Hot Weather is Here: Stay Safe and Cool

June 03, 2019

We’ve been enjoying unseasonably cool weather here in Southern California this spring, but soon enough the scorching temperatures will be back. And unfortunately, high temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses. Below are some types of heat sicknesses to be on the lookout for, and some tips for keeping cool when the weather is not.


What Causes Heat-Related Illnesses?
When it’s hot outside— especially when it’s hot and humid—and your body is not able to cool down effectively, you may suffer from some kind of heat-related sickness. Your body will normally cool down through sweating, but if you heat up faster than your body can cool itself down, you may start to:

  • Feel confused, irritable, or dizzy
  • Develop a headache
  • Experience nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, heart problems, muscle cramping, blisters, problems with your eyesight, and more. 

If you’re exercising or playing in the heat, the outside temperature will raise your body’s core temperature. Heat-related illnesses may be made worse by your body circulating more blood to try to help you cool down, increasing your heart rate and stressing your body, and raising your temperature even more.


Some Heat-Related Illnesses
AltaMed man working outside

  • Dehydration
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke
  • Heat rash 
  • Heat cramps 
  • Sunburn

These illnesses may be made worse if you are:

  • Overweight
  • Not drinking enough water
  • On certain medications
  • Suffering from heart disease or poor circulation
  • Already have a sunburn
  • Drinking alcohol 


Will I Get Sick?
AltaMed grandfather and granddaughter


Those at highest risk of heat-related illnesses are:

  • People 65 and over
  • Children under the age of two
  • People with chronic disorders (heart disease, high blood pressure, taking certain medications)

Even if you’re young and healthy, you can still get overheated! Everyone needs to be careful in extreme heat conditions and take measures to help your body stay cool. 


Heat-Health Tips
AltaMed woman changing thermostat


Heat-related sicknesses can often be prevented by taking some simple steps. For instance, when you’re at home:

  • Stay indoors, in air conditioning, as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, try to spend as many of the high-heat hours as you can in cool locations like malls, museums, libraries, and other places with air conditioning that are open to the public.
  • Drink as much water as you can – don’t wait until you’re thirsty! 
  • Take cool baths or showers to cool down.
  • Check on friends and neighbors—and ask them to check on you.
  • Avoid the stove or oven—it will just make your home hotter.
  • Skip hot and heavy meals that will leave you even more uncomfortable. Try a light yet hearty salad or something that doesn’t require the stove.
  • Avoid sugary and alcoholic drinks that  cause dehydration.
  • Check your local news for weather updates, more safety tips, and to find out about more cool locations open to the public.


If You Need to Go Outside
AltaMed mom and daughter at pool

  • Limit your time spent doing outdoor activities, especially strenuous ones during the hottest hours of the day
  • Apply and reapply broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen as directed.
  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing.


And a Few Other Things to Remember
AltaMed man and dog

  • While fans may help some with cooling down you or your home, they won’t prevent heat-related illnesses. 
  • Never, EVER leave children or pets in a hot car. 
  • Keep your pets well hydrated—just like us, they can get easily overheated and suffer from the heat-related sickness.


Protect yourself, your family, and your friends from preventable heat-related illnesses. To talk with a nurse about a possible heat-related illness, call the nurse advice line that matches your insurance plan and type of coverage, or call us at (888) 499-9303.


 

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6 Top Healthy Living Apps for Your Physical & Mental Well-Being

March 01, 2019

Looking to improve your health? Join the club! Actually, with today’s health apps, you don’t need to. There are more than 318,000 health apps available to help you manage your health. From making smart food choices to exercising, and getting better sleep, these apps help turn health goals into healthy habits. So, grab your water bottle and your smartphone, and check out these six apps that can help you take control of your health.


Omada Health
Available for iOS and Android; Price: free for AltaMed Patients in Orange County
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed people doing thai chi

Omada was created to help users lose weight and lower their risks of getting diabetes and heart disease. Omada provides the tools and support you need to succeed by helping you break up your health goals into small, easy steps. The app allows you to track your meals and activity/exercise, offers lessons on nutrition and stress, and connects you with a health coach to support and guide your progress. Plus, Omada gives AltaMed patients a valuable freebie: a smart scale that connects to the app. 


MapMyWalk
Available for iOS, Android & Samsung; Price: $0
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed two women waling up the stairs

Using your phone’s built-in GPS, MapMyWalk tracks your daily walks and uses Google Maps to show you your route. It also collects and shows you your speed, distance, and calories burned. Receive audio updates on how you are doing while you walk, and use the website to see your history, make friends, join groups, and see how your friends are doing. 


Pillow (Sleep Tracker)
Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed older woman and husband sleeping

This easy-to-use app provides detailed information about your sleep cycle to help you get more restful sleep. Simply place your phone on your mattress near your pillow while you sleep and Pillow will track your activity during the night. You can also analyze and record your sleep, heart rate, and audio events such as snoring, sleep talking, or sleep apnea. 

Connect to Apple’s Health app to compare your sleep to other health measurements. Pillow’s intelligent alarm clock helps you wake up rested by waking you at the lightest sleep stage. The app comes with features that let you track your mood during the day, and gives you personalized recommendations. Premium features include unlimited access to your sleep history, nap modes, access to a large library of wake-up and sleep-aid programs and melodies, and the ability to export and download your data to use with other programs.  


