Take a Lap

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Growing up, you couldn’t get me out of the pool. There was something incredibly refreshing about swimming laps and jumping from the high-dive into 18 feet of water below. As I got older, however, the time spent in a pool all summer significantly dropped. On the other hand, the importance of the activity did not.

So, in recognition of Swim a Lap Day, let’s chat and chew about the health benefits of swimming.

Increases muscle tone and strength. Unlike runners, who typically see muscle build in their legs, swimmers gain muscle strength throughout their entire body—they utilize larger groups of muscle to move through the water. During a swim, your legs kick while your arms pull, and as your back reaches and rotates, your stomach tightens to power the legs and stable your core.

Swimming makes you more flexible. As mentioned above, swimming allows your body to stretch, rotate, twist, reach, and pull as you move in the water. At the gym, many exercises are focused on one muscle at a time; swimming positions the body in a wider range of motions that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible.

Swimming is good for your heart. Swimming is an aerobic exercise, therefore, is strengthens the heart and increases its size. This not only makes it pump better, but also leads to improved blood flow throughout the body. According to the American Heart Association, just 30 minutes of exercise—such as swimming—can decrease chances of coronary heart disease in women by 30-40 percent.

It reduces asthma symptoms. When you work out in a gym, typically the air is stuffy and very dry; however, swimming allows you to workout in moist air, which can ultimately reduce exercise-induced asthma. Studies, such as this one, have also linked swimming to improving symptoms and the general condition of the lungs. Even for those who don’t suffer from asthma, swimming increases lung-volume and encourages good breathing techniques.

Swimming helps with weight loss. Despite the cool body temperatures associated with swimming, the sport is actually a top calorie burner. While the exact number of calories depends on the person, the average burned every 10 minutes of swimming is: 60 with the breaststroke; 80 with the backstroke; 100 with freestyle; and a whopping 150 with butterfly.  

Helps reduce stress and relieve depression. In addition to the release of endorphins, swimming also creates a feeling of relaxation comparable to yoga. Swimming not only stretches your body, it combines deep rhythmic breathing and a focus inward that allows you to block all outside distractions and stressors. This naturally lowers stress levels and depression. In addition, research has also shown that swimming can actually reverse damage caused to the brain from stress—this process is called hippocampal neurogenesis.

There are many other benefits associated with swimming, including improvements to your skin if you take a dip in salt water. If you want to mix up your exercise routine, try adding some time in the pool and see how it benefits your overall health. And if you ever need some words of encouragement, as Dori from Finding Nemo reminds us all, just keep swimming!

References:

The Importance of Hobbies

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Growing up I filled my days with sports, piano lessons, Barbie’s, Beanie Babies, and so much more! And I often long for those days of playing in my basement…

Not all hope is lost though! January is National Hobby Month—fitting for the first month of a new year. No matter what you have on your plate, it’s very important to make your needs a priority as well. Since the balance between business and pleasure is often blurred, it’s essential to set aside time each week for activities you truly enjoy.

So, let’s chat and chew about why you need a hobby for your every day, and long-term, health!

A Necessary Break

Personally, I love planning. I use my time much more efficiently when I know what my schedule is for the day (or week). It’s difficult to disrupt a workflow and walk away from the computer, but allowing yourself to be responsibility-free for a period of time will prevent overwhelming feelings caused by work. A new hobby will create space for you to do something you enjoy.

Social Opportunities

It’s not uncommon to network less as you age; we naturally reach a point of happiness and comfort with our circle of friends. Trying a new hobby like joining a book club or an intramural sports team allows you the opportunity to meet new people. Group hobbies have the added benefit of social support, which provides stress relief and a sense of purpose. With all hobbies, you can ease into the conversation and take the experience at your own pace.

Eliminates Stress

We all need a little distraction sometimes! Betsan Corkhill, a knitting therapist, says, “The more capacity you’re using up being totally absorbed in a task, the less capacity there is left to focus any attention on any problems.” Hobbies are a great way to relax and forget about everything else going on around you. Life will always continue forward, so make sure you’re enjoying the ride! 

Mental & Physical Benefits

Aging Home Health Care reports, “Physical activity can help prevent or maintain control in some chronic illnesses such as: heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even some types of cancer.” Whether it’s activities like golfing, biking, swimming, or tennis, exercising can significantly improve your overall quality of life as your age. You can also improve your flexibility through hobbies like yoga, painting, and dancing, or improve memory by playing card games or doing Crossword Puzzles. The possibilities are endless—it’s up to you to make the first move!

Confidence Boost

If you decide on a hobby that’s unfamiliar or challenging, there’s an opportunity to boost morale and self-worth. By solving a problem you were stumped on, or accomplishing a project you had difficulty with, you become aware of skills you didn’t know you were capable of performing! Overcoming both small and big tasks gives you a heightened sense of pride, so keep pushing yourself a little bit with each new hobby!

Everyone remembers his or her favorite hobbies growing up—it simply can’t be forgotten! Fuel that same excitement you remember feeling as a kid and apply it towards finding a new hobby in 2015, or revisit an old one you can’t live without! Already have a favorite hobby of your own? Comment below and inspire others to try what keeps you happy and healthy!


Sources:

  1. Business Insider
  2. Aging Home Health Care

New Year, New YOU!

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It’s official—2015 is here. I can’t believe it myself. According to Forbes, about 40 percent of Americans make a New Year’s Resolution. If you’re like me, you feel reluctant to disclose your resolution, because you might not stick to it. The resolution may require a hard lifestyle change, but more times than not, it may come with a hefty fee. However, did you know there are three things you can do in the next 365 days that come FREE with the Compass Rose Health Plan?

Let’s chat and chew about how you can make your health plan work for you in 2015!


Resolution: Exercise More

Average Cost: $660/year

With an average price tag of $55 per month, paying for a gym membership can add up. As a Compass Rose Health Plan member, you have access to a free fitness and wellness benefit program through GlobalFit. With discounts available on gym memberships, personal trainers, diet programs, equipment, and more, you can exercise your body, not your wallet!

For additional fitness-friendly cost savings, walk to the local grocery store, or bring your dog to the park and toss a Frisbee.


Resolution: Quit Smoking

Cost: $0 – $3,000 (depends on chosen method)

For anyone who has tried quitting before, the “cold turkey” method is the cheapest, but isn’t necessarily the easiest. For products such as nicotine replacement therapies, hypnosis, or counseling, you’re looking at a price tag in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

If you’re serious about quitting, don’t do it alone. As a Compass Rose Health Plan member, you can utilize our free, voluntary smoking cessation benefit. You’ll have access to 24/7 online support, a personal tobacco cessation advisor, quit guide, 100% coverage for quit medications (with a prescription), and more! Don’t wait any longer to quit smoking—use your benefit today and start down the road to a healthier lifestyle tomorrow!


Resolution: Save Money

Cost: Varies

One of the biggest ways you can save money as a Compass Rose Health Plan member is to use in-network doctors and facilities. Always call the provider prior to your appointment to verify they participate in our network or try our easy-to-use online Find a Doctor tool. Another way members can save is by using the additional benefits, which are included within the health plan at no cost! Fitness and wellness, as well as Smoking Cessation are just two of the available programs—more can be found here.

Make sure you set this New Year’s resolution up for success. Break new ground this year without breaking the bank—take the time to research how your health plan can save you time and money in 2015!