http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgThis Centers for Disease Control shows a map with 2010 incidence rates for ehrlichiosis in the United States. Oklahoma had a rate of 3.3 to 26 cases per million, one of the highest. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL
This Centers for Disease Control shows a map with 2010 incidence rates for ehrlichiosis in the United States. Oklahoma had a rate of 3.3 to 26 cases per million, one of the highest. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

Nice weather can bring tick illnesses

This Centers for Disease Control shows a map with incidence rates for Rocky Mountain spotted fever shows Oklahoma with an incidence rate of 19 to 63 cases per million, one of the highest in the United States. The American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick and brown dog tick can carry the disease. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL This Centers for Disease Control shows a map with incidence rates for tularemia. Most incidences occur in the Midwest and Plains states as well as the Rocky Mountain areas. CENTERS FOR DIESEASE With warmer weather here, ticks such as this lone star tick can carry different diseases such as ehrlichiosis and tularemia. COURTESY
This Centers for Disease Control shows a map with incidence rates for Rocky Mountain spotted fever shows Oklahoma with an incidence rate of 19 to 63 cases per million, one of the highest in the United States. The American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick and brown dog tick can carry the disease. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/25/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – People tend to spend more time participating in outdoor activities in warmer weather. But it’s important to remember that warmer weather brings ticks and the illnesses they can carry.

Oklahoma ranks among the states with the highest rates of ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia, and May through August are the months when ticks are most active.

Ehrlichiosis

Human ehrlichiosis is caused by Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Ehrlichia ewingii and a third Ehrlichia species provisionally called Ehrlichia muris-like.

Ehrlichiae are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. The lone star tick is the primary vector of both Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii in the United States. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, rash and muscle aches. Usually, these symptoms occur within one to two weeks following a tick bite.

Ehrlichiosis is an illness that can be fatal if not treated correctly. The estimated fatality rate is 1.8 percent. Patients who are treated early may recover quickly on outpatient medication, while those who experience a more severe course may require intravenous antibiotics, prolonged hospitalization or intensive care.

The severity may depend on the patient’s immune status. People with compromised immunity caused by immunosuppressive therapies, HIV infection or splenectomy appear to develop a more severe disease and may also have higher fatality rates.

Doxycycline is the first line treatment for adults and children of all ages and should be initiated immediately whenever ehrlichiosis is suspected.

Use of antibiotics other than doxycycline and other tetracyclines is associated with a higher risk of fatal outcome for some rickettsial infections. Doxycycline is most effective at preventing severe complications from developing if it is started early in the course of disease. Therefore, treatment must be based on clinical suspicion alone and should always begin before laboratory results return.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

RMSF is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsia and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks. In the United States, these include the American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick and brown dog tick.

Typical symptoms include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and muscle pain. A rash may also develop, but is often absent in the first few days, and in some patients, never develops. RMSF can be severe or even fatal if not treated in the first few days of symptoms. Doxycycline is the first line treatment for adults and children of all ages, and is most effective if started before the fifth day of symptoms.

The first symptoms of RMSF typically begin two to 14 days after the bite. The disease frequently begins as a sudden onset of fever and headache and most people visit a health care provider during the first few days of symptoms. Because early symptoms may be non-specific, several visits may occur before the diagnosis is made and correct treatment begins. It is a serious illness that can be fatal in the first eight days of symptoms if not treated correctly.

A classic case involves a rash that first appears two to five days after the onset of fever as small, flat, pink, non-itchy spots (macules) on the wrists, forearms, and ankles and spreads to include the trunk and sometimes the palms and soles. Often the rash varies from this description, and people who fail to develop a rash, or develop an atypical rash, are at increased risk of being misdiagnosed.

The red to purple, spotted (petechial) rash is usually not seen until the sixth day or later after onset of symptoms and occurs in 35 percent to 60 percent of patients with the infection. This is a sign of progression to severe disease, and every attempt should be made to begin treatment before petechiae develop.

Doxycycline is the first line treatment for adults and children of all ages and should be initiated immediately whenever RMSF is suspected.

Tularemia

The bacterium that causes tularemia is highly infectious and can enter the human body through the skin, eyes, mouth or lungs. In the United States, ticks that transmit tularemia to humans include the dog tick, the wood tick and the lone star tick. Deer flies have been shown to transmit tularemia in the western United States.

