Important bicycle safety tips

Flowers aren’t the only thing that come out in Spring – you’re likely to notice more bicyclists out and about as well. An estimated 30% of Americans own bicycles, and 45% of them ride at least occasionally.

If you’re behind the wheel of a car, it’s important to keep an eye out for bicyclists – but there are also several safety tips you should keep in mind if you’re the one actually on the bike.

First, you should check your bike before riding it. Make sure that there aren’t any issues that might prevent you from traveling safely. Once the bike checks out, put on a helmet. Wearing a properly fitted helmet can reduce your risk of head injury by 74-85%.

Don’t wear loose clothing when riding a bike. It can get caught in the bike’s chain, gears or breaks. In fact, you should consider clipping your pants to make them fit closer to your legs. If you’re riding at night, wearing reflective gear is highly recommended.

When riding on the road, stay on the right side and ride in a straight line. You should ride in the same direction as traffic and take less-traveled routes so you won’t have to compete with larger vehicles for a piece of the road. When riding past parked cars, keep a car door’s width of distance from them just in case somebody opens the door as you go by.

There are some rules that apply whether you’re in a car or on a bike, such as never assuming that other drivers can see you. When bicycling, you are also obligated to obey traffic signs and signals. This means stopping at stop signs and red lights. You should obey the two-second rule, as well. When a car in front of you passes a fixed object, begin counting. If you reach that same object in less than two seconds, you’re following too closely.

The number one safety tip no matter how you travel, though, is to be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for cars, bikers and pedestrians at all times – because you never know if they’re watching out for you.

How much do you know about your skin?

Skin is your body’s largest organ, but how much do you actually know about it? In recognition of skin cancer awareness month, here are some facts you may not realize.

• Your outer layer of skin is thinner than Saran Wrap.

• When it comes to skin, men and women were not created equal – a woman’s skin is thinner and less oily than that of a man. This means women also sweat less and, thus, are more likely to suffer heat stroke.

• The bottom of your feet has the thickest skin. Your eyelids have the thinnest.

• Between 30 and 40 thousand skin cells fall off your body every minute.

• Vitamin D (sun exposure) helps us absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones

• Some researchers recommend that having up to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week (without sunscreen) is enough to meet your body’s Vitamin D needs.

• Infants have thinner skin and underdeveloped melanin so their skin burns much easier than that of older children.

• The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children – regardless of skin tone – wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

• One bad sunburn in childhood increases your risk of developing melanoma later in life.

“Slip, Slip, Slap and Wrap” your way to healthy skin

Protecting yourself from the sun is about more than sunscreen and SPF. There are other steps you should take to make sure your relaxing day in the sun doesn’t become a health problem later in life.

• Babies under six months of age should avoid sun exposure. For children six months and older, try lotion formulas that are hypoallergenic and tear-free.

• For sensitive skin, we recommend that patients with conditions such as rosacea or acne choose sunscreen options that contain zinc oxide.

• For swimming or other “wet” or “sweaty” activities, choose a water-resistant formula. These products are resistant for 40 or 80 minutes, which means you’ll need to reapply at least every two hours.

• Layer your sun protection. Wear dark, tightly woven fabrics when possible, or opt for clothing with UPF.

• Remember to wear sun glasses, hats and to apply sun screen to your lips, ears and neck!

• Seek shade, especially during the sun’s peak intensity hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

• Remember that the sun’s rays bounces off concrete, snow and sand!

If this seems like a lot to remember, it can be boiled down to four words: “Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap!” Every year, the Friday before Memorial Day is designated as National “Don’t Fry” Day. On this day, we encourage you to remember to: Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a wide-brimmed hat and wrap on some sun glasses.

For more information about how you can keep yourself healthy during the summer, “like” SOMC on Facebook at

Try your hand at the SOMC Poker Walk

The community is encouraged to join SOMC in celebrating National Employee Health & Fitness Day by participating in the Second Annual SOMC Poker Walk from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 20. The event will begin at the 27th Street entrance on the Main Campus. (In case of bad weather, a rain date has been set for May 27.)

“National Employee Health and Fitness Day is a national observance created to promote the benefits of physical activity and work-site health,” Jenny Foit, case manager of SOMC Employee Health and Wellness, said.

Foit explained that walking is the most popular form of aerobic fitness for adults, which is why SOMC’s celebration focuses on that particular activity.

As part of the competition, participants must complete a 1-mile walk (which should take approximately 20 minutes), drawing five cards along the way to complete a poker hand. The participants with the three highest poker hands at the end of the day will be awarded prizes, and additional prizes will be given away hourly.

Understanding Alzheimer’s

SOMC and the Alzheimer’s Association will host a lunch and learn for employees and community members from 12 to 1:30 p.m. May 14 in the Gibson Building on the East Campus.

The program will give participants a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease

and dementia and will allow families and caregivers to ask questions while receiving support from others in similar situations.

The program is free of charge and lunch will be provided. To register or for more information, please call Melissa Dever at 740-710-1812.

How to stick to a plan at the grocery store

Ever feel like you can’t find what you need at the supermarket? That’s by design.

Supermarkets are intentionally designed to make you linger longer. The idea is that if you spend longer looking for the items you want, you’ll stumble upon more “specials” and “deals,” which will tempt you into impulse buying.

Some supermarkets go even further – fresh produce is one of the first things you’ll see because it is visually appealing. If the store offers fresh bread, they will bake it during peak hours so that the smell fills the store. Other supermarkets will even use artificial “fresh bread” smells to tempt you.

It’s all an attempt to make you buy more than you should, but there are simple ways to counteract these clever tactics.

