Wednesday, April 1, 2015

5 Goals That Can Make You Healthier

Setting goals is very important in achieving what you want in life, especially when it comes to your health. You can make yourself a healthier person by setting smart, healthy goals. And it’s important to not only be able to physically achieve what you want; you also have to be ready to mentally achieve it as well.

Here are 5 common health goals many people start out with. Using these as idea starters, they may spark goals that specifically fit your needs and lifestyle.

1. Running a race
Start by deciding when you will be training, then follow through with it and soon you will be finishing that 5K, half or full marathon you’ve always wanted to accomplish.
2. Reduce your waist size
Instead of focusing on the scale and losing body weight, try losing a couple inches around the waist. To accomplish this goal, try having a healthier diet and exercising at least 30 minutes a day.
3. Cut out the unhealthy foods
It is hard to suddenly cut all junk foods out of your diet, so try removing processed foods from your diet for just a week, then maybe two weeks, and so on. Soon you may notice the change becoming a habit.
4. Eat more fruits and veggies in a week
Everyone knows the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, well there’s a lot of truth in that saying. Adding a fruit or vegetable to your meals can make a big difference in your health.
5. Learn a new sport
Learning a new sport is a great way to stay in shape, get exercise, and be entertained. And you don’t have to learn how to play football for your new sport, it can be something like canoeing or mountain biking. Make it a goal to get into a new sport, you never know, it could become your new favorite hobby.

Now that you know how to set your own healthy goals, you have to follow through with them. It is very common for people to set goals for themselves, but they end up not sticking to them.

When putting a plan together, take a look at all the factors that could be contributing to your current state of wellbeing, including stress, diet, amount of exercise, to name a few. Then put a plan together and set a goal to conquer the negatives and work toward the positives.

The next step would be to ask, can I really see myself really achieving this goal? Your mind is the controller of your whole body and often what stops us from achieving our goals a lot of the times is our mind.

SMART goals
An easy way to set goals is to make sure they are SMART. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. So, when setting your goals, make sure to:

  • Specify what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it
  • Measure  how you’ll know you’ve reached your goal
  • Ask yourself, is this goal possible?
  • Recognize if your goal is realistic for you
  • Tell yourself when you plan on reaching that goal

As humans, we are capable of amazing things, but we have to believe we can do it. In order to achieve your goals, you have to not only physically work on it, but mentally too. Check out these 13 things mentally strong people avoid. The mind is the most powerful part of the body; use it to its full advantage!

And 9Health Fair can fit into your health goals by giving you a baseline to see how you are doing and where your numbers are compared to previous years. Make sure to attend a 9Health Fair this spring; your body will thank you. Find a fair near you and register today!

Share with us
what your health goals are and how you achieve them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Do You Know the Causes of High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is a serious condition that can cause many health problems. It can also be called hypertension. Your blood pressure is the force of blood pushing on the walls of arteries while the heart pumps blood. When you have high blood pressure, the force of blood will rise and it can damage the body in many ways. Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, is dangerous because it makes your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body. A person with high blood pressure can easily get caught with several other serious conditions such as heart disease, heart failure and kidney failure.

What causes high blood pressure? There is not one known cause in the rising of blood pressure, but many things can contribute to it, including:

  • Ingesting too much salt or alcohol
  • Lack of physical activity/ being overweight/obese
  • Stress
  • Age
  • Genetics/ family history of hypertension
  • Smoking

High blood pressure is actually pretty common with adults as they get older because of their lack of physical activity and eating habits. According to WebMD, about one in every four American adults suffers from high blood pressure.

To prevent being one of the statistics, be sure to stay active for at least an hour a day and watch the amount of sodium you ingest. Also, maintaining a healthy weight is very important not just to prevent hypertension, but prevention of other serious conditions as well. Stress is a large factor in the rising of blood pressure so keeping your stress level down is always a good idea. There are also nutrients you can eat to prevent high blood pressure, including:

  • Fish oils
  • Magnesium
  • Garlic
  • Calcium
  • Potassium 
If you have high blood pressure, you want to also put the following into your daily routine:

  • Stay away from tobacco products
  • Monitor your numbers and check with your doctor regularly
  • Watch what you eat; make sure it’s healthy
    • Boost your potassium intake
    • Avoid junk foods
Get your blood pressure checked for free at a 9Health Fair this spring! There are over 130 locations throughout the state. Check out our Find A Fair page for a location near you. Getting your blood pressure checked is one of the most important things you can do to stay on top of your health and your numbers.

What fair do you plan on attending? Share with us on Facebook.

Monday, March 16, 2015

9Health Fair's Final Four Challenge

With this month being March Madness and the ultimate excitement of the Final Four, we’ve got a Final Four challenge for you! Get your game on and come to a 9Health Fair this spring to take on the challenge of owning your health. Get in on the action with these four important screenings – it’s a great start to keeping your numbers scoring high and taking ownership in your health.