The signs and symptoms of tularemia vary depending on how the bacteria enter the body. Illness ranges from mild to life-threatening. All forms are accompanied by fever, which can be as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Main forms of this disease are:

• Ulceroglandular. This is the most common form of tularemia and usually occurs following a tick or deer fly bite or after handing of an infected animal. A skin ulcer appears at the site where the bacteria entered. The ulcer is accompanied by swelling of regional lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin.

• Glandular. Similar to ulceroglandular tularemia but without an ulcer. Also generally acquired through the bite of an infected tick or deer fly or from handling sick or dead animals.

• Oculoglandular. This form occurs when the bacteria enter through the eye. This can occur when a person is butchering an infected animal and touches his or her eyes. Symptoms include irritation and inflammation of the eye and swelling of lymph glands in front of the ear.

• Oropharyngeal. This form results from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Patients with oropharyngeal tularemia may have sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsillitis and swelling of lymph glands in the neck.

• Pneumonic. This is the most serious form of tularemia. Symptoms include cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. This form results from breathing dusts or aerosols containing the organism. It can also occur when other forms of tularemia (e.g. ulceroglandular) are left untreated and the bacteria spread through the bloodstream to the lungs.

• Typhoidal. This form is characterized by any combination of the general symptoms (without the localizing symptoms of other syndromes).

Tularemia is a rare disease, and the symptoms can be mistaken for other, more common, illnesses. It is important to share with your health care provider any likely exposures, such as tick and deer fly bites, or contact with sick or dead animals.

Antibiotics used to treat tularemia include streptomycin, gentamicin, doxycycline and ciprofloxacin. Treatment usually lasts 10 to 21 days depending on the stage of illness and the medication used. Although symptoms may last for weeks, most patients completely recover.

Preventive Measures

While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months when ticks are most active.

• Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.

• Walk in the center of trails.

• Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.

• Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.

• Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.

• Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.

• Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.

• Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and day packs.

• Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.

• If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.

• If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.

