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For Amazing Physical and Mental Health Benefits, Hit the Trail on a Bike!
There is an inescapable, childlike joy that comes from riding a bike over dramatic high desert landscapes, or through forests of towering pines, on one of Prescott’s many and varied trails. The good news is that you don’t have to be a pro to join the fun! In fact, whether you are seven or seventy, a novice or seasoned cyclist, there’s a ride for you in the 250 miles of trails that wind in and around Prescott. The physical benefits of trail riding have been extensively documented, and new research suggests that mountain biking can also keep you healthy in spirit and mind. Ximena Florez, Vice President of the Board of the Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance (PMBA), with responsibility for membership and social events, can’t contain her enthusiasm for mountain biking. “It’s fun, it can be social (or solo), and it keeps you smiling and feeling young! There are so many benefits, including physical fitness and mental health. I think trail riding is also a form of meditation, because when you ride, you need to keep your focus on the trail.” Ximena emphasizes that a great variety of people can, and do, enjoy mountain biking. “Almost anyone can ride, especially in Prescott, because our focus at PMBA is on advocating for diverse types of trails that appeal to people of all ages and abilities. Over a hundred miles of trails have been added in the Prescott area since PMBA’s inception, ten years ago. There is something for everyone. Examples include the trails at Pioneer Park for beginners, Thumb Butte and Spence Basin for intermediate riders, and the Dells for experienced cyclists. PMBA is continually raising funds for trail maintenance and expansion through its membership program.” A PMBA-led women’s ride at Spence Basin Physical Strength, Fitness and More The physical benefits of cycling in the great outdoors are well documented and include: Riding a bike over varied terrain builds strength and stamina throughout the body, including arm, back, and core muscles. Balance and coordination improve quickly on a mountain bike. Cycling puts less stress on joints than many other forms of weight-bearing exercise. Exposure to natural, bright light can improve sleep by stimulating the production and timely release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates wake and sleep cycles. Exposure to sun, even for just 5-10 minutes (without sunscreen) creates vitamin D, which is important not only for bones, but for the immune system as well. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that a large number of diseases, including autoimmune conditions, some types of cancer, and osteoporosis may be linked with too little exposure to natural light and sun. Getting dirty (which is always part of the fun of mountain biking) might also have benefits! Significant research demonstrates that regular exposure to natural soil (i.e. dirt) supports a healthy microbiome: the collective bacteria living in and on us that support health in countless ways. A joyful ride under towering pines Improved Focus, Resiliency and Mood Research on the mental health benefits of mountain biking is relatively new and really exciting. For example, an ongoing study funded by Specialized Bikes demonstrates significant benefits for kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. In 2012, Mike Sinyard, Founder and CEO of Specialized Bikes partnered with Stanford Medical School and RTSG Neuroscience Consultants to conduct research on riding and brain function. Along with improved outcomes in school, kids that participate in this ongoing study also report improved mood and a greater ability to focus on activities outside of school. While any kind of physical activity can help with grades and mood, the skills developed through mountain biking seem to build additional layers of confidence, focus, and resilience. A trailside view of Granite Basin Lake Additional research includes: Work done by NICA, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, which uses mountain biking to teach essential life skills to youngsters. NICA research shows that kids who ride on a regular basis build resiliency and self-esteem. In a team sport where no one sits on the bench, kids also learn teamwork, camaraderie, consideration, and a host of other advanced social skills. A Scottish study, examining the benefits of mountain biking for people struggling with a variety of mental health issues. In this small pilot program, participants rode at regular intervals for six weeks in Glentress Forest, a site famous around the world for awe-inspiring trails. Preliminary data suggest that the cyclists experienced improvements in mood, self-worth, and social skills. The program is currently being considered as a treatment option for outpatient mental health clients throughout the United Kingdom. Programs sponsored by the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that exists to help veterans, with visible and invisible wounds, transition from active duty to civilian life. Mountain biking is just one of many sports veterans can join, with adaptive equipment and Olympic-level coaches provided and funded by the Semper Fi Fund. Overcoming complex or even simple challenges on the trail can bring a sense of mastery, accomplishment and joy to anyone. PMBA offers a variety of opportunities to ride, with scheduled skill building sessions and group rides listed on their website at https://prescottmtb.com. For up to date news and last minute announcements, follow PMBA-Prescott Mountain Biking Alliance on Facebook and Prescottmtb on Instagram, where you can also follow the development of Arizona’s first gravity-flow trail. PMBA recently received a grant to develop this one-way loop trail dedicated to all-level mountain biking. Trailside rest stop with a view of Granite Mountain Florez reminds riders that mountain biking “it is all about sharing the trails” and offers this simple guide to trail etiquette. ALWAYS give hikers and horses priority. Make it a habit to pull off the trail and let others pass safely by. Ride with a bell, so trail users know when you are coming up behind them. Give fellow bikers who are riding uphill a break. They are working hard and should take priority over those going down. If you haven’t been on a bike since you were a kid, consider giving trail riding a try! Start with easy trails to build confidence, strength and skill, and then advance – if you want to. It’s also ok to simply enjoy the warm sun, clean air and beautiful Prescott views on an easy, joy-filled ride. Don’t worry if it’s been a while. It’s like riding a bike – you don’t forget!