Your body is like a team working together. When all the parts are operating together, that means your body functions properly. Check out our top four important screenings:
  1. The most popular screening at each fair is the Blood Chemistry panel for just $35. It gives you 28 different values to help you know and understand your liver, kidneys, bones, thyroid and more. Blood Chemistry will provide you with your HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose values. These are essential numbers to know.
  2. The next important and popular screening is Hemoglobin A1c. It takes a look for diabetes by measuring your average blood sugar control for the past two to three months. For people with diabetes, it indicates how well your diabetes treatment plan is working.
  3. Checking your blood pressure is vital to keeping an eye on your overall health. Blood pressure is the force in the arteries when the heart beats and when the heart is at rest. It can fluctuate with exercise, injury, illness and emotional reactions. You want to try not to have your blood pressure exceed 119/79.
  4. The Body Mass Index (BMI) screening provides you with your BMI, using your height, weight and waist measurement to identify your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. BMI is considered reliable for assessing obesity. 

There it is folks… take on 9Health Fair’s final four challenge! Challenge yourself to own your health this spring and head to a 9Health Fair to get in on these four important screenings. You will also find many more screenings that are vital to keeping up on your health.

So make sure to head to a 9Health Fair this spring; there are more than 130 locations around the state! Go to our Find a Fair page for a location near you. Stay in the game the healthy way, and let your health and wellness have winning numbers!

After you attend a 9Health Fair this spring, tell us about it on our Facebook page

Friday, March 13, 2015

Trekking Onward with 9Health Fair

For Scott, every day is about exercising and taking care of his health. He is an avid bicycle rider and pushes himself on some of Colorado’s steepest riding hills. He also loves hiking and traveling. He and his wife recently returned from trekking Nepal, an adventure they have dreamt of for years.

At the age of 72, Scott is proud of himself for eating a healthy diet and attending a 9Health Fair every year. He primarily attends the fair for the Blood Chemistry screening; he likes to keep tabs on his cholesterol numbers.

Each year when he receives his results, he sends them to his doctor, Susan, and then reviews them with her at his annual physical. In 2013, she became concerned about the direction Scott’s results were going. They had changed quite a bit from previous years. Scott wasn’t too surprised by this, as he had noticed his bike rides were becoming more strenuous, especially when he was climbing hills, so his doctor’s concerns validated the feeling that maybe there was something going on.

An ultrasound was ordered to look at his carotid artery, and to his surprise it showed unhealthy signs of plaque build-up. The next steps were an appointment with a cardiologist, a stress test and then a procedure at the catheter lab where a stent was put in the left anterior descending artery. It was 95 percent blocked and caught just in time.

This was a scary and shocking experience for Scott. He thought, because of eating so healthy and being so active, there was no way he would end up with a problem like this. He later found out the cholesterol issue is a hereditary one, not a dietary issue.

After this experience, Scott has been preaching to his friends, expressing the importance of regular 9Health Fair attendance and annual doctor visits. Scott believes the red flags shown on his 9Health Fair results saved his life. He is truly thankful for the opportunity to be able to monitor his health in such a fast, affordable and convenient way.

Follow Scott’s advice and head to a 9Health Fair this spring. There are over 130 locations around the state. Visit our Find A Fair page for a location near you! It’s important to know your numbers and keep track of your health!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

4 Ways Nature is Helping Us Live Longer

(This guest post is authored by Melissa Daruna of Get Outdoors Colorado)

At Get Outdoors Colorado our goal is help people live healthy, active outdoor lifestyles. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: being close to nature makes you healthier! And we all know healthier lifestyles help you live longer. So, how exactly does nature help us get to those extra years?
  1. The Sun, Stress and Sleep: A key part of the outdoors is the sun. Our bodies need the natural Vitamin D the sun provides. Vitamin D helps us stay happy and calm and even helps reduce stress. Spending time in nature as a stress reliever can help keep your body in good working order. Additionally, natural light helps a sleep better, which allows our bodies to recharge and stay healthier longer.
  2. Strengthens Your Immunity: Research shows that time spent outdoors can increase white blood cells in your body that help fend off infections, viruses and even cancer. With a stronger immune system we can fight off illness quicker and easier and return to a healthier state.
  3. Keeps You Active: By going outside, you are more likely to stay physically active. Physical activity is key to a healthy, well functioning body. The good news is outdoor physical activity doesn’t have to be complicated. Doctors in Massachusetts are even starting to prescribe activity outdoors, like riding a bike or taking a walk, to help kids keep their weight under control.
  4. Biophilia Hypothesis: Bio-what, you say? The biophilia hypothesis and research suggests that our relationship with nature is fundamental to maintaining good health. The theory is that humans have an innate connection with other living things and nature. Exposure to plants and animals in a natural setting has a variety of health benefits, including those above, as well as fostering a critical connection to our environment.  This connection helps us stay mentally and physically healthier longer. 

Reconnect with nature by spending some time outside today and every day. Take a walk outdoors during lunch, ride a bike with your kids, start training to hike that 14er you’ve always wanted try. has a wide variety of events and activities offered through partners across the state to help get you started. Find your next adventure and live a longer, healthier, outdoor lifestyle!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

From Couch to 5K!

(This guest post is authored by Richard Kalasky of the Colfax Marathon

We are fortunate enough to live in one of the most active states in the country.  Now that the weather is getting warmer and the sun is up longer, it is time to get out and get active again.  One way to get active, get healthy, and lose weight is to start a Couch-2-5K Training program.  The idea is to transform you from “couch potato” to runner, getting you running 3.1 miles (or 5K) on a regular basis in just two months.   The program is designed for beginners to gradually build up their running ability, so that you can run 5K without stopping.  Before you get started, we recommend that you get clearance to start a training program from your doctor, and taking part in a 9Health Fair will help you monitor your journey.