Multimedia

BY STACIE BOSTON
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/09/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Making meal alterations such as using less salt or taking it out completely can lead to a healthier life for most people. Even making simple changes to old favorites such as mashed potatoes can lead people down a healthier path. Mark Keeley, a clinical dietitian and 34-year Cherokee Nation employee, said while working with Native Americans he’s stressed that salt doesn’t need to be added to food and could adversely affect a person’s health. “Salt will retain fluid on your body…that fluid is going to take up lung space. So now you’re trying to breathe around lungs that are trying to fill up,” he said. “If your heart’s not able to pump as well as it used to then the slower your blood stream moves the more some of that salty water will leak off into your ankles and legs, and so now you’re carrying weight around and it kind of waterlogs your system.” Keeley said he’s had people tell him that they salt their food even before tasting it. “People have told me, ‘Here’s what I used to do. I use to salt food before I even tasted it and salt it heavy and then taste it.’ Then they say, ‘I don’t do salt anymore.’ I come across a lot more people that tell me that. Those folks are becoming more common, but there’s room for work,” he said. For people who monitor their blood sugar levels, Keeley said he recommends mashed cauliflower potatoes. “As a dietitian that’s been working around diabetes for a long time, people want food to taste good, but they don’t want it to blow their blood sugar out of the water, so the cauliflower is basically a…non-starchy, low-carbohydrate vegetable,” he said. By combining the cauliflower and potatoes, Keeley said a healthier version of mashed potatoes is created. “It actually has…a slightly different flavor. So cooking them up together and mashing them together, a little butter in there for seasoning and…it’s still satisfying, still has potatoes in it, but it doesn’t have the effect after the meal that you don’t like seeing.” Keeley said the dish typically takes 30 minutes to make, which includes preparation and cook time, and consists of a head of cauliflower, two potatoes and a small portion of salted butter. The butter acts as the dish’s only form of salt. “It’s not a high time investment meal,” he said. “You do need enough water to pretty near cover the vegetables. It’ll get them soft quicker, ready for the mashing. You could drain it completely or just leave a small amount of water in the bottom. The butter was salted butter. It was the salt (for the recipe) in this case. There was no other salt in it.” When changing a recipe such as adding cauliflower and removing a bulk of the potatoes, Keeley said the first step is to “decide” if this is something that people want to pursue for a healthier lifestyle. “The tricks of the trade is one thing, but the first step is to decide. To make the decision, ‘I’m going to do what it takes to get better and stay better,’” he said. “Once people are determined they’ll figure it out. They’ll come up with their own ways to do it.” Keeley suggests another way to get on a healthier eating track is portion control. “One thing we can always do is we can down portion anything. So if something is pretty stout, pretty sweet, pretty salty, you can eat less of it.” For more information on meal alterations, visit <a href="http://cherokeepublichealth.org/about-cherokee-nation-public-health/" target="_blank">http://cherokeepublichealth.org/about-cherokee-nation-public-health/</a> <strong>Recipe for turkey stew or minestrone soup</strong> <strong>Ingredients:</strong> 2 pounds of ground dark turkey meat 3 cloves of crushed and minced garlic 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning 3 carrots, thinly sliced 1 large chopped onion 1 small head of chopped cabbage 2 14-ounce cans dies tomatoes 1 14-ounce can of kidney beans 1 14-ounce can of great northern beans 1 32-35 ounce container of chicken broth <strong>Directions:</strong> 1. Brown meat in a heavy pot on high heat, stirring constantly 2. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, carrots and onions. Stir until vegetables start to soften 3. Add tomatoes, beans and broth 4. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes 5. Serve Cherokee Nation clinical dietitian Mark Keeley suggests when adding the canned products it’s best to drain them to reduce the amount of salt in the meal.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
02/08/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQAH – Exercise is important, but for senior citizens physical activity is crucial in living healthier and longer lives. Dr. Jana Jordan, of Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital, said exercising is the “most important thing for seniors to do to stay young.” With frequent exercise, seniors can delay, improve and even prevent diseases and conditions that come with age such as diabetes, stroke, heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cancers. “Exercising improves cardiovascular health, so that lowers cholesterol. So in turn that prevents heart attack and stroke. It makes the heart stronger, so that goes along with helping high blood pressure. Almost any condition they may have like heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes is going to be improved by exercising,” Jordan said. Muscle mass also plays a part in senior health. It declines with age, resulting in loss of balance and bone strength, which can lead to injury. