Wealth of health information available on state website

First, the bad news. The effects of holiday indulgence still are evident when we step on the bathroom scale. The good news, though, is that hours of sunlight are steadily growing each day, affording a little more opportunity for exercise.

If you are concerned about the shape your shape is in, you might tap into a resource on the State of Idaho home page and begin engineering a healthy way out of winter’s doldrums.

Health Matters” is a storehouse of information that state employees can use to improve their physical and mental health. Latest “hot topics” on the website include:

  • Winter Safety Tips
  • 10 Things Parents Can Do to Fight Childhood Obesity
  • National Radon Action Month
  • Thyroid Awareness Month
  • Feeling SAD? There could be a reason...
  • Capitol Mall Fitness Challenge
  • Stop Diabetes Webpage
  • Flu Prevention
  • Online Resource for Recalls
  • Why Wellness - Why Now?

The website also includes links to health-related classes and workshops, special events and clinics. It also is a springboard to the Health Matters newsletter. Information is provided by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), www.welcoa.org

Among the topics in the current newsletter are recommendations to abandon elevators and start taking stairs for exercise:

STEP UP to better health – take the stairs

Given all our modern conveniences including cars, elevators, escalators, and computers, it is easy to go through an entire day without getting much physical activity.

Activities that you can fit into your daily routine – like choosing the stairs instead of the elevator – are increasingly being urged by public health experts who point to mounting evidence that small amounts of exercise accumulated throughout the day can provide significant health benefits.

Taking the stairs is an excellent way to prevent the health problems that come with inactivity, including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Athletes have been running up and down stadium steps as part of training for years. Taking the stairs is a great way to get in shape, improve cardiovascular function and strengthen and tone the leg muscles.

Stair climbing is also a great way to fight the weight gain that often comes with the holiday season and winter months. Taking the stairs burns more calories per minute than most other forms of physical activity.

The average man will use about 150 calories in 10 minutes of stair climbing, or about the amount used in a 20-minute brisk walk. Women will use slightly fewer calories.

Stair climbing is quite strenuous. When you start taking the stairs, begin slowly and take one flight at a time. Gradually increase the number of stairs you do. The more you go up and down the stairs, the stronger you’ll become and the easier it will be. Be aware that you may not want to take the stairs if you have knee problems, arthritis or a heart or lung condition.

So don’t wait for the elevator next time. Take the stairs!

Top 10 reasons to take the stairs

1) It’s a free workout!
2) Burns 10 times more calories than taking the elevator. Stair climbing requires about 8-11 kcal of energy per minute. Even 2 flights of stairs climbed per day can lead to a 5.94 lb. weight loss over one year.
3) It can be faster than taking the elevator!
4) Improves your heart health. Physical activity can increase the amount of “good cholesterol” in the blood – (HDL concentrations).
5) Reduces the risk of osteoporosis. There is a strong association between exercise and increased bone density, especially in post-menopausal women.
6) Helps you to breathe better, be more FIT, and have a high aerobic capacity.
7) Lowers your mortality risk. A lower risk of mortality is indicated in studies where participants climbed more than 55 per week.
8) Boosts your
9) Increases leg power and reduces the risk of injury.
10) Relieves stress and tension.

Provided by "Be Fit to Be’ne’Fit" a NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital & Columbia University Medical Center Initiative 2005

Published 1-28-2011