There is a vast array of training programs available for the Couch-2-5K Training Programs, all giving you the same outcome.  You can find apps for your smart phone that will speak to you, handwritten plans by a local coach, or training plans written by coaches all over the internet.  The Colfax Marathon offers training plans from coaches across Colorado and you can join our race ambassadors at training runs around the Denver Metro area, including Ft. Collins, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.  There are over 50 running groups in the Denver area as well, that welcome members of all abilities.  Having others to train with can definitely increase your motivation and make training fun!

Structure is important for motivation, so try to allocate specific days of the week for your runs, and stick to them.  The 9 Week program allows for days or weeks to be repeated as needed.  Rest days are critical. A rest day in-between each run will reduce your chance of injury and also make you a stronger, better runner.  Resting allows your joints to recover from what is a high-impact exercise and your running muscles to repair and strengthen.  We hope to see you May 16th with us at the Bellco Colfax 5K or Sunday May 17th for any of our 6 other events.  For more information please go to

Monday, March 9, 2015

How Are You Affected by the Time Change?

We just sprung forward – well our clocks did anyway. Daylight-saving time forced us to advance our clocks ahead one hour, which doesn’t seem like much and it is nice to have more sunlight in the evenings. But waking up the entire first week after this time change makes it seem like more than just an hour loss.

How this time change actually affects you and your body can depend on your sleep habits, your health and your lifestyle. However, the big overall problems this time change can cause makes us question whether or not it’s really worth it.

It is known that losing an hour in the spring is more difficult for us to adjust to than gaining that hour in the fall. According to The American Journal of Cardiology, during the first week of daylight-saving time, there is a spike in heart attacks. They found the reason behind this is that losing an hour of sleep increases stress and provides less time to recover at night, especially for those who have health issues to begin with.

In addition, some studies actually show an overall increase in accident rates the Monday following daylight-saving time. Sleepiness is the main cause of this increase. The research shows that staying with daylight-saving time all year round could decrease pedestrian and vehicle related deaths.

What can you do to help your internal clock adapt better?

  1. Since our body naturally makes the sleep-inducing substance, melatonin, when there is a lack of light, it is important to expose yourself to light during the waking hours, but not when it’s dark outside. This way you produce melatonin during the hours you need sleep, hopefully allowing you to get a solid nights’ rest.
  2. Create a sleep-friendly environment for yourself by eliminating caffeine and alcohol, exercising several hours before bed and incorporating relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine.
  3. Start adjusting to the time change a few days before it actually happens. Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier and getting up 30 minutes earlier. Then when the change happens, it won’t seem so difficult to make the adjustment. 
And for an overall check on your health, make sure to head to a 9Health Fair this spring - there are 130+ various locations all around the state. Visit our Find a Fair page for a location near you! It’s important to know your numbers and keep your health in check so your body can handle situations like daylight-saving time.

Tell us how daylight-saving time affects you. Share with us on Facebook.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Walk This Way… to 4 of Denver’s Spectacular Spots!

Even though March is one of Colorado’s snowiest months, we have some beautiful, warm days too. And we often get a little cabin feverish when those nice days start popping up.

Well put on your walking shoes because The Brookings Institute, an independent research organization in Washington, DC, ranks Denver as the fourth most walk-able downtowns in the nation. With a plethora of places to visit, this ranking isn’t a surprise. Denver not only is a great place to get around on foot, but we have some of the most amazing buildings and educational stops you will find.

All within close proximity of one another, here are some favorites in Denver:

200 E. Colfax Avenue
Standing exactly 5,280 feet above sea level, exactly one mile high, the Colorado State Capitol welcomes around 250,000 visitors a year. Enjoy a free tour of this amazing structure; however, they are in high demand, so make sure to schedule your excursion at least four weeks in advance. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the building, the work of our General Assembly, and our exceptional Colorado legacy.

100 W. 14th Avenue Pkwy
This amazing museum is made up of two architecturally striking buildings: one is a fortress-like structure from the Italian architect Gio Ponti, and the other building is one that resembles a titanium crystal with peaks by international figure in architecture and urban design, Daniel Libeskind. The findings inside will knock you off your feet; you will find the world’s greatest collection of Native American art, work from European masters, Old West classics and traveling exhibits. 

1250 Bannock Street
Clyfford Still is considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century and was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists. Enjoy the Still Museum collection which represents 95 percent of his artwork. The museum opened in 2011 and is the newest addition to Denver’s wonderful Cultural Arts District located adjacent to the Denver Art Museum.

4.  U.S. Mint
320 W. Colfax Avenue
This is a remarkable opportunity to learn how money is made. The U.S. Mint produces 50 million coins a day, each one uniquely stamped with the letter “D” so people know those coins are from Denver. They offer a free guided tour that takes about 45 minutes and you can find out how coins are produced. Make a reservation as space is limited and the tours fill up quickly.

