Muscles – over 600 supporting you every minute of every day!

The first thing I think of is “suns out, guns out” when I hear the word muscles.  Obviously, muscles are so much more important than that! As we head into chillier months ahead, the guns may not be out on display, but they are definitely still working hard. Our muscles support our bodies from head to toe and it is very important to keep them well fueled, hydrated, and moving.

Muscles do everything from pumping blood throughout your body to helping lift heavy objects.  You can control some of your muscles while others do their jobs without you thinking about them.  Muscles are all made up of the same elastic tissue comprised of thousands of small fibers and there are three types of muscles in the human body: Smooth Muscles, Cardiac Muscles, and Skeletal Muscles.

The 3 Types of Muscles

Smooth Muscles – These can also be referred to as involuntary muscles and are typically in sheets, or layers, with one layer of muscle behind the other.  Your brain and body tell these muscles what to do without even thinking about it. You cannot use smooth muscles to pump iron or jump around. 

Cardiac Muscles – This is the muscle that makes up the heart, also known as the myocardium. Just like smooth muscles, the cardiac muscle works on its own. It has a special group of cells that controls the heartbeat. The thick muscles of the heart contract to pump blood out and then relax to let the blood back in after circulating throughout the body.

Skeletal Muscles – These muscles come in all different shapes and sizes. Skeletal muscles are voluntary muscles, meaning you can control what they do. They work with your bones to give your body power, strength, and motion…. the pumping iron kind of muscles! Facial muscles fall into this category, but they do not connect the same as your typical skeletal muscles.  Instead, many of them attach under the skin. This allows you to contract your facial muscles just a tiny bit to make different movements in your facial expressions. 

 

How do we maintain all of these amazing muscles?

Healthy Diet – Emphasis should be on real foods, not processed. Fruits, vegetables, and proteins are important as well as healthy grains and fats.  Stay away from refined sugars and heavily salted items. The choices we make impact our bodies greatly. Healthy Choices = Healthy Bodies 

Hydration – Water is always the best form of hydration. The 8×8 rule of thumb is the minimum amount of water you need to keep your body in tip-top shape.  

Physical Activity – Get at least 60 minutes of activity per day.  This doesn’t have to be all at once; however, 10 minutes at a crack would be the minimum recommendation.  Physical activity can include the gym and outdoor activities as well as household chores and even shopping.

Get up and move!

 

5 Surprisingly Awesome Facts About Your Muscles

  • The tongue is a muscle that’s attached only at one end! Your tongue is actually made of a group of muscles that work together to allow you to talk and help you chew food. 
  • It takes 17 muscles in the face for us to smile and 43 muscles to frown.
  • The smallest muscles of the human body are present in the inner ear. Tensor Tympani and Stapedius are two muscles present in the inner ear that connect to the eardrum.
  • The busiest muscles in humans are the eye muscles. Eyes have to move continuously with the help of extraocular muscles in order to keep a sharp vision, focus, and clear vision. 
  • Hypnic jerks occur when a person is about to fall asleep, are induced by muscles. A hypnic jerk is an involuntary movement that occurs during sleep and at times can suddenly wake a person from their sleep.

sources:

https://www.bioexplorer.net/top-muscular-system-facts.html/

https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/kids/healthy-muscles#tab-id-2

https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/muscles.html

Water Does a Body Good!

As I gulped down my last glass of water for the night, I got to thinking about all of the great things water does for my body. My favorite benefit is clearer skin, but water does so much more. I love to drink water; it is my go-to beverage of choice. So, for me, getting my ounces in is never a chore. For others, the struggle is real! So how does water benefit you, besides helping you achieve extra steps for all the trips to the bathroom? Is water really that important? How much should you drink?

Yes! Water is that important! (In case you weren’t too sure of the correct answer) Water is the basis of our bodies and bodily functions.

water in the human body graphic

According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%. Totaling 60% of our body’s composition.

