by Jenny Gaal, Fitness Director

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. However, UV radiation can also come from tanning booths or sunlamps. The most dangerous kind of skin cancer is called melanoma. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 10,000 people will die this year from melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer.

Most important, wear your sunscreen of at least a SPF of 30 or higher. Set a timer to re-apply every 90 minutes and/or after you get out of the water. There is no such thing as waterproof — it will come off. You need some sun exposure for your vitamin D, so limited amounts of time in the sun are healthy- for most. If you are going to be out for hours, you need to put that sunscreen on and re-apply — the big thing is to avoid being sun burnt. Wearing a hat, or sunglasses, when out in the sun for long periods is also important; sun’s UV radiation can also damage the eyes.

The good news is skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early. Regular medical checkups can prevent skin cancer or detect it early on.

What to Look for?

*A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:

  • changes color • increases in size or thickness • changes in texture • is irregular in outline/asymmetrical • appears after age 21 • is bigger than 6mm or 1/4″, the size of a pencil eraser

*A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored

*A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, or bleed

*An open sore that does not heal within three weeks

Want more protection?

Besides the sun (more than half of the solar energy skin gets are from IRA rays), these rays can also come from heat. When you blow-dry your hair, or even get a gel manicure, your skin is exposed to them. IRA rays travel even deeper into skin than UVA and UVB rays, causing free radicals that further accelerate skin damage.  New SPF lines (Obagi, SkinMedica) now cover infrared protection.

What else can you do?

Potent antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E counteract the free radicals from sun damage and protect the skin.  Look for these ingredients in both supplemental and topical skincare forms.

When shopping for your next SPF consider a super broad-spectrum protection of UVA, UVB and Infrared screen. The largest organ in the human body is the skin- time to protect it.


by Jenny Gaal, Fitness Director

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is reported that in the United States, nearly one in three adults has hypertension, but only about half (47%) of those have it under control.

Hypertension is another word for high blood pressure, and blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls. If the blood pushes against the arteries too hard for too long, serious health problems can develop. In fact, high blood pressure is often called “the silent killer” because it has no symptoms but can seriously damage your brain, heart, and kidneys. The CDC revealed that “Each day in the United States, nearly 1,000 deaths are associated with hypertension.” Moreover, roughly 67 million Americans already have high blood pressure.

To find out your blood pressure, all you need is a blood pressure test. You can have a test done at your doctor’s office, and it’s totally painless. Here’s what to make of your blood pressure numbers…

Systolic Blood Pressure (Top Number)

  • Less than 120: Normal
  • 120-139: Prehypertension
  • 140-159: Stage 1 High Blood Pressure
  • 160 or More: Stage 2 High Blood Pressure

Diastolic Blood Pressure (Bottom Number)

  • Less than 80: Normal
  • 80-89: Prehypertension
  • 90-99: Stage 1 High Blood Pressure
  • 100 or More: Stage 2 High Blood Pressure

Remember, high blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.  However, you can control high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle habits and taking medicines.

Here are 3 ways to reduce your risk of high blood pressure or bring your blood pressure back to normal if you’ve already got hypertension.

Tip #1: Skip Sodium

You can take action to prevent high blood pressure by reducing sodium (salt) intake. Most Americans consume too much sodium, and it raises blood pressure in most people. Reduce the salt in your diet by cutting back on frozen, canned, and restaurant foods (huge sources of sodium), and checking the Nutrition Facts panel on the foods you buy. Daily sodium intake should be less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg if you are among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

Tip #2: Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

You know what’s really low in sodium? Fruits and vegetables!  Of course, replacing sodium-rich foods with fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t the only way you can use them to reduce your risk of hypertension. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with healthful nutrients that reduce the risk of chronic disease, help with weight control, and even manage blood sugar.

Tip #3: Stay Active

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure. For adults, it is recommended to fit in at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity every day!  Bing physically active can help you reduce your risk of hypertension in two ways — by directly helping lower your blood pressure, and by helping you manage your weight, which is another high blood pressure risk factor.

Why is Exercise Important

by Jenny Gaal, Fitness Director

#1 – Right now, you probably don’t have enough muscle mass

A major reason, especially for women, to avoid the weights is the fear of looking like the Incredible Hulk. Here’s the truth about bodybuilding: It takes a lot of work and a very special, special diet to look bulky and muscular. The typical person working out a few times a week is in no danger of getting too big. The fact is that if you do get a little bigger after weight training, your muscles probably weren’t big enough in the first place. As we get older, we lose muscle mass. This is called sarcopenia and it can lead to low bone density and injuries.  Instead of worrying about gaining too much muscle, we should all be worried about losing our muscle and getting weaker.

#2 – Strength builds better posture and stability

So, if you don’t have enough strength, what does that mean for your daily life? In order to move correctly, while doing anything, you need a strong foundation. You need your muscles to be strong. Muscle mass and full body strength gives you good posture, the ability to move correctly, consistently, and the stability that prevents injuries. Postural strength is the ability to maintain good posture over time. You can think of postural strength as core strength, but it’s really much more than that. It is the ability to actively support the spine in concert with the shoulder and hip joints. Without this strength, you slouch. When you slouch, your back hurts, your neck hurts. If you sit at a desk for most of the day and slouch, you don’t have enough postural strength.

#3 – Being stronger improves your quality of life

As a trainer I hear a lot of reasons that people want to get in better shape.  Many share their goals of improved sports performance, household task endurance, and/or keeping up with the family not realizing strength training was the answer to their problems.

#4 – Muscle mass improves all kinds of health conditions

You’ve heard of osteoporosis right? Losing bone density with age does not have to be inevitable, and gaining some of it back is possible…with strength training. Strong muscles reduce chronic pain that might otherwise be treated with invasive and risky surgeries. Strength training can even reverse or reduce the severity of chronic health conditions like heart disease and type II diabetes.

#5 – Even endurance athletes need strength training to perform

Athletes that include regular strength training reduce their risk for injury and improve their performance in endurance challenges. Muscle strength gives you the ability to move correctly to avoid injury, including the kind of chronic pain and damage to joints that sidelines athletes for weeks or months.

Lessons learned…

• Gaining muscle mass gives you several benefits

• Greater bone density

• Less pain

• Better quality of life

• Improved posture

•Reduction in symptoms of certain chronic illnesses

• Better endurance performance