It’s so easy to get your daily dose of exercise in while sharpening your mind in this great city of ours! This is a great way to Own Your Health! And speaking of Owning Your Health, make sure to join us at a 9Health Fair this April. Go to our Find a Fair to find a location near you. It’s important to know what your numbers are and to get that reminder of how vital it is to stay active! How do you take care of your physical wellbeing? Share with us on Facebook!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Paying it Forward with 9Health Fair

Photo by Ellen Jaskol
Sometimes in life, things get tough and it seems that all we can do is hope for a miracle. No matter how big or small, it’s that miracle that can make all the difference. Christina got the miracle she had desperately wished for – and then made a promise to pay it forward.

She had been fighting Lupus for a number of years and had it under control, for the most part. However, about five years ago, she began to feel more fatigued than normal, started to feel weak, and eventually wasn’t able to keep food down. This went on for about 8 months; she visited many doctors who thought it was her Lupus acting up, until one physician figured out what was making Christina so sick.

An Unexpected Diagnosis
On June 7, 2010, she was diagnosed with Leukemia. She hadn’t been making any red or white blood cells, which is why she couldn’t hold food down when she ate. They began chemotherapy, but after three treatments, she went septic. It was so bad that even after five days of antibiotics; she couldn’t breathe or function on her own.

Her family and friends came to say their goodbyes; they believed she was not going to make it more than a day. But then, she took a breath on her own and her organs started to function by themselves. At this point, the doctors knew she couldn’t handle anymore chemotherapy. A bone marrow transplant was her only option.

Right before Christina went on a waiting list, they found out that genetically, she is Hispanic. To her surprise, there was less than a 10 percent chance of finding a match. She and her husband remained very optimistic, and it was then that she promised herself if a match was found and she made it through this, she would do her part to educate the ethnically diverse population about bone marrow donations, so others would have a better chance of finding a donor.

Without having to wait too long, her miracle came in the form of not just one donor, but two! On November 15, 2010, she received her transplant.

Once the blood stem cell transplant was complete, she began a 30 day waiting period to make sure everything was functioning properly. Those 30 days came and went without a problem!  Christina now lives a very active life. Although she doesn’t have as much energy as she would like, she is still able to walk her six dogs daily, chase after her three children and work two jobs. She seems to be doing just fine.

Help Arrived for Many
Five years later, she is now cancer-free and has stuck to her promise. Since she recovered, she started a non-profit organization called Make It Happen USA, a stem-cell/bone marrow registry. It is all volunteer-based and has helped coordinate over 4,800 matches so far.

While getting the word out about her organization and the need for donors, Christina realized that 9Health Fair would be a great way to share information and find potential donors. She contacted 9Health Fair and created a partnership that is proving to be very successful. By taking swabs at 48 spring 9Health Fairs in 2014, over 1,900 potential donors were added to the stem-cell/bone marrow registry. Of those 1,900 potential donors, six people have been matched with patients!

Christina fought her own battle and won, and now she is helping others combat theirs as well. Make it Happen USA will be at a number of 9Health Fairs again this spring. Find out if you are a bone marrow match through a simple cheek swab!

Check our website for a list of spring fair locations and dates.

9Health Trail Blazers

Busy lives, daunting family history, stressful work, confusing health insurance…no matter what it is, we all have a reason for not living as healthy as we’d like to. This spring, follow our 9Health Trail Blazers as they commit to overcoming the obstacles to pursue their health goals.  With the help of 9Health Fair and some local medical experts, can they reach their goals? 

Follow their journeys this spring and find out!

Margarita - Photos from Margarita’s younger days tell the story of an adventurous, thin woman who climbed mountains and salsa danced.  Now, life’s twists and turns have taken some of that adventure from her life and added a few unwanted pounds to her frame.  The loss of her father, an emotional move to a new house, and a stressful job have led to unhealthy habits becoming the norm. This vibrant woman is ready to make herself, and her health, a priority again.
Health goals: Lose 15 pounds by April and  improve her cholesterol.  
See her story on 9News here.

Kai - After being rushed to the ER for excruciating pain in her abdomen, Kai was put on many trial and error remedies before doctors determined she had a gastrointestinal issue.  She had recently gotten Medicaid through Connect for Health Colorado and felt ready to tackle this diagnosis head on.  As she started to seek the care she needed, she hit wall after wall - there were restrictions to her coverage that she did not expect. Giving up is simply not an option – Kai is a young woman with a life to live, and she knows she needs to be healthy to accomplish all the things she wants to.  She’s going to learn to navigate the health care system, no matter what it takes.
Health goals: Figure out how to navigate the health care system with her insurance plan, and then get to the root of her GI problems so she can attempt to live a pain-free life again.
See her story on 9News here.

Wendy - Described by her friends as “permanently happy”, Wendy has a can-do attitude that was the driving force behind a long career as a teacher. Upon retirement, Wendy decided it was to make some changes to her life, and over the course of a few years, she lost 180 pounds!  This gave her the energy and confidence she needed to be an active retiree, filling her days with biking, dog training, and volunteering. While she has come quite a long way, she still relies on a knee brace for her daily activities to manage her arthritis pain.  She knows that if she can make permanent changes to her eating habits, she can overcome her weight loss plateau and kick the knee brace to the curb – for good!
Health goals: Get to a point where she only has to wear the knee brace for strenuous activity, and lose 30 pounds.
See her story on 9News here.