Taking On Breast Cancer
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—a annual observance aimed at raising both awareness and funding. The funding is for research into the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and ultimately the cure for breast cancer. Awareness is generated in part through a pink ribbon, a symbol of solidarity among women and families touched by the disease. Such solidarity is found year around at The BreastCare Center at YRMC East in Prescott Valley. The center bands together to take on breast cancer and support women through all phases of the disease—prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and supportive care. At the BreastCare Center, women can receive one-on-one support from a clinical navigator, a registered nurse assigned just to them. This navigator serves as personal guide, advocate, educator and friend. And should the need arise, helps to perform a risk analysis. “If a patient’s family history shows they carry a higher risk for breast cancer, one of our navigators can perform a more comprehensive risk assessment called the Tyrer-Cuzick,” said Kathleen Hoffer, Imaging Operations Manager at the BreastCare Center. The tool is used to help inform a person’s decision about whether to get more genetic counselling and testing. Such genetic testing may be done through the center or a genetics expert may visit the home. Risk Factors Along with risk factors associated with family history and genetics, the National Breast Cancer Foundation has identified the following breast cancer risks: Gender: Women are 100 times more likely to get it than men Age: Two out of three women are diagnosed after age 55 Race: White women are more likely to get it Personal health history: If you get cancer in one breast, you risk getting it in the other breast Menstrual and reproductive history: Your risk increases if you started menstruating early (before age 12), started menopause after 55, had your first child when older or never gave birth Dense breast tissue: Increases your risk and make lumps harder to detect Early Detection “When patients are aware they carry a higher risk for breast cancer, they are usually more diligent about getting their regular screenings done,” Hoffer said. “Those at a really high risk might have an MRI along with their mammogram. If they find they have dense breast tissue, we may recommend tomography or ultrasound.” Early detection saves lives. When caught early enough, breast cancer is often stopped before it spreads. Regular screenings can detect breast cancer even before symptoms occur. These symptoms, once evident, include: Change in the look or feel, size or shape, of the breast Change in the look or feel of the nipple, including nipple discharge A lump or hard knot in the breast or underarm area Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast Dimpling or puckering of the skin Persistent pain in one area of the breast Prevention A healthy body is better equipped to fight off disease, including cancer of the breast. So basic healthy living is your main defense against breast cancer. These basics haven’t changed: exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week; maintain a healthy weight; don’t smoke; and limit alcohol to one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men.
Flu Shots More Important Than Ever
As the flu season approaches, we stand the risk of contracting another respiratory illness on top of COVID-19. Along with the risk to ourselves, the flu virus could pressure healthcare resources, strain testing capacity, and increase the risk of people catching both diseases at once. That’s why getting a flu shot is more important than ever this year. For both the flu and COVID-19, the elderly and those with underlying conditions are more susceptible. But the flu also hits children and spreads readily in schools. The more we all get a flu shot the more protected everyone will be. The effectiveness of the flu vaccine can range from about 20 percent to 60 percent depending on how accurately scientists predict the circulating flu strains this year. Effectiveness also varies from person to person depending on age and health. Even if the vaccine doesn’t prevent the flu it may make the illness less serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for everyone over six months of age. While it is possible to be infected with the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, it’s too soon to tell how common such co-infections will be. Indeed, many questions remain unanswered. But what is clear is that the flu and COVID-19 both target the lungs. If one virus damages the lungs, the other virus stands the chance of creating greater damage. In the 2018-19 flu season, about 49 percent of Americans received a flu vaccine, averting an estimated 4.4 million illnesses, 58,000 hospitalizations, and 3,500 deaths, according to the CDC. Experts hope more Americans will choose to get a flu shot this year—for themselves and for others.
