a 25-calorie Hershey’s kiss), may help protect against heart disease. Instead of milk chocolate, reach for the dark chocolate varieties that include more heart disease-fighting antioxidants.
  7. Keep your yearly doctor’s appointment. Want to live longer? Protect yourself by maintaining appropriate screenings for cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. When life gets busy, it’s easy to put these checkups on the backburner. Most screenings for men and women don’t begin until you’re 40 years old but establishing a relationship with a primary care physician earlier in life can help you quickly address unexpected medical conditions and keep your health on track. If you’re over 40, take a few minutes now for a health screening that could save your bones – or your life – later.  

Do you have a relationship with a physician you trust? CHI Memorial Medical Group has convenient locations throughout Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Our network of dedicated physicians provides quality health care for the entire family. Specialties include breast surgery, family and internal medicine, general surgery, gerontology, gynecology, infectious disease, metabolic surgery, pediatrics, pulmonology, rheumatology, thoracic surgery and urology. For a list of physicians in your community, visit chimemorialmedicalgroup.org



Make photocopies of important documents

Have you ever experienced that moment of panic going through security and you think you’ve lost your ticket, passport or other important travel documents? It’s likely happened to all of us at one time or another. Here’s a quick way to calm your mind and help make sure your trip doesn’t get derailed if you misplace essential paperwork. 

Before your leave home, take a photo of each of your travel documents, including your boarding pass, personal identification, passport, hotel reservations and any transportation details that are hard to remember. If you have your phone, you’ll have a copy of everything you need. Bonus tip: text or email those photos to your traveling companions so everyone’s on the same page. 


Becoming Wholly Healthy – Caring for Mind, Body, Spirit

Your to-do list keeps growing and your turnaround times are shrinking. When you wake up in the morning (or as you lay awake in bed at night), your mind spins with all you have to do and how little time you have to do it. Head pounding, heart racing, quickened breathing. How will you ever get it all done? 

Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re not alone. In today’s world, we’re often too busy to take notice of the stress signals that are body is clearly sending us. But ignoring these signals can have detrimental consequences to our life and health. Our mental, physical and spiritual elements are closely connected and intertwined. When one aspect is out of balance, the whole body suffers. Here are some simple suggestions to for staying wholly healthy.


  • Do a daily crossword puzzle or word scramble (not on your smart phone or tablet).
  • Make time for play with your kids or grandchildren routinely.
  • Read a book that interests and challenges you.
  • Take 10 minutes each day to meditate or complete deep breathing exercises to center your thoughts and emotions.


  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Work up to 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week.
  • Stretch for 5 minutes before getting into or out of bed to maintain or improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, veggies and whole grains. Reach for high-fat favorites with moderation.
  • After a long day, soak in hot bath with Epsom salts and essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus.


  • Reach out to friends. Research shows that people with a strong social support live longer – and healthier – lives than their solitary neighbors. Make a phone call, write a quick note or invite someone for coffee.
  • Belly-laugh often. Whether it’s your favorite tv show, your grandkid’s jokes or your favorite pet’s antics, laughter and lighthearted humor helps you cope with life’s challenges.
  • Make time for yourself. Carving out quiet time shouldn’t be a luxury. Even if it’s just a few minutes a day, pray, meditate, or read your Bible or other inspirational book to help feed your soul.

Get advice

Get advice tailored specifically for you. Your primary care physician can help you assess your current health and suggest changes that offer the most benefit to you. For help finding a primary care physician, visit CHIMemorialMedicalGroup.org and click find a physician.

More wellness tips


3 ways meditation helps your mind

Meditation is about much more than just relaxing. The benefits of this ancient practice are well documented – people who meditate report improved attention, shaper concentration, reduced stress and enhanced self-awareness, to name a few. Here are a few specific ways meditation helps your mind: 

  • Meditation boosts your focus. The world around us is full of distractions. Have you ever been working on something and a phone call or text derails your mindset? Meditation helps improve mental focus because it enhances your ability to bounce back from interruptions and bring your mind back to the task at hand.  
  • Meditation reduces anxiety and helps fight depression. This is really two in one, but often anxiety and depression go hand in hand. When feelings of overwhelm or sadness are on repeat in your mind, it’s hard to shut down that cycle and quiet the voice inside. Mindfulness meditation is all about living in moment and is designed to help people focus on the present instead of what could happen in the future or what’s already happened in the past.   
  • Meditation makes you more creative. Lacking inspiration? Studies have shown that meditation increases a person’s creativity. When you’re feeling stuck or are looking for insight, a deeper perception or a new way to solve a problem, meditation creates the emotional and mental conditions where your ideas can flourish. With all the noise of daily life, choosing a quiet moment may allow you to tap into the deeper dimensions of your mind and think of new ideas or solutions.