James -Heart disease and cancer have plagued members of his family, so the odds are against James when it comes to family history. Unwilling to live a life ruled by medications, James thought that working out moderately would keep the diseases at bay. Then, an uncle gifted him a blood pressure cuff, and he realized there was a lot more going on inside than he realized.  A string of bad events led to him losing control of his health. Through the encouragement of his girlfriend, he decided it was time to turn it around and take control back.
Health goals: Improve blood pressure and BMI, and complete the Spartan Military Race in under 2 hours.
See his story on 9News here.

Robert - As an actor in New York City, Robert was living the life he dreamed of - until a devastating diagnosis of non-hodgkins lymphoma sent him back to live with family in Colorado for treatment. After a long road of treatment and a stem cell transplant, he beat the disease. With a wife and son to continue to be healthy for, he committed himself to a healthy lifestyle and began running marathons. He was in the best shape of his life, running 9 minute miles and feeling great. Life got busy and holidays were celebrated well; now he was no longer in the best shape of his life. Remembering the days of once being so health-conscious, Robert would like to get back to that place of feeling great and taking care of himself. 
Health goals: Get his best Colfax ½ marathon time (2 hours or under) and lose 10-15 pounds
See his story on 9News here.

Maria- Maria’s family is no stranger to diabetes. Her mother, sister, and brothers all deal with the disease.  So when Maria was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, she knew what was to come – and she had to do all she could to keep the disease from controlling her life.  By making some incredible lifestyle changes, she has come a long way in managing diabetes – but she still has some work to do, especially when it comes to changing the habits of her family.  With her young son watching her every move, Maria is ready to keep herself and her family healthy through eating right and exercising.
Health goals: Continue controlling diabetes, lose 15 more pounds.
See her story on 9News here.

Shana - As a speech therapist, Shana’s days are jam packed.  Her schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for her to make good health choices.  Wanting to avoid the diabetes and heart diseases that have hit her family members, Shana knows that better nutrition and regular exercise need to be incorporated into her daily routine. A thyroid condition leaves her with no energy to work out, but she knows that a little exercise would boost her energy level significantly – she is in a catch-22 and ready to break free!
Health goals: Make changes that become a lifestyle – eat better, be more active and ultimately run a 5k this spring!
See her story on 9News here.

The Times are Changing – Fasting No Longer Required at 9Health Fair

Over the years, 9Health Fair participants have grown accustomed to skipping breakfast before attending their fair to have their blood drawn. Well, now things are changing.

The 9Health Fair Medical Advisory Committee has determined that fasting is not required (optional) for blood screenings. Beginning this spring, 9Health Fair will now allow the drawing non-fasting blood samples, which makes fasting completely optional!

A study suggests that when assessing risk for heart disease, a blood sample from someone who has not fasted is just as accurate as a sample from someone who has fasted. This is good news for both healthcare providers and patients, as fasting for routine blood work sometimes presents an inconvenience and may discourage routine screening.

What happens if I don’t fast?
Your triglyceride and blood sugar levels can be affected by eating prior to having your blood drawn. The levels may be higher than your fasting results, but not by enough to make a large difference. As long as you can report how many hours it has been since you’ve eaten, medical professionals will know how to interpret your results.

As always, people with diabetes should not fast; it is recommended that you check with your medical provider for specific recommendations. You are encouraged to drink plenty of water and continue to take prescription medications in preparation for your blood draw.

Time to Get Your Blood Draw at a 9Health Fair
Now that you have this new information, it’s time to get a 9Health Fair date on your calendar. Find a fair
near you - the results will provide you with the information you need to live a healthy life.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Skate Away from Cabin Fever

If you're experiencing feelings of cabin fever during these winter months, it may mean you aren’t getting outside and moving around enough. In order to stay healthy, you need to exercise on a regular basis, and all year round, not just during the summer months.

Ice skating is one of the top 5 Best Winter Sports to try according to WebMD. It is a low-impact exercise that helps build lower body muscles including the calves, quads, hamstrings and hips. And if you like to do jumps on the ice, that actually can help build bone mass.

The other health benefits of ice skating include getting a cardiovascular workout, strengthening your heart, and boosting balance, flexibility and agility. As people age, doing exercises that help maintain flexibility are important.

Speaking of ice skating, head on out to The Pond at Southlands Mall in Aurora for an ice skating experience you won’t forget. Every year, this ice rink provides fun for families from near and far. This is a highlight for many during the winter season because of the exercise and the beauty of the surroundings. The rink is open daily now through March 1st, so get out and about, even though the weather may be frightful.

Health is a dynamic process because it is always changing and you need to continue to stay active to remain healthy. Participating in healthy activities, like ice skating, will make your heart and body happy… and not to mention it may end up being a wonderful social event as well.

And make sure to attend a spring 9Health Fair to check on your overall health. Check our website for dates and locations; you don’t want to miss the opportunity to make sure your numbers are where they need to be.

Do you ice skate in the winter to keep your heart and body healthy? Share with us on Facebook.

Help Your Kiddos Keep the Cavities Away

As the old saying goes: "an apple a day keeps the doctor away!" Well, what about this one: "brushing your teeth two times a day keeps the cavities away!" February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and since it’s only two months into the new year, it’s a good time to establish and maintain good dental hygiene.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, tooth decay affects more than one-fourth of U.S. children aged 2 to 5 years and half of children aged 12 to 15. Untreated tooth decay can cause poor appearance, illness, and a great deal of pain.

