Local experts offer advice on healthy living

Sad as it may be to bid farewell to another summer goneby, there’s something refreshing about getting back to a more stable routine. Summer days can be long and erratic, with vacations and travel, special events, and celebrations, all of which shake up routines. Healthy habits can fall by the wayside during these over-stuffed days and we all know it’s easy to eat too many creemees, go to bed late and forget to take time for personal care.
As we prepare to return to school and return to our more typical daily routines, let’s take the opportunity to also return to health. Re-invest in habits that strengthen and support your body and mind. Think about the new schedules you are adopting and ask yourself if you can make better choices for your health.
For some tips and suggestions on the subject, we turned to local experts in well-being. Here’s what they have to say.
Terri Arnold
Director, Middlebury Parks & Rec Department
Walking has been called America’s favorite exercise. It is easy, free, and healthcare providers highly recommend it. But for all the great reasons we should go for a walk, there are just as many barriers that prevent us from becoming active. For many older adults with health conditions like arthritis, one of the biggest roadblocks is that they do not feel comfortable walking alone.
The WWE (Walk with Ease) program is a low-impact group-based walking program designed for people with arthritis, but anyone looking to incorporate physical activity into their lifestyle can participate, and it is especially great for older adults. Walking, or other low impact exercise such as Tai Chi and Bone Builders, can help older adults stay active and healthy throughout life.
Cheryl Huntley
Youth and Family Director, Counseling Service of Addison County
Take the time to really listen to your kids!
Dr. Frank Provato
Physician and medical director, Mountain Health Center, Bristol
Staying healthy is not very complicated if you focus on three key areas. First, it’s important to maintain ideal weight. “Good eating habits” means eating a balanced diet, sticking to moderate portions three times a day, avoiding pure sugar and avoiding between-meal snacks. The second piece is exercise. You don’t have to be a marathon runner. 45 minutes of brisk walking three to four times per week is adequate. Finally, sleep is when our bodies repair themselves. It’s important to establish adequate sleep regimens. Go to bed at the same time each night and try to get between seven and eight hours of restful sleep. If people follow these three guidelines for diet and weight, exercise and sleep, they’ll find it’s amazing how much better they’ll feel and how much healthier they’ll be.
Adam Fasoli, DMD
Dentist, Middlebury Dental Group
A healthy mouth starts at home.  Good oral hygiene is the foundation for a lifetime of happy teeth and gums.  Brushing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing with dental tape (the thicker the better!) are the best place to start.  From there, if you are someone who has fillings or other restorations, a fluoride mouthwash is a great addition to help those restorations last as long as possible.  If you are someone with a history of gum trouble, an antibacterial mouthwash will help decrease bacteria that cause gum disease.  Better still, there are now mouthwash brands on the market that are both antibacterial and have fluoride!  With a little extra time spent on oral hygiene, a healthy mouth is an obtainable goal for back to school season.
Melanie Clark
Ladies First Outreach Coordinator, The Open Door Clinic
Sleep! We all wish we had more hours in the day, but unfortunately many of us try to steal those extra hours from our sleep schedules. While we might be able to check a few more things off that never ending list, getting enough sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle. Sleep has many benefits, including:
Improved memory: Your brain uses sleep time to process your day. It makes links and connections while consolidating and storing memories away.
A healthy heart: Lack of sleep has been associated with higher blood pressure and cholesterol. Lack of sleep has also been associated with higher levels of stress. These factors put you at risk for heart disease and stroke.
Better focus: When you get enough sleep, you are better able to recall those memories that your brain stored away. You also have increased alertness. This alertness helps you make better decisions and prevents injury. As a bonus, you are more creative when you get enough sleep.
Healthy weight: Lack of sleep increases appetite and lowers your energy. Having less energy might make you more likely to over indulge. Being overtired might also make you less motivated to work out.
Melanie Clark
Vermont Health Connect Navigator
Enroll in a Health Insurance Plan. Research has shown that uninsured people receive less medical care, less timely care and have worse health outcomes than those with health insurance. Not having health insurance can also be very costly. Health insurance provides important financial protection in case you have a serious accident or sickness. People without health insurance are exposed to these costs, which can result in large amounts of debt or even bankruptcy.
Although outside the regular open enrollment period to purchase a plan for 2017, if your income is low enough you can enroll in Medicaid anytime and there are some special life events which may qualify you to get on a qualified health plan now. If you call Vermont Health Connect and find out you can’t get on a plan right now, remember to enroll in one between November 1st and December 15th for coverage in 2018. You can also call the Open Door Clinic (388-0137) anytime to see if you qualify to be seen by our volunteer doctors and nurses and to receive assistance in enrolling in hospital charity programs and other programs to help reduce your healthcare costs while uninsured.  

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