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September Awareness
September: Back Health

In today's fast-paced world, we often overlook one of the most crucial aspects of our well-being: back health. Our backs are the pillars that support our daily activities, from working at a desk to enjoying outdoor adventures. Neglecting their care can lead to discomfort, pain, and a decreased quality of life. In this article, let's dive into the importance of back health, focusing on practical strategies to maintain a strong, pain-free back.Your spine is literally the backbone of your body, and a healthy back plays a pivotal role in your overall wellness. Here's why it matters:

  1. Strength and Resilience: A strong back is less prone to injury and pain. It's your foundation for physical activities and adventures.
  2. Daily Comfort: A healthy back ensures you can move comfortably throughout the day, enhancing your quality of life.
  3. Mental Well-Being: Chronic back pain can take a toll on your mental health. A pain-free back contributes to a positive mindset and emotional well-being.
  4. Productivity: Whether at work or home, a comfortable back allows you to focus on tasks without the distraction of pain.

A recent study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) underscores the critical role of back health in overall well-being. The study followed a diverse group of participants aged 30 to 60 over a span of five years, monitoring their back health and its impact on their daily lives. The findings revealed a strong correlation between back health and quality of life. Participants who consistently practiced back-strengthening exercises and maintained proper posture reported a 30% lower incidence of chronic back pain compared to those who didn't. Additionally, this group demonstrated higher levels of physical activity, mental well-being, and overall life satisfaction. These results highlight the profound benefits of prioritizing back health in our daily routines. Simple yet effective practices, such as regular exercise and mindful posture, can significantly enhance not only our physical comfort but also our mental and emotional states. In essence, a healthy back serves as the cornerstone of a fulfilling and active life.

You can build and maintain a robust, pain-free back:

  1. Exercise Smart: Incorporate exercises that strengthen your back muscles and improve flexibility into your routine. Consider activities like yoga, resistance training, and core-strengthening exercises.
  2. Proper Posture: Be mindful of your posture during daily activities. Sit and stand with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and feet flat on the floor.
  3. Lift with Care: When lifting heavy objects, remember to use your legs instead of your back. Bend at the knees, keep the load close to your body, and avoid twisting motions.
  4. Stay Hydrated and Maintain Weight: Proper hydration supports spinal discs, while maintaining a healthy weight reduces back strain.
  5. Mindful Movement: Pay attention to your movements, especially during repetitive activities. Avoid sudden, jerky motions that can strain your back.
  6. Stretch and Breathe: Integrate stretching and relaxation techniques into your day. Gentle stretches, deep breathing exercises, and massages can alleviate tension and promote relaxation.
  7. Quality Sleep: Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support your back. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your back to recover.

Always listen to your body. If you experience persistent back pain or discomfort, consult a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized guidance and exercises to meet your specific needs. Your back's strength is the key to an active, pain-free life. By following these practical tips, you'll build a resilient back that supports you in all your endeavors. Remember, your spine is your lifeline; treat it with care and respect to enjoy a strong and healthy life.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (

August Awareness
August: Eating Disorders

Today, I want to dive into an important and sensitive topic that has touched the lives of many: eating disorders. As someone who believes in the power of wellness and self-care, I recognize that eating disorders can have a profound impact on our physical and emotional well-being. So, let's explore how we can foster a positive relationship with food, nourishing both our bodies and minds.

