Lucky critters – how pets improve our health

Did you know there is a week dedicated to honoring our canine companions? National Dog Week is the last full week in September and we’re taking time out, in advance, to observe National Dog Week and look at the health benefits of pets.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, owning a pet is linked to a decrease in blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Great, so all we need to do is adopt a pet to be healthy? While we do want to encourage everyone to consider helping our local Pima Animal Care Center by adopting or fostering one of the thousands of animals taken in each year, there is more to the connection between pets and improved health.

Important aspects of being healthy include staying active, managing stress, having a strong sense of purpose and having a good social support network. Owning, fostering or even volunteering to work with animals can help us more easily achieve these healthy behaviors.

1. Purpose and connection

Having a pet or participating in a program that cares for animals gives us purpose and helps connect us with others who have similar values and passions. Pets can serve as a social icebreaker for people who tend to be shy and more introverted, easing the creation of social bonds. Through these connections, we can develop a support network that goes beyond the commonality of pet ownership. 2. Improve mood and decrease tension or stress

2. Improve mood and decrease tension or stress

Hopefully, everyone has had the opportunity to experience the unconditional love that a pet greets you with when you return home or go to visit them. This greeting alone can improve mood and decrease tension or stress. Animals can keep us in the present moment, which helps to distract us from our worries and problems that we might tend to ruminate about.

3. Reduce heart rate and blood pressure

Many studies have demonstrated that petting an animal can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and perceived level of stress. Plus, how can you not feel joyful when animals look at you with such adoration as you pet them?

4. Maintain a routine and stay active

Pets, and dogs most specifically, help us to maintain a routine and stay active. While we may be willing to skip our own exercise, we are not likely to say no to our loving pets! Even if it is just a quick walk around the neighborhood, remember, any activity is better than nothing. If you are interested in a more rigorous workout, please take a look at our post on running with our four-legged friends.

Regardless of what type of activity you choose to do with your pet, getting into a routine can also have an impact on the other health choices we make throughout our day. Once you are consistently doing one thing to benefit your health, you are more likely to follow up with others, such as making healthy food choices or getting better quality sleep.

 

We want everyone to be ‘lucky dogs’ and enhance their lives and health. Gina Darling of Mrs Green’s World will be hosting a session on Environmental Responsible Pet Care at The Core at La Encantada on Sunday, September 24th.  And for more information on exercising safely with your pet, join us Wednesday, September 27th at 5:30pm with Gina Hansenn of PACC. Click here to learn more about the events.

Comprehensive Weight-Loss Program now available at TMC

TMC Weight Loss Program 3Super foods – juice cleansing – metabolism kick starters – core workouts. Weight-loss is very challenging and the dizzying number of diets, fads and exercises can make it even harder. Tucson Medical Center’s Comprehensive Weight-Loss Program offers safe and effective plans that are personalized to meet each patient’s needs.

These days, busy lifestyles are common– stretching schedules for career, family, activities and so much more. With only so many hours in a day, it’s hard to make time for health and easy to put on pounds fast. More than 70 percent of American adults are overweight and we understand that everyone faces unique challenges to achieving a weight loss goal.

TMC Wellness Director Mary Atkinson explains how the TMC Weight-Loss Program is different. “We look at the whole person,” she said. “Registered dietitians and certified exercise-professionals will work with you to create a personalized plan you can live with, so you can lose weight and keep it off.”

Weight-Loss Counseling Program The 12-week program includes three, one-hour initial appointments and eight follow-ups that last about 30 minutes. Periodic assessments help determine what is working best and allow you and your team to make adjustments to keep

  • Nutrition, fitness and general wellness assessments
  • Reliable advice that you can use
  • Tracking of weight and estimated body composition
  • Development of personalized nutrition and fitness plans
  • Strategies to promote long-term weight-loss success

Weight-Loss Surgery from the TMC Bariatric Center

The TMC Bariatric Center, a comprehensive center accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, guides you every step of the way on your weight-loss journey:

  • Pre-surgery counseling and evaluations
  • Post-op care that includes nutritional counseling
  • Psychological support
  • Instruction on incorporating exercises into your lifestyle
  • Discussion groups – build relationships with others who have had bariatric surgery at TMC
  • Some services may be covered by insurance.

TMC Weight Loss Program 4Weight Management Support Group

No matter what method you have used to lose weight, sticking to your new good habits and keeping the weight off can be a challenge. Don’t try to tackle it alone. Join our monthly support group, led by a certified health coach, to learn new tips and stay motivated.

Program Pricing

  • Flat fee for the entire program: $400
  • Weekly rate: $60 for one-hour sessions, $30 for 30-minute sessions (total of $480 for entire program)
  • Weight management support group = $5 per meeting (meets monthly at The Core at La Encantada)

For more details, please contact TMC Wellness, (520) 324-4163 or wellness@tmcaz.com.

March forth into Spring at the Women’s Wellness Camp

join-tmc-at-the-womens-wellness-camp-march-4Spring means the start of longer days and the rebirth of motivation.

What better way to revitalize your body and mind – and rejuvenate your spirit – than joining women of all ages and fitness levels at a half-day wellness camp?

The event, which takes place Saturday, March 4 on the campus of Tucson Medical Center, is designed to be fun, challenging and motivating and will help you to stay on track with your health goals.

Wellness experts will lead you through a schedule of activities that include:

  • 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Finding Your Center, discussion
  • 9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Cardio + strength, exercise session
  • 10:15 a.m. – 11 a.m. Core strength, exercise session
  • 11 a.m. – noon Eat Purposefully discussion, with lunch
  • Noon – 12:45 p.m. Flexibility of Mind and Body, discussion
  • 1 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Yoga

The $40 price of the program includes lunch, a T-shirt and a wellness manual, complete with goal-setting tools and useful health information.