Meditate Now

The best part? Meditation is completely free, and you can do it anywhere and at any time. Although there are many different methods and techniques for meditation, the fundaments of the practice are the same. And now that you know a few of the benefit of this simple practice, try these steps to get started.

  • Relax your mind and body. You don’t need to be lying down to meditate. Instead find a comfortable place and a posture that’s easy, not difficult for you to maintain. You can turn on soothing music or white noise if that’s helps you calm down.
  • Be in the moment. What does this mean? Being in the moment or mindful as it’s sometimes called means not passing judgement on your thoughts. When your mind wanders – and it will – gently bring your thoughts back to your primary goal of relaxation.
  • Think about your something. Many people choose to focus on their breath during meditation, feeling and listening carefully as you sense the air moving in and out of your body. Keeping your mind on your breathing – and not on every other thought that pops in your head – takes time and practice because our minds inevitably waver.  

Meditating is straightforward and the benefits are noticed quickly with practice. Consider adding a few moments of meditation to your day to reduce stress, enhance calmness and promote happiness.  


Improving your heart health

The average middle-aged adult has about a one in three chance of developing heart disease, finds alarming new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But there’s a silver lining: Control your risk factors right now, and you can delay its arrival by as long as 14 years or prevent heart problems altogether. Start with these simple steps

  1. Stop sipping on sugar. Drink just one less can of regular soda per day to reduce both the top and bottom numbers of your blood pressure. That’s good news, since hypertension affects one in three adults in the U.S. – and it’s one of the leading causes of heart attacks and strokes.
  2. Learn to love legumes. Chickpeas, pintos, lentils – take your pick. People with type 2 diabetes who ate one cup of beans per day had better control of their blood sugar and reduced their heart disease risks, according to study in Archives of Internal Medicine.
  3. Fill up on fish. Grill or bake fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring. People who eat fish two to four times per week are 20 percent less likely to die of heart disease and 6 percent less likely to have a stroke. That’s compared with those who dine on seafood less than once weekly.
  4. Stand up. Separate yourself from your chair. Being sedentary most of the day more than doubles your risk for heart attacks and diabetes and increases your risk for cardiovascular death by 90 percent—even if you exercise. Walk around during phone calls and ask your company to have more casual days.  Research shows employees move more when they’re not in business attire. These minor changes can add up to about two-and-a-half hours of light activity each day, and a 20 percent boost in your calorie burn.
  5. Nosh on nuts. Almonds, pecans and pistachios do more than make good trail mix. They also reduce harmful blood fats when eaten instead of less healthy foods. Eating about two-and-a-half ounces of nuts per day—a little less than one-third of a cup—dropped both total and LDL (lousy) cholesterol levels after three to eight weeks, researchers report.

To learn more about heart care at the Guerry Heart & Vascular Center, click here.


5 resolutions for a healthy year!

Ready, set, Goal! If you’re looking to create a new you, making small lifestyle changes can offer big benefits. With the new year quickly approaching, keep these five resolutions in mind and set yourself up for success with well-thought-out goals and a realistic action plan. 

  1. Stop sipping on sugar. Drink just one less can of regular soda per day to reduce both the top and bottom numbers of your blood pressure. That’s good news, since hypertension affects one in three adults in the U.S. – and it’s one of the leading causes of heart attacks and strokes. 
  2. Make sleep a priority. It’s often easier said than done, but getting enough rest allows your body to carry out essential tasks. Unconsciously you’re storing memory, rebalancing hormones, rearming your immune system against infections, and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of rest for good health. Chronic sleep deprivation makes you more likely to gain weight and contributes to inflammation throughout your body, high cholesterol and high blood pressure – all risk factors for heart disease. Lack of sleep also increases your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes or makes it harder to control it if you already have it. 
  3. Build up your bones. It’s important for people of all ages to be aware of their risk for osteoporosis, particularly younger women who can still build up their bone mass density. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends two types of exercise to build strong bones – weight bearing and resistance. Your bones become stronger when you place physical demands on them. In weight bearing exercise, your bones are working against gravity to support you. Resistance exercises build both muscle and bone mass. You can get the exercise you need through running, jogging, walking, dancing and stair climbing. Lifting free weights or using weight machines provides you with resistance training. To start building bone mass, here’s a good rule of thumb: Aim for strength training two to three times a week, with a rest day in between. In each session do one exercise for each major muscle group and make the weight heavy enough so that you can perform a maximum of 8 to 12 repetitions of the movement.