  • Understanding Eating Disorders:  Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that affect people of all ages and backgrounds. They often stem from a combination of factors, such as genetic predisposition, societal pressures, personal experiences, and psychological challenges. The most common types are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, each manifesting unique patterns of disordered eating behaviors.
  • Building a Supportive Environment:  To promote healing and recovery from eating disorders, it's crucial to create a supportive environment around us. For those who are struggling or know someone who is, let's be compassionate listeners and avoid judgment. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • Embracing Balanced Nutrition:  Food is not the enemy; it's our source of nourishment and energy. Embracing balanced nutrition is vital in overcoming eating disorders. Let's prioritize nutrient-rich whole foods, incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates into our diets. Consulting a registered dietitian can be immensely beneficial in designing personalized meal plans.
  • Mindful Eating:  Practicing mindfulness during meals can be transformative. Let's savor each bite, paying attention to the flavors, textures, and sensations. Mindful eating allows us to become more attuned to our body's hunger and fullness cues, leading to a healthier relationship with food.
  • Seeking Professional Help:  Remember, it's okay to ask for help. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder, don't hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals specialized in eating disorder treatment. They can provide tailored therapies, counseling, and support to guide the recovery journey.
  • Cultivating Positive Body Image:  Our bodies are unique, and comparison is the thief of joy. Let's shift our focus from unrealistic beauty standards to embracing body positivity. Engaging in activities that boost self-esteem and self-acceptance can be empowering.
  • Exercising for Joy:  Exercise should be an enjoyable activity, not a means of punishment. Let's choose activities we genuinely love and focus on how they make us feel rather than solely on the physical results. Engaging in movement that brings joy will create a more positive outlook on fitness.

In our pursuit of health and wellness, let's remember that true well-being involves a harmonious relationship with food and our bodies. Overcoming eating disorders requires courage, compassion, and support. By fostering a nurturing environment, embracing balanced nutrition, practicing mindful eating, seeking professional help, and cultivating positive body image, we can pave the way to recovery and a healthier, happier life.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (

July Awareness
July: Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, a progressive cardiovascular condition, demands our attention to safeguard our heart health. This disease occurs when fatty deposits accumulate in the arteries, obstructing blood flow. Understanding atherosclerosis and implementing preventive measures can protect against its damaging consequences, ensuring a vibrant cardiovascular system for years to come.

  1. Embrace a Heart-Nourishing Diet: A heart-healthy diet forms the cornerstone of atherosclerosis prevention. Prioritize whole foods rich in fiber, lean proteins, and essential nutrients. Opt for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes while limiting saturated fats, added sugars, and excessive sodium. Incorporate heart-friendly fats found in nuts, seeds, and olive oil. A balanced diet supports healthy cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular well-being.
  2. Foster an Active Lifestyle: Regular physical activity is crucial in the fight against atherosclerosis. Engage in aerobic exercises like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming for at least 150 minutes per week. These activities strengthen blood vessels, enhance heart function, and promote cardiovascular fitness. Incorporate strength training exercises twice a week to support muscle development and metabolic health.
  3. Kick the Smoking Habit: Smoking is a significant risk factor for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Quitting smoking is essential for preserving heart health. Seek support from healthcare professionals and utilize smoking cessation programs. Strategies like nicotine replacement therapy can facilitate the quitting process. By eliminating this harmful habit, you enhance blood circulation, reduce plaque formation, and decrease the likelihood of heart-related complications.
  4. Maintain Healthy Weight and Manage Chronic Conditions: Obesity and certain chronic conditions contribute to atherosclerosis. Strive to maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise. Monitor blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol regularly, following healthcare provider guidance for effective management. Controlling these factors significantly reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and associated complications.
  5. Manage Stress and Prioritize Self-Care: Chronic stress adversely impacts cardiovascular health and atherosclerosis progression. Incorporate stress-management techniques into your routine, such as mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises. Engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation. Prioritize self-care by ensuring sufficient sleep, fostering positive relationships, and nurturing your mental and emotional well-being.

By adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, understanding atherosclerosis risk factors, and implementing preventive strategies, we can protect our cardiovascular system and reduce the likelihood of developing this disease. Small but consistent changes in diet, exercise habits, and stress management yield significant long-term benefits for heart health. Let's embark on a journey towards vibrant cardiovascular well-being and a life filled with vitality. Together, we can nurture our hearts and embrace a healthy, fulfilling future.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (

June Awareness
June: Balance

Maintaining a strong physical balance is absolutely crucial for our overall health and well-being. It's not something we should overlook. Balance plays a significant role in our day-to-day activities, our ability to move freely, and even in preventing injuries. As we age, our balance tends to decline, which is why it becomes even more important to focus on it. By making balance a priority and incorporating targeted exercises, we can truly enhance our stability, minimize the risk of falls, and experience a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Let's talk about the wonderful benefits that come with having good balance. First and foremost, it's a powerful tool in preventing falls, especially among older adults. We all know how devastating falls can be, leading to serious injuries, decreased independence, and an overall decline in our quality of life. But by working on our balance, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of falls and all the negative consequences that come with them.

