ACOG Joins National Obesity Care Week 2016: Take 5 to Change the Way We Care

Today, more than a third of the adult population, 36.5 percent, is affected by obesity. The number of adults who are affected by severe obesity continues to rise. It’s time for a change in obesity care. With senocw-supporter-web-visual-copyvere obesity on the rise, our nation, led by the health care community, must attack this disease from multiple angles and unite to overhaul the treatment of obesity. ACOG recognizes the important role that obstetrician-gynecologists play. Ob-gyns often meet their patients at a young age, when obesity is less likely to be an issue. Therefore, we are in an ideal position to help educate women and provide counsel on the importance of a healthy lifestyle and fighting obesity.

The 2nd Annual National Obesity Care Week (NOCW), October 30 through November 5, seeks to ignite a national movement to ensure anyone affected by obesity receives respectful and comprehensive care. ACOG is proud to join the Campaign, which was founded by The Obesity Society, the Obesity Action Coalition, Strategies to Overcome and Prevent Obesity Alliance and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

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Enjoying Summer While Fighting Obesity

Ah, summertime is here again and you know what that means. Warmer weather and longer days: the perfect time to remind our patients (and ourselves) to enjoy the outdoors and get active in the fresh air. Walking, riding bikes, and swimming are all ways to work out while making the most out of the season.

This is not about getting back into a swim suit, but about fighting obesity. Just last month in my inaugural address, I challenged ACOG members to join me in the fight against obesity. Why? Because, in our country alone obesity claims 300,000 lives a year. The health hazards of being obese are quite well known: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Obese women are also at a higher risk for numerous types of cancer, including esophageal, pancreatic, colorectal, postmenopausal breast, endometrial, ovarian and renal.

Approximately 36% of adult women in the United States are affected by obesity, and that number has been on the rise. Therefore, physicians have been faced with the challenges inherent in caring for these patients. As ob-gyns, we are, for many patients, the only physician a woman sees on a regular basis. Moreover, we have highly trusted relationships with our patients due to the sensitive nature of our specialty. Ob-gyns are in an ideal position to help educate women and provide counsel on the importance of a healthy lifestyle and fighting obesity.

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Reach Your Fitness Goals with Health Apps

Nearly half of people in the US make a New Year’s resolution each year. We often vow to lose weight and be more healthy—both noble and important aims to strive for. But if you’ve ever made a resolution, you probably won’t be surprised to find that by the end of January, many people have abandoned their newly set goals.

If you think that expensive trainers or diet plans are the only thing that will help you stick to your resolution, you may want to explore your smartphone first. There are apps aimed at keeping you honest and focused—or at least get you moving in the right direction. Many fitness apps are available to help you track your calories, log daily activity levels, and tailor your routine to get results.

Food tracking apps allow you to keep a detailed log of what you’re eating, often helping you spot patterns in your eating that are sabotaging weight loss (eg, that daily mid-morning doughnut or the twice-weekly buffalo wings at happy hour that regularly push you over your recommended calorie goals). Calorie trackers give you a recommendation for the number of daily calories you need in order to reach your weight goals alongside the actual number of calories you take in on a given day. Some food tracker apps have extensive databases of foods, which make logging calories easier and faster than ever.

To help you maintain your exercise goals, give fitness trackers a try. With these apps, you can log your routes, pace, miles, and different types of workouts. Many allow you to share your activities and progress on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to engage your support network (friends and family) for encouragement and accountability.

Not sure which app to try? Check out the Huffington Post’s list of the best fitness apps. You can also see what ACOG Fellows have recommended on our Facebook page. Or if you have a food or fitness tracking app that you love, please share it with us in the comments section. We’d love to hear what you’re using and what’s working for you.

Here’s to a healthy and active 2013!

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Over the River and Through the Woods = A Good Winter Workout

It’s the time of year when schedules are full of holiday parties and meals, and opportunities for food-and-alcohol-centered merriment abound. It’s also the time when the average adult packs on a sneaky, often unnoticed, pound or two that has a high chance of lingering on your waistline long after the calendar changes over. This is one of the many reasons why it’s so important to make time for fitness.

You may already know the benefits of regular physical activity such as a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type II diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It can also improve your ability to perform daily tasks, keep you mentally sharp, and help you avoid injuries. Winter fitness is especially beneficial because it helps with health concerns specific to cold weather:

It boosts immunity. During cold and flu season, exercise can help you dodge the seasonal sniffles. Regular activity appears to boost the immune system, making it easier for your body to handle wintertime germs. Flu vaccination and frequent hand-washing also help keep you healthy.

It staves off holiday spread. Weight gain during the holidays can contribute to the 20–30 pounds that most Americans gain during adulthood. Exercise can help you balance the number of calories that you eat with the number of calories you burn, so you can enjoy some treats without the negative consequences.

It improves your mood. The shorter days of fall and winter cause some women to experience seasonal affective disorder, a condition marked by symptoms such as tiredness, irritability, cravings for complex carbohydrates (such as bread and pasta), and depression. For others, a hard day at work or holiday visits with family and friends can be very stressful. Exercise is one of the best natural antidepressants around and can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, lower levels of stress hormones, and boost levels of feel-good hormones.