Register online at http://bit.ly/TMCWomensWellnessCamp

Call 324-4163 for more information or email wellness@tmcaz.com

A Lifestyle Change Success Story

Monica Martinez  before

Monica Martinez before

Eat well.  Exercise.

We hear it all the time. The reality is, most of us don’t do it.  Or, don’t do it consistently.

Although people may not always make the best diet and fitness choices, they still intrinsically want to be healthy and fit. In other words, people don’t feel like they’re consciously making poor decisions when indulging in fattening foods or not exercising regularly. An unhealthy lifestyle unknowingly becomes a habit that eventually manifests itself in a person being overweight or developing chronic health problems.

This is exactly what happened to Monica Martinez, patient services representative in Emergency Registration at Tucson Medical Center.

“All of a sudden I realized that I was gaining 3-5 pounds every time I visited the doctor, and eventually developed high blood pressure and a cholesterol problem, requiring that I take medication,” says Martinez

Monica admits that she was always the chunky one in the family, and although she tried on many occasions to lose weight, she struggled to stay consistent and would not follow through with her diet and fitness plans.

This happens far too often to people whose intentions are in the right place.

The struggle to stay on the fitness path become increasing difficult because for some people, even when making the “right” decisions and adopting healthy behaviors, the road to seeing results is long and may come to others quicker than it comes to them.

However, comparing yourself to others is not the mindset you want to get into because it can make you your own worst critic. Monica explains how she felt trying to fit in and comparing herself to some of her friends, hoping that no one would notice her weight.

“I recall not being able to look at myself in a full length mirror. Just going to the store to try on clothes pushed me to tears. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore,” said Martinez.

Managing the busy routine of life, Monica worked nights and began to notice her lack of motivation and not having the energy to play or do things with her children with the little free time she did have. But it was painfully apparent that she needed to make a healthy lifestyle change when one of her young sons suggested that she take a ‘pill that makes you skinny’ that he had seen on an infomercial.

“That was the breaking point.”

For some people, a drastic event or realization is necessary in order to employ consistent and meaningful change. Change for Monica was slow but always increasingly progressive, and she made a commitment to focusing on her health, one day at a time.

“I stopped eating processed high carb foods and adopted a cleaner and simpler diet. I cut out fast food and soda and began drinking protein shakes and eating vegetables and preparing my own healthier meals.”

Educating yourself is an important part in the process of doing the right things for your body and overall health. Monica found out what foods were actually packed with the nutrients she needed.

She also learned that the road to better health and losing weight is not reached solely through improved diet, but all through regular exercise.

Program such as Live Well, a Tucson Medical Center employee program that provides healthcare premium incentives for active employees, provided a way for Monica to begin exercising on a regular basis.

Monica Martinez today

Monica Martinez today

“Through Live Well, I joined an employee fitness team and began brisk walking on my lunch break. I started off only walking a half a mile, but have worked my way up to 4 miles a day.”

In addition, Monica joined a Zumba class and many other fitness activities.

“Finding fun exercises was key to my fitness success. I mix my workouts up and find ways to include my kids or friends.”

Monica went through a lifestyle change transformation, and in doing so, gained self confidence and the motivation needed to keep working towards her health and fitness goals.

Since she made a commitment to change, Monica has lost over 60 pounds and no longer needs to take medication to regulate her blood pressure or cholesterol!

“Throughout this journey it hasn’t been easy, but I’ve realized that what I’m doing is important. Along the way I take the time to celebrate my fitness successes. These are worth celebrating, because when it comes to my health, no success is too small to share or be proud of.”

Did You Know? Improve Cardiovascular Health with Aerobic Exercise

Did you know….that in order to reap the most health benefits from exercise, your intensity should generally be at a low to moderate level, focusing on aerobic exercise?

Aerobic exercise is a continuous activity that utilizes large muscle groups over an extended period of time. The primary energy sources to complete such a task are oxygen and fat stores, so you lose weight by burning the most calories.

Balance, however, is important. Overdoing it can increase your risk of injury and burnout.

If you’re new to regular exercise and physical activity, you may need to start at a low intensity and gradually ramp up.

Tucson Medical Center’s cardiac rehabilitation center has an exercise program available, with a doctor’s referral, to employees and the community at large for a nominal $25 a month. To qualify for the program, which is designed to help people head off coronary artery disease, participants must have a risk factor for heart disease, whether that be obesity, smoking, stress, diabetes, high cholesterol , high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease.

Participants may use a variety of equipment, from treadmills to recumbent bicycles and weight training machines. Time slots for workouts are during the clinic’s regular hours of operation.

While gyms are a fine option for many people, the cardiac rehabilitation center offers another level of expertise, said supervisor Mark Gaxiola.

Clinical staff, including registered nurses and physical therapists, are on hand to not only help prescribe an effective and safe exercise prescription, but to be there in case anyone becomes symptomatic. Because the facility is in a clinic, staff can check blood pressures and blood sugars and then decide whether further treatment is needed at an urgent care or the emergency room dictated on the symptoms at hand.

“Peace of mind is important,” Gaxiola said. “You won’t find the same commitment or experience and licensures that we carry in a regular gym environment.”

Jogging Beats Weight Lifting for Losing Belly Fat: Study

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports on research showing that “Compared with resistance training, aerobic exercise burns 67% more calories.”

If you haven’t been active, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any fitness program. And, if you’re thinking about running, Tucson Medical Center can help. Check out https://www.tmcaz.com/Community/Running to get started on running in Tucson.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461