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of death and injury among seniors. Jordan said exercising is essential to building muscle mass, which can allow seniors mobility and independence. “When those muscles start to decline you can’t get out like you use to. And the less you do means the less you’re able to do. So the people that are staying active can keep going and that keeps them healthy.” In addition to the physical benefits, seniors can improve their mental health with exercise. “I have patients that retire and they sit at home and don’t get out. Then their health starts to go bad, and they start to get depressed. So besides all the cardiovascular benefits and helping of the lungs and kidneys, it really helps their mental health. Exercise increases endorphins in the brain that makes them feel better, and when they feel good they become motivated to do more,” Jordan said. She added that the exercise she recommends to seniors is walking. “You don’t have to go to the gym. You don’t have to go running, and you don’t have to go kayaking to be active, just walk. Anything weight baring is going to be the best exercise for seniors. Walking is weight bearing and doing some kind of strength training is all weight bearing, so it improves bone density and also conditions like osteoporosis.” However, for handicap seniors or those with limited walking ability, Jordan recommends arm exercises or leg exercises. “If they can lift their legs up and down you can put a sack with some cans in it and move your legs up and down if they can’t walk. If they do that and it helps them improves their muscular strength there’s a possibility they may be able to get up and walk at some point in time.” For seniors who enjoy attending a gym or fitness classes, the CN Male Seminary Recreational Center in Tahlequah provides a senior stretch and exercise class. It focuses on balance, stability, range of motion and functional movements tailored to acts of daily life. Heather Dobbins, a MSRC physical activity specialist who teaches the class, said she’s seen how exercise positively impacts seniors and their physical abilities. “I have seen a major improvement in chair squats, which is being able to get up and down from the chair without having to use their lap or the chair to get up and use just the strength in their legs. So everyone started out having to use their lap to get up and now they are able to do chair squats without their hands. That’s what my goal is for them to remain or be independent without needing assistance from a walker, for instance, and I am seeing that progress being made.” The National Health Service recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week. However, Jordan recommends doing what is bearable, especially if beginning. “Everybody’s health is different, and they’re all at a different place. So start small and add in increments of how long you are doing that so each time they go out and exercise they are improving their ability to exercise. They’re improving their heart and lung function. They’re improving their muscular function so they can do a little bit more each time,” she said. Although exercise is beneficial, Jordan said it’s best to consult a physician, especially if experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. However, Jordan said some exercise is better than none. “Staying active is really, really important, and even if they’re not exercising they need to be getting out and socializing. Maybe they’re getting out and going to church. Maybe they’re going down to the senior citizens (center)…They’re getting some exercise, and they’re getting some socialization,” she said.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
02/07/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – A mammogram aids in the detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women. A specialized imaging, it uses a low-dose X-ray system to see inside breasts. The X-rays make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can find micro-calcifications (calcium deposits) that can indicate breast cancer. Mammograms can also check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign is found. This mammogram is called a diagnostic mammogram. Besides a lump, cancer signs can include breast pain, thickening of the breast’s skin, nipple discharge or change in breast size or shape. However, these signs may also be benign conditions. A diagnostic mammogram can also be used to evaluate changes found in a screening mammogram or to view tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances such as the presence of breast implants. Retired nurse practitioner Vickie Love said women’s health was “a priority” when she worked at the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell. “At the Mankiller clinic there where many people and departments committed to women’s health. The nurses, case managers and providers all reviewed charts to identify and remind patients if they where due for mammograms. The Cherokee Nation incorporated a system into our electronic health record that would flag a patient when they where due for cervical and breast exams,” Love, who retired in 2015 after 21 years, said. She said a frequent concern about mammograms is pain. During a mammography, a radiologic technologist positions the woman’s breast in the mammography unit. The breast is placed on a special platform and compressed with a clear plastic paddle, and the technologist gradually compresses the breast. “I was honest to tell them there was pressure involved that could be uncomfortable for just a few seconds and then released. Our mammogram technicians would ask if the women were OK or if they could withstand more compression. If not, the technician would not force more compression,” she said. “I did advise the more they could withstand for those few seconds would provide a better test for the radiologist to review.” Another frequent concern, she said, is the fear of finding cancer. “I advised the women that early detection was the key and treatment options where less radical if caught in the earlier stages. I discussed how important it was to have an initial mammogram and how the radiologist could compare future mammograms to this one and determine if there where new findings or if changes where being seen.” Early cancer detection with screening mammography means treatment can be started earlier, possibly before it spreads. Clinical trials and studies show that screening mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths among women ages 40 to 74, especially for those over 50. However, studies haven’t shown a benefit from regular screening mammography in women under 40. To illustrate the importance of getting regular mammograms for women over 40, Love said she asked patients if they had a family member or friend who had breast cancer. “Often this was affirmed, and I would listen to their recount. I would inquire how the cancer affected the person and/or the family. I would talk about how the family members could be at a higher risk for breast cancer, how each woman needed to follow up and encourage their mothers, grandmothers, daughters and sisters to be vigilant about breast exams and mammograms,” she said. “As women we couldn’t be complacent about our health because future generations depended on us. I also reminded them I had their address in their chart, and I would come looking for them. Caring about each of them and humor were always my allies.” Love said she believes she was “successful” in getting women patients in for mammograms, but there was still a high overall “no-show rate.” “I think dispelling rumors and fears are important, but it takes time and effort to find what these are. I believe being a Native provider has also helped me establish rapport and trust with my patients. And I always tell stories about my own experience that coincides with what is being asked of them. Just being real helps,” she said.