    Quick tip: Be proactive – talk to your physician about your bone density and ask him or her if you should have a DEXA scan.  
  4. Ease your mind. Although it’s not a fun topic, advance directives can offer peace of mind because they state your wishes about your medical care in case you are unable to make those decisions yourself – after an accident or illness. Options include a living will that documents specific instructions about medical care, medical power of attorney to appoint a family member or friend to be in charge of your care, and a do not resuscitate (DNR) order. 

    You don’t need a lawyer to fill out these documents. And you can update them if you change your mind about the care you want to receive. Give copes to your physician and a trusted family member. Start today – advanced directive forms are available from your physician or visit Memorial.org and search advance directives.   
  5. Say ‘yes’ to Sunscreen. Want a simple and easy way to improve your health? Add sunscreen to your morning ritual. Applying sunscreen to your face and the parts of your body exposed to the sun will help protect your skin’s appearance and prevent skin cancer. Expert tips for selecting the right formula include choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers protection from UVA rays, which lead to wrinkles, and UVB rays, which cause sunburns. The strongest sun-protection ingredients are zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone and ecamsule and are your best bets for effectively blocking the sun’s harmful rays. 

Be label savvy

Learn how to apply what you read on food labels. Go beyond calorie and fat counts to make healthier all-around choices. For example, “Percent DV” (for “daily value”) indicates whether a food is high or low in nutrients, such as fiber and calcium. Foods are considered high in a nutrient if they have a 20 percent DV or higher. They’re low in a nutrient if they have 5 percent or less.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers information about understanding food labels. Read up


How to live well longer

We’ve all heard the stories. A coworker was diagnosed with cancer. Someone at the gym had a stroke. A neighbor suffered a heart attack. It may seem health problems are inevitable as we age. But there’s actually a lot you can do to live well – and live longer. And it may not be as difficult as you think.

Some of the biggest health issues men face today, such as heart disease and cancer, share many of the same risk factors. These include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and low physical activity. Although genetics play a part, most of these risk factors can be prevented or managed with simple lifestyle changes.

In addition to seeing your physician regularly for preventive screenings and exams, taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle is vital for long-term quality of life – Every effort adds up, no matter how small.


Focusing on good nutrition is key to staying healthy. Experts suggest filling at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Protein, like fish or lean meat, and whole grains, like brown rice, should make up the other half. Whenever possible, limit processed or prepared foods like canned soups, boxed dinners and drive-through meals. They tend to lack nutrition and contain ingredients that can harm our health. One of the biggest culprits? Sodium. Items like some breads, cold cuts and cured meats, and pizza top the charts when it comes to sodium content.

Many people only think about the saltshaker when trying to limit sodium. But most sodium comes from processed foods. When in doubt, read food labels. Try to keep sodium intake at 2,300 mg or less per day to help prevent high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for many health problems.


Research suggests that moderate alcohol intake may bring health benefits. But drinking more than the recommended limits can negatively affect your health. Heavy drinking can have toxic effects on the heart, liver, stomach, brain and peripheral nerves!

The National Institutes of Health recommends that men limit their alcohol consumption to two or fewer drinks a day. If you have a hard time sticking to this limit, talk with your physician.


Stress can sometimes be beneficial. It can help you prepare for action – whether asking your boss for a promotion or running a 10K. But too much stress can cause significant health problems such as heart disease, trouble sleeping, depression and obesity.

To soothe stress, experts suggest taking a walk, mediating or listening to music. Most adults already cram too much into each day. Instead of scheduling time or activities to help reduce your stress, start by taking things off your calendar. It’s health for our minds and bodies to have free time.


GET ADVICE TAILORED SPECIFICALLY FOR YOU. Your primary care physician can help you assess your current health and suggest changes that offer the most benefit to you. For help finding a primary care physician, visit CHIMemorialMedicalGroup.org and click family practice or internal medicine.  



When flying, try to to drink 8 oz of water for every hour you're in the air. When flying, try to to drink 8 oz of water for every hour you're in the air. 

