June is National Outdoors Month (insert applause here)! It is a special time to celebrate America’s Great Outdoors. National leaders for years have issued proclamations recognizing this month as Great Outdoors Month, a time when America celebrates its natural treasures. This recognition highlights the benefits of active fun outdoors in our magnificent shared resources of forests, parks, refuges, and other public lands and waters. Proclamations generate widespread media attention, encouraging millions of American families to move outside, and prompting public discussion of important issues linked to outdoor recreation including volunteerism, health, and outdoor ethics.
A truly American idea, the State and National Parks of this country represent our natural heritage. North and south, east and west, they stretch from the edges of our maps to the hearts of our cities, covering nearly one-third of this nation. This June, celebrate the natural wonder and outdoor spirit of America by getting outside during Great Outdoors Month. Once you come outside, you’ll never want to go back inside. Click here to read more about Great Outdoors Month 2014.
‘National Get Outdoors Day’ prepares for its 7th exciting year!Participants from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry are again teaming up to host the 7th annual National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun at sites across the nation. On Saturday, June 14, 2014, these diverse partners will offer opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities. Prime goals of the day are reaching currently underserved populations and first-time visitors to public lands, and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors. Each GO Day event will offer a mix of information centers and “active fun” areas – places where guests, and especially kids, can use a fishing pole, go geocaching, help pitch a tent and more. The sites will provide photo opportunities with characters like Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl and other interesting creatures. Many sites also feature areas that focus on other aspects of healthy living, including sustainability and good nutrition. In addition to the GO Day events, participants will be invited to nearby follow-up activities called EchO events occurring throughout the summer, which include introductions to mountain biking and fly-fishing, hikes with rangers to see wildlife, kayaking and rafting and much more. The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008. Building on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other important efforts to connect Americans – and especially children – with nature and active lifestyles, the USDA Forest Service (FS) and the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) agreed to lead an inclusive, nationwide effort focusing on a single day when people would be inspired and motivated to get outdoors. GO Day partnered with federal, state and local agencies, key enthusiast organizations and recreation businesses to create a healthy, fun day of outdoor adventure aimed at reaching first-time visitors to public lands and reconnecting children to the outdoors. Last year, 138 official GO Day sites across the nation welcomed thousands of new faces to the joy and benefits of the great outdoors. GO Day is an outgrowth of the Get Outdoors USA! campaign, which encourages Americans, especially our youth, to seek out healthy, active outdoor lives and embrace our parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters. For more information go to National Get Outdoors Day.
So get up & get out this month!
To learn about National Outdoors Month visit:
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
It’s still Asthma Awareness Month! Although I’ve discussed this topic before, this time I’d like to focus on asthma in the African American community.
Asthma is a chronic disease of the lung airways. With asthma, the airways are inflamed (swollen) and react easily to certain triggers, like smoke or dust mites. When the inflamed airways react, they get narrow and make it hard to breathe. Common asthma symptoms are:
- Coughing, especially at night
- Wheezing — a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe
- Shortness of breath (feeling like you can’t get enough air)
- Chest tightness, pain, or pressure
- Faster breathing or noisy breathing
There is no cure for asthma, but asthma can be managed with proper prevention and treatment. Anybody can get asthma, but it is seen more often in African-Americans. More than 3 million African-Americans have asthma. African-Americans go to the hospital emergency room more than whites because of asthma. They also are almost three times more likely to die from asthma-related causes than whites. Asthma most often starts in childhood, and it is a top health problem for African-American children. Asthma is a leading reason why kids miss school.
Here are some discouraging facts about African Americans who suffer from asthma:
- Asthma has a genetic component. If only one parent has asthma, chances are 1 in 3 that each child will have asthma. If both parents have asthma, it is much more likely (7 in 10) that their children will have asthma.
- Ethnic differences in asthma prevalence, morbidity and mortality are highly correlated with poverty, urban air quality, indoor allergens, and lack of patient education and inadequate medical care.
