Kawartha North Family Health Team

Sing like no one is listening….

If you are one of the millions of Canadians who enjoy singing in the shower, keep it up!

While you may have heard of some of the benefits associated with singing such as its mental health impacts which have been linked to reducing depression and lowering stress levels, other benefits might surprise you.

One little known finding may not only benefit you, but also your partner. According to one recent article, experts believe that singing works to strengthen throat and palate muscles which can reduce snoring and sleep apnea, improving both of your sleep. Aside from the throat, singing can also strengthen the diaphragm and stimulates overall circulation as you pull in more oxygen while singing than during many forms of exercise. Studies at the University of Frankfurt even showed that singing boosted the immune system and if you practice correct singing techniques you will be forced to stand up straighter to allow your chest cavity to expand which will serve to improve your posture.

Of course if you take it one step further and opt to sing with others, it can also serve to let you meet new people and boost your confidence. But if all of the health benefits are not enough for you, why not simply sing because it makes us happy? There is a reason it has been an age old tradition during times of trouble to carry us through and during happy times as part of celebration.

So take a deep breath and sing!

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Dirt-free gardening….

It would not be spring if I did not write at least once about gardening, but what about those of you who don’t have a green thumb or simply are unable to get out and get dirty? Don’t despair, gardening is still for you.

Whether you lack the interest, aptitude or option to actually garden, it can still be way to get outside and get involved. This time of year, options for gardening related activities abound. Why not attend one of the many local plant sales for example? Even if you have no intention to buy, similar to attending a yard sale, plant sales can simply be a fun morning out and a way to make some new acquaintances. Many of the plant sales are run by the volunteers of your local horticultural society and going to check out some of their meetings can be sociable and informative regardless of whether you choose to put your learnings into action.

Whilst you have missed your opportunity for this year, why not check out Canada Blooms in 2020? Hosted in Toronto early each year, it is Canada’s largest garden and flower show and sure to put you in the mood for spring. Of course if you don’t want to wait until next year, you can always opt for one of Ontario’s Botanical Gardens or experience the splendour of Ottawa’s tulip festival, one of the largest displays of tulips in the world.

So whether you like to get dirty or not, take the time to stop and smell the roses. There is more to gardening than meets the eye.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Finding hidden treasure….

As spring continues to evade us, you may be trying to find reasons to venture outside for some fun and activity. Well the search is over, or just beginning if you try geocaching!

If you have ever driven through Highlands East in Haliburton around the area of Wilberforce, you may have seen the signs advertising the “Geocaching Capital of the World”. Well don’t be fooled into thinking this is merely a tourism ploy. Highlands East is in fact rated as one of the top geocaching destinations in the world. Whilst I have to confess that I do not know what would add you to the list, I do nonetheless find it intriguing.

If you are not yet familiar with geocaching, it is the outdoor recreational activity of searching for and, ideally, finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website. Yes, it is a good old fashioned treasure hunt. With smart phones a common accessory, most of us have access to GPS (global positioning systems) at our fingertips and with a little bit of practice, you too can be a treasure hunter. You will definitely not get rich, as you will be leaving the treasure for the next seeker, so the joy is in the find. I guess it’s a little like catch and release finishing.

So why not try an activity that you can do with the whole family or set up a little competition with your friends as a way to get outside and active?

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Changes at Kawartha North FHT

Unfortunately Dr. Mastouri and Dr. Druzin have chosen to leave the Kawartha North Family Health Team to be able to be closer to their family and friends.  While they will be missed, we wish them well and thank them for the service each of them has provided to our communities.

Of course, we know and appreciate that their patients will have many questions and concerns so we will try to address some of them here.

 

Q:        When will Dr. Mastouri be leaving KNFHT?

A:        The middle of May 2019

 

Q:        Who will take on her patients?

A:        Dr. Caines will be joining our team the middle of May and will be taking all of her patients.

 

Q:        When will Dr. Druzin be leaving KNFHT?

