Wash hands frequently
Just think of all the things your hands touch from day to day: countertops, railings, bathroom surfaces, doorknobs, shoes, pets, elevator buttons and more. You easily can pick up germs that can cause disease if your dirty fingers touch your eyes, nose, mouth or any break in the skin.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health encourages everyone to wash their hands thoroughly and often.
“Even when your hands look clean, they may carry germs,” the health department noted in a news release. “Germs on your hands can cause illnesses such as common colds, influenza (flu), skin infections such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) or more serious illnesses such as diarrhea, bronchitis, hepatitis A and meningitis.”
The health department offers these hand-washing tips:
Do your hands look dirty? Wet your hands with warm water, then lather up with liquid or bar soap. Rub your hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds to remove the dirt, and take time to scrub your nails, thumbs, wrists and the back of your hands. Rinse well and dry with a clean towel. In public areas, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.
Hands look clean? Doesn't hurt to disinfect with an alcohol-based gel or foam. Disinfectants should contain 60 to 95 percent alcohol. Thoroughly moisten your hands, then rub in to dry.
Wash up before, curing and after you prepare food; before you eat; before you touch your eyes, nose or mouth; before you insert of remove contact lenses; before and after using sports equipment; before and after treating a cut or wound; and after your blow your nose, cough or sneeze into your hands.
Also wash well after you use the bathroom or change a diaper; after handling uncooked foods, especially meat, poultry or fish; after touching animals or animal waste; after you handle garbage or dirty laundry; and if someone in your home is ill.
For more information about preventing illness, go to www.health.ok.gov.
Take time to stretch
Stretching isn't the most enjoyable part of a workout, but it's vital to improve performance, decrease injury risk and increase flexibility.
Life Fitness, a manufacturer of gym-quality exercise equipments, suggests these stretching techniques.
Start with a warm-up. Stretching at the beginning of your workout can decrease performance. Instead, do a low-intensity version of whatever activity you're about to perform, gradually increasing muscle temperature. If you're about to jog, for example, try walking briskly as a warm-up.
Stretch at the end of your workout. Wait until your heart rate returns to normal, but don't wait so long that your muscles cool off. Static stretches are most effective, so don't bob up and down; simply assume a stretched position and hold it for 20 to 40 seconds. Doing so increases blood flow and will increase flexibility and range of motion over time.
Focus on main muscle groups. These include the calves, hips, thighs, lower back, neck and shoulders. Stretch on both sides. Runners, for example, should focus most on stretching the hamstrings, hips and calves.
Listen to your body. Breathe. Inhale to prepare; exhale as you go deeper into a stretch. Pain is not good. If it hurts, back off to a comfortable point and hold.
For more information about Life Fitness, go online to www.lifefitness.com.
Integris offers new treatments
Oklahomans who have trouble walking or using their hands as a result of strokes, multiple sclerosis or other central nervous conditions have two new treatment options.
Jim Thorpe Outpatient Rehabilitation is offering the wireless NESS L300 Foot Drop System and the Ness H200 Wireless Hand Rehabilitation System.
The Foot Drop system helps patients with gait disorders resulting from partial paralysis. The system helps such patients regain mobility by giving them greater control of their foot when it's off the ground. That makes it easier to walk. The device includes a small transmitter in the shoe, a leg cuff wrapped below the knee and a handheld remote control. Electronic signals stimulate nerves in the lower leg, which signal muscles to help a user lift his foot.
The hand system uses a similar process to help users grasp and release objects, allowing them to open a bottle of water or dress themselves. It may reduce muscle spasms, prevent muscle atrophy, increase local blood circulation and improve hand activity and range of motion.
Jim Thorpe will hold free patient screening days at two locations this month.
The first is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, at the Jim Thorpe center at Integris Southwest Medical Center, 4100 S Douglas Ave. Register by calling 644-5182.
The second is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Jim Thorpe center at Integris Health Edmond, 4833 Integris Pkwy., Suite 100, Edmond. Register by calling 657-3800.
Compiled by Staff Writer Ken Raymond