What do you do when you wake up? Shower? Head for the coffee? Reach for your phone? Whatever your current routine is, consider adding a few minutes of stretching, says the American Council on Exercise. This simple habit has the following benefits:

Reduce your aches — Many people experience acute pain in their joints and muscles when they wake up. Taking a few minutes to stretch will loosen up your muscles and heal your body.

Increase blood flow — After you’ve been asleep for a few hours, stretching can help get your blood moving, especially to your brain. This can make you more alert and help you concentrate.

Increase your energy — Getting out of bed in the morning can be difficult, but stretching can energize you and help you jumpstart your day.


Diabetes impacts younger people more often: Are you at risk?

A new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows that the impact of diabetes continues to grow and is increasing most rapidly among those age 18 through 34. The 4.7 percent growth in diabetes impact for younger adults from 2013 through 2015 corresponds to this age group’s spike in obesity rates, a key contributor to the onset of diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, you can lower your risk of developing diabetes by:

Weight: Weigh yourself at least once per week. Stay active and strive to watch less than 10 hours of TV per week to help maintain a healthy weight.

Physical activity: Set your alarm to get up and stretch or walk around the house or office at least every 30 minutes throughout the day.

Healthy eating: Choose lean meats, whole grains and fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies such as carrots, broccoli and green beans.


Bacteria lurking in sandboxes

As a child, you likely spent hours in a sandbox, building castles and playing make-believe. Sandboxes are still a part of many Americans’ childhood.

However, health experts now tell us communal sandboxes might be breeding grounds for bacteria. These play areas can be so bacteria-ridden that one doctor, in an article from WebMD, compared them to a swimming pool without chlorine.

So what can parents do? First, never allow pets to play in the sand. Most bacteria originates with pets going to the bathroom in the sandbox. Other things you can do include covering the box when it’s not in use and raking the sand to clean out any clumps or debris.


Patch may change how people vaccinate

Flu shots are readily available, but while each year millions of Americans opt to get a flu shot, many more don’t. There are several reasons for this: Some don’t think it is effective, others believe it’s too much of a hassle and of course many just don’t like needles.

To battle these objections, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a patch that will make it easier to administer the vaccine, says NBC News.

If the patch is approved for wide use, people could skip the doctor and put the patch on themselves. Public health experts hope this would greatly increase the number of people who are vaccinated against the flu each year.

— Brandpoint