Water is crucial to your health. It makes up, on average, 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water.

Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry on normal functions. Even mild dehydration — as little as a 1 percent to 2 percent loss of your body weight — can sap your energy and make you tired. Dehydration poses a particular health risk for the very young and the very old. 

Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Little or no urination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends women consume approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water - from all beverages and foods - each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water. 


Longest walks at airports

As terminals expand and moving walkways disappear, you could be in for a serious hike to your gate. 

A few airports report their longest potential walks are more than a mile – and some are longer. As airports and aircraft get bigger, gates have been spaced further apart. The amount of walking you might do continues to grow as airports build new concourses or extend existing concourses to add additional gates.

At Atlanta Hartsfield, the distance between the international terminal and domestic check-in is 1.67 miles. Check out the top 10 longest walks at U.S. airports. If you’re flying into our out of one these locations, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time – and get a reliable rolling bag!

Atlanta ATL 1.67 miles
Philadelphia  PHL 1.5 miles
Phoenix PHX  1 mile
Detroit  DTW 1 mile
Miami  MIA 1 mile-plus
Minneapolis-St. Paul MSP .87 miles
Denver DEN .64 miles
Houston Bush IAH .61 miles
Seattle-Tacoma SEA .57 miles
Los Angeles LAX .55 miles


Beijing Capital International Airport has the longest distance to travel of any airport in the world!

Sources: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-longest-walks-at-the-airport-1475082922https://www.huffpost.com/entry/worlds-longest-airport-walks_n_1778146


The Low Down on Diabetes

Every year 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, a condition that results from too much sugar in the blood. When left untreated or poorly managed, diabetes can lead to serious health problems including blindness, kidney failure, and nerve and blood vessel damage that could lead to loss of toes or feet. It’s also the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the condition, which causes your body to not process insulin properly. Insulin resistance means your pancreas makes extra insulin, but eventually it isn’t able to make enough to keep your blood sugar at normal levels.

Decrease Your Risk

The link is clear – about 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Getting to a healthy weight is the critical first step to fighting or even reversing this disease. And the good news is that you can live a normal, healthy life if you do what it takes to control your blood sugar. When your blood sugar stays in check – within the ideal range – it minimizes, delays or even prevents problems that diabetes can cause.

Ready to decrease your risk of diabetes? Here a few simple tips: 

Prioritize exercise. Making moving a ‘must-do’ is the easiest way to lower your risk of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association suggests you get moving at least five days a week for 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise. That’s a total of 150 minutes. Moderate intensity is more than just a quick walk around the block – it means you can talk, but not sing, through your workout or activity. Sounds overwhelming? Start with 10 minutes and build up by five or 10 minutes each week.  

Pick healthy foods. Foods that digest quickly like white bread, rice or sugary snacks cause your blood sugar to spike in a short period of time. Instead, choose foods low in fat and high in other nutrients – like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grain breads and lean proteins. These foods help insulin do its job and remove sugar out of the blood vessels.    

Get your doctor involved. Diabetes is something to take seriously. It’s important for everyone to be aware of their blood sugar levels, and the simple blood test for diabetes is usually covered by insurance. If you’re concerned about your weight or your risk for developing diabetes, your doctor probably is too. The sooner you know about a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis, the sooner you can make lifestyle changes that can reverse the condition in its early stages and improve your health overall. Your doctor, a registered dietician or diabetes educator can answer your questions. They can also help you set realistic weight loss goals (if needed) and show you ways to get to your healthy weight – and stay there.

If you don’t have a primary care physician, visit CHIMemorialMedicalGroup.org to choose a physician near you.

Could you have diabetes and not know it?

Uncontrolled  blood sugar puts you at greater risk for developing associated health problems – no matter your age. The initial symptoms of diabetes or pre-diabetes can be subtle – so subtle that you might not even notice them. If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, talk to you doctor.

  • Excessive thirst
  • Using the bathroom more frequently, especially at night
  • Increased irritability
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling exhausted, even after sleeping all night
  • Slow or non-healing wounds
  • Recurring yeast infections

Support When You Need It

Diabetes is a serious, chronic condition that affects nearly every part of the body. If you have diabetes or want to make preventive lifestyle changes, CHI Memorial can help. Learning to control your blood sugar through exercise and a balanced diet is key in preventing complications like blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure or nerve damage.