Fooducate (Nutrition & Health Tracker)
Available for iOS; Price: $0, various premium levels available starting at $1.99
AltaMed woman shopping for fruit

Not only does Fooducate let you track the foods you eat each day, but it educates you on healthy eating choices. The Fooducate app lets you input the foods you eat to learn about their nutritional value by scanning a barcode or searching the extensive database. The app also offers a daily stream of tips and articles to help motivate you on your food journey. Look through the archive of foods, check for top graded food choices, and set individual goals beyond weight loss. Fooducate can even send you a reminder on your phone to use it while you are shopping at the supermarket.


Instant Heart Rate+ HR Monitor
Available for iOS, Android & Windows Phone; Price: $4.99, various premium levels available starting at $3.99
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed heart app

Whether you’re just starting an exercise program or you’ve worked out for years, your heart rate is a good indicator of your fitness level. This straightforward heart rate app lets you discover your heart rate in 10 seconds or less. Just place the tip of your index finger on your phone’s camera and the app will detect color changes in your finger each time your heart beats. It then tells you your heart rate and puts the data in an easy-to-understand chart. Additional add-on features allow you to track heart health, access videos and motivational audio, and receive emails with tips on healthy living. Instant Heart Rate Monitor is used for research and trials by leading cardiologists, and is rated as the world’s best mobile heart rate measurement app. 


HabitList
Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features
AltaMed people high fiving

HabitList is designed to give you everything you need to set and reach your health goals, all wrapped up in a clear, direct format. Enter your goals and the app breaks everything down into clear steps by day and frequency to help you stay focused. The app helps you stay motivated by encouraging you to beat your own personal best at each repeated task, then rewarding you when you do. View trends over a period of time, create a flexible and personalized goal schedule, and easily check off your healthy to-do list. 


New to Physical Fitness? Start Here First.
At AltaMed, we love that there are so many tools to help make it fun and easy for people to work on their health goals. But you may have different health needs, and not every activity will be right for you. If you’ve never exercised before or you have an existing health condition like diabetes or heart disease, talk to your doctor before you start a program. They can help you determine the best options for you. 

We don’t have an app for that, but we do have a handy doctor search tool to help you find a doctor near you.

 

 

Outdoor Activities You Can Do All Year Long

February 01, 2019

Quick, think of five things you love about Southern California. If you’re anything like us, the warm, sunny weather probably made your list. While the rest of the country braces for a long, snowy winter, Angelenos can stay healthy and active, January through December. Check out these fun outdoor activities you and your family can enjoy all year long. 


Go Swimming
AltaMed little girl swimming under water

 
During months when it’s too cold for taking a dip in the ocean, try visiting one of LA’s public or year-round swimming pools. Swimming offers a whole-body workout with no impact on your joints, and many people enjoy swimming well into their senior years. Some facilities offer other activities, such as water fitness, aqua aerobics, and even land-based classes like yoga and Zumba.  The City of Los Angeles has 16-year round pools, and adults can show their Los Angeles library cards to get $1.50 off with every visit. 


Take a Hike
AltaMed three people jumping on rocks having fun
 

Thanks to SoCal’s mild winter months, hiking is excellent cardio, no gym required. Beginners have plenty of options such as walking trails in Elysian Park (behind Dodger Stadium) and the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, where you can enjoy incredible, panoramic views of Los Angeles! Together, Griffith Park and the San Gabriel Mountains offer hundreds of miles of trails, with hikes that range from easy and family-friendly to challenging, all-day treks. Be sure to check the weather forecast ahead of time and dress in comfortable, removable layers. 


Join a Sports Team
AltaMed guys playing soccer


Feeling a little competitive? Try joining a year-round sports league. There are organized outings for many popular sports including soccer, basketball, or baseball, that meet and play every month. Looking to try something new? There are leagues for all kinds of skill levels, so you can learn and have fun at the same time. Playing sports is a fantastic way to burn calories and build muscle, so you’ll stay active and healthy. 


Explore a Farmers Market
AltaMEd mom and daughter exploring a farmers market

 
Farmers markets are a fun way to spend a weekend morning and get some steps in. Many markets, like the Farmer’s Market at Bank of America Plaza in Downtown LA and the East Los Angeles Farmers Market, run year-round, so you can stay fully stocked on healthy ingredients. Take time to walk the entirety of the market and explore stalls of colorful, seasonal produce, canned goods, prepared foods, and more! Look online to see local markets in your area. Loaded up on fresh foods? Check out some of AltaMed’s easy recipe ideas.


Get Moving with Your Furry Friend
AltaMed woman frolicking with a bunch of dogs in the grass

 

No matter the time of year, dogs need to get outside and get moving. If you live in an apartment or don’t always have time to walk your dog twice a day, check out the local dog parks in your area. Both you and your dog will get great exercise walking around and enjoying the outdoors. Remember to come prepared with doggie bags and a leash. Ready for a walk? Try the Arts District Dog Park in Downtown LA, or the Bone Yard in Culver City, considered two of the best dog parks around. 


Get Moving and Have Fun!
AltaMed young family walking on the beach


Staying active all year round is important for your long-term health. Thanks to Southern California’s great weather, finding fun outdoor activities is easy. Invite friends along or take the family, and you’ll find activities to look forward to for years to come. Want to learn more? Check out these other great ideas for staying active and healthy.