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Ancient Form of Exercise Offers Numerous Health Benefits

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

Yoga was developed in the 5th or 6th century BCE in India. The term “yoga” has been applied to a variety of practices and methods. Well-known Hindu schools of Yoga include Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Laya Yoga. In India, it traditionally encompasses meditation and spiritual core. Yoga came to the attention of the educated western public in the mid-19th century along with other topics of Indian philosophy. There was a second “yoga boom” in the 1980s as the West connected the practice to heart health, legitimizing yoga as a purely physical system of healthy exercise. The West, in the early 21st century, typically associates the term “yoga” with Hatha Yoga as a form of exercise.

Everyone can practice yoga. It improves flexibility, makes you feel less stiff and tired, and improves strength and endurance, as nearly all poses build core strength in deep abdominal muscles. After 8 weeks of yoga practice, flexibility improves 35%. The practice brings attention to breathing and relaxation and increases awareness of balance and stability. No weights or machines are needed, just the ability to lift and hold our own body weight. Since 2001, the popularity of yoga in the United States has risen constantly. The number of people who practiced some form of yoga has grown from 4 million in 2001 to 20 million in 2011.

The three main focuses of Hatha yoga (exercise, breathing, and meditation) make it beneficial to those suffering from heart disease. Overall, studies of the effects of yoga on heart disease suggest that yoga may reduce high blood pressure, improve symptoms of heart failure, enhance cardiac rehabilitation, and lower cardiovascular risk factors. A recent Norwegian study indicated it can enhance our immune system at a cellular level and can ease the amount and severity of migraines after only three months of practice. After 8 weeks of daily yoga, sleep quality for cancer survivors and insomniacs improves. It makes individuals mindful of eating and improves awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. Long-term yoga users in the United States have reported musculoskeletal and mental health improvements, as well as reduced symptoms of asthma in asthmatics. There is evidence to suggest that regular yoga practice improves mood and anxiety more than some other metabolically matched exercises, such as walking.

As you can see, yoga has a deep international history, takes a minimal amount of equipment and space to practice, and is shown to have numerous health benefits. The American College of Sports Medicine supports the integration of yoga into exercise regimens as a form of stretching and as an enhancer of breath control and of core strength. Whether you practice it alone, in your home with one of the many yoga DVDs available, or in a group atmosphere with a trained yoga instructor, it can be very enjoyable and beneficial to your health and well-being.

Wendy
Quality Control Examiner

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Tips to Eliminate Distracted Driving

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Blog, Small Business Safety

A recent AAA study has found that driver inattention is a factor in over 1 million accidents a year and has an economic impact of over 40 billion dollars a year.

Most of us are familiar with the causes of distracted driving. These would include texting, using a cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading a map, using a navigation system, watching a video, and adjusting the radio.

If you watched any television in the last few years, you no doubt have seen public service ads about the serious problems with texting and driving. Studies now show that texting and driving is actually worse than drinking and driving. Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. Texting while driving has become the most alarming cause of distracted driving in America.

The solution to this growing problem is not easy. Many states and municipalities have passed laws to limit and/or eliminate texting or cell phone use while driving. Does your company have a policy regarding prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving? For those individuals that own and/or manage companies and would like to address this problem in your company, the link below will lead you to a National Safety Council site where you can obtain a free Cell Phone Policy Kit

Listed below are tips that you can share, as well as follow, to avoid distracted driving:

  • Do not text or talk on the phone while driving.
  • If you must talk or text, pull off the road at a safe point.
  • Avoid taking your eyes off the road.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel.
  • Focus on driving and refrain from eating, smoking, drinking liquids, reading, or any other activity that does not allow you to maintain your focus.
  • Make sure you plan your trip ahead of time.

Mike
Senior Loss Control Representative

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Know the Signs of Dyslexia

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

Did you know that one in five students, or 15-20% of the population, have a language-based learning disability with dyslexia being the most common? Significant numbers of students with dyslexia go undiagnosed and their symptoms unaddressed.