What Can You Do to Help the Kiddos?
Teaching your children to brush two times a day and floss once a day will create healthy habits as they head into adulthood. Limiting their sugar intake will not only help with a child’s weight, but will also prevent dental related problems, such as decay, which is created by acetic foods and liquids.

As we all know, gum with sugar in it can create cavities, however sugarless gum tastes just as good and won ‘t deteriorate your teeth. The best part is chewing sugarless gum can help keep the bacteria out of your mouth, and it will pull the sugar away from your teeth, therefore keeping everything cleaner between brushings. Check out this quiz on the power sugarless gum really has.

Another way to help children is to make sure they are getting enough fluoride. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has praised water fluoridation as one of the “ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.” According to an article from The Colorado Trust, as of 2012, an estimated 72 percent of Coloradans served by public water systems use fluoridated water.

It’s important to educate kids on why we brush our teeth. Here are some great questions to ask your kiddos:

Getting children involved in their health in a fun way to helps them to be more excited about owning their health. Here are some great crafts to help inspire them to take care of their teeth:

Be Aware of Your Overall Health in February
In addition to February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, it is also American Heart Month. There is tie between the two, one benefiting the other. Taking care of your teeth not only keeps your pearly whites healthy, but believe it or not, it also helps with your overall heart health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some research has found that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to the oral bacteria in the mouth and that which is swallowed. The best way to protect your overall health by taking care of your teeth is to brush at least twice a day, floss daily, eat healthy foods, replace your toothbrush every 3 months and visit your dentist regularly.

Take this Oral Health Quiz to test your knowledge, and then share your dental health awareness with us on Facebook. And make sure to attend a spring 9Health Fair to check on your overall health. Check our website for dates and locations; you don’t want to miss the opportunity to make sure your numbers are where they need to be. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Winter Hiking and Hydration

(This guest post is authored by Melissa Daruna of Get Outdoors Colorado)

Whether it is a quick walk with the family, a long hike with the dog, or skinning up some backcountry slopes, winter hiking in Colorado offers some incredible views and peaceful surroundings. We often load up with warm layers, hats and gloves, sturdy boots and maybe even snowshoes. One thing we may not always remember, however, is to drink enough water. Winter hydration is critical!

Last month we discussed how to keep your muscles safe during outdoor activities and cold weather. One key element is hydration. But hydration goes beyond keeping your quads from screaming when you’re hitting the slopes hard. Hydration is key to staying healthy in all outdoor activities. One activity we may tend to forget this in is hiking and specifically in the winter. Here are a couple reasons why: 
  1. It doesn’t feel as strenuous. Think about a nice leisurely stroll on a snow packed path in your local open space. Doesn’t sound strenuous, right? Well think again! That cold weather and those extra layers you’re wearing mean your body is working harder than you may realize to stay warm and transport you.
  2. You don’t feel hot. This can be one of the perks of winter hiking, the weather is mild and you do not tend to get as hot and sweaty on those inclines. While your layers may keep you warm, your body may not feel hot and therefore, you may not realize you need water. 

What these two boil down to is not feeling thirsty. If you don’t feel your body working as hard, you are not likely to feel like you need a cool drink. But, just because your body isn’t craving it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need it! Our bodies can become dehydrated even quicker during winter hikes because the air is dryer. This is especially true if we hike at higher altitudes.

Sometimes keeping your water flowing is hard in winter too. Some hydration packs or water bottles freeze on long hikes in cold temperatures. There are plenty of insulated options on the market to help with that. So, be sure you pack plenty to drink next time you head out to enjoy a hike on your favorite snow covered trail.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Let Your Heart be Your Valentine

How is your heart health? February is Heart Health Month and it’s a great time to think about the many things you can do to keep your heart ticking. Your age, gender and family history play a big part in your risk for heart disease, but there are many lifestyle choices that you can make to keep your heart in the best working condition possible.

The common things we think about when it comes to heart health are:
  1. Don’t smoke. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels and carbon monoxide can damage the inner lining of those vessels.
  2. Eat a healthy diet. A diet that is high in fat, salt and cholesterol can clog arteries and cause weight problems. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure and your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  3. Get plenty of exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is not good for your heart and it can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol and/or high blood sugar. 
However, some things we don’t think about as often when it comes to heart health are:

  1. Lack of vitamin D. According to the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center, lack of vitamin D is a risk factor for heart attacks, congestive heart failure, stroke, and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Lack of vitamin D can also cause depression which for some, may add to seasonal affective disorder during the winter months.
  2. Stress. Certain stress, in certain people, under certain circumstances appears to cause heart disease. When something goes wrong that creates long lasting stress, it can contribute to heart problems.
  3. Excessive alcohol or caffeine use. While still under study, the American Heart Association shares that there is a direct link between caffeinated soda, coffee drinking and coronary heart disease. Stick to moderation – 1 to 2 cups per day  haven’t been found harmful.
  4. Too much exercise. Findings suggest that training for and participating in activities as long as marathons and triathlons may cause heart problems in some. Dr. James O’Keefe, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, MO believes there is little to gain from any exercise over an hour a day and it is not healthy for the heart. 
Check out this article about assessing long-term heart disease risk. Then take these healthy heart quizzes to discover how much you know about your health and what you need to do to stay healthy.