Dr. William Lockwood Recognized for Excellence
Dr. William Lockwood, Infectious Disease Specialist with YRMC PhysicianCare, is the recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Healthcare Award. The award, presented annually by the Prescott Chamber of Commerce, is given to an individual that has demonstrated excellence in the field of healthcare. Dr. Lockwood has been a source of truth, stability and confidence during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has guided YRMC’s leadership team, embraced his role as a trusted colleague and provided expert advice regarding the allocation of resources during a time when the healthcare landscape has changed by the day, and at times, by the hour. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Lockwood for this recognition.
Free Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Help from YRMC
Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is offering free expert assistance to families and individuals who want health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. During open enrollment 2021 – November 1 through December 15, 2020 – YRMC’s Certified Application Counselors (CACs) will provide assistance by appointment. “For years, YRMC has provided no-cost, expert assistance to individuals and families who want health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace,” said Ken Boush, Director of Marketing and Communications at YRMC. “Our team also helps people applying for AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid.” This tradition will continue even during COVID-19 with a few changes: Scheduling – In order to ensure social distancing, YRMC will schedule appointments with CACs. Please call (928) 771-5151 to arrange an appointment for telephone or in-person enrollment assistance. Location – YRMC encourages people to schedule phone sessions for health insurance enrollment assistance. However, CACs are also available for in-person interviews at the Financial Counseling Offices at YRMC West in Prescott and YRMC East in Prescott Valley. (Both in-person and telephone appointments may be scheduled by calling 928-771-5151.) In-Person Appointments – YRMC asks that one family representative attend in-person appointments with the CAC. People who don’t bring masks, will be provided one. Prepare for Your Enrollment Meeting Whether you meet by phone or in-person, YRMC recommends you have the following items ready for your meeting: Social Security Numbers for everyone on the application Employer and income information for all working family members (for example, pay stubs, W-2 forms, or wage and tax statements) Marketplace (healthcare.gov) login information (username and password) or a valid email address Policy numbers for any current health insurance In 2021, some people may qualify for premium tax credits as well as lower monthly premiums, lower deductibles and co-payments from the Health Insurance Marketplace. “Our counselors help people determine their benefits based on their financial situation, number of dependents and more,” said Boush. Basic Benefits and More! All Health Insurance Marketplace Plans include the benefits listed below. Plans also may offer additional benefits. Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care) Emergency services Hospitalization Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment Prescription drugs Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services/devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills) Laboratory services Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management Pediatric services, including oral and vision care (adult dental and vision coverage are not considered to be essential health benefits) Health insurance coverage begins January 1, 2021 for people who sign up during open enrollment. For more information about Health Insurance Marketplace enrollment or AHCCCS application assistance, please contact (928) 771-5151.