BY STACIE BOSTON
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/07/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Stress can come in different forms and be caused by various events such as childhood trauma or everyday troubles. Chris Wofford, Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Services clinical supervisor, said in some cases stress from “past trauma” in young adults can present “similarly” to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or similar “disorders of attention.” “So they might have difficulty focusing, difficulty staying on task once they start things, difficulty feeling calm or rested. Usually impacts sleep and certainly impact their ability to feel comfortable in groups or around other people. So sometimes that leads to some isolation and stuff like that,” he said. For day-to-day stress, Wofford said it’s “a little more” identifiable. “Just regular stress you know day-to-day, ‘I’ve got this homework assignment or I’ve got this task for work that I have to complete.’ Kind of similar, but usually it’s a little more identifiable,” he said. Wofford said not treating stress could have negative effects on the body. “There is a lot of research that says your psychological stress is going to manifest physically so ulcers or hypertension or you know a lot of times stress can lead to smoking or using some substance to cope and then that leads to addiction issues. Poor work performance or poor school performance certainly is correlated with having a lot of stress or anxiety as well,” he said. Wofford said one of the “biggest” things is to “own” a feeling and not to shut them out. “If you have a feeling about something instead of trying to shut it away or pretend it’s not there to just acknowledge that you have that feeling,” he said. “Then if you’re having trouble dealing with that feeling that’s when you would talk to either natural supports like family or where you might seek out the help of a professional.” Regardless of where a young adult’s stress stems from, Wofford said it’s important to find “relaxation” activities. “One of the basic things we teach to pretty much all age ranges that get services here is breathing. Nice deep, relaxing controlled breathing is a way for the body to communicate to the mind to slow down,” he said. “So for kind of everyday stress…just having some time where you’re doing things that you enjoy. It’s really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine and quickly it can be overwhelming.” Wofford said both mental and physical health should be treated the same. “If you would go to the doctor for a broken leg it’s OK to go to the doctor for a broken thought,” he said. “Just get some help in repairing that thought or that thinking process and getting back on track and feeling like you normally do or like yourself again.” One important message Wofford wants to get across is that when it comes to experiencing stress-related issues people are “not alone.” “Many people have found a way through this and you will be able to as well. You’re not broken, you’re not crazy, you’re not anything except a person who’s experiencing life and has hit a bump,” he said. “We all have them, and we all deal with them in different ways, but it is absolutely OK to ask for help.” For more information, call The HERO Project at 918-772-4004 or the CN Behavioral Health Adult Clinic at 918-207-4977.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
02/06/2018 12:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – With misinformation about sex so accessible, talking openly with teens about sex can help prevent unintended pregnancies and decrease risks of sexually transmitted diseases. Barbara Williams, a Cherokee Nation certified prevention specialist, has taught pregnancy prevention for more than 20 years through programs such as “Date but Wait” and “Straight Talk.” Her mission is to help parents and children talk openly about sex to avoid misinformation, a sharp contrast to how she was raised. “My mother never talked to me about how to prevent pregnancy or anything like that, and I asked her why. She said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. I figured you would learn it from somewhere,’” Williams said. In 2015, Oklahoma’s teen pregnancy rate was 34.8 per 1,000 females, compared to the national average of 22.3, according to the State Department of Health. Within the CN, Adair County ranks significantly higher with an average between 55.2 and 67.4 pregnancies per 1,000. “I know there’s a problem with teen pregnancy, and I know it goes back to parents not talking to their kids about it, especially in our Indian families,” Williams said. “There are no (Cherokee) words for anything that has to do with sex. We need to make the tribe know there’s a problem, especially in our rural communities.” Oklahoma was second in the United States for teen births in 2014, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The campaign also found that almost 50 percent of Oklahoma teen mothers live in poverty, while only 38 percent who have children before age 18 receive high school diplomas. For teens who aren’t comfortable talking to their parents about sex, Williams recommends they visit a county health department, which provides family planning information and birth control options including free condoms, pregnancy testing and emergency contraception. In addition to preventing teen pregnancy, Williams educates teens about sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. The Centers for Disease Control reports that annually 20 million new STD cases are reported in the United States, with half of them in individuals between 15 and 24 years old. While some STDs have symptoms such as itching or burning, several – including chlamydia and gonorrhea – often do not. Williams also cautions teens that some STDs do not have a cure and those that are treatable are becoming more dangerous. “There is now a drug-resistant gonorrhea, which we’ve always had a treatment for gonorrhea, and now it’s a superbug and there’s no guarantee,” she said. “We don’t know how long the medicine we have now is going to quell it. (Teens) need to know that you can’t tell by looking at someone if they have an STD. The best thing to do if you have sex is to wear a condom so you don’t have to worry.” To request a presentation from Williams, call 918-207-4977, ext. 7186. For more information about teen reproductive health and pregnancy, visit <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy" target="_blank">www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy</a>. For confidential and free STD testing, visit <a href="https://gettested.cdc.gov" target="_blank">https://gettested.cdc.gov</a>.
BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
02/06/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Sleep is important. Exercise is important. A good balance of both promotes a healthier lifestyle for children and adults alike. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s website, sleepfoundation.org, children aged 6 to 13 years old need nine to 11 hours of sleep per night. However, there are factors that can lead to difficulty falling asleep, thus reducing sleep time. These factors can also cause nightmares or disruptions in sleep. “School-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet as well as caffeine products – all of which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep. In particular, watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours,” the website states. It suggests parents should educate their children about healthy sleep habits that include: • Emphasizing the need for regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine, • Making a child’s bedroom conducive to sleep – dark, cool and quiet, • Keeping TVs and computers out of the bedroom, and • Avoiding caffeine. The website also states poor sleep habits and problems can lead to mental and behavioral problems. “Sleep problems and disorders are prevalent at this age. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school.” Carol McCoy, Center for Therapeutic Interventions mental health counselor, said the mind is active during sleep and that activity is vital for a healthier mind. “Children need more sleep than you and me as adults because their minds are still developing,” she said. “The more sleep they get, the healthier the brain becomes which allows for them to stay alert during the day.” And the more a child is active during the day, the better sleep a child gets during the night. According to a study published in Medical News Today, exercise has a direct correlation when it comes to sleep patterns in children. The study states with every inactive hour during the day, it adds three minutes to the time it takes the child to fall asleep. The study also indicates children who fall asleep faster tend to sleep longer. This is where exercise and physical activity come in. Children should spend 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day. For children, this means playing on the playground, their back yard, in gym class or recess at school. It could also mean being part of organized sports or other physical activity classes. According to kidshealth.org, there are benefits to children exercising, including having stronger muscles and bones, being less likely to become overweight, decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. The website also correlates the need for exercise to help with sleep. “Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better. They’re also better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test,” the website states. Limiting the time spent watching TV, on computers or tablets and other stationary activities is one of the best ways to keep children more active. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents “put limits on the time spent using media, which includes TV, social media, and video games. Media should not take the place of getting enough sleep and being active… Keep TVs, computers and video games out of the children’s bedrooms and turn off screens during mealtimes.” <strong>The National Sleep Foundation’s tips for healthy sleep</strong> • Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep. • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help. • Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep. • Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices. • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up <strong>Nourish Interactive’s list of “Get the Children Moving And Being Active” tips</strong> • Try to walk 10,000 steps a day. • Set aside time everyday for daily activity. Make it part of your family’s routine. • Share activity ideas with other parents. • Set a timer to remind kids to take an activity break away from the computer after 20 minutes. • To avoid muscle injury, teach your kids to stretch their muscles. • Children and teens need 1 hour of exercise each day to helps their growing bones, heart and overall health. • Have a picnic in the park. • Prioritize your To-Do list to schedule family exercise and plan ahead for healthy meals. • The heart’s a muscle too. Give it a workout. • Take the kids to your local high school this weekend and run relay races around the track. • All movement counts; Teach the kids to take the stairs instead of an elevator today. • Pump up your metabolism with activities like jumping, dancing and jogging. • Today is YMCA Healthy Kids. Take the kids to the nearby YMCA for some fun activities. Be an active family. • Walking is the most popular exercise for adults. Teach your kids to walk for a healthy, daily activity. • After a big meal, take a family walk and burn extra calories. It will also help you digest. • Make the backyard or front yard into an obstacle course and have a family race! • Exercise has even been proven to help kids sleep better and reduce stress. • Promote activity rather than exercise to kids. • Build healthy habits from their favorite activities. • Start the day with a family stroll around the block These are the first 20 of a list of 82 tips, for the complete list, go to <a href="http://www.nourishinteractive.com/healthy-tips/categories/6-kids-fitness-activities-exercise-tips" target="_blank">http://www.nourishinteractive.com/healthy-tips/categories/6-kids-fitness-activities-exercise-tips</a>