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Let’s Go for a Walk – The surprising health benefits of nature’s simplest exercise

By: GEORGE ABRAHAM, M.D.

The weather is beautiful. You really want to start exercising more, but you don’t want to spend hours cooped up at the gym, and you hate the idea of running.

Good news: Walking has many of the same health benefits as harder workouts. It is the simplest form of exercise, and anyone can do it. You can walk alone, with a friend or pet. And the only equipment you need is a sturdy pair of shoes.

Physical benefits

Walking is the recommended workout for many people, especially those with knee, ankle, and back problems, and also for people who are overweight. Walking is a low-impact exercise, saving wear on your joints, and can be done for longer periods of time.

Researchers compared moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running, and found they produce similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. This means you can get the same benefits by walking as running, as long as you’re using the same amount of energy.

Walking is also a low-impact way to burn calories and lose weight. The key is to walk fast enough to raise your heart and breathing rates for an extended period. The longer you walk and the faster your pace, the more calories you’ll burn.

Mental benefits

Walking is a proven mood booster. One study found that just 12 minutes of walking resulted in an increase in happiness, energy, concentration, and self-confidence. Walking in nature, especially, was found to reduce negative thinking, lowering the risk of depression.

Getting started

To get the full health benefits of walking, work up to walking briskly for at least 30 minutes five days a week. “Brisk” means that you can still talk but you may be puffing slightly.

Start with shorter walks and build up your strength and endurance. Here’s a four-week plan to help you get the most out of walking.

Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk, but if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

 

GEORGE ABRAHAM, M.D.Dr. Abraham joined Maryland Primary Care Physicians in 2021 and sees patients in the Arundel Mills office. He earned his medical degree from St. George’s University, School of Medicine.

8 Tips for Healthy Summer Grilling

By: BARBARA NELSON, CRNP

Grilling is a great way to enjoy the warm summer weather and spend quality time with family and friends. Before firing up the charcoal, review these easy tips to keep your grilling healthy and safe.

1. Start with a clean grill. Don’t let the charred buildup on your grill stick to your food. Use a wire brush to give your grill a good cleaning, then wipe it down to remove particles.

2. Practice safe food handling. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from vegetables and other foods. Place grilled foods on clean plates, not on the ones you used when they were raw.

3. Avoid smoke and fire. Exposing meat to high heat and open flames can create chemicals that have been linked to some cancers. Reduce your exposure to these chemicals by:

  • Lining the grill with aluminum foil
  • Cooking food at temperatures below 325 degrees
  • Using a spray bottle of water to put out any fat fires

4. Marinate for flavor and health. Marinating meat before cooking helps prevent the formation of potential carcinogens. Make your own healthy marinades or use bottled marinades that are low in salt.

5. Flip burgers often. Research suggests that flipping a burger every 30 seconds reduces E. coli and potential carcinogens from charring.

 6. Check internal temperatures. Use a meat thermometer to make sure your meat reaches minimum temperatures to kill harmful bacteria. See the USDA’s temperature guidelines.

7. Choose leaner meats:

  • When grilling red meat and pork, buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef, which have the lowest fat content.
  • For chicken, choose breast cuts and remove the skin before eating. Skinless chicken breasts are less fattening than dark meat legs and thighs.
  • Fish are typically lower in fat than other types of meat and contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Try grilling salmon, trout and herring.

8. Don’t forget the veggies and fruit. Grilling amps up the flavor of fruits and vegetables. You can mix things up by cooking kabobs that alternate meat, vegetables and fruit.

Tired of the same old burgers? Check out these grilling recipes for a healthy and tasty summer.

 

BARBARA NELSON, CRNPBarbara Nelson, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, received her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Walden University, completed a family medicine post-master certificate program at the University of Cincinnati, and is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She cares for patients in MPCP’s Bowie office.

 

Are You Addicted to Social Media?

By: RAFEENA BACCHUS, M.D.

People are social by nature. We need the company of others, and the strength of our relationships affect our mental and physical health.

Today, many of us use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram to connect with each other. Kids, teens, and young adults are the heaviest social media users, but most adults are also active on at least one platform.

For most of us, social media is an enjoyable way to pass time and connect with family and friends. However, some people say social media has a negative impact on their lives, but they continue to use it anyway. Their behavior seems to be out of control, causing some health professionals to say they are addicted to social media.

How social media addiction works
The process of using social media – posting and reacting to content — causes your brain to release the pleasure chemical dopamine. The more you use social media and receive the rewarding dopamine, the more your brain will want it. Over time, your brain can become dependent/addicted to the good feeling social media gives you.

Social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube also track your activity and customize your feed to show you posts you want to view and comment on. This makes social media more addictive in nature.

One of the signs of addiction is continuing to use something even after it has clearly had a negative impact on you. If social media use is interfering with your relationships, self-esteem, work or school, but you can’t stop using it, that is a possible sign of addiction.

Signs you may have a social media addiction
If you have several of the behaviors below, it may be a sign that your social media use is getting out of hand.

  • You log in very often, wasting time with unproductive browsing. You check social media first thing in the morning and repeatedly through the day.
  • You constantly check your notifications and update your status.
  • You use social media to escape from the real world. If stress and discomfort in your life are getting to you, you seek refuge in the virtual community.
  • If you can’t get on social media, you get agitated. You become anxious over time spent away from your device or without an internet connection.
  • You plan your social media posts in advance. You go places just to take selfies there, and get distracted during daily activities by thinking about how you plan to describe them later on social media.
  • You get upset when your posts online aren’t appreciated.
  • Social media gets in the way of your real-life connections. You make choices that cut out friends and family and replace them with avatars and status updates.

Health risks of social media addiction
People who habitually and excessively use social media can suffer mental and physical effects.

  • You may unfavorably compare yourself to people online, causing you low self-esteem.
  • Seeing others have a good time may contribute to a greater sense of loneliness, isolation, and the fear of being left out.
  • Exposure to misinformation, especially false health news, can keep you from getting the medical care you need or persuade you to try unsafe products and treatments.
  • Dealing with negative people, trolls and bullies can make you anxious and depressed.
  • Checking your feed late at night/during the night can disrupt your sleep patterns, affecting your performance at work or school.
  • Hours of screen time means less physical activity, which may lower your overall health.
  • Being obsessed with online people can make you ignore the important relationships in your life.
  • Motivated by the desire for online approval, you may engage in risky behavior, such as playing dangerous pranks or posting embarrassing material. And if you glance at your news feed while driving, you are up to four times more likely to be involved in a crash.

How to cut back on social media
If you think social media is becoming a problem, you may need to cut back to reach a healthy level of use. Try the helpful tips below, but if you still struggle, consult with your healthcare provider for additional resources.

  1. Turn off notifications from social media apps. They are a major source of distraction and temptation.
  2. Change the desktop color settings of your phone to black and white to make them less attractive.
  3. Silence your phone during work, as well as during school, meals, and recreational activities.
  4. Delete social media apps from your phone to decrease the amount of time spent on them. (You can still use them on your computer at home.)
  5. Set aside a certain amount of time for social media each day. Don’t go beyond it.
  6. Turn on a timer to help keep you accountable for how much time you spend online.
  7. Leave your phone, tablet, and computer out of your bedroom.
  8. See your friends and family in person more often.
  9. Take up a new hobby that’s not technology-related like sports, art, or classes.

Rafeena Bacchus, M.D.Dr. Rafeena Bacchus sees patients at MPCP’s Columbia office. She received her medical degree from SUNY at the Buffalo School of Medicine and completed her residency program in Internal Medicine at the University of Maryland. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

 

Health Updates From Your MPCP Arundel Mills Providers

YOUR OVERALL HEALTH IS OUR PRIORITY

As we continue to navigate in a COVID-19 world, we are still providing care to our patients using COVID-19 safe protocols. Delay in appointments with your primary care physician may cause significant medical complications. Please continue to schedule your preventative exams and follow up appointments without fear of exposure to COVID-19. Our patients are screened thoroughly to make sure they are safe to enter the office. All who enter the office are required to wear their masks. Our waiting room is regularly sanitized and the exam rooms are disinfected between each patient. We are offering telemedicine appointments to our patient who are having any COVID associated symptoms.

COMMUNICATION

During the Pandemic, our office is experiencing larger than normal call volumes. If you are unable to reach the office through our phone system, please note that you are able to request prescription refills, appointments and referrals through our patient portal. We are asking all patients who have not yet signed-up for our MyPortfolio Patient Portal to please register today, so all necessary paperwork can be completed prior to your appointment. To register for the Portal please go to the MPCP website and select Patient Portal and follow the prompts, call the office and the staff can assist you or sign up at your upcoming office visit.

COVID-19 VACCINATIONS AND TESTING

We can administer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at our Arundel Mills Location for initial and booster vaccinations. If you or your child have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccine, please contact our office, as we have select days to administer vaccines for our patients.

Our office is also still performing COVID-19 Testing. We offer the COVID-19 Antigen Testing (Rapid) and COVID-19 PCR testing. With the COVID-19 Antigen (Rapid) testing you can have your results back within 20 minutes and with the PCR testing you can have your results back within 24 to 48 hours. Contact the office if you need COVID-19 testing for COVID-19 symptoms, travel or for surgical clearance.

It is our goal to provide you with useful & timely information to help you live your best life! Here are three short articles that can help do just that: the importance of eye screening, colon cancer screening, and warding off chronic kidney disease.