Enhancing our balance also has a direct impact on our mobility. When we have good balance, we can gracefully navigate different terrains, move with confidence, and fully engage in the physical activities we enjoy. It's like having a secret weapon that promotes independence and allows us to maintain an active lifestyle that we truly cherish.

Let's not forget about injury prevention. A solid balance foundation is not only essential for preventing falls but also for other physical activities we partake in. By having a strong and stable base, we improve our posture, joint stability, and coordination, thereby reducing the risk of common injuries like sprains and strains. It's like building a fortress of strength around ourselves!

Balance isn't just about preventing falls and injuries. It also enhances our performance in various aspects of life. Whether we're into sports, exercise routines, or simply carrying out everyday tasks, having good balance is the key to unlocking our full potential. It boosts our athletic performance, increases movement efficiency, and improves coordination. It's like upgrading ourselves to a supercharged version!

Now, let's dive into some exercises that can help us improve our balance. First up, we have the Single-Leg Stance. Find a wall or something sturdy to lean on, lift one foot off the ground, and try to maintain your balance on the other leg for about 30 seconds to a minute. Feel free to switch legs and repeat the process. As you become more advanced, you can take it up a notch by closing your eyes or adding small movements like lifting your arms.

Next, we have the Heel-to-Toe Walk. Imagine walking on a tightrope – place the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of the other foot with each step. This exercise works wonders in improving our balance and coordination. Start with a few steps and gradually increase the distance as you become more comfortable.

Lastly, let's not forget the power of strength training. By engaging in regular strength training exercises, we indirectly enhance our balance by strengthening our muscles and improving stability. Focus on exercises that target the core, legs, and hips, such as squats, lunges, and planks.

Remember, it's always wise to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified trainer before embarking on any new exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or concerns. Safety first always. Incorporating balance-improving exercises into our daily routine is a proactive step toward enhancing our overall health and reducing the risk of falls and injuries. By prioritizing balance, we can embrace increased mobility, maintain our independence, and lead a healthier, more active life. So, let's start balancing our way to greatness! You've got this!

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (

May Awareness
May: Sciatica

This month we’re discussing Sciatica. This is a pain that goes from the lower back, through the hips, and down the leg. Unfortunately, it can feel like an electric or stabbing pain. A herniated disk in the spine, obesity, poor posture, and even awkward sitting positions can cause this pain. Typically, it heals on its own with rest and time but if you deal with sciatica or similar pain, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor or therapist.

Clinically, Sciatica refers to pain that travels along the sciatic nerve. This nerve travels from the low back through the hips, and buttocks, down the legs. Oftentimes it is caused at least in part by herniated disks pressing against the nerve, inflammation in the piriformis muscle, or is lumped in with low back pain that radiates down the leg.

Typically, this pain only affects one leg at a time but can affect both. Unfortunately, this pain can come on gradually or be in reaction to sudden damage. The pressure on the nerve is what causes the “needle-like” “electric” or “burning” sensation down the leg. The pain can be constant or come and go. According to the Cleveland clinic about 40% of people in the US experience sciatica sometime during their life.

When trying to diagnose sciatica often an x-ray will not be enough. If there is something drastic with the structure such as a spinal fracture the x-ray may be able to pick it up but often only an MRI can see the soft tissue in the spine to adequately diagnose the issue.

Treatment varies depending on the person and on the severity. Hot/Cold packs can help with temporary relief. Over the counter medicines can be used properly to achieve some success in pain management. Stretches and movement will often help over time. Time is often the only way the pain will completely go away. Being capable of squatting and moving efficiently has been shown to reduce the likelihood of having sciatic pain and better dealing with it.

Sciatica affects many but it is typically not something that needs surgery. Stay active, keep weight at adequate levels, and avoiding improper form when lifting things are all ways to reduce sciatic pain and issues.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (

April Awareness
April: What is Nutritional Fat?