- African Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma. African American Women have the highest asthma mortality rate of all groups, more than 2.5 times higher than Caucasian women
- African American women have the highest asthma mortality rate of all groups, more than 2.5 times higher than Caucasian women
Asthma is more common and more severe among children; women; low-income, inner-city residents; and African American and Puerto Rican communities. In general, these disadvantaged and at-risk populations experience above-average rates of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths that are much higher than differences in asthma prevalence would suggest.
The reasons for these disparities are complex, but cannot be attributed to genetic differences alone. Economic, social, and cultural factors—ranging from lack of access to quality health care to differences in health beliefs between patients and their doctors—add to the greater asthma burden among these groups. Individuals within disadvantaged populations also may face substandard housing and work conditions that place them at greater risk for frequent and prolonged exposure to environmental allergens and irritants that worsen asthma.
Bridging this disparity gap is a challenge. It will require innovative and sustained efforts at multiple levels to translate, tailor, and deliver effective asthma care to diverse populations in line with the recommendations of the EPR-3 guidelines and its companion GIP Report.
All stakeholders involved in controlling asthma have a role to play in reducing asthma-related health disparities.
1. This headline on a flag-disposal story:
How often do you shower?If you don’t shower much – but generally keep that information to yourself because of the negative stigma – you’re not alone. Following hot on the heels of the no-shampooing hair care revolution, some folks are taking the logical next step: If no or reduced shampooing results in healthier, shinier hair, what about skipping soaping up the body?
Unlike the modified hair-washing schedule, which tends to elicit commentary about shampoos and parabens, conditioners and hair-drying time, skipping showers altogether seems to bring up plenty of other opinions on the subject. Many people who do shower every day think that not doing so is inherently wrong and unhealthy. It’s assumed that people who don’t shower on the regular are stinky and/or greasy and maybe even visibly dirty – and it certainly can’t be good for you.
But considering that it has really only been the last 100 years or so that people have bathed more than once a week (Saturday night baths were the norm for most of American history), daily showering is actually not objectively healthier or better; and in fact, one of the most common reasons that people cut down on showering is actually for skin-health reasons, not laziness. As far as being actually physically dirty, most of us who don’t work outside or aren’t otherwise involved in daily work where we might get covered in dust, dirt or grease probably don’t get any real dirt on anything other than our faces and hands most weeks.
Also see: 5 natural deodorant alternatives
What’s behind the links between health and less showering? People with skin issues have long noted that forgoing daily showers can help with eczema, and plenty of others think that it is actually healthier overall, for similar reasons that not washing one’s hair can make for shinier, less-frizzy hair. The natural body oils that lubricate and protect the skin get washed away by warm (and especially hot) showers paired with soaps that strip the skin. Without those oils, the skin is more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses, and can also look and feel dry and uncomfortable. Because the body wants to keep the skin in healthy, protected shape, frequent washing can even encourage the body to overproduce oil, leading to a viscious cycle of cleansing and oil production. Many people have found that when they stop washing hair and skin as often, after an adjustment period, the body naturally decreases the amount of oil it produces and less washing is needed.
Of course, how often you shower depends on your level of activity, how healthy you are (if you work out often and eat healthfully, you naturally produce less body odor) and what you do for a living. And, I would add to that list: It depends on the season too.
Confession: I only shower three times a week, and I wash my hair on one of those occasions – but that’s just because it’s winter. In the summer, I shower every day, but most of those are just rinses in lukewarm water, sans soap so I don’t dry out my skin. The drier, colder air of winter saps my skin of moisture, and since I use only natural products, keep active, and don’t eat much processed food (and it’s cold), I have almost no body odor. You can also shower briefly, as I do, and lather up only the areas that need it on a daily basis (we all know what those are), protecting most of your good skin oils from being washed off, while still enjoying a couple minutes of shower time. You can also wash with oils, which is a popular and growing treatment for dry skin. I do this too and have noticed that since I started washing with organic coconut oil (yes, oils will clean, check out the site dedicated to oil cleansing for an explanation), I feel refreshed, moisturized and smelling great – I add a couple drops of sweet orange or rosemary oil as I love scent.