The average adult should replenish their water supply daily with 8 ounces 8 times per day. Depending on your medical conditions or medication, you may have to have a conversation with your healthcare professional, but the average healthy adult can safely go with the 8×8 rule of thumb.

Some of the benefits of water include:

  • Carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells
  • Flushing bacteria from your bladder
  • Aiding digestion
  • Preventing constipation
  • Cushioning joints
  • Protecting organs and tissues
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Maintaining electrolyte (sodium) balance
  • Regulating calorie consumption
  • Aiding in clearer skin

Not all water is created equal! I say this because so many people I know have to add things to water. If you are one of those people, there is a good way to add flavor without compromising the benefits and adding unnecessary calories. Instead of purchasing expensive flavored waters, they always have more ingredients than you bargained for, you can easily make your own flavor-infused water at home.

Try adding any of the following to a cold glass or pitcher of water:

  • Sliced citrus fruits or zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
  • Crushed fresh mint
  • Peeled, sliced fresh ginger or sliced cucumber
  • Crushed berries

Straight up, on the rocks or infused, how will you be taking your water today?

Sources

 

What is Telemedicine?

As COVID-19 continues to evolve, more hospitals and other healthcare facilities have been adding telemedicine services to keep their employees and patients healthy and safe. But what exactly is telemedicine and how does it work? And what does that mean for you, the patient? Well, don’t worry. We’re here to answer all of your questions. 

What is telemedicine?

cover of 1924 Radio News magazine
Source: t.magazineart.org

Telemedicine is the process of using telecommunications technology to remotely diagnose and treat patients. In layman’s terms, this means using audio or video chats over the internet to meet with patients virtually, rather than seeing them in person. 

While this may sound like a new concept, healthcare provided in a home setting has been around for years. In fact, the cover of Radio News from 1924 shows a doctor conducting a “telehealth” service by way of radio transmission. And before that, an article in the 1879 Lancet talked about reducing unnecessary office visits by using the telephone for care. 

How does telemedicine work?

Telemedicine works just like a normal doctor’s visit. You’ll still go through the regular process of setting up a doctor’s appointment, and choosing the date and time. The only difference is it’s virtual! Before your virtual appointment, your provider will give you instructions on how to join the audio or video call through their website or app. You can use a smartphone, tablet or computer for a virtual visit, just as long as the device you choose has a camera. Before you log in, you’ll also want to make sure you have a strong internet connection. 

Why is telemedicine great for patients?

Virtual visits have many benefits for patients including:

  • Less time taken off work
  • No sitting in traffic to get to an appointment
  • No paying for public parking or public transportations to and from the appointment
  • No need to make childcare arrangements
  • No need to sit in a waiting room with other patients who may have a contagious illness
  • Covered by most insurances just like a normal clinic visit (most providers will check if your insurance covers telemedicine visits prior to scheduling one)

Are telemedicine visits effective?

Many visits such as post-operative appointments, medication checks, and other types of follow-up appointments can be performed just as effectively via a telemedicine visit as they would be in person. In fact, many studies have shown that the health outcomes of virtual visits are just as good as those conducted in person. Your doctor will only schedule visits via telemedicine if the nature of that visit lends itself to that approach. If something comes up during your visit that makes your doctor believe an in-person visit is necessary, one can be scheduled immediately. 

Is my data safe?

If you are worried about your data not being secure, ask your doctor if they use a telemedicine application that’s HIPAA compliant. Any HIPAA-compliant application will protect your confidentiality and provide secure lines of communication between you and your doctor.

What is the difference between telehealth and telemedicine?

Telehealth refers to both remote clinical services AND remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, continuing medical education, administrative meetings, etc. 

Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth and is used to refer to ONLY remote clinical services such as patient appointments, medication prescribing, etc. 

Other telemedicine terms to know

Telemonitoring: Telemonitoring is the use of audio, video or other electronic information sharing technology to monitor the health status of a patient from a distance. Telemonitoring can be used to track things like a patient’s heart rate, blood sugar levels, etc. 

