The Key to Losing Weight: Know Your Body Type

January 21st, 2015

Apple and weightsIs your New Year’s resolution to get in better shape? Your body type is the key to figuring out the best diet and exercise program.

Different Body Types

Generally, people fall into three body types:

  • Ectomorphs: The so called “string-beans” tend to be thin, long-limbed and have difficulty putting on fat and muscle.
  • Endomorphs: People with this body type tend to store more fat than other body types and are sometimes called pear or apple shaped. Those who are “pear shaped” have full hips, thighs and rear which means they are carrying around extra subcutaneous fat. This fat that appears just below your skin is actually healthier than belly fat; unfortunately it is harder to get rid of. It has less blood flow and holds onto calories, which makes it tough to burn off.  People who are considered “apple shaped” are those who hold their weight around their middle. They are battling visceral fat, the fat located in your abdominal region that surrounds vital organs. While this fat is easier to get rid of than subcutaneous fat, it is also worse for you.
  • Mesomorphs: People with this body type have athletic builds, characterized by high muscle mass and little fat.

Though body types are genetically pre-determined and most of us will fall into one of these three categories, the ratio can be altered with the right exercise plan and a healthy diet.

Exercise for Your Body Type

When exercising, it is important to find the right program for your body type:

  • Ectomorphs: The goal for this thin body type is to gain tone or muscle mass.
  • Endomorphs: The key is to start with a program that burns calories instead of a lot of strength training. The extra weight endomorphs carry can cause increased pressure on joints and bones, so it is important (at first) to avoid engaging in exercises that can add stress to these areas.
  • Mesomorphs: For people with this body type, yoga and pilates helps because it provides muscular conditioning in a routine less likely to create a bulky look.

Figure out which exercise routine works best for your body type and then you can start working on your New Year’s resolution.

Dieting for Your Body Type

Exercising is only one part of the equation, eating right is the other! See what food works for your body type:

  • Ectomorphs: This diet is all about eating for health. People with this body type do well with a diet that incorporates healthy fats, which may help to decrease cardiovascular problems.
  • Endomorphs: To lose weight, a low fat diet is best. Avoid refined carbohydrates and eat anti-inflammatory foods. Heart healthy mono-saturated fat, found in nuts, avocado and olive oil, have been shown to decrease inflammation, while increasing the body’s ability to burn fat.
  • Mesomorphs: It is important for those with this body type to choose whole foods over processed foods. Non-starchy vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, and lean proteins are a good start to a healthy diet plan.

To lose weight, choose the foods that are best for your body.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to find out what body type you are! Your body type is the key to finding a diet and exercise program that will work for you. No matter what body type you are, good health is important for everyone. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Interested in reading more blog posts on this issue? Click here and here.

Be Careful This Flu Season

January 14th, 2015

Flu signThe 2014-2015 flu season continues to spiral with 46 states now reporting either high or widespread flu activity.

The Flu Vaccine vs. H3N2

The predominant flu strain this year is H3N2, which accounts for 95% of all flu cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control. This strain is associated with more severe illness and deaths. This year’s flu vaccine is considered a poor match for the H3N2 strain.

The reason why the vaccine isn’t as effective as in past years is because the virus mutated after the shot had been developed and manufactured. It is only 33% effective at preventing the flu. However, it is still important to get the flu shot because some protection is better than no protection at all.

While the flu spreads every year, the timing, severity and length of the season usually varies from one season to another. Flu viruses are constantly changing and it’s not unusual for seasonal flu viruses to appear each year. These are viruses that have small antigenic or genetic changes, but which have evolved from previously circulating human seasonal flu viruses. When viruses change in that manner, they are said to be “drifted” viruses. Most of the H3N2 viruses circulating so far this season are different (drifted) from the H3N2 vaccine virus component.

As this type of flu strain is tough to tackle, hospitalizations from flu-like symptoms have climbed to 5.9%. The flu officially became an epidemic during the week of December 20th. The flu slipped slightly below the epidemic threshold the next week.

As of January 5th, flu activity is expected to continue in the coming weeks, with increases occurring, especially in the states that have not had significant activity, according to the CDC.