Dyslexia is sort of an invisible problem. It’s not an illness like chicken pox or a cold. Because dyslexia affects some people more severely than others, your child’s symptoms may look different from those in another child.

Some kids with dyslexia have trouble with reading and spelling. Others may struggle to write or to tell left from right. Some children don’t seem to struggle with early reading and writing. But later on, they have trouble with complex language skills, such as grammar, reading comprehension, and more in-depth writing.

Dyslexia can also make it difficult for people to express themselves clearly. It can be hard for them to structure their thoughts during conversation. They may have trouble finding the right words to say.
Others struggle to understand what they’re hearing. This is especially true when someone uses nonliteral language such as jokes and sarcasm.

The signs you see may also look different at various ages. Some of the warning signs for dyslexia, such as a speech delay, appear before a child reaches kindergarten. More often, though, dyslexia is identified in grade school. As schoolwork gets more demanding, trouble processing language becomes more apparent. Many children have one or two of these issues on occasion. But kids with dyslexia have several of these issues, and they don’t go away.

Dyslexia doesn’t just affect reading and writing. Children with dyslexia often struggle with social skills, listening comprehension, reading comprehension, navigation skills, and time management.

Dyslexia is neurologically based and often hereditary. Because the source of dyslexia lies in the brain, children do not outgrow dyslexia.

Early intervention to address reading problems is important. Parents must understand that children with dyslexia can learn normally, but probably need to learn in different ways than children without the condition.

Testing and screening for dyslexia are available and are very important. Without proper diagnosis and instruction, dyslexia can lead to frustration, school failure, and low self-esteem.

With the proper intervention, children with dyslexia can learn to read well. As adults, people with dyslexia can be successful in many different careers, although many adults with dyslexia continue to have difficulty with spelling and tend to read relatively slowly.

Robin
Customer Service Representative – Life

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Basic Tips for Improving Your Odds of Surviving a Tornado

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

We have already experienced some severe weather in the Midwest, despite the fact that we are just beginning to enter what many consider to be “peak season.”

May, June, and July have historically witnessed the highest number of tornadoes in the Midwest and Upper Midwest. There is plenty of safety information from a variety of sources, some very basic and some very detailed. I think what follows is a happy medium of good, easy-to-follow safety information. You and your family should take a moment to review these tips to maximize your enjoyment of the otherwise great weather that lies ahead!

BASIC TORNADO SAFETY TIPS

In Homes:

  • Go to the basement or a small interior room or hallway on the lowest level. In a small room or basement, get under something sturdy such as a heavy table or the staircase. Avoid the corners of the room!
  • Stay away from windows! Do NOT open windows, as the strong winds in advance of the tornado can shatter the glass and cause severe injuries.

In Mobile Homes:

  • Leave the mobile home immediately and go to a substantial structure. If there isn’t a shelter available, lie flat in a ditch, ravine, or culvert and cover your head with your hands.

In Schools, Health Care Facilities, and Shopping Centers:

  • Go to the predesignated shelter. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually best.
  • Stay away from large windows and glassed areas.
  • Stay away from large rooms, such as dining halls and gymnasiums.

In High Rise Buildings:

  • Go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Avoid elevators!

In Vehicles:

  • Abandon the vehicle immediately! Lie flat in a ditch, culvert, or some other type of depression if it is relatively deep, and remember to cover your head with your hands.
  • Highway overpasses are NOT acceptable storm shelter areas, for a variety of reasons.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado! Tornadoes are known to travel as fast as 60 to 70 m.p.h.

The American Red Cross is a good resource for additional tornado safety information. Visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/tornado.

Diana, CPCU, AU, INS
Personal Lines Research and Development Specialist

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Couch to 5K—Are You Ready?

Posted by on Apr 22, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

With summer just around the corner, how would you like to get in shape and feel better about yourself? There are many activities that can help you achieve this goal, but I personally like the Couch to 5K beginners running program.