CHI Memorial’s Diabetes and Nutrition Center offers counseling and self-management classes that help you take control of your health, including:

  • Glucose monitoring
  • Using insulin and insulin pumps
  • Integrating exercise into your daily routine
  • Choosing wholesome foods and creating a realistic meal plan

For more information, call (423) 495-7970. 


Sip smart for good health

Sugary, caffeine-laden drinks are all around us – on TV screens, internet ads and even in some celebrities’ hands. What’s more, these drinks are increasingly marketed to adults and kids alike. How much is too much when it comes to the caffeine and sugar found in colas, energy drinks and other beverages?

This guide offers the nitty-gritty on these drinks to help you decide for your self – and your kids – when to indulge and which beverages to leave on the grocery store shelves.

The Caffeine Question

Caffeine can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Kids who consume too much caffeine can become agitated, nervous or irritable. And the same goes for adults. It may also cause headaches and interfere with sleep – and too little sleep can negatively affect our ability to concentrate and perform essential tasks at work and school.

Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day is considered safe for adults. The actual amount of caffeine content in beverages varies widely, but 400 mgs is roughly equal to four cups of coffee or 10 cans of soda. 

An 8-ouce soda contains about 24 mg of caffeine. Energy drinks, however, often pack more caffeine than sodas. For instance, one of the most popular energy drinks on the market contains 77 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce serving. The exact amount of caffeine is also missing from nutrition labels on some energy drinks, leaving you guessing about the true caffeine content.

Like soda, there are no nutritional benefits to energy drinks. Research is inconclusive on the additives in these dinks, such as guarana. We don’t really know how these substances affect development – or how specific individuals might reach to them.

Sugar High

Sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks can be tempting, no matter your age. But the high sugar content can contribute to obesity, and citric acid in some sports and energy drinks, and even excessive fruit juice intake, can lead to early dental decay.   

It’s recommended that people limit their added sugars (meaning sugars that aren’t found naturally in fruits and vegetables) to less than 10 percent of their daily calorie intake if you’re eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s 50 grams or about 12.5 teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends stricter guidelines: No more than 150 calories (9 teaspoons) a day for men and no more than 100 calories (6 teaspoons) a day for women. Kids need even less.

That’s why it’s best to limit your intake of soda, energy and sports drinks – no matter your age. The best options are always water and low-fat milk. Juice should be 100 percent and limited to 4 ounces per day for kids younger than age 6 and 8 ounces per day for older children.


Make sleep a priority

Make sleep a priority. It’s often easier said than done, but getting enough rest allows your body to carry out essential tasks. Unconsciously you’re storing memories, rebalancing hormones, rearming your immune system against infections, and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of rest for good health. Chronic sleep deprivation makes you more likely to gain weight and contributes to inflammation throughout your body, high cholesterol and high blood pressure—all risk factors for heart disease. Lack of sleep also increases your risk of getting type 2 diabetes or makes it harder to control if you already have it.

Trouble sleeping? Check out CHI Memorial's fully accredited sleep center


4 tall tales about women's health

Myth: You’re an adult, which means you can’t get acne. 

FACT: Hormone changes during pregnancy and menopause improve acne in some women, but for others they make acne worse. Certain medicines can also trigger breakouts. 

Myth: If a woman wears tight jeans, she’s bound to develop a yeast infection. 

FACT: Although avoiding tight clothing may help prevent yeast infection, the primary cause of the infection is a change in the acidic balance of your vagina. Yeast infection is caused by a fungus called Candida that’s found in small numbers in the vagina. A change in the acidic balance of the vagina can cause an overgrowth of yeast. This balance can be disrupted by many factors, including pregnancy, menstruation, diabetes and some antibiotics.  

Myth: High heels may hurt occasionally, but they don’t pose any health risks.

FACT: High-fashion, high-heeled shoes can cause a heap of problems. Shoes with pointed toes and tall stiletto heels can squeeze toes together and increase pressure, potentially causing calluses, corns and bunions. One study in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that regularly wearing shoes with a 2-inch or higher heel can shorten the calf muscle and create a thicker, stiffer Achilles tendon. That can cause reduce ankle flexibility and pain. 

Myth: I don’t need to take folic acid until I’m pregnant. 

FACT: Folic acid is important both before and during pregnancy. When a woman has enough folic acid in her body before pregnancy and while she carries the baby, she can reduce the risk for serious birth defects. If you are able to get pregnant, you need 400 to 800 mg of folic acid every day – even if you aren’t planning to get pregnant. 