But there’s one area of the body you should never skip washing multiple times a day: your hands. As John Oxford, professor of Virology at Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry told the Daily Mail, “As long as people wash their hands often enough and pay attention to the area of the body below the belt, showering or bathing every other day would do no harm. Even twice a week would not be a problem if people used a bidet daily as most infectious bugs hang around our lower halves.”
*Originally published on Yahoo.
Each May, thousands of organizations across the U.S. join together for Asthma Awareness Month (AAM) in an effort to increase public awareness and improve the lives of children and families with asthma. Be part of this national effort to get asthma under control in communities nationwide!
What is asthma? It’s an incurable inflammatory disorder of the airways. Picture this: You’re short of breath, and you’re trying to fill your lungs by sucking air through a tube the diameter of a plastic coffee stirrer. That’s the helpless, panicked feeling a growing number of people with asthma have experienced . . . time and again.
Asthma is chronic . . . it can be life-threatening . . . and it’s one of our nation’s most common and costly diseases. And the severity of asthma — as well as the frequency of asthma “episodes” — can be influenced by exposures to allergens and irritants in the environment, both indoors and outdoors.
Asthmais one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases. There are 26 million people in the United States living with asthma, a disease affecting the lungs, causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma successfully to reduce and prevent asthma attacks, also called episodes.
Asthma affects people of all ages and backgrounds. In most cases, we don’t know what causes asthma, and we don’t know how to cure it. Certain factors may make it more likely for one person to have asthma than another. If someone in your family has asthma, you are more likely to have it. Regular physical exams that include checking your lung function and checking for allergies can help your healthcare provider make the right diagnosis.
Successful asthma management includes knowing the warning signs of an attack, avoiding things that may trigger an attack, and following the advice of your healthcare provider. Using what you know about managing your asthma can give you control over this chronic disease. When you control your asthma, you will breathe easier, be as active as you would like, sleep well, stay out of the hospital, and be free from coughing and wheezing. To learn more about how you can control your asthma, visit CDC’s asthma site.
With your healthcare provider’s help, you can make your own asthma management plan so that you know what to do based on your own symptoms. Use your asthma medicine as prescribed and be aware of common triggers in the environment known to bring on asthma symptoms, including smoke (including second-hand and third-hand cigarette smoke), household pets, dust mites, and pollen. Limit or avoid exposure to these and other triggers whenever possible. The important thing to remember is that you can control your asthma.
To learn about how CDC supports state asthma control programs, see our Success Stories from CDC’s National Asthma Control Program, National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects.
How to help reduce asthma episodes
Start with an Allergen Control Plan:
- Work with your regular doctor or clinic to figure out which allergens affect your child the most
- Concentrate on controlling those allergens
- Start with the easiest, least expensive options, like working to remove “triggers” in the home — especially the ones that most affect your child
Put your plan into action:
- Set up your room-by-room cleaning plan — starting where the person with asthma sleeps
- Wash bedding and curtains
- Dust and vacuum
- Clean windowsills and frames
- Wet mop floors
- Remove stuffed animals (or enclose them in a cabinet)
Get educated about asthma:
- Learn as much as you can about asthma
- Ask your doctor or clinic for asthma education information and a written asthma action plan
- Join an asthma support group. Studies show they can help you set and reach your goals
- Keep an asthma diary to track asthma episodes
- Work with your doctor or clinic to determine other steps you need to take — such as removing carpeting from your home
Want To be More Active With Asthma Awareness?
Join the asthma awareness Twitter chat
Join the “Get Asthma Aware” thunderclap
Join the NHLBI’s “Get Asthma Aware” Thunderclap by May 6 to pledge your voice to learning more about asthma. Thunderclap is an online action site where users can share the same message at the same time on social media.
Across the country, national organizations and local coalitions are working together to provide strategies and solutions for asthma sufferers and their families. Click on the resources below for more information:
- Asthma Community Network
- The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program
- Cleaning Institute
- Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics
- DC Asthma Coalition
- National Association of School Nurses
- American Lung Association
- ZAP Asthma/Atlanta
- USDA/CSREES, U.S. EPA, and Montana State University Extension Service