AlaskaCare Wellness News | September 2017

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September 2017 | #61

September Is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

family soccer

One in 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, AlaskaCare and Active Health Management encourages your family to make healthy changes together.

  • Get active outside: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park.
  • Limit screen time: Keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day.
  • Make healthy meals: Buy and serve more vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods.
  • Taking small steps as a family can help your child stay at a healthy weight.

Make a difference for kids—spread the word about strategies for preventing childhood obesity and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved. Become a partner of We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition), a national movement helping children ages 8 to 13 stay at a healthy weight. Four of the National Institutes of Health have come together to bring you We Can! The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute have combined their unique resources and activities to make We Can! a national success.

We Can! Energize our families: Check out the Parent Program, which includes activities that help parents encourage a healthy weight in their family.

Your AlaskaCare Employee Health Plan provides prevention services for children that may be at risk for obesity. You may review these benefits on page 44 of your plan booklet.

A recommendation of treatment is not a guarantee of coverage. Prior to getting care always consult your AlaskaCare Health Plan Benefit Summary or contact the Aetna Concierge  at (855) 784-8646.

Healthy Habits at Home


Make healthy choices at home so you feel your best when you are at work, vacationing, or outside the house. A few benefits you might see from creating healthy habits are increased energy, enhanced mood, improved brain function, and weight maintenance. Live a healthy lifestyle by eating a nutritious diet, adding physical activity, managing your stress and sleeping well. 

Eat a healthy diet:

  • Prep your meals when you get home from the grocery store. Cook your meat and pre-chop fruits and vegetables for quick and easy meals during the week.
  • Put fresh fruit like grapes, apples, and oranges on the counter for easy access.

Be active:

  • Walk in place or use elastic exercise bands while watching your favorite TV shows. Do squats, crunches, and lunges during commercial breaks.
  • Find an activity you enjoy! Garden, hike, swim, or dance to be more active.

Manage stress:

  • Set aside time for reading, listening to music, or practicing relaxation techniques.
  • Use progressive muscle relaxation. Try relaxing every muscle in your body. Start with your toes and end with the top of your head.

Sleep well:

  • Turn off all electronics, like TV, computers, and smartphones at least one hour before bed.
  • Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet. Use white noise or a fan to block out noises around the house.

Source: CDC, Physical Activity and Health

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Family Meals and Routines

family dinner

With the school year back in full swing, many families make routines work for them by making lunches the night before, reading or studying nightly, or getting active for 30 minutes before dinner.

Some tips for a healthy eating routine:

Eat together as a family as often as possible. Keep meals pleasant and positive. Don’t comment about the amount or type of food your child eats. Kids will be less accepting of new or different foods when they feel pressured to eat.

  • Make healthy food choices for your family’s meals. Kids notice the choices you make and follow your lead.
  • Make meal times consistent. Eat at around the same times every day and always at the table, even for snacks.
  • Have meals often enough (e.g., about every 3 hours for toddlers) that you don’t get too hungry.
  • Do nothing else during the meal other than talking and enjoying each other. Turn off devices and TVs.

Having routines can help you feel prepared and engaged. Family meals and regular exercise can inspire healthy habits for life. What new routine will you include for your family?

Use the “If/Then” technique to make healthy choices a habit

Use the power of your routine to make your healthy habits stick. Try using the “if/then” technique. The “if” is a situation that happens to you often. The “then” describes a planned response to that situation.

Let’s put the “if/then” technique to use.

  • Healthy Habit: Eat more fruits and vegetables
    IF I buy fresh produce, THEN I will pre-wash it for an easy and healthy snack.”

  • Healthy Habit: Increase physical activity
    IF I watch a television show, THEN I will walk in place during the show.”


Committee on Nutrition, American Academy of Pediatrics (2003, reaffirmed 2006). Policy statement: Prevention of pediatric overweight and obesity. Pediatrics, 112(2): 424–430.

Committee on Nutrition, American Academy of Pediatrics (2001, reaffirmed 2006). The use and misuse of fruit juice in pediatrics. Pediatrics, 107(5): 1210–1213. Also available online at

NYU Scholars, Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans

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September Webinar Series: High 5…Healthy Habits at Home

A straightforward way to start—teach by example. Here are some important health practices to encourage at home, and simple ways to help you get everyone in your family off to a good start.

View schedule…

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2017 AlaskaCare Health Fairs

Health fair people

Don’t miss the 2017 AlaskaCare health fairs! A variety of health screenings are offered to employee and retiree AlaskaCare health plan members, age 18 and older. See dates and locations below, and keep an eye out for reminders about upcoming events in your area. Pre-registration is required.

  • Fairbanks: September 23-24, 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Carlson Center
  • Anchorage: October 7-8 and 14-15, 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Ted Stevens Int’l Airport
  • Juneau: October 21-22, 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Centennial Hall

Learn more and register.

The Numbers – What are they for and what exactly do they mean?

Blood tests, sometimes called blood panels, allow a doctor to see a detailed analysis of any disease markers, the nutrients and waste products in your blood, and how various organs (e.g., kidneys and liver) are functioning. Do you need help to decipher the cryptic language of your routine lab test results?

The Active Health Management Wellness Team will provide free confidential interpretation and health coaching for employees covered by AlaskaCare Employee health plan. To speak with a health coach, call toll-free at (877) 749-6995 Monday- Friday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., AKST, and Saturday, 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., AKST, or visit

Tests available at the 2017 health fairs

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Weight Watchers at Work (WW@W)


Weight Watchers has helped more than 25 million people worldwide achieve their weight loss goals. If you are interested in starting Weight Watchers meetings at your work site, contact Cindy during regular business hours at (651) 697-6550, or email her anytime. Learn more about WW@W at

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Vitamin D and Your Health

Vitamin D salmon

Vitamin D is important for strong bones and may contribute to overall good health. Alaskans should select foods that are high in vitamin D, such as Alaska salmon, and should talk with their health care provider about vitamin D and the risks and benefits of supplementation.

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Don’t Miss Your Chance to Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

Active Health logo

Maybe you’ve had your eye on some new running shoes—they could be yours if you win! Log in to and complete a Digital Coaching module (reported in Heart Beats). Each time you complete Heart Beats of Digital Coaching, you get another chance to win. Choose from almost