Travel can help improve your brain power.

Do you really need more excuses to travel? We didn’t think so! But just in case, here’s 2 quick reasons that jumping on a plane to somewhere new can improve your problem-solving skills.

You’ll think quicker on your feet. Depending on where you are and where you’re going, you might need to think fast when your hotel is overbooked or the train you planned to take isn’t leaving on time. The more you’re forced to think quickly and efficiently, the easier it becomes. Then you can really put it to work at your job when your boss suddenly asks for ideas that you haven’t prepared for yet. 

You’ll be more creative. Being creative is all about brainstorming and coming up with new ideas. The more you see and experience – including the people and places you discover – the more ideas you’ll have to fuel your creativity! Breaking out of your normal routine can help you make connections between ideas that seem unrelated.


Get GERD Under Control

Heartburn, indigestion or chest discomfort are feelings many people experience occasionally after a rich or heavy meal. But for people living with gastroesophageal reflux disease (commonly called GERD), those uncomfortable feelings can be a daily frustration. If medications and diet modifications aren’t providing lasting relief, surgical options are available to help control or even alleviate these painful symptoms.

“Most people who seek surgical treatment for GERD have tried various combinations of medicines to control symptoms with limited success or have problems with stomach juices coming up to the back of the throat or voice box,” says Walter Rose, M.D., general surgeon with CHI Memorial Surgical Associates. “This fluid can cause hoarseness, a bitter taste in the mouth, and even respiratory issues if left untreated.”

Getting back to your Life
Thankfully there are treatment options that don’t just mask the symptoms of GERD – but keep acid from coming up into the esophagus where it causes pain and irritation.

“Surgery reinforces where the lower esophagus meets the stomach to keep acid where it belongs – in your stomach,” says Dr. Rose. “Nearly all procedures for acid reflux are performed using minimally invasive techniques, meaning you can recover more quickly and get back to living your life faster than ever before.”

If you want to learn more about your treatment options, call (423) 698-8692.


Train Your Brain – Exercising to Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a complex disease – and there are multiple risk factors outside your control. Your age and genetics can’t be changed. But you can reduce your risk through regular physical exercise like walking. The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation reports that you can reduce your risk of developing the condition by up to 50 percent – just through regular exercise. Research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society also backs up the thinking that exercise is critical in helping delay onset of the disease. It can also be beneficial for those who are already showing signs of cognitive decline. 

How does it work? Exercise stimulates the brain and increases its ability to make new connections and maintain old ones. We know that exercise helps the heart and beat more efficiently and improves blood flow throughout the body. Because the brain requires a constant supply of blood, it’s a safe bet that whatever helps the heart helps the brain.  

How much exercise do you need?  
Experts recommend aiming for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. A combination of aerobic exercises (like walking or swimming) and muscle building exercises are best. Weight training helps increase muscle mass, which helps preserve your brain health. You’ll also get the added benefit of increased balance and coordination. The key is to exercise a little every day, no matter where you do it. Start with just five or 10 minutes a day around your neighborhood or on a treadmill. Work up to 30 minutes. Before you know, your body will be ready for more – and your brain will thank you! 

Want to do more? People who engage in mentally challenging activities – especially in their younger years and middle age – have lower levels of a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study in the Archives of Neurology. Some of these activities might include reading, writing and playing card games. In addition to regular exercise, social engagement, following a healthy diet, getting quality sleep, and managing your stress are also ways to reduce your risk.

Seek help for memory loss. If you find yourself forgetting names or misplacing items with increasing frequency, talk with your physician. Certain medications or lifestyle changes may help. To find a physician in your area, visit CHIMemorialMedicalGroup.org.
Source: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)31363-6/fulltext


Simplify self care in 15 minutes or less

What is self-care? Simply put, it’s the act of taking care of yourself. Most people know taking time for themselves is important to physical, mental and emotional wellbeing – but fitting it in to our busy schedules is easier said than done.

Self-care should be simple, but in reality, it’s easy to put off things that bring peace and calmness to your days when your schedule is packed and responsibilities seem never ending. If you’re feeling the pressure from work, family or other obligations, these quick and effective ideas will help you take a deep breath and unwind after a long day (or week)! 


By drinking plenty of fluids. A cup of warm and soothing herbal tea with a teaspoon of honey is sure to usher in a good night’s sleep. Not only is it relaxing, hot tea has also been shown to ease unwanted cold symptoms. If drinking in the late afternoon or evening, be sure to choose a decaffeinated option.