Encryption: Encryption is a system of encoding data so that the information can only be retrieved and decoded by an authorized user. In telemedicine, it is important that data is encrypted so that patient confidentiality is not compromised. 

eHealth: Short for electronic health, eHealth is another way to describe a healthcare practice which is supported by electronic processes and communication.

ePrescribing: the electronic generation, transmission and filling of a medical prescription (as opposed to the traditional paper prescriptions and faxing). 

HIPAA: an acronym for Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. The HIPAA privacy rule protects the privacy of a patient’s individually identifiable health information and sets national standards for the security of electronic health information. 

Learn more about reasons to participate in remote care in our post: The Amazing Trifecta: Reasons for Patients to Participate in Remote Care, Powered by Strive

You Rest, You Rust: 4 Benefits of Getting Back to Your Activity Routine

Like many people, the last thing I want to do is exercise after a long day of work. (Because who wouldn’t rather relax?) But over the past few years, I’ve taught myself how to get my buns out of bed early and start my day at the gym. Getting in the habit of following a daily activity routine is definitely not an easy thing to do, but I’ve gotten better at it over time. For the past two years, I’ve gotten up at 5 a.m. every day to enjoy interval training boot camps and occasionally slip in a bike ride to work. 

That being said, I’ve been struggling due to Safer at Home directives and my life is starting to resemble that of my dog — scrounging around the house for food, taking naps and well … you get the picture. My body is achy and I’m tired. I feel my spirit has tanked and I’ve gotten really good at “relaxation.” But after two weeks of wondering why I felt so sore and tired, it hit me: you rest, you rust! 

So, if you’re feeling a bit “rusty” during these crazy times, it’s time to get back into your daily activity routine. You don’t need to break your back at the gym to see positive results. For me, it was always to go big or go home. However, I’m finding just as much enjoyment from small consistent motion. I’ve been enjoying 15 or 30-minute walks with my pooch, twice a day. Occasionally, I’ll even spice it up with a handful of sit-ups, push-ups, light stretching and a jog. 

And I’m noticing some great benefits now that I’ve started up a daily activity routine again. Check it out:

 

1. My cravings for sugar have decreased  

 

The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure (including exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol or food). For me specifically, food such as cookies, candy and cakes are my weakness. But by exercising daily, my brain rewards me with a rush of dopamine for good, instead of evil. That means when I exercise, I can go more than a day or two without thinking about a sweet treat.

Exercise can also lower your blood sugar level and help your insulin work better. This can decrease your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. And If you already have one of these diseases, exercise can help you manage it a little better. 

 

2. My lower back and legs aren’t so stiff and sore

 

Limiting your movements can actually weaken your muscles, compound joint trouble, and affect your posture, setting off a chain reaction of further problems. While pain relievers, and cold or hot packs may offer quick relief, fixes like these are temporary and can lead to other health issues. For me, my daily dose of Ibuprofen was making it worse. Not only was I still sore, I was starting to experience stomach issues. 

But adding in the right set of exercises to your daily activity routine can have a long-lasting impact on relieving ankle, knee, hip, back or shoulder pain. And if practiced regularly, joint pain relief workouts might permit you to postpone — or even avoid — surgery on a problem joint that has been worsening for years. By strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility, my back and leg pain is becoming manageable without the use of medications and quick fixes.

 

3. I have mental clarity during the day 

 

Exercise stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain. Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein in the body believed to help with decision making and higher thinking. Regular physical activity boosts memory and the ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in the hippocampus responsible for memory and learning. In short, exercising daily improves your mental clarity! 

 

4. I’m not a big jerk

 

Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed, and less anxious. By getting back to my daily activity routine, I’ve noticed an improvement in my mood and can actually relax the right way with a deeper, less interrupted sleep.

I could keep going, but let’s just say there are many more reasons to keep moving! It may be hard to get motivated, but with the right mindset you can do anything. Find something you enjoy, be consistent and if you’re under a doctor’s care, seek guidance. Also, be sure to stay properly hydrated when increasing your physical activity level.

How will you continue to move?