Saturated, unsaturated, trans-, mono-, poly-. All these and more are different types of nutritional fats. It can be easy to understand why there is often so much confusion surrounding Dietary fat and what you should or shouldn’t eat. A general rule of thumb is to minimize the amount of trans fats, moderate saturated fats, and instead go for a healthy amount of unsaturated fats.

What is saturated vs unsaturated? The difference between the two is a matter of molecular structure. All fats are made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Saturated fats contain a single bond between carbon molecules allowing room for more saturation from hydrogen while unsaturated fats have at least one double bond between carbon molecules, reducing possible amount of hydrogen saturation. Saturated fats are “saturated” with hydrogen molecules, and this makes the fat solid at room temperature. They are also generally found in animal products, think cheese. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, think olive oil.

Although there are health benefits to both saturated and unsaturated fats, within moderation, trans fat is something we generally want to avoid. Some trans-fat is found naturally, but most that we use are artificially made such as in partially hydrogenated oil. Fried foods especially can be high in trans-fat. These have been shown to adversely affect cholesterol levels and health markers.

Poly and Monounsaturated fats are the final type we will discuss although there are many others. Poly and Mono again refer to molecular structure. Mono means one and poly means multiple. One unsaturated carbon bond and more than one unsaturated carbon bond. Monounsaturated is made in the body, endogenous, and can be gotten from the diet. Poly is only produced through diet, exogenous.

There are many different kinds, molecular structures and options when it comes to dietary fats. Bottom line, nutritional fats within moderation are not bad for you. However, there are some fats that are better than others. Stick to unsaturated fats, moderate saturated fats, and avoid trans-fats.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (

March Awareness
March: Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease expressed as a decrease in bone mass and density. This usually results in fractures and breaks much more easily than the average person. According to the NIH it effects 1 in 5 women over 50 and 1 in 20 men over 50. Bone is a living tissue that is extremely important. Not only for the structure of our bodies but also for generating red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It also stores calcium and phosphorus. As such, it is very important that we preserve as much bone as possible and keep it as healthy as possible.

Osteoporosis occurs when creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone. With this being the case, we need to keep bones healthy. Eating disorders, low calcium intake, steroids, and certain medical conditions such as: celiac disease, cancer, and Rheumatoid Arthritis can all reduce bone strength and structure. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be your outcome. Staying active, getting enough calcium, vitamin D and plenty of protein each day, as well as quitting smoking can all have a significant impact on keeping your bones strong and healthy. Getting hormone levels checked can also have a significant impact on bone health.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (

February Awareness
February: Resistance Training vs Cardio

Resistance training and cardio. Two very different but equally important aspects of training to live a healthy life. Although resistance training had a bad rap in the past it has been shown to be extremely effective at weight loss and strength gain. Cardio, such as running, can do wonders for the cardiovascular system and your endurance.

Resistance training is simply moving the body against resistance. That resistance could be 100s of pounds of steel in the gym or simply our own body weight while moving through space. Resistance training covers a wide range of movements and methodologies. Olympic lifting, strongman, CrossFit, chair aerobics, and even tai chi could all involve a measure of resistance training. Resistance training is an absolutely essential portion of keeping the body healthy and strong.

Cardio or Cardiovascular Endurance Training is basically anything that raises your heart and breath rate and improves the function of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system. This is another pillar to health that we should all be working on. Cardio includes walking, running, jumping jacks, swimming, and so many other modalities. Strength training could even benefit and be similar to cardio.

The debate between these two training modalities is completely unnecessary and unhelpful. Both, along with balance and stability, form the pyramid of physical exercise. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, needs all to be at their best physically. The elderly are especially vulnerable to not doing enough of either of these. Without strength training it will be difficult, as we age, to maintain muscle and strength. As we know, muscle and strength are so extremely tied to health and longevity that one cannot be fully healthy without them. Without cardio, it is very difficult to maintain enough endurance even to do simple things in life such as walk up a flight of stairs or walk down long corridors. Both are absolutely necessary.