This program is for all types of people, whether you are already active or you are just getting started, and it does not require any expensive gym equipment.

Running has many benefits and is a great way to improve your overall health. It is known to lift your mood, raise your levels of good cholesterol, reduce the risk of having a stroke, and boost your confidence, and it’s an effective way to burn off extra calories.

To get started, you will need to set a goal. The best way is to register for a 5K race, but make sure to give yourself enough time to train, usually several months.

Next, you can either print out a schedule or you can download the Couch to 5K application on your phone or other device. There are many different versions available. Below is a sample of one of the programs.

Make sure you have a good pair of running shoes and comfortable clothing.

The Couch to 5K program eases you into jogging more and more as time progresses without overdoing it. It is flexible in case you want to slow it down and or repeat a week or two if you find yourself struggling. For extra motivation, you can reward yourself for completing workouts or even invite a friend to do the program with you. A change in the scenery is also helpful.

I hope you will consider this program. It is suitable for everyone, as long as your physician allows. After just a couple weeks, you will feel stronger and healthier. After approximately 10 weeks, you will be able to jog for 30 minutes! Good luck!

Andrea
Life Claim Analyst

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Tips for Improving Teen Driver Safety

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

When a teen gets his or her driver’s permit, it can be one of the most exciting and exhilarating feelings to experience. While some teens experience excitement and exhilaration, others experience anxiety and fear. These are all valid feelings. With this new opportunity will be great responsibility and the need for continued learning and safety. These teens still have a lot to learn about driving, and it really takes practice in order to get better at it.

We can equip our teens to succeed on the road and continue to learn through some basic, yet valuable, safety tips. When teens follow these tips or rules, they will be able to drive with less stress and anxiety while enjoying the freedom of the open road.

Teens struggle with distractions and learning to manage them as new drivers; therefore, focusing on the road instead of the distractions is a simple guideline to follow to remain safe while driving. When teen drivers have friends in the car, it is important for them to realize and understand that, while it is acceptable to talk or sing along to the radio while driving, their primary focus needs to be on the road. All of their friends want to remain safe as well, so they will certainly appreciate the driver focusing on the road first and foremost.

Not only are friends a large distraction for teen drivers, but technology is another. The typical teen driver has a smartphone, which can be a fatal distractor. In addition to talking on the phone, they also will be tempted to text while driving, look for music on the phone, or even check notifications from social media applications. Those are all extremely dangerous tasks for the experienced driver, so clearly the new teen driver would have amplified risk attempting these tasks.

It is important to set ground rules for your house in addition to any state laws that are set in place. State laws are in place to help, but they do not cover all aspects in this regard. Parents should follow up these rules with creating a contract for the teen driver and the parents. These expectations can change over time, but it is best to begin with restrictions from the start and relax them later as the teen becomes more experienced. The contract can be an effective way to ensure the teen understands what is expected of them through the restrictions, privileges, rules, and consequences. This would also be a good reference in the event the teen tries to break or bend the rules. This contract should be tailored to fit the specific needs of your family, but remain simple to ensure teen driving safety first and foremost.

Finally, a great tip to ensure teen driving safety would be to recognize and assess hazardous situations. In a region where snowy and icy weather is inevitable and can be dangerous, we need to be aware of those and other hazardous situations that could appear to be seemingly safe. Heavy rain can cause a driver to hydroplane or lose control. A teen driver on a dark or unfamiliar street can be perfect conditions for a potential accident. A very effective way to counteract these hazardous situations could include teen drivers not driving at all if they feel uncomfortable with a situation. When teens are faced with these situations, they lack the experience to know how to handle them properly. They could call a parent to pick them up or stay at a friend’s house.

With driving comes great privilege and responsibility. Additionally, in time teens will gain the necessary experience and knowledge to be informed drivers, as well as safe drivers. It is important to keep our teens safe on the road, as well as others that may encounter them while on the roads. It’s always safest to proceed with caution.

Melanie
Claim Support II

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