Fit For You

Courtesy of Elizabeth McGowan

Elizabeth McGowan was only 15 years old when her father died of melanoma at the age of 44. When she was just out of college, McGowan was diagnosed with the same cancer that took her father.

At first, she thought it was a death sentence, but at 39, McGowan reached the major milestone of being five years cancer-free after over a decade of treatments.

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Cold and flu season is now upon us. That compounded with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means it’s time to focus on our immune systems.  

Immune systems are pretty effective against many germs and viruses, but it takes time to fight them. And this year has added stress for many due to the many impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. "So, anything you can do to mitigate that stress by simple measures is going to be very helpful," says Josh Knox, a physician assistant by training and a clinical associate professor at Marquette University’s physician assistant program.

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Masks are a proven and effective tool in fighting the spread of COVID-19, but some people still resist wearing them. Just last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers extended the statewide mask mandate until Nov. 21 as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state.

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As gyms reopen, members are weighing the risk of working out in common areas again. While coronavirus safety policies can vary gym to gym, the Wisconsin statewide mask mandate requires that everyone 5 and up wears a mask indoors — even while working out.

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From virtual workouts to outdoor activities, many of us found different ways to stay active when gyms were initially closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now that some gyms are open again, should you go?

"Regardless of what the activity is, the gym in of itself, no matter the gym, is going to be a high-risk area to go to," says Dr. Joyce Sanchez, an infectious disease specialist at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

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About a third of our lives is spent sleeping. Sleep is good for our health and builds our immune function, something especially important during a pandemic.

However, the CDC estimates that 30-40% of American adults sleep less than six hours a night. That's two hours less than the recommended eight hours. Sleep deprivation is often associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and our ability to cope with stress.

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Medical error is the third leading cause of death in America, with more than 200,000 people dying unnecessarily each year. And the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted both patient and caregiver safety.

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Breathing. It’s something that we do without thinking about it. However, most of the time we’re practicing shallow breathing, which can sometimes make us feel out of breath and anxious — especially when we’re already stressed.

When we actively concentrate on breathing techniques that fully utilize our lungs, abdominals and diaphragm, it can actually reduce stress, create mindfulness, and even lower blood pressure.

Lucien Jung

Being stuck indoors can make it difficult to stay fit and healthy. Some have turned to online classes, vitamin supplements, and exercises that can be done easily in smaller spaces — like yoga.

Milwaukee instructor Molly Sommerhalder got hooked on yoga 20 years ago after taking classes at the YMCA. Through her daily practice, Sommerhalder says she's significantly healed her irritable bowel syndrome, decreased chronic anxiety and come to better understand herself.

Audrey Nowakowski

Float therapy - or floating - has become more popular in the health and wellness fields within the last few years. However, the practice actually goes back decades. 

The first upright freshwater float tank was developed in the early 1950s to explore the idea of consciousness. The more common lie-down commercial salt water tanks that we know today were invented in the early 1970s. While its popularity may have waxed and waned, floating is gaining traction as a way to help treat things like athletic recovery, chronic pain, anxiety, stress and insomnia. 

Audrey Nowakowski

For all the possible ways human bodies can fall ill, there are even more ways to treat them. Many of us combine Western allopathic medicine with things such as medication and other holistic approaches. Acupuncture is one of those practices. It’s been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years as a method of treatment.

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How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? If you’re like many people, your determination to exercise more, eat healthier, lose weight, or get better rest isn’t as strong as it was on Jan. 1. By the second week of February, about 80% of people who made resolutions have failed.

Lauren Sigfusson

Emily Yenor has been a physical therapist for the past 20 years. For the first 10 of those years, she used traditional methods like ultrasound, deep tissue stretching and more to release muscle tightness in her clients. But she was frustrated by the lack of progress she was making with her patients.

“I felt like treating the tightness, digging in on these tight muscles, trying to stretch these tight muscles — it really wasn’t getting to the root of things,” notes Yenor.

CityHealth

Obesity rates have rapidly increased over the past two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults (39.8%) in the United States were obese in 2017.

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How are you feeling right now? A little tired? Ready to tackle the day? Hungry? Well, how you’re feeling right now probably has a lot to do with circadian timing — or your inner clock.

"Every cell in your body is a clock. It knows what time of day it is, and all of these cells are kind of orchestrated and regulated by what we call a master clock in the brain," explains Dr. Jennifer Evans. She studies circadian timing and its effects on the body at Marquette University.

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