Anything that brings you joy or amusement. The act of reading can help take your mind off the troubles of the day and whisk you away to another place. As long as it’s not causing your stress, time with a good book or favorite magazine qualifies as self-care.  


Even though we have to eat and drink to live, choosing the right things can also qualify as self-care. Eating small, well-balanced meals, like a hearty salad with lean protein or reaching for fruit as a snack, will give you energy and help you feel your best. Drinking plenty of water will also help you avoid those sluggish feelings.


There’s nothing that will give you a boost of energy like a quick walk around the block, a quick ride on a bike, or even doing a short routine of lunges and squats in your living room. It doesn’t take long to get your blood pumping, and you’ll feel an immediate improvement in your mood and energy level.


Take 10 minutes to wash away the day by soaking in the bath or a hot tub. Soaking in a warm aromatherapy bath with your favorite scents or essential oils can melt away the stressors of the day and ease stiffness and soreness. For a quick DIY bath salt recipe, mix 1 cup of Epsom salt with 5-8 drops of your favorite essential oil blend. Draw a bath and add ¼ cup to the warm water and enjoy!  


Tight muscles – especially in the shoulders, neck and upper back – are common if you spend much time at a computer or looking down at your phone. Take a moment to move your head side to side, bringing your ear as close to your shoulder as possible. Then drop your chin to your chest and feel the tension releasing in your shoulders. Lastly, stand with feet shoulder with apart and bend over at the waist. Relax your neck and let the weight of your body stretch out your lower back and hamstrings.


Itchy and cracked skin can be painful. But thankfully, dry skin on hands and feet can easily be improved by applying a body cream or lotion right out of the shower. Layering it while your skin is still moist will help seal moisture into your upper layer of skin. Get another boost of moisture before bed by keeping a rich hand cream by your bedside.


A power nap – that’s not more than 15 minutes – can boost your alertness, perkiness and productivity. To get the best benefit, select the right setting so that noise and light won’t interrupt, and time it so that it’s not too late in the day. This might throw off your sleep patterns and make it difficult to doze at bedtime.    


Why flying dehydrates you

If you’re stepping off a plane and not feeling well, it’s likely due to dehydration. When your body doesn’t have the water it needs to function optimally, you’ll quickly feel effects like fatigue, nausea, headaches and more. The inside of an airplane cabin creates the perfect conditions for your body to lose water faster than normal. In the sky, the humidity is near 10-20 percent. That’s drier than most desserts around the world. The humidity on the ground typically ranges from 30-60 percent. This drop in humidity combined with an airplane’s air circulation system also makes you breathe a little faster – leading to faster-than-normal dehydration. 

What can you do about it?
The amount of water you need to stay hydrated depends on the length of your flight. Aim for eight ounces of water for every hour in the air, particularly if your flight lasts longer than three hours. Other ways to stay hydrated include opting for a hydrating snack like strawberries, apples, oranges, or grapes, using saline solutions to keep your nasal passages moist, and use a hand cream that locks in moisture during your flight. 


3-minute mindful meditation to ease flight anxiety

We all feel stressed from time to time. If you feel uneasy about air travel, follow this short but effective meditation to help you quell your nerves and feel calm, relaxed and present.

Close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Take a few deep and cleansing breaths, inhaling and holding at the top of your breath for a moment before you exhale. Let the air ascend to the tops of your collarbones. Inhale and feel the expansion of your body and let the air cascade down as you exhale. Use the breath to bring your mind to the present moment.

Continue to Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. As you inhale, feel the air coming into the body. As you exhale, feel the warm hair exhaling through your mouth. 

Focus on being mindful and completely aware of nothing but this moment. Breathe in through the nose to the count of 4 and out to the count of 6. Feel your shoulders sinking down and your neck elongating. Relax your forehead, eyes, ears, jaws and the muscles of the neck. 

When you feel your mind wandering with concerns, bring it back to your breath and to the present. Anxiety is anticipation of the future, but when you stay present, there’s little room for these emotions.

Whatever thoughts come and go, simply observe them and let them pass by. Notice the rhythm of your breathing. Do not try to force it into a specific pattern but concentrate on the air passing in and out of your mouth and the rise and fall of your body. 

If flying makes you feel you are no longer in control of a situation, remember that you are still in control of your thoughts and your breath. Gently breathe in and out, in and out. Feel a gentle surrender, feeling comfortable and safe as you’re letting go. 

