by Gretchen Thornton | Apr 28, 2022
You play a significant role in loving your heart by developing a healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime. Do you know a heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifespan? The heart’s never-ending workload is like a love between a mother and her daughter. A mother and daughter will have bumps during their lifespans, such as teenage rebellion, a fight for independence, and the battle to become a woman. The love for your heart can also have bumps during your lifespan, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, unlucky genes, and much more.
As human beings, we all have our favorite go-to food or foods. My mother and I love to eat chips. We need to focus on eating various healthy foods. MyPlate can show how everybody can make food choices for a healthy diet. Each food group provides energy and almost every nutrient we need. No one food group is more important than the other. For good health and proper growth, individuals need to eat various types of food every day. By eating healthy, you love your heart. My mother and I should replace the chips for fruits during the day for a healthy snack.
Exercising is an essential step in loving your heart. When I was growing up, my mother and I would clean the house on Saturday mornings. The fun thing about cleaning was listening to a favorite song while dancing in the living room. Physical activities are a great tool to help you stay active during your lifespan. A person should aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Young children should participate in 60 minutes of physical activity a day. In 2022, love your heart by “KEEP MOVING!” and check out the Let’s Walk Florida program at your local Extension Office.
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which your arteries narrow and harden due to the buildup of fats in the artery wall. There are chemicals found in tobacco smoke that can harm your blood cells. The chemicals can damage the function of your heart and blood vessels. When this happens, you do not love your heart, and you can risk atherosclerosis. I will say, my mother and other family members are tobacco users. Each year, over 1 million Americans quit smoking. You can use many strategies to stop using tobacco, such as going to a behavior support group, breathing exercises, healthy snacks, remembering your smoking triggers, and remembering that you are saving money. Reminder: give your heart a huge hug by stopping using tobacco.
The Love for a Mother through Heart Surgery. Photo source: Gretchen Thornton
Do you know that many types of heart disease are passed down through the “Family Tree?” Heart disease can affect the heart muscle and electrical system and cause high cholesterol levels. There is much to learn about the connection between genes and heart disease within a family. Researchers continue to learn about the outcomes of the connections between the two. Communication is an essential tool to keep your family tree healthy. My mother had a heart attack when she was 60 years old. She went to the hospital for a low oxygen level due to allergies. The doctor noticed that she had a heart attack in her past. She has a pacemaker and cardioverter-defibrillator to help with her heart rhythm now. During this stage of my life, I make sure that I schedule my yearly wellness check doctor’s appointment. Love your “Family Tree” by communicating about your health history because your family grows from the same seed.
You may think it is too early to think about heart health in children. Heart disease can start early in life. A healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. A child that is living a healthy life can listen and participate in school, sleep at night, have healthy bones and muscles, increase self-esteem, and adopt a lifelong habit.
Loving your heart may not be straightforward at times. A healthy lifestyle is a day-to-day process that takes time and hard work. Loving your heart is unique because we all share the same common goal to live a healthy life. In 2022, remember to follow MyPlate.gov and eat healthily. Each day, turn the television off and exercise for at least 30 minutes. Make this year tobacco-free; learn the benefits of quitting by contacting Tobacco Free Florida for more information. Spending time with your family is an excellent time to communicate about family health history and genetics. For more information about heart health, contact your local doctor about how you can become more heart-healthy.
FSHN20-56/FS426: Reducing Your Risk for Heart Disease: The Power of Food (ufl.edu)
Genetics of Congenital Heart Disease | Circulation Research (ahajournals.org)
Tobacco Free Florida | Smoking Cessation Information & Programs
by Gretchen Thornton | Apr 25, 2022
Did you know that all-terrain vehicle (ATV) injuries went up 50% from 1982 to 2017? ATVs have increased in popularity here in the United States and worldwide. The products are great if used appropriately. Nearly 75% of the accidents result in brain and spinal cord injuries. Many parents ask the common question, “How can we make ATV riding safe for everyone?” The main goal for ATV riding is for each rider to have their best, and safest, possible riding experience.
ATV riders should wear protective equipment and carefully follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation. Photo source: UF/IFAS.
When the ATV is purchased, the buyer and rider must follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. First, make sure there is an operator’s guide with the product when it is purchased. The buyer needs to ensure everyone reads and follows the operator’s guide. It is a good idea to read the operator’s guide when seated on the ATV so the rider understands the controls and how they work. The rider and any passengers need to read the safety warning label on the ATV. The label specifies the age recommendation for the rider. Reminder: Nobody of any age should ride an ATV if they cannot be responsible. Parents need to ensure the child is age-appropriate for that ATV, receives proper training and instructions, and takes an approved riding safety course. Parents should never leave a child alone, especially when the child is operating an ATV.
The rider should be familiar with the surrounding terrain where the ATV will be driven. The rider should reach all controls, sit correctly, and reach the foot rest on the ATV. The rider must avoid anything that impairs their abilities.
Second, the rider needs to do a pre-ride inspection. Before each ride, the rider should inspect the ATV to ensure the vehicle is in good condition. The rider can find the pre-ride inspection information in the operator’s guide. The rider can contact the local dealership if there is a problem with the ATV.
Third, the rider needs to wear protective gear on an open-air vehicle. The protective gear includes an approved helmet, eye protection, closed-toe footwear/over-the-ankle boots, long pants, long sleeve shirt, full-fingered gloves, and rain gear, if needed.
