Changing for the Better

Now that we’re more than halfway in to 2014, let’s think back to New Year’s Day and your plans for the New Year.  Did you make a resolution to exercise more and eat healthier?  Has your motivation to live a healthier lifestyle waned since then?  If so, there is no better time to jumpstart your health than during the summer months!

We know that change is never easy, but change doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  Implementing a lifestyle change (such as increasing your physical activity) may be easier than you think!  The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of daily exercise, five days a week (American Heart Association, 2014).  Don’t worry if you don’t have 30 minutes a day!  Break up your exercise into 10 or 15-minute increments.  Ideas to get moving may include taking a walk on your lunch break, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, putting down the remote and going for a walk or run, playing Frisbee with your kids, throwing a dance party in your living room, or doing anything that keeps your heart rate up!

Regular exercise is a wonderful way to improve you overall health well-being.  In addition to exercising, eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods will supplement your lifestyle change.  The Families, Food and Fitness Community of Practice has numerous recipes and physical activities that can assist you through your journey.  Visit for more!

Enjoy the summer months and remember to get up, get moving, and have fun!  Hold yourself accountable to the lifestyle change you vowed to make at the start of this year.  There is no time like the present, and what better way to jump-start your summer than with a healthier you.


American Heart Association (2014). American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults. Retrieved from

Written by: Katie Stamper




Grilling Season Food Safety

Now that it is officially summer, it’s time to fire up the grill and enjoy your favorite summertime meals.  But before you start stacking your shish-kabobs and rubbing down baby back ribs, it is important to remember food safety.  (After all, you want your family to remember enjoyable barbeques… not getting sick!)

When handling raw meat and vegetables, it is important to wash your hands first.  A good way to remember how long to wash your hands is to sing “Happy Birthday,” which is approximately twenty seconds long (CDC, 2013).  In addition to clean hands, use clean utensils and serving platters for cutting and placing meat on a grill.  Use a different knife and serving platter before and after the meat is grilled to prevent cross-contamination of bacteria (Burtness, 2013).

The most important thing you can do to ensure you and your family’s safety is to have a meat thermometer.  The temperature indicated by the thermometer is more accurate than looking at the color of the meat (Driessen, 2013).The University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Service has created a grilling temperature and time chart that has various meats listed. Use this list as a reference the next time your family grills.  After meat has grilled to the correct temperature, do not let it sit out for longer than two hours or bacteria can spread and you risk becoming sick.  If it is hotter than 90 degrees outside, food is only safe for one hour (Burtness, 2013).

Enjoy the summer with your favorite grilled recipes and these grilling safety tips.  For more food safety tips, visit the University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Food Safety website.


Burtness, C.A. (2013). Safe grilling guidelines. University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control (2013). When & how to wash your hands. Retrieved from

Driessen, S. (2013).  Got a grill? Get a thermometer! University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved from

Small Steps to Health and Wealth for Older Adults

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, 12.9% of Americans was over age 65 (Vincent and Velkoff 2010). By 2030, 20% of Americans will be over age 65 (Vincent and Velkoff 2010). Diversity among older adults has also increased. This increase in the number and diversity of older adults has monumental implications for healthcare spending and retirement planning and management.  Today older adults carry greater responsibility for their financial and health care matters than ever before.

Behaviors including participation in physical activity, self-management of chronic diseases, or use of preventive health services can improve health outcomes of older adults (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2012). Additionally, older adults may experience unfamiliar stressors from not having enough money to live on, loneliness, having to depend on other people, family issues, and caregiving (Choi and Jun 2009). As the senior population increases, and seniors are living longer, the demand for information to cope with later life health and personal finance issues will likely increase.

The Small Steps to Health and WealthTM for Older Adults curriculum is the older adult component to the Small Steps to Health and Wealth TM (SSHW) program developed by Rutgers University. The older adults component of the SSHW program was developed by the University of Florida. The original SSHW program has demonstrated success. Program participants have reported positive health and financial behaviors changes. It is hoped that the older adults component will build on that success by motivating older adults to improve their lives through behavior change strategies (small steps) for both health and financial management. An Extension curriculum addressing both the health and financial management needs of older adults did not previously exist. The lessons were informed by focus group discussions with older adults about their health and financial challenges and a survey of Extension educators regarding county needs. The program article titled “Small Steps to Health and Wealth for Older Adults” in The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues an overview of the program including a description of the lessons.

Written by: Dr. Martie Gillen