Wellbody Blog

At Professor Wellbody's Academy of Health & Wellness, we understand there's only one thing harder than making healthy behavior changes: Sticking to them! We all need a little help from our friends, and that's the purpose of the Wellbody Blog, a friendly online gathering spot--a community well--where you can dip into health news; wellness tips; recipes; latest research about nutrition, exercise, sleep and hygiene; plus, real stories from virtual neighbors who are also trying to change their lives for the better. Start from wherever you are; share ideas, information, inspiration. At Pacific Science Center, we believe each of us can do something everyday to improve our health and well-being.

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Well, we've almost made it to Friday, but not quite. How's your stress level?

Learning to manage stress may be just as important to overall health as diet, exercise, sleep and hygiene. At a recent Stress Management Forum hosted by Harvard School of Public Health & Huffington Post, clinicians, psychologists and mindfulness experts cited research showing chronic stress may contribute to heart disease, hypertension, anxiety and depression.Paula Rainbow lowres©Paula Bock

That's alarming since a recent Health in America survey found 72 percent of Americans believe their stress has increased or remained the same over the past five years, and the average American experiences more stress than they believe to be healthy.

Here's the good news: We can learn to manage stress.

When you feel anxious, nervous, strained or stressed, try this breathing exercise from Lilian Cheung, Doctor of Science, registered dietician and mindfulness expert with the Harvard School of Public Health.

Breathing in, silently repeat to yourself: I'm fully aware of my in-breath.
Breathing out, silently repeat to yourself: I'm fully aware of my out-breath.

Repeat in- and out-breaths five times.

In just moments, you will feel greater freedom accompanied by increased stability.

"Each time we choose to take mindful breaths instead of traveling through a self-perpetuating cycle of stress, we enforce new, healthy habits," she says. "We are creatures of routine, and whether or not we're aware of them, we create and reinforce patterns each moment. Better to choose habits of stress reduction than be led blind by coping mechanisms like sugar cravings and television addictions."

Check out more tips from Cheung to alleviate stress on Huffington Post.

And if the breathing doesn't work (or even if it does), stay tuned to Wellbody Blog for a healthy homemade popcorn recipe. Popcorn! A sure way to inspire your inner smile!

What helps you relieve stress? Share your de-stress tips by commenting on Wellbody Blog, Facebook, or by emailing professorwellbody@pacsci.org. You'll be entered for a giveaway of two free passes to Wellbody Academy and Pacific Science Center's other exhibits.

Children's menus are stuck in a time warp, dominated by unhealthy fried chicken fingers, burgers, excessive cheese and sugary drinks, according to a recent study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.burgerandfriesPhoto/Food Safety News

"One out of every three American children is overweight or obese," says CSPI nutrition policy director Margo Wootan, but the chain restaurant industry just doesn't get it. "They seem stuck in a time warp, serving up the same old meals based on chicken nuggets, burgers, macaroni and cheese, fries, and soda." 

Of 3,500 meal options for kids, 97 percent flunk nutrition guidelines calling for ½ serving of fruit or vegetable and an item that's at least half whole grain. The chains also violate health guidelines that say meals should not exceed 430 calories, 770 milligrams sodium, 35 percent of calories from fat, 35 percent of calories from added sugar, or 10 percent of calories from saturated and trans fats.

Subway is the healthy exception, including low-fat milk or bottled water (instead of soda) along with apple slices with kid-sized subs in all eight of its Fresh Fit for Kids meal combos.

On Seattle Times blog All You Can Eat, food writer Rebekah Denn explores healthy, local, reasonably priced eating-out options for families with kids: pho, scaled-down menus, veggie sushi.

Share your healthy, reasonably priced, family friendly eating-out tips—and you may win two free passes to Wellbody Academy. What do you do and where do you go when you're out with kids and need a quick, convenient bite? Do you carry your own fixings for avoid-meltdown-meals in the car? (If so, what foods do you bring? And what containers do you pack in?) Do you stop by a favorite local eatery near the park, school, playing fields or mall? Where do you go for family "destination" meals? Comment on Facebook or the Wellbody Blog, or email ProfessorWellbody@pacsci.org.

We'll share your tips with the Wellbody community in a future post and (did we mention this GIVEAWAY?) throw your name in the hat to receive two complimentary passes to visit Wellbody Academy and Pacific Science Center's other exhibits.

While you're here, check out Burger Planet’s drive-through in Wellbody Academy’s Cafedium and use the Customized Calorie Budgetizer to create a plan tailored to your gender, age and activity level.