Protect Your Child With a Flu Shot
This is the year when kids need their flu shots more than ever. If your child contracts COVID-19 and hasn’t had their flu shot, they may wind up with both respiratory illnesses at once. And that could be dangerous. “We still don’t know what co-infection might look like,” said Matthew Hinton, MD, pediatrician at Ponderosa Pediatrics, a YRMC PhysicianCare clinic. “Influenza is a major illness that causes a lot of suffering among children. Why take the chance of compounding that with COVID? Especially when we have a vaccination for flu.” Plus if you protect your child with a flu shot, they’ll be healthier overall. Yet according to some studies at least a third of American parents say they don’t plan to have their kids vaccinated for influenza this year. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” states Dr Hinton. “Many parents worry the flu shot will make their children sick. But you cannot catch flu from the vaccine. If you feel a little under the weather after a flu shot it just means your immune system is doing its job. It’s helping your body develop an immune response to influenza. This is common and benign.” Debunking Myths To debunk a couple other myths: A flu shot does not increase the risk of getting COVID. Nor does a flu shot cause a positive COVID test result. What a flu shot does is prevent influenza. It saves lives. Still, many people don’t get them. “I often see parents who fully immunize their children, but don’t want to vaccinate against the flu,” Dr. Hinton said. “They say they don’t get a flu shot and they’ve never caught the flu. So why get a flu shot for their children. I try to encourage them that just because they’ve never gotten the flu doesn’t mean they won’t.” “Of all the things you can immunize against, the disease your child is most likely to get is influenza,” states Dr. Hinton. “It is by far the most common. Especially during the winter months when respiratory viruses are very active. There are hundreds of them. It can be hard to distinguish one from another when a child gets sick. By taking flu out of the equation we can better test and isolate other viruses.” Freeing Up Resources By preventing a major flu outbreak, we free up hospital capacity should we see a surge in coronavirus cases. “When hit by a flu epidemic the ER often fills up with people with influenza,” Dr. Hinton said. “If you add COVID on top of that it can overwhelm medical resources.” We need to do everything we can keep ourselves and our children healthy. That means getting a flu shot to minimize the risk of influenza. And wearing a mask and social distancing while we wait for a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC addresses many questions around influenza and COVID here. Dr. Hinton recommends a flu shot for all children 6 months and older. “We’ve seen bad flu epidemics as early as October, although they’re more common between December and February.” The flu vaccine is currently available for Ponderosa Pediatrics patients. If you don’t currently take your children to Ponderosa Pediatrics, they are now accepting new patients. Just call (928) 778-4581.
Lifestyle Habits that Protect Against Breast Cancer
Today, one in eight women living in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, according to data cited by the American Cancer Society. That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to reduce your risk. Experts agree that women (and men) can lessen their likelihood of getting breast cancer by moving more and sitting less everyday; working up a sweat a few times a week; building some muscle; and cutting back on alcohol. In fact, research shows that Americans could prevent one in three cases of breast cancer with healthy lifestyle habits. Move More and Sit Less Physical activity tops the list of lifestyle practices that provide protection to women and men at every age. According to a study released in 2017 by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, 150 minutes per week of regular moderate activity, like walking at a pace that causes a slight increase in heart rate and deeper than normal breathing, reduces the risk of breast cancer in pre- and post-menopausal women by about 13% when compared to sedentary individuals. Vigorous exercise, or that which causes a faster heart rate and some sweating, boosts protection for pre-menopausal women to 17%. Other studies suggest even higher rates of protection when individuals increase exercise time to up to 300 minutes per week. Moving more and sitting less throughout the day and engaging in regular physical activity likely reduces the risk of breast cancer by lowering inflammation in the body (a risk factor for many types of cancer and other chronic diseases), reducing insulin resistance (which lowers blood glucose and insulin levels in the blood), improving immune function, and by reducing circulating levels of estrogen. In fact, some research suggests that a sedentary lifestyle, or one with little to no physical activity, is a major risk factor for breast and other types of cancer. A Lifetime of Enjoyable Exercise Decreases Breast Cancer Risk! Take away tips: Shoot for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise 5 days a week. If you are new to physical activity, start with 5-10 minutes of activity at a time and gradually build your strength and stamina. Always check with your doctor before engaging in any new exercise plan. Get up every hour and do some walking, stretching, or other movement for 5 minutes if your lifestyle and job are sedentary. If you tend to be active only during certain seasons, plan to continue some type of regular, enjoyable movement year round. Since physical activity throughout life reduces the risk of breast and other types of cancer, encourage children to engage in regular physical activity that they enjoy and can continue into adulthood. Muscle Up After Menopause Multiple studies show that reducing body fat (especially abdominal fat) while increasing muscle mass can lower breast cancer risk in women after menopause. According to a study done by the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, higher levels of body fat seem to be related to lower breast cancer risk in younger women, while weight and fat gain after menopause increases risk. While the reasons for this are not totally clear, researchers think that body fat protects breast tissue from excessive estrogen production in younger years, but increases exposure after menopause. Add Weights to Your Workouts! Take away tips: Maintain a healthy percentage of body fat throughout your lifetime. Keep physically active after menopause, and be sure to include strengthening exercises that build muscle and reduce body fat. Limit Alcoholic Beverages According to the American Cancer Society, even small amounts of alcohol may increase a women’s risk of breast cancer. Ethanal, the by-product of alcohol metabolism, can directly damage the DNA in cells, potentially leading to cancer growth and spread. Alcohol also raises estrogen levels in the blood, thus increasing risk of some breast cancer types. Take away tips: Consider limiting alcohol to three drinks per week or less. One drink is equal to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. Experiment with fun and flavorful mocktail recipes! Some physicians recommend that women at high risk of breast cancer avoid alcohol altogether. Enjoy Fun, Flavorful Mocktails! No one can predict exactly what combination of factors might lead to the growth and spread of breast cancer cells. However, good and extensive research shows that healthy lifestyle habits offer significant protection against this debilitating and potentially deadly disease. You can learn more about breast cancer, preventive testing, treatment, and local resources at YRMC’s Breast Care Center.
