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CommonHealth

CommonHealth, the wellness benefit for state employees, offers a range of opportunities including special rates on WeightWatchers, fitness center discounts, and more. Visit them at their website or contact your agency's CommonHealth coordinator.

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CommonHealth Weekly Wellnotes

Tips for Getting the Most Nutritional Value for Your Dollar

Making the Most of Fresh Produce

  • Take stock of what you already have in the refrigerator, then buy as close as possible to the amount you need. It’s generally better not to pre-wash produce until ready to use, as this removes any protective coating it may have. Any moisture remaining on fruits and vegetables can cause them to mold and spoil prematurely.

Storing Produce

  • Storage choices have an impact on how long produce stays fresh, as well as taste and texture. Tomatoes can develop an unpleasant texture when refrigerated. Pineapple, bananas, whole melons, and peaches, are best kept on the counter until ripe. Potatoes and onions should be stored in a cool, dry, ventilated place out of direct sunlight. Other produce can be refrigerated in crisper drawers to maintain moisture.

Produce Options

  • Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to avoid produce waste while still getting nutritional quality. Frozen berries can be used year-round in smoothies, parfaits, and oatmeal. Most frozen vegetables are pre-cut and ready to heat up as stand-alone sides or ingredients in soups and casseroles. Some canned veggies and fruits, like tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, peaches, or pineapples are smart choices for stocking the pantry. Choose low-salt and no added sugar varieties. Canned options have a long shelf-life, and can be a timesaver.

Reducing Food Waste

  • Freezing or canning fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to preserve them. Freeze extras for future meals and save overripe produce for use in broths, smoothies, and baked goods.

For more information, check out this article from Tufts University's School for Nutrition Science and Policy.

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for routine tasks. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age cognitive decline.

Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment in your mind, body, and soul. When it becomes a habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You will feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small exercise goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.

Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.

More energy. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will give you more get-up-and-go. Start with just a few minutes of exercise per day, and increase your workouts, as you feel more energized.

Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you build resilience and cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only make your symptoms worse.

So there you have it. A healthy mind and healthy body work hand in hand!

Recipe of the Month: Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan Cheese

WW’s healthy version of this Italian classic is a guaranteed family hit! Use a high-quality Parmesan cheese for the best flavor, and serve with roasted broccoli and whole wheat spaghetti on the side.

Read the full recipe on the WW website.

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Is It Time to Replace Your Mattress?

A mattress has a lifespan of approximately 8 years. Depending on the quality and type of your mattress, you may get more or less time from it. Any mattress made with higher quality materials will likely last longer.

There are a few reasons to replace your mattress, the main one being comfort. Over time, a mattress can lose its shape and begin to sag, creating dips and lumps. An uncomfortable mattress can interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Not getting enough sleep has been linked to a number of diseases, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions

Dust mites and other allergens can accumulate in mattresses, which can cause or worsen symptoms in people with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. A 2015 study found that mattresses contain the highest concentrations of dust mites in a household.

Other reasons you may need to change your mattress include:

  • Wear and tear
  • Noisy springs
  • Muscle stiffness in the morning
  • Worsening allergies
  • Changes in your sleeping arrangement or your health
  • Putting more weight on your mattress

Source: Healthline.com