Fight Back

The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months and older. While most of the viruses spreading this season are different from what is in the vaccine, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. The CDC recommends a three-pronged approach to fighting the flu:

  1. Get vaccinated
  2. Take everyday preventative measures to help stop the spread of germs
  3. Take antiviral medications to treat the flu if your doctor prescribes them

Everyone should get the flu vaccine each year to update their protection because protection given by the vaccine only lasts about six to 12 months.

Keep an eye out for signs of the flu:

  • A sudden fever (usually above 101° F)
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Dry, hacking, cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Unusual tiredness

The flu is no fun for anyone, so take precautions this flu season.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be careful this flu season. Be proactive and get vaccinated! IAA knows that while the vaccine may not be 100% effective, it is still better to have some protection. IAA wants you to spend this winter having fun with your family, not stuck in bed fighting the flu. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Interested in learning more about this issue? Click here and here.

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month

January 7th, 2015

Pregnant belly with hand over itWhile still in the womb, some babies have problems with how their organs and body parts form, how they work or how their bodies turn food into energy. When babies are born with these health problems they are called birth defects.

Types of Birth Defects

There are more than 4,000 different kinds of birth defects, ranging from minor ones that need no treatment to serious ones that cause disabilities or require medical or surgical treatment. Some of the different types of birth defects are:

  • Gastrointestinal: The incomplete or abnormal development of any of the organs in the gastrointestinal tract can cause blockages that can lead to swallowing difficulties, vomiting and problems with bowel movements.   
  • Heart: Part of the heart fails to develop properly when a baby is in the womb.
  • Metabolic: A problem with the baby’s body chemistry; metabolic defects prevent the body from properly breaking down food to create energy.
  • Neural tube: This happens in the first month of pregnancy when the structure that develops into the brain and spinal cord is forming. Normally, this structure folds into a tube by the twenty-ninth day. When the tube doesn’t close completely, the baby has a neural tube defect.
  • Structural: When a baby is born with a part of the body that is missing or malformed.

Through prenatal tests many birth defects are diagnosed even before a baby is born.

Causes and Risks Factors

In most cases, doctors do not know what caused a baby’s birth defect. When a cause is known, there might be a combination of factors:

  • Environmental causes: If a mother has certain infections during pregnancy her baby can have a birth defect. Also, alcohol abuse by the mother and certain medicines taken by the mother can cause birth defects.
  • Genetic causes: Every cell in the body has chromosomes containing genes that determine a person’s unique characteristics. A child inherits one of each pair of chromosomes (and one of each pair of genes they contain) from each parent. An error during this process can cause a baby to be born with too few or too many chromosomes or with a damaged chromosome.

Some risk factors for birth defects are:

  • Being an older mother, typically over the age of 34
  • Having certain medical conditions, such as being obese or having uncontrolled diabetes before and after pregnancy
  • Having someone in your family with a birth defect
  • Smoking, drinking or taking street drugs during pregnancy
  • Taking certain medications

Every four and a half minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the U.S. That translates to nearly 120,000 babies affected by birth defects each year.

Healthy Baby

Women can do things before and during pregnancy to help lower the chances of having a baby with a birth defect. Steps women can take to have a healthy baby are:

  • Avoid alcohol at any time during pregnancy: When a woman drinks alcohol, so does her baby. Alcohol that’s in the woman’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. There is no safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.
  • Avoid smoking or using street drugs: The dangers of smoking during pregnancy include premature birth, certain birth defects and infant death. Even being around tobacco smoke puts a woman and her unborn baby at risk for problems. A woman who uses illegal drugs during pregnancy can have a baby who is born premature, is a low birth rate or has other problems such as birth defects.
  • Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day: Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body at least one month before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. Women can get folic acid from fortified foods or supplements or a combination of the two, in addition to a varied diet rich in foliate.
  • Prevent infections: Some steps to preventing infections include washing hands, cooking meat until it is well done and staying away from people who have an infection.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about taking any medications: These include prescriptions, over the counter, dietary, and herbal supplements. Also, talk to your doctor before stopping any medications that are needed to treat health conditions.  

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants every baby to be born healthy. Good health is important before you even come into the world. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Health in the News: Mumps Stage a Comeback

December 31st, 2014

Boys with mumpsThe National Hockey League (NHL) has been hit these past few months with the mumps virus. While younger hockey fans may not know what the virus is, older fans may be wondering how this outdated virus has managed to make a comeback.

What are Mumps?

Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the parotid glands, one of three pairs of saliva producing glands. These glands are situated below, and in front of, a person’s ears. Before the routine vaccination program was introduced in the United States, mumps was a common illness in infants, children and young adults. Because most people have now been vaccinated, mumps has become a rare disease in the U.S.

Signs and symptoms of mumps are:

  • Earache
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain while chewing or swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen or tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face that cause the cheeks to puff out.
  • Tiredness

Some people affected with the mumps virus have either no signs or symptoms or very mild ones. When signs and symptoms do develop, they usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus.

How is Mumps Spread?

Mumps is a highly contagious disease and is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person.  If you have mumps, help prevent the spread of the disease by:

  • Minimizing close contact with other people
  • Not sharing drinks or utensils
  • Regularly cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched
  • Staying home from work or school for five days after your glands begin to swell
  • Washing your hands well and often with soap

Mumps usually goes away on its own in about 10 days. You can spread the virus seven days before and for nine days after symptoms start.  The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is the best way to prevent mumps. Currently, there is no specific treatment for mumps

The Mumps Hit the NHL

The mumps outbreak in the NHL has reached its peak, according to experts. The outbreak led to emergency team wide immunizations, some player quarantines, and a re-examination of the NHL’s infectious disease prevention.

One cause of the outbreak might be the lack of a second vaccination in some of the older players. When the Centers for Disease Control began recommending the vaccine in 1971, they recommended only one dose. The CDC did not recommend a second dose until 1991. Players born before 1990 may not have been given the second dose.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants everyone to be vaccinated. Take your kids for their childhood vaccinations, and check with your doctor to make sure you don’t need a booster for any of your childhood shots. IAA knows that no one likes to get poked with a needle, but it could save you from catching something. Just think of IAA as you third party immunization reminder, reminding you to get vaccinated!

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Are You Under “Telepressure”?

December 24th, 2014

Woman sleeping with cell phoneThe office may be closing over the holidays, but it may not feel that way.  With email and cell phones making employees readily available, it can seem like the office is never closed. A new study explains how this new type of “telepressure” could be hurting your workforce.

 A Study on Telepressure

A recent study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology explained a new condition called telepressure.  Telepressure is the feeling of needing to respond to electronic communication, including emails, texts and voicemails, as quickly as possible to ensure you appear responsive and connected.

While there may not be any firmly established rules about response times in a workplace, employees pick up on both subtle and not so subtle cues in the work environment that imply fast response times are needed to be perceived as productive workers. This may leave employees feeling while they technically have the option of not being continuously accessible, unplugging (even for short periods of time) may be damaging to their careers.

As it turns out, this attitude can eventually contribute to reduced performance quality and even serious health issues. Employees and managers alike who feel subject to a lot of telepressure are more likely to:

  • Burn out
  • Experience health related absenteeism
  • Have poorer sleep quality
  • Lose focus

When people don’t have the recovery time, it switches them into an exhausted state, and so they go into work the next day not being engaged.

52% of Americans check their emails before and after work, even when they take a sick day. Habits that may have been formed from a strong work ethic may ultimately be what damages careers.

Rules and Strategies

In a survey conducted by Forbes, 81% of workers have checked their work email on a weekend and a third of workers respond to emails at work within 15 minutes. To address telepressure here are some rules and strategies for the workplace:

  • Change the conversational nature of your email. Conversational back and forth emails all but demand an immediate response, partly because it seems rude not to reply. But being explicit about the purpose and timeline of your email helps.   
  • Employers should establish rules and expectations for email etiquette in the workplace, such as responding to emails within 48 business hours.
  • Explicitly convey when a response to an email is expected
  • If possible, establish a no interruption time to completely disconnect, including shutting down all communication devices.
  • Only flag truly urgent emails as urgent
  • Set specific times of day when you check email and stick to them. Let coworkers and others you are in communication with, know when you routinely check and respond to emails.
  • Turn off sound and visual notifications on personal devices so you don’t feel compelled to open and respond to every message.

According to a 2012 survey from the Society of Human Resource Management, only 21% of workplaces have policies about communication use outside of work hours.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to shut down (your electronic devices) during the holidays. If your building is closing for a few days during the holidays, try closing your work email too. When your workforce returns they will be rested and ready to go after not having to respond to work emails or voicemails. IAA wants you to have a healthy holiday season.

Interested in reading another blog post on this issue? Click here.