Fourth, the rider should understand the rules for riding with passengers. The rider should never carry passengers in the cargo area. The passenger should review the manual and safety labels on the ATV before riding. Passengers must sit up correctly while placing their feet flat on the footrests, and hold onto the handhold device. Hand guards can be added to the ATV to provide additional protection. If the rider is not advanced, he or she should not ride with a passenger.
Fifth, the rider should understand the stability of the ATV. ATVs are easy to roll or tip over quickly when riding. The rider should never attempt maneuvers that can be dangerous to the rider or the passenger.
Sixth, turning the ATV too fast or sharp is the leading cause of accidents. The rider needs to pay attention to the movement of the ATV when turning and shift their weight accordingly. The passengers also need to pay attention to the road, lean with the rider, and keep their hands on the handhold device.
Seventh, braking the ATV is very important to the rider. The proper way to stop the ATV is found in the operator’s guide. The weather and terrain can affect the braking distance when riding. The rider needs to adjust their driving according to the towing, weight, and equipment on the ATV.
There are more components to learn about ATV Safety including reversing, carrying cargo, and understanding the terrain. For more information about ATV safety and product inquiry, contact your local ATV store.
For more information, visit:
ATV Safety | 4-H in the Panhandle (ufl.edu)
ATV Safety – Safety Rules for ATV Riding | Kids and Adults
OHV Safety / Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) / State Forest Recreation / State Forests / Our Forests / Forest & Wildfire / Home – Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (fdacs.gov)
by Gretchen Thornton | Jan 13, 2022
The Art of Effective Communication
SMART Couples Florida Celebration
Statewide Virtual Event
February 19, 2022
6:00 – 9:15 p.m. EST
Photo source: Victor Harris
It’s time to talk about love! Join us online for a night of real talk about building stronger relationships from marriage and family professionals across the nation. Learn how to improve your communication and keep the romance alive. Tickets available now!
Learn more here: https://smartcouples.ifas.ufl.edu/flcelebration/
by Gretchen Thornton | Oct 11, 2021
Managing your time wisely can reduce stress.
Photo credit: UF/IFAS Photo by Sally Lanigan.
Time management plays an important role each day. All people have 24 hours in a day, but how those hours are used can be different for each person. Individuals can have more control of their lives, less stress, and more free time if they have good time management skills.
Many people may feel like they have too much work to do, which causes assignments and tasks to be completed late or not at all. Individuals are late to school or work, which can cause stress throughout the day. Everyone would love to have more time to do their favorite things.
Time Management Tips
The key is to use time wisely so individuals will have time for both their needs and their wants. Time management tips will help structure their day. Each day, make a “To-Do List” – write down the items from the most important to the least important. Second, staying organized is a big time saver. Preparing for the next day before going to bed will reduce morning stress so you can enjoy your breakfast. A planner will track assignments, tests, and appointments. A wall calendar can help schedule significant events and deadlines.
On Sunday night, plan out the week and review time for each daily step in the schedule. When writing the schedule, include all appointments, practices, chores, and mealtimes; it will help show times for homework, studying, relaxation, and social activates.
Successful individuals use tips such as the ones below to help manage their time:
- Use free time in school or work wisely.
- Review time while waiting. An example of this is reviewing notes while waiting for a ride.
- Create routines – good morning and nighttime routines can save time.
- Say “No!” – do not let things get in the way of reaching a positive goal.
- Sleep healthy – do not give up a good night’s sleep; this will increase stress.
There are 24 hours in a day/168 hours in a week, and it is up to the individual how they use their time. Planning for free time plays an essential role in time management. An individual needs to balance doing things alone or with their friends, managing time inside and outside, and prioritizing throughout their lives.
Everyone gets stressed out, discouraged, or overwhelmed sometimes. The idea is to keep a positive attitude and design ways to stay motivated. When people have a positive attitude, they will go far in life.
Sometimes, someone may give up on schoolwork, think negative thoughts, feel frustrated, or would like to have more optimistic goals. When a person is having a rough time, they can surround themselves with positive people, believe in themselves, and move forward with positive energy.
Throughout life, they will come across all kinds of people. They will meet positive influences in their lives. People who have a great support system can achieve their goals and realize their dreams. Next, people need to believe in themselves by recognizing their talents and abilities and succeeding. Lastly, move with positive physical characteristics by walking tall, moving with confidence, and smiling with a positive purpose in life.
When people plan for success, they can focus on setting goals. Goals will give direction and help guide the path toward what the individual would like to achieve. It would be great if short-term and long-term goals were in place throughout the person’s lifespan. Remember to focus on the strengths an individual may have, such as interests and talents. Everyone will have weaknesses, and it is essential to notice and work on improving each weakness. People can use positive “self-talk” to help change their attitude from a negative one, such as “I can’t write this assignment,” to a positive one, “I can write this assignment!”
Quote by Brian Cavanaugh
Photo credit: Gretchen Thornton
A person can stay engaged when they use motivating “self-notes:” Some examples are: “Day-dream Success,” “Turn a Frown Upside Down,” “Hit a Refresh,” and “Figure Out Yourself.” During the day, write motivating words or ideas on bright sticky notes and post throughout your home or office.
Time management is the ability to get the right things done effectively. Managing time will decrease stress and allow the person a healthier state of mind. Research has shown that long-term stress can lead to health problems. The idea of time management with positive goals can help reduce heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. An excellent remedy for stress is to follow a plan of success with time management and a positive attitude.
UF/IFAS Extension EDIS Document HR014: Managing Time in the Workplace