In this very moment, you are present.  


Ways to avoid paying overweight luggage fees

If you’ve got a big back to check, you might also be paying additional luggage fees. To keep the overall costs of your trip down, follow these simple tips. 

Know the rules. Most airlines in the U.S. allow bags up to 50 pounds before overweight luggage charges apply. Don’t take chances – check your airline’s website for their dimensions and weight limitations.  

Choose a ‘capsule wardrobe’ for your outfits. Bringing fewer things along is obvious, but by choosing clothing and shoes that you can combine and wear in several different ways will maximize your space more efficiently.  

Pack strategically. Although a little more expensive up front, choose ultra-lightweight luggage instead of the standard variety. Lightweight luggage can be up to seven pounds lighter, which gives you seven more pounds of packing room! It may also save you money to check two lighter bags that are under the weight limit than one bag that exceeds it. This information will also be available on the airline’s website. 

Weigh your bags before leaving home. Whether it’s a handheld luggage scale or the bathroom variety, take the extra step of weighing your bags so there are no surprises at check in. It’s also helpful to see if you can squeeze in just one more item without going over the limit! 

Carry or wear your heaviest items. Need boots or an overcoat for hiking or skiing? Want to catch up on some reading on your beach vacation? Leaving your laptop at home not an option? All these items aren’t fun to lug through the airport, but they will save you from paying additional fees. 


Boost your odds

Add years to your life and life to your years with this timely advice!


Set yourself up for success: Partner up. If it’s been a while since your last visit, schedule a checkup. This is a good time to start building a relationship with your physician and to check on key health indicators, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Your physician will discuss your target levels and a plan of action for levels that don’t meet your goals.

Exercise Rx: Take charge of your fate. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderately intense aerobic activity, such as brisk walking. Strength train at least two days per week. Why? Most adults lose 0.5 pounds of muscle per year after age 30, largely due to inactivity. It’s also common to gain an average of 1 to 2 pounds of fat with each passing year. These small changes can add up, increasing your risk for type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack and some cancers. While aerobic exercise is the most effective way to lose weight and burn fat, strength training helps preserve the muscle you have and can boost your metabolic rate by much is 15 percent.


The American Cancer Society recommends women ages 40 and better have an annual mammogram. If you have a family history of breast cancer, your physician may advise starting before age 40. Call (423) 495-4040 to schedule your screening mammogram.


Set yourself up for success: Safeguard your skeleton. Ladies, your risk for the bone disease osteoporosis increases after menopause. Once your period stops, you can lose up to 20 percent of your bone density over the next decade or so, unless you take steps to stay strong. Strive to consume 1200 milligrams of calcium per day from food and or supplements; men need 1000 milligrams. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Aim for 600 IUs per day.

Exercise RX: Stay on the strength train. Keep up with your goal of strength training at least twice a week doing at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity. Strength training helps protect you against diabetes, depression, heart disease and loss of balance. A recent study also found that postmenopausal women who participated in weight bearing exercise, such as lifting weights using resistance machines, walking or jogging, reduce their lifetime risk for osteoporosis by up to 11 percent.

Screening options, like colonoscopy, can detect colorectal cancer in its early stages and find abnormal growth (polyps) years before cancer develops. You may need testing before age 50 if you have a personal or family history of polyps for colorectal cancer or other risk factors. Talk with your physician about scheduling a screening.


Set yourself up for success: Keep striving. As you age and maybe even leave the workforce ask yourself: what do I want to accomplish now? Whether it’s volunteering, starting a new business, taking a class or traveling, continually setting new goals can help you live better longer. In fact, a recent study found that people who had a purpose in life are much likely are to maintain their independence overtime, rather than succumb to disability.

Exercise RX: Find balance. Staying active strengthens bones and muscles which helps reduce your risk of falling and lowers your chance of injury if you do fall. Visit the National Institute on Aging at www.nia.nih.gov and search for balance exercises. Talk with your physician about adding some of these moves to your routine. He or she can also identify health conditions or drug interactions that increase your risk of falling. Stick with your goal of 150 and 50 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity.


Ask your physician about having a vaccination to prevent shingles, a painful rash that can appear on the face or body years after a person has had chickenpox. If you’re 65 or older, have a pneumonia shot. 

CHI Memorial physicians and clinicians discuss a variety of health topics.

CHI Memorial Doctor Talk is our blog dedicated to helping you live well.