A:        The end of May 2019

 

Q:        Who will take on his patients?

A:        All of his patients will be divided between Dr. Zung and Dr. Jacob in  Fenelon Falls

 

Q:        What if I wanted to change office locations?

A:       If you have been seen in Bobcaygeon or Fenelon Falls by Dr. Druzin or  Mastouri and would like to change offices because of travel, please let us know and we will try to accommodate you as we move through this transition.

Have a heart….

February is obviously known for hearts related to Valentine’s Day, but it is also heart month for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

I have recently been thinking about heart health as my husband is trying to address his high blood pressure and it certainly brings home the reality of looking after our hearts.  Being in his 40’s and exercising regularly, we felt assured that such things as high blood pressure were on the worry list for our neighbours not us, but lo and behold – not so.

Following a visit for an unrelated health check, a reading of 185 over 80 brought things into instant focus and made me re-evaluate how we eat and in particular how much caffeine and sodium we consume.  We are already active and at a healthy weight, both important contributing factors, and his age and gender are strikes against his blood pressure outside of my influence so that left limited control for me.

First off, I am NOT his doctor, so I told him to go see him instead.  I may work for a health care facility, but at the end of the day, this may require medication and that is outside of my purview.  What I am, however, is the cook in the house.  So I did review what we eat and overall we eat very healthy, but whilst I don’t have a sweet tooth, I like my salt.  So that was the main adjustment.  Of course in your home, make sure you limit fried and fatty foods, get your fruits and vegetables and then like myself, assess your sodium.  I think the most eye opening was the unknown sodium consumption.  I already tried to limit how much salt I used in my cooking, but on looking at things like the stock and sauces I use, it started to add up quickly.

So start by checking your blood pressure to assess your heart health and make sure you are looking after yourself and your loved ones.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

 

 

Where’s the beef?

Where’s the Beef?

Last month, Canada revealed its most recent edition of Canada’s Food Guide.  The first iteration, called “The Official Food Rules”, was introduced in July of 1942 in an attempt to mitigate nutritional deficiencies during wartime food rationing.

Over the years, the “Food Guide” has formed the basis of many Canadians’ nutritional knowledge, basing their healthy eating on the four food groups.  Unfortunately, recent interviews by CBC showed that many Canadians have never heard of it, leaving me to question how valuable was the guide and what impact, if any, will it continue to have.

In my personal life, while I have not always followed it to the letter, it has definitely been the basis of what I consider to be a healthy diet. Certainly, the new pictorial provides a quick glance reference to remind us that our healthy diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables which should ideally constitute 50% of our meal.  Gone are milk and milk products as well as meat and alternative from the 2007 edition, having been replaced by “Protein Foods”.

Additionally what has been added and what dietitians and nutritionists will find heartening, is very basic and common sense eating advice such as drinking water, cooking more frequently and sharing meals with loved ones.

So why not take this opportunity to restart your healthy habits for the new year using Canada’s Food Guide as inspiration?

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Putting your best foot forward….

Putting your best foot forward….

Whilst sandal season may be over, I would still like to take this time to get you to check your feet.

For such an important part of the body, it seems to me that we often pay little attention to our “little piggies”. We squeeze them into shoes that are not the perfect size because they were on sale or match our outfit, we wear high heels (ok, not everyone) to look better or add a couple inches – all in the name of vanity. So as I refreshed my summer polish, it struck me that I care more what others think of my feet than I do simply because they are so vital to my health and wellbeing.

Certainly, anyone with Diabetes is well accustomed to taking extra care to prevent injuries and neuropathy, but we should all take an extra moment to ensure that we are following the basic guidelines to keep our feet healthy.

  • Of course, first and foremost, wear well fitted shoes with low or no heels;
  • Cut or file nails straight across and never shorter than the end of your toe to prevent issues such as ingrown toenails;
  • Do not treat Plantar warts at home – this is not a DIY project and can lead to painful scarring.;
  • Consult a professional early to treat corns and calluses; and
  • Exercise your feet. While there are very helpful foot exercises, a good old fashioned walk is still one of the best exercises for your feet.