First, choose a store you like and stick with it. Once you learn the layout, you’ll find it easier to navigate. You should also try to shop when the store is the least busy so that you can get in and out faster. In general, weeknights between 4 and 7 and weekends tend to the busiest times. Sundays are a double whammy – not only are they busy, but most stores don’t receive deliveries on Sunday, which means produce, bread and milk will not be as fresh.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, make a list. Sticking to a list will eliminate impulse buying and help you stay focused. Avoid anything on sale unless you actually need it.

The key to protecting your wallet and your diet while grocery shopping is just to stay focused. Stay focused on what you actually came to buy, and on what kind of diet you want to have. Remember – if you didn’t think you needed it before you walked in the store, you shouldn’t think you need it after you leave.

Ten “superfoods” you should be eating

There is no one magic food that can improve your health and nutrition, but there are some that come close. Here is a list of UnitedHealthcare’s top 10 “superfoods” that you can begin adding to your diet today!

Avocados. Aside from the occasional guacamole or Cobb salad, many people avoid this superfood because of its high fat content. But the type of fat in avocados is the heart-healthy monounsaturated type. Avocados are also a rich source of fiber, vitamins E, C, B-6, folate, K, and potassium.

Apples. Apples are a superfood because they are a rich source of many antioxidants, as well as vitamin C. Along with pears and berries, they are also one of the highest-fiber fruits – just remember to leave their skin on!

Barley. Barley is an often overlooked whole grain, but its high soluble fiber content makes it great for preventing heart disease and managing blood sugars. Look for hulled barley, which retains most of the bran and germ of the whole grain.

Berries. Berries are a great source of antioxidants, as well as vitamin C and potassium. They also contain higher amounts of fiber than most other fruits.

Leafy greens. Greens make up a family that includes spinach, collards, kale, bok choy, arugula and romaine. They have the disctintion of being the most nutrient-dense veggies for the least amount of calories.

Omega-3 rich fish. Eating fish at least twice a week may help cut your risks for heart disease and stroke. Studies are also underway to see what affect it has on Alzheimer’s and arthritis. Choose salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel.

Beans. Beans combine the dynamic duo of protein and fiber.Specifically, they are high in soluble fiber, a type of fiber that can lower your risk for heart disease and help control blood sugars.

Mushrooms. Mushrooms may not seem to offer much in terms of nutrition, but they are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Shiitake mushrooms have also been found to include several potential cancer-fighting substances.

Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are a good source of monounsaturated fat. These fats can lower your cholesterol if you substitute them for saturated fats.

Pomegranates. Pomegranates can be a little tricky to eat, but they’re worth it. They have up to three times the antioxidants of red wine and green tea, and are also rich in vitamin C and potassium.

Eating healthy at the drive-through

Fast food restaurants offer convenience and speed, often at the cost of our health. But, believe it or not, it is possible to make healthy choices from the drive-through window. All you have to do is plan ahead.

First, you should ask to see nutritional information for the foods. Most fast food restaurants have this posted somewhere inside, and it is also available online.

Understand that your average fast-food meal can run as high as 1,000 calories or more and raise your blood sugar above your target range. If you’re looking for a healthy choice, your options may be limited.

If you are looking at a combo meal, ask to substitute a side salad, carrots or apple slices for the fries.

Think about how the food is cooked. Chicken and fish can be good choices, but they can have more calories and fat if they are breaded and/or deep fried.

And if you’re having fast food for one meal, compensate by making your other meals healthier. The rest of your day should include non-fried vegetables, fruit and whole grains.

If you’re ordering breakfast, choose an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast or an English muffin. Fruit and yogurt are also safe options. Cold cereal with fat-free milk is also always a safe option, as are pancakes with sugar-free syrup or plain scrambled eggs.

Bacon and sausage, on the other hand, tend to be high in saturated fat. You should also avoid muffins. Even “low-fat” muffins are usually very high in calories, especially for the amount of food you’ll get.

If you order a burger, get it without cheese. You should also avoid rich sauces of mayonnaise. Instead, add flavor with mustard then use lettuce, tomato and onion to give it some crunch. Grilled or broiled sandwiches are also preferable.

But whatever you order, make sure you avoid anything with words like “jumbo, giant, deluxe, biggie-sized or super-sized.” Your wallet will tell you it’s a good deal, but your body will beg to differ.

SOMC volunteers make a difference for patients

Southern Ohio Medical Center’s team of volunteers donated more than 46,000 of work in 2014, making a significant impact on the experience of both patients and staff. SOMC honored their commitment during an Award and Recognition Luncheon on April 16.

“There is no greater way to give back to your community than to volunteer your time,” said Jenny Lavender, manager of volunteer services. “Our volunteers are truly an exemplary group of people.”

Volunteer Services brings together a team of retirees, students and anyone else wanting to give back to the community. Volunteers are given the opportunity to work in a variety of departments, including the Gift Gallery, Same Day Surgery, the Cancer Center, Hospice, the Pharmacy, Valet Services, Heart and Vascular and in fundraising activities. It gives volunteers the chance to make a difference in their community while honing valuable skills and making worthwhile contacts.

“Most volunteers say there is nothing better than knowing they have helped someone in need,” Lavender said. “It doesn’t matter if a volunteer commits to an hour or four hours; it makes a difference to the ones who are being encouraged.”

In addition to providing 46,632 hours of work, Volunteer Services also recruited 351 new volunteers in 2014. Knit for Hope volunteers donated 181 knitted hats and blankets to patients, and SOMC Guilds combined to raise and donate a total of $66,030.

For more information about volunteering opportunities at SOMC, contact the Volunteer Services Department at 740-356-8234.