YRMC’s Digital Journey: Introducing Online Appointment Preregistration
Over the course of recent years YRMC has joined other forward-thinking healthcare organizations by adopting digital solutions to streamline care and improve the overall patient experience. The primary reason for this is simple. Multidisciplinary healthcare systems like YRMC can serve their patients better through the use of sophisticated Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems and other innovative digital solutions. The advantages include: Accurate, up-to-date information at the point of care; More coordinated, efficient care; Better communication among healthcare providers; More reliable prescribing; Complete documentation and streamlined coding and billing; Privacy and security of patient data. Such conversions are never easy—it is a journey—but YRMC has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Digital technology at YRMC now makes patient data available to providers across the system with a click of a mouse. Data retrieval is now streamlined, imaging studies can be shared as digital files, and physicians can collaborate on the development of care plans at a higher level. YRMC’s digital transformation is also extending care directly into the patient’s home through telemedicine and remote monitoring programs that improve the patient’s experience. The Journey Continues with Online Appointment Pre-registration Skipping forward, as of this day YRMC is piloting the use of its digital network to expedite the process you need to follow to preregister for an appointment. To ensure a quality experience and to minimize frustration, this new service is being introduced on a gradual basis. “We are incredibly excited to offer this convenience to patients, but we want to make sure their experience is positive from the very start,” says Adraine Newell-Bauer, YRMC’s Director of Patient Access. “That’s why we are making it available on a limited basis initially, specifically in support of clinics at our Outpatient Services Center in Prescott Valley.” Beginning on October 13, patients will have the option to pre-register for appointments online for appointments scheduled at the following clinics located inside of YRMC’s Outpatient Services Center in Prescott Valley (7700 East Florentine Road, Building B, Suite 201): Prescott Valley Cardiac Diagnostic Imaging Prescott Valley Medical Imaging YRMC PhysicianCare – Primary Care YRMC PhysicianCare – Cardiology “We understand that when a patient arrives for an appointment, the registration process can be time consuming,” says Newell-Bauer. “With our new pre-registration process, patients will be able to register from home, before arriving for their appointment, by using a computer, tablet or smartphone.” Designed with the Patient in Mind The pre-registration process is being developed with patient convenience in mind. After the patient calls to schedule an appointment, an appointment confirmation will be sent to the patient via email with instructions on how to subscribe to the reregistration portal. The patient will then follow the provided instructions to complete the pre-registration process. “Patients will use the portal to answer the questions they traditionally have had to answer in person before their appointment,” states Newell-Bauer. “These include questions about insurance, medication, advance directives, patient rights and much more.” Once the patient completes the pre-registration process, they will be sent a barcode via email. When the patient arrives for their appointment, they will simply scan the barcode via a registration kiosk or tablet. “Our plan is to introduce this exciting new program to support clinics in our Prescott Valley Outpatient Services Center,” states Newell-Bauer. “We intend to make this time-saving program available system-wide in the very near future.” The pre-registration portal is another advancement made possible by the YRMC’s commitment to patient satisfaction and is coming soon to a YRMC clinic near you.