So take care of your feet and they will take care of you.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Don’t let pain slow you down….

If you are anything like me, the changing weather will increase any discomfort you may have in your joints and make it awfully tempting to look for comfort on the couch, but this is likely the worst approach to take.

While movement may feel uncomfortable, it is vital in reducing joint pain, increasing strength and flexibility and helping to combat fatigue. Don’t worry, you don’t need to run a marathon, even mild to moderate exercise will help.

Start slowly with range-of-motion exercises including stretching and try low impact activities such as Tai Chi or walking. If able, move up to include strengthening exercises to build muscle and protect joints. Avoid working the same muscle groups two days in a row and rest between workouts, particularly if your joints are painful or swollen. Once you have two or three days per week of strength training in your routine, add aerobic exercises. Try low impact activities such as swimming and split it into 10 minute intervals if you find it is easier on your joints.

Remember to keep it low impact and apply heat to sore joints prior to exercising to relax stiff joints. Take a break if you are experiencing pain and apply ice after activity if needed. Don’t overdo it and trust your body, but remember that exercise truly is one of the best things you can do for your sore joints – even if it does seem counterintuitive at first.

So get active and get moving.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

What to do to fill in for school hours….

Wow, yet another school year over, ready for summer break? If you are lucky enough to have vacation plans or are heading to the cottage, keeping the kids busy should be a cinch. Unfortunately, you may face heading to work most days or enjoying a “staycation” in which case, keeping your kids busy can pose a challenge.

Funnily enough, it has become easier than ever to have them entertain themselves, “play a video game, watch a movie, text a friend”….unfortunately all the new technologies, while a treat for babysitting, come with their own set of challenges. So what are good guidelines for screen time and how do you enforce them without a power struggle this summer?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, school age children should have no more than two hours of screen time per day, while preschoolers should be limited to less than one. Of course, if you are heading to the office in the morning and leaving your children alone or in the care of a sitter, this can be easier said than done.

Generally, experts agree that you should set consistent guidelines and explain these to your children up front. Nothing derails a plan more than inconsistency. It becomes difficult to say why they will only be allowed two hours today when they had six yesterday. If possible, involve your sitter in the plan, but if your kids will be unattended or you are not sure the sitter is mature enough to enforce such guidelines, you may choose one of the technological options such as Luma to curb extra access.

Additionally, ensure that there are other activities planned as an alternative to screen time. These don’t always have to be all fun either. Perhaps you make an agreement that they need to wash the dishes and read two chapters before they are able to access their screen of choice. Of course, fun time is also important.

So be prepared this summer and agree to set up healthy guidelines to keep everyone happy.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Coming clean about cleaning

Based on our recent weather, let’s assume that spring has finally sprung, so aside from starting my seeds, the thing that comes to mind is spring cleaning.

I hate to admit it, but housework rates pretty low on my priority list; that being said, I recognize the joy of seeing a job done so there is always a part of me that looks forward to a good day of cleaning. I think there is a certain mental catharsis to looking around after a long day and noting how beautiful your space is.

But don’t just wash dishes for your mental health, and yes, there are actually studies that show doing dishes reduces anxiety; instead, recognize that doing household chores has been found as effective as going to the gym according to researchers following 130,000 people in 17 countries. Performing 30 minutes of any kind of physical activity five days a week could slash your risk of death from any cause by 28 percent and your rate of heart disease by 20 percent – and yes, that includes mopping floors and vacuuming. Of course both the benefit and the fun increase exponentially if you add some of your favourite music.

Personally, my favourite part of spring cleaning is finally getting out into my garden and preparing the beds for the new season, although I do have to admit that I may be tempted to neglect the floors in favour of the flowers.

So feel good about clearing some of the chores of your list and get your exercise at the same time.