And make sure to come to one of our spring 9Health Fairs featuring many affordable and no-cost health screenings. The free screenings include a variety of tests such as blood pressure, vision, lung function, oral health and more. For a minimal fee, you can have your blood work done. Get your vitamin D level checked along with baseline information on cholesterol, blood glucose, liver, kidneys, thyroid and more.

The data is inside you, and the results will help you better improve your heart and your overall health. For locations and a list of screenings, go to for all the information you will need.

How do you keep your heart healthy? Share with us on Facebook.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cold Weather, Warm Muscles: Prevent winter injuries from outdoor activities.

(This guest post is authored by Melissa Daruna of Get Outdoors Colorado)

Colorado residents have little excuse to not enjoy the outdoors year-round, based on the number of sunny days we experience each year! We are fortunate enough to have world class skiing in our backyard, miles of trails for snowshoeing, amazing wildlife viewing, and mild enough temperatures to run or bike on most days. But, that doesn’t mean the cold weather doesn’t take a toll on our muscles. Keep your muscles healthy and enjoy the outdoors this winter with some simple tips.
  1. Warm up longer & stretch. Cold weather can cause your muscles to become tighter because they lose more heat. Tighter joints and muscles mean less range of motion too. To avoid feeling uncomfortably tight, take time before to warm those muscles up. How much warm up do you need? A basic rule is 10 minutes when the temperature is between 35 and 45 degrees. Add 5 minutes to that warm up for every 10 degree drop below that. From there, stretch your warm muscles to keep them flexible before more strenuous activity. Be sure to focus on key areas like calves, quads and back muscles.
  2. Stay warm and hydrated. The weather is already working against you by taking heat out of your muscles. So, be sure you are properly dressed to keep your muscles warm. Layer it up! Start with a warm, tight fitting base layer and add more layers as needed. Once you have warm muscles that allow you to keep you moving, don’t forget to keep them hydrated. Your muscles work harder in the winter but the cold temperatures don’t always make you feel thirsty. Don’t be fooled! Your muscles still need water to prevent fatigue and soreness. So, drink up! 

Don’t let the cold keep you from being active in the outdoors this winter. Looking for some fun winter events for the whole family? Don’t forget to check out to find your next adventure! 

Get Out of the Cold and Into the Museum

The holidays are over, life returns to normal and now you are looking for things to keep you busy while the weather is too cold to be outside. While you get a pass for staying indoors during these cold winter months, it is still important to keep your mind and body active.

Since we can’t change the weather, head indoors to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where you will find two exciting exhibits that you won’t want to miss.

Discover the underwater world of whales with Whales: Giants of the Deep. At this amazing exhibit, you will learn how their bodies work, what their lifestyle is like and how they have survived extinction. You will also encounter some of the people whose lives have been linked to whales – hear their stories and share in their experiences.

Whales are some of the largest, most mysterious mammals on Earth and this is a great opportunity to learn about their evolution, their life underwater and what dangers they encounter. The display is docked now through February 16th at the museum. Don’t let it swim away without having a chance to visit.

The other incredible exhibit is the Traveling of the Silk Road; a legendary journey that takes you on the greatest trading route in all time. You will get to explore the ancient cities of Asia and the Middle East from AD 600 to 1200. Travel this historic trade route of five cities and learn how people lived and what they did for survival. You can see how they functioned and flourished. This journey will be at the museum until May 31st.

Don’t just sit around wishing the weather was nicer; make the most of your time! Head over to the museum with your friends and family; not only will you exercise your brain, you will get a walking workout in too. Check out the exhibits and let us know what you think on Facebook!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Be Your Own Advocate with 9Health Fair

Now in her mid 50’s, Nancy had always been active and in great shape. She loved to swim, went hiking whenever she had the chance, and ate healthy all the time. Her friends and family always admired her liveliness and ability to stay so healthy.

Two years ago, Nancy started noticing some changes with the way she was feeling. Her energy level was low on a pretty regular basis. She didn’t enjoy being active like she had in the past. Then she noticed she started getting sick more often. With pneumonia hitting her twice within a short period of time, she was beginning to realize something was really wrong.

With a good career as a human resources director, she had been on top of the world – now, she found herself feeling unable to work. Nancy eventually left her job because she was having so many unresolved health issues. Her head would spin frequently and she was very lethargic. It was to the point where she couldn’t even manage basic life tasks. Her doctor could not figure out what was wrong.

Now on a fixed income, she didn’t have a huge budget. Her friend invited her to a 9Health Fair and she thought that was a great way to get a health check-up without spending an arm and a leg.

She had the Blood Chemistry screening, which provides baseline information on cholesterol, blood glucose, liver, kidneys, thyroid and more. Within a few weeks, she received her results that showed she had a thyroid problem, which was a huge surprise to her! She immediately took her results to her doctor and he said he hadn’t even thought to test her thyroid.

She is now on medication, has dropped weight and is feeling like a new person. Back to hiking and swimming, Nancy says she owes it to 9Health Fair. And the message she wants to pass on is that everyone needs to be their own personal health advocate. 9Health Fair made her pay attention to her health and made her more aware of other ways to be healthy. Now she feels there is hope and wants others to feel the same thing. Take it from Nancy; you need to own your health!