The best approach would be to alternate or include bouts of cardio between lifting sessions. For example: Resistance training Mon, Wed, Fri with Cardio Tues and Thurs. The main focus should be resistance training to build and maintain muscle, with cardio to round out health, aid in recovery, and increase endurance. I am here to tell you that women are at no risk of accidentally “gaining too much muscle.” I’m also here to tell you that cardio will not take away “gains”, and in fact, if used appropriately can improve strength gains. Finally, the elderly should actively seek resistance training. Do not avoid lifting weights and strengthening yourself. If you do not feel comfortable approaching this on your own, find a trainer or exercise instructor to ensure that you keep good form and drastically reduce any chance of injury.

There should be no disparagement between Resistance training and Cardio. Both are key components of a healthy life, and both should be valued as such. Take your time, educate yourself about each, and incorporate both into your weekly exercise routine.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (

January Awareness
January: Falls

Falling is an increasingly serious health problem for many as we age. According to the CDC, more than one out of four older people fall each year and unfortunately falling once doubles your chances of falling again. This is a very real issue to be aware of but fortunately there are things that can be done to mitigate and reduce the chance and severity of falls. See our wonderful therapists and doctors to figure out the best ways for you to keep moving and avoid falls.

The major contributor to falls being so deleterious is the injury that can come from the fall. Hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries being among the worst cases. With 800,000 a year for hip injury or fracture and falls being the most common cause of TBI (traumatic brain injury). Not only does a fall affect us physically it can affect us mentally, especially more traumatic falls. This can cause fear when approaching stairs, exercise, or just being more active in general. This increase in fear and reduction in movement cascades into lower and lower quality of life and mobility.

The effect of falls only increases after the first fall. As stated, falling once doubles your chances of falling again. The downtime and recovery make one weaker, losing a percentage of the strength they once had depending on how long the recovery may be. This weakness can increase likelihood of falling. Then the fear of walking and exercising makes it more difficult to recover strength, also increasing likelihood of falling. Finally, if there is an injury to the hip, head, or leg, often regardless of if there was a full recovery, that spot will be more susceptible to follow up injuries. It is a calamity of events that needs to be defended against fervently.

Strength is so very important, high blood pressure has a 20% hazard ratio regarding longevity risk factor. Smoking has a 50% hazard ratio. Being weak relative to being strong is a 250% hazard ratio. Strength is manifested in almost every way you move and interact with the world. Being stronger is healthier than not. Grip strength is a huge contributor to possible falls, with a higher grip strength reducing fall likelihood. Stronger legs as well as a stronger core can reduce falls. Strength is gold and should be hoarded as much as possible. The dangerous cycle of strength loss is difficult to fight. As we age, we have what is called sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass specifically related to aging. Then, living a sedentary life or any time spent in bed rest will directly reduce the loss of strength and muscle mass. Followed by a fear of or reduction in exercise after falling or injury further reducing muscle mass and strength. This vicious cycle can kill.

Although things seem bleak, there are things that can be done to reduce the destructive nature of falls. Exercise as if your life depended on it because it does. Exercise can positively affect nearly every aspect of your body and life. Strength can reduce the damage of a fall and mean the difference between holding onto a railing or falling down stairs. Balance training and awareness are massively important, contributing directly to fall prevention. We will not always be able to have a walker or be on flat even ground. Preparing for the time that we will trip, or stumble will pay dividends. Picking up the foot as you walk, often-times the toe is left to point down or drag as one walks. This increases the likelihood that it will get caught on something as you step over it or even drag on the floor. Strengthen the foot and calf muscles and be cognizant of toe position as you walk. Finally, reduce weight if possible. According to studies: “Older obese individuals have an increased risk of falls and obese fallers have a higher prevalence of pain and inactivity than fallers of a healthy weight.” ( Maintaining healthy weight is best for overall health, reduction of injury and disease chance, and best for increase in quality of life.

Falls are a dangerous and serious thing to be aware of. However, they should not paralyze us in fear and prevent exercise and living our lives. Approach it with a healthy respect, do what you can to minimize its chances, and stay as strong as you can for as long as you can.

For more healthy lifestyle tips, goal-setting techniques, and general health and fitness related questions, please e-mail Vantage’s Wellness Team at (

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