Physical Activity For Teens


By: Evan Woodford, Community HealthCorps
Harbor Health Services, Inc.

Did you know that the recommended amount of physical activity for teens is 60 minutes a day, for 7 days a week? While that may seem like a lot, but it can actually be very manageable. That is because physical activity is simply defined as “movement of the body that uses energy.” Therefore, it is not limited to traditional sports or the activities that come to mind when you hear the word “exercise”. Since those 60 minutes a day can be broken up into increments as short as 10 minutes at a time, suddenly it may not seem all that overwhelming. Anything that gets you up and using your body can be counted, as long as it is of a moderate intensity. But how can we tell if something is a “moderate-intensity” activity? Activity at this level will cause you to feel an elevated heart rate and increased breathing, but it would not make it any harder to talk. In contrast, a low-intensity activity will not require much effort or raise your heart rate or breathing, while a vigorous activity would cause you to breathe so hard it becomes difficult to talk.

If you were to explore the weekly recommendations for teens, you would soon discover that there are two categories of physical activity- either muscle strengthening or bone strengthening. Muscle strengthening includes activities such as pushups or resistance training, while activities like running and basketball can also count as bone strengthening because they promote bone growth. Specifically, the recommendation for teens is that they get three days of each type of activity in per week.

Just as a sort of reference, know that over the course of an hour sitting on the couch watching TV or playing video games, you will burn 60 calories. On the other hand, jogging for an hour will burn about 400 calories. These numbers will not be the same for each person because everyone has different bodies, but these numbers are good averages. These are the calories burned per hour of some physical activities you may not have thought about:

Cleaning the house- 207 calories

Playing drums- 236 calories

Mowing the lawn- 325 calories

Cooking or preparing food- 150 calories

Dancing- 350 calories

Fishing- 236 calories

Gardening- 295 calories

Hiking- 350 calories

Skateboarding- 295 calories

Walking- 210 calories

The important thing to remember is that getting 60 minutes a day of physical activity does not have to be an insurmountable task. Making small changes to daily life, such as walking instead of driving or taking the bus or using stairs instead of elevators, can begin to make positive differences in the way you feel.

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Diet


By: Royletta Romain, MEd, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian, Dietary Supervisor

Elder Service Plan of Harbor Health Services, Inc.

  • Increase your fiber intake, up to 40 grams/day! (Use very high fiber cereal like All Bran Buds or Fiber One, whole grain bread, beans.)
  • Use low fat/no fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Add a Dark Green Leafy Vegetable and a Slice of Tomato to Your Sandwich
  • Use Hummus instead of Mayonnaise
  • Eat Breakfast (try Fiber One, fat free milk and blueberries)
  • Buy plain, fat-free yogurt and Add Fresh Fruit
  • Drink More Water
  • Drink Less Soda and Juice
  • Try Natural Peanut Butter with no added sugar or other fats
  • Read Food Labels
  • Eliminate Processed Food for an Entire Day

Hints for Cutting Back on Fats from Meat!


By Evan Woodford

Community HealthCorps Member

Meats, including beef, pork, and chicken, can be a great source of protein in your diet. Unfortunately, they can also be responsible for a lot of the saturated fat and cholesterol to our diets as well. Fortunately, there is a solution. The way we go about preparing the meat can greatly reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol consumed when eating them. Take a look at some easy ways we can make changes:

  • Trim excess fat from the meat before cooking
  • Remove the skin from chicken before baking
  • Bake, grill, roast or broil meats instead of frying them
  • Avoid breading, which can trap fats during cooking
  • Skip the sauces or gravies
  • Carefully drain fat during the cooking process
  • Eat more vitamin C to promote the absorption of iron from non-meat foods such as nuts, eliminating the need for iron from high-fat meats

Our choices of the types of meat we eat can also make a difference:

  • Each fish and nuts more often instead of meats
  • Choose lean cuts of meat such as sirloin instead of ground beef, fatty cuts or organ meat
  • Choose lean deli meats and avoid salami, bologna, and pepperoni

There are a lot of different recommendations to reduce your fat intake, but it is important to know that you do not need to incorporate all of these in order to be eating healthier! While this list of suggestions may look overwhelming, it just gives you more options to cut back on fats. By adopting even a single change, you will already be on your way to a healthier you!

Learn more at:

Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle: National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month

By: Jacqueline Minichiello, MS, RD, LDN

Harbor Health Services, Inc.

March marks not only the beginning of spring, but a time of awakening for individuals to spring into action and embrace National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” The focus is to encourage everyone to consume fewer calories, make more informed choices about the food they eat, and get daily exercise to maintain and achieve a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

So what should we consider when making food and beverage choices? As part of the National Nutrition Month® campaign, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends asking:

  • What am I eating and drinking?
  • How much am I eating and drinking?
  • How should I prepare what I am eating and drinking?

When we think about what we are eating and drinking, we find that certain dietary patterns have a moderate to strong link with lower risks of obesity and other chronic diseases (especially cardiovascular disease, hypertension, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes). So what do these dietary patterns look like? Coincidentally, the preliminary 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have just been released. In a statement put out by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee they note:

The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meatsiii; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.