Make sure to register for a spring 9Health Fair! This is the time to make that health resolution come true. February 1st, check our website for a list of 2015 spring fair locations and dates.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Turn Your Vice Around in 2015

Now that we are a couple of weeks into the new year, how are your resolutions going? We hope you started 2015 off by deciding to Own Your Health!

While positive, long-term goals of turning your vices into virtues are well intended, sometimes they can be difficult to pull off. Like 19th-century American humorist, Josh Billings once said, “Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.”

Take this time to value your health before you actually do lose it. Bad habits, or vices, jeopardize your health – both mentally and physically. And they can prevent you from accomplishing your goals and New Year’s Resolutions.

Check out these 5 ideas on how to turn a bad habit into a healthy choice. 
  1. Choose a substitute for your bad habit. Many unhealthy patterns can be caused by stress and boredom. For example, if you smoke cigarettes when you get stressed, find a more positive activity to do when dealing with the anxiety. Then insert that new behavior instead of having a cigarette every time you feel stress coming on.
  2. Cut out as many triggers as possible. If you eat cookies when they are in the house, then don’t buy them. When you sit down on the couch and the first thing you do is pick up the television remote, then hide the remote. Make it easier to break the habits by avoiding the things that cause them.
  3. Work with someone who has the same vice and turn it into a virtue together. Pair up with someone and exercise together or quit smoking together – or, go to a 9Health Fair together! The two of you can hold each other accountable and celebrate your accomplishments together.
  4. Surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live. Spending time with people who live the way you want to will help encourage you to break away from bad habits you want to change, and allow you to visualize the lifestyle you want to lead.
  5. The power of positive thinking. Visualize yourself doing the bad habit, then visualize living without the bad habit and performing another habit that is good. Lastly, finish this picture with an image of yourself in a positive, happy state. Whether it may be passing up the cookie aisle at the grocery store, buying healthier food or getting up earlier to workout. Whatever habit it is you’re looking to break, envision yourself getting rid of it and enjoying the moment where that vice has turned into a virtue. 

Realize that you won’t be able to always stay on task. We all slip up now and then – after all, we are only human.  So rather than beating yourself up, just plan for it and work to get back on track.

Turning vices into virtues takes time, effort and determination, but most of the time, having a good reason and a replacement plan is the important factor in staying on track. Set a goal and you will be able to conquer your bad habits.

 Make sure to join us for a spring 9Health Fair – what a great way to own your health, find out what your numbers are and remind yourself why it’s important to modify vices and make it a virtuous life! You can register online for a fair near you beginning in February 2015.

Tell us what you’re turning around in 2015. We want to hear about your resolutions and how you will make 2015 a healthier year. Share with us on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Healthier New Year? Just the Facts, Ma’am!

We’ve all heard the claims – “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”, “Eat what you want and still lose weight”, “This 60 day supply will put you at the weight you want!” But in the end, do those statements really stand up to their word?

This is a common time of year when we want to make changes and improvements, and set new goals that will make this year better than the last. Dieting usually sits close to the top for many people, so paying attention to diet claims and myths is important in order to successfully get on a healthier eating regimen.

Dieting Myths and the Real Facts
Myth: Diets with big claims will help me lose weight fast and keep it off.

Fact: These diets usually make promises that don’t stick in the long run. You may lose weight at first, but some of these diets are hard to follow and even harder to maintain as a lifestyle. Most people get tired of them quickly and regain any lost weight.

These types of diets are called “fad” diets and they are often times unhealthy. Losing more than 3 pounds a week after the first few weeks may increase your chances of developing gallstones. Being on a very low-calorie diet for a long time may lead to health problems such as fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and also more serious health risks such as heart problems.

Myth: Some people can eat all they want and still lose weight.

Fact: To lose weight, you need to use more calories than you put into your body. These people are no different than the rest – they just burn the calories, making it look like they can eat more.

There are a number of factors that may affect your weight, such as age, genes, medications and lifestyle habits. Getting into healthy eating habits, along with a good exercise program, is the best way to lose weight - and keep it off. Check with your health care provider on ways to help you meet your individual weight loss goals.

Myth: Fat-free and low-fat foods actually mean there are less calories.

Fact: Unfortunately, these foods are often the same as or higher in calories than the regular, full-fat product. Sometimes, these items have added flour, salt, starch or sugar to improve flavor and texture after the fat is taken out.

Myth: If I skip a meal, I will lose weight.

Fact: Actually, when you skip a meal, you become hungrier and often times eat more as a result. Research shows that eating frequent, small meals is a better way to stay in control of your portion sizes and keeps your metabolism more stable. A study published in Circulation reports that men who skip breakfast had close to a 30 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) than those who ate breakfast.

Put a Healthy Plan in Place
  • Eat a well balanced diet, rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep your calories at 1200 or above (visit with your health care provider to help you determine the best calorie intake for you).
  • Incorporate daily exercise into your plan
  • Practice portion control. You don’t have to cut sweets and fats from your diet; just remember the saying “everything in moderation”. 
With a fresh start to a new year, journey on to a healthier you! Tell us how you will make 2015 a healthier year. Share with us on Facebook!
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