ACOG recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (eg, brisk walking or bicycling) on most days of the week to lower your risk of chronic disease, 60 minutes on most days of the week to maintain weight, and at least 60 to 90 minutes a day to lose weight. If you can’t get a full workout in every day, try going for a walk after meals, raking leaves, vacuuming, or taking the stairs. Or winterize your workout with cold weather activities such as ice skating, snow shoveling, or skiing. Any physical activity helps, so fight your inner couch potato this winter and get moving.

Don’t Invite Stress Home for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us. Are you joyous and bright? Or would “a heaping pile of stress” be a more accurate description? If you answered the latter, you’re not alone. The frenzy of the holiday season can amplify the everyday stressors we face, such as work, traffic, family obligations, being a caregiver, and the economy.

Stress is your body’s natural response to demand or pressure. While periodic stress is normal and can be good for you—helping you to act quickly, overcome challenges, and boost your immunity—ongoing stress can lead to a number of health problems.

Stress-related spikes in blood pressure may be damaging to blood vessels if they occur too often and can lead to long-term high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Ongoing stress has also been linked to lowered immunity and physical, mental, or emotional symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, insomnia, stomach problems, anxiety, depression, irritability, crying spells, forgetfulness, poor concentration, and low productivity.

The way you handle the inevitable holiday and everyday stressors can make all the difference in your overall health. These helpful tips from National Foundation for Cancer Research may be a good place to start:

  •  Plan ahead. Stress can build up if you procrastinate your “To Do List.” Try to accomplish small tasks each day leading up to the holiday. Buying gifts, decorating, and cooking can be much more stressful if done last-minute.
  • Know your limits. Being overwhelmed with events during the holiday season can impede your daily responsibilities. Be sure to practice saying “no” and avoid overcommitting. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and be sure to get a healthy amount of rest.
  • Try to eat nutritious foods and limit sweets during the holiday season. As tempting as it may be, consuming large amounts of unhealthy foods can contribute to decreased energy levels, not to mention feelings of guilt. Try to choose alternative options like whole grains, fruits and vegetables filled with cancer-fighting antioxidants, and lean meats. Still enjoy desserts (it is the holidays, after all), but keep it in moderation.
  • Let things go. Nothing’s going to be perfect. Relax and enjoy time with family, even if a pie burns or someone is disappointed with his (or her) gift. Reconcile the situation, move on, and embrace the holiday cheer!
  • Exercise. Exercise is not only a great way to stay fit and reduce your risk of getting cancer, but it increases your endorphin levels and helps keep you stress-free.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and easy holiday season!

Strive for a Healthy Body—and Mind—this Thanksgiving

Are you already salivating over the turkey and stuffing? Or maybe you’re a sweet potato casserole person? Or perhaps you’re looking beyond dinner to those pumpkin and pecan pies? Whatever your taste buds crave on Thanksgiving, it’s easy to consume 2,000–4,000 or more calories during our annual feast.

As you gather with family this year, consider ways you can be thankful, healthy, and stress-free during this special time of year. ACOG gathered these six articles to help you aim for a healthier holiday season:

  1. 7 Thanksgiving Diet Disasters to Avoid
  2. 10 Tips for a Thinner Thanksgiving
  3. Simple Food Substitutions to Help Decrease Calories and Fat
  4. Top 5 Ways to Exercise during Thanksgiving
  5. How to Inject More Thanksgiving Gratitude into Our Daily Lives
  6. 6 Breathing Exercises When You Need to De-Stress

Workout to Prepare for Baby

Pregnant or planning a pregnancy? If so, how have you worked exercise into your prenatal care? During pregnancy, exercise can reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling; boost mood and energy; promote muscle tone, strength, and endurance; and improve sleep quality. It can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, too. Pregnant women who exercise may also have an easier time with labor and delivery and weight loss after childbirth.

Most pregnant women should aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. Contrary to what you may have heard, there’s no magical heart rate or beats per minute threshold for pregnant women during exercise. Just keep in mind that if you can’t talk at normal levels at all times, you may be working too hard and need to reduce your intensity. Talk to your doctor before beginning or continuing an exercise program to be sure you don’t have any health problems that would limit your activity.

A few tips to remember:

  • Gentle exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling, or low-impact or water aerobics is suitable for exercisers of all levels.
  • Avoid contact sports and activities that could injure your abdomen such as soccer.
  • Skip activities that come with a high risk of falling, such as downhill skiing, horseback riding, or vigorous racquet sports.
  • Stop exercising and call your doctor if you experience dizziness or feel faint, increased shortness of breath, uneven or rapid heartbeat, chest pain, trouble walking, vaginal bleeding, calf pain or swelling, headache, uterine contractions that continue after you rest, fluid leaking or gushing from your vagina, or decreased fetal movement.
  • Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and a supportive bra and shoes.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and overheating.

Getting moving is the most important part, so pick an activity you enjoy and have fun!Read more about exercise during pregnancy in ACOG’s Patient FAQ.