And while this pattern appears specific, the good news is people do not need to completely cut out any one food group and can be flexible with how they achieve this healthy dietary pattern. As practitioners, we should tailor these patterns to individual health needs, cultural practices and dietary preferences.

Thinking about how much we eat or drink is also a good practice. Often we serve ourselves large portions, not taking into account how hungry we are. And because as a population we tend to be bad at leaving food on our plate, we end up eating more calories than we need. With this I think it is important to add the question “Why am I eating?” Often we eat when we are bored, tired, happy, or sad. These are not appropriate reasons to be snacking on something. The majority of the time we want to eat only when we are hungry and therefore part of biting into a healthier lifestyle is also being more mindful in our eating practices. So use a smaller plate, spend at least 20 minutes eating, and try and cut back on portion size.

Lastly, it is important to think about how we are preparing food and drink. Are we including creamy soups or fried foods with meals often? These cooking methods can take even a healthy food and transform it into an unhealthy one (fried zucchini anyone?) The Academy offers some suggestions for cooking methods like broiling, steaming, grilling, roasting and stir frying. For our drinks they also offer ways to boost the flavor in water. Suggestions include adding cucumbers, berries, mint or lemon to water in order to give it a wonderful flavor. These methods keep, or even enhance the flavor of the food allowing us to continue to enjoy what we eat.

So how will you bite into a healthy lifestyle this month?

March 5th is White Ribbon Day: Why You Should Wear the Ribbon


By: Colin Gallant, MPH

Harbor Health Services, Inc.

On Thursday, March 5th, men from across the Commonwealth will be called upon to take the following pledge:

“From This Day Forward, I promise to be a part of the solution in ending violence against women.”

Over 5 million men worldwide have taken this pledge and donned white ribbons as a part of “White Ribbon Day”.  Wearing these ribbons and taking this pledge are a way of showing support and increasing awareness of ending violence against women. However, many men have trouble imagining how the simple act of wearing a ribbon can impact this issue.  Besides not abusing women, what actions can a man take to reduce violence against women in his community?  The truth is the surprisingly simple task of wearing a ribbon can make a huge difference.

  • White Ribbons  send a message

Putting the white ribbon pin on your lapel sends two very important messages.  First, it sends a message to other men that you think violence against women is unacceptable.  In the US, 1 in 6 women will experience attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, according to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARC).  The vast majority of these rapes (98% according to One in Four USA) will be perpetrated by men.  A common theory for why rape or other forms of sexual violence are so prevalent is that men don’t have a very strong negative attitude towards men who perpetrate.

Surely men possess strong negative attitudes towards more standard forms of rape.  However, what about in a situation where a man buys a woman alcohol for the purpose of lowering her inhibitions in order to have sex with her?  In the sexual violence prevention community, we would call this at the very least a predatory behavior, perhaps even an example of date rape.  Among certain communities of men, this is a reflection of “game”, a sexual “conquest”.   While many men no doubt feel that this behavior is wrong, far too often are we silent when our friends tell us these stories.

The same can be said about how we respond to sexist jokes.  Men laugh along with jokes or sit in silence waiting for their awkward feeling to pass.  Violence against women is something that is deeply integrated into how men express masculinity,  but that will never change unless good men speak up.  Tell these men “that joke isn’t funny!” or “It doesn’t make you a man when you get a woman drunk to get her into bed”.

Wearing a white ribbon also says something.  It’s a way of expressing to other men that you don’t condone violence against women.  And when enough people say this, these men will start to realize the truth; men who perpetrate and condone violence against women are in the minority.

  • They’re conversation starters

“Dad, why are you wearing a white ribbon?”

If you can have any conversation this March make it be this one.  It doesn’t have to be with a son; maybe a younger brother, a nephew, or a student whom you teach.

Talking to boys about violence against women is a great way to shape incoming men.  Conversations with young men don’t have to be super formal either.  You don’t have to have a dinner table discussion about it.  This topic should just be integrated into other conversations as the boy grows up.  When he starts dating, ask him if he knows how to respect his partner. Ask if he knows that it isn’t ok to hit your partner or control their behavior.  Also, if you witness violence in the media, in your community, or even in your family, make sure to talk you boys about it.  Even directly addressing the violence yourself can make you a role model for him in the future.

  • It’s a pledge to be better

White Ribbon Day, above all else, is a day where we as men pledge to be better.  We can chose to devote more time or more professional resources to the issue of violence against women.   We can choose to talk to our sons or other young men in our community.  We can even choose to volunteer or donate to local domestic violence shelters.

We can also pledge to stop our own violence.  Stop telling sexist jokes!  Making jokes about women and rape makes light of rape and degrades women.  When we make light of rape, we become desensitized to it.  When we degrade women, we make it easier for ourselves to justify the harm they experience.

If you batter women, pledge to get help.  There are many programs in Boston and across the state of Massachusetts that help men end their abuse.  Taking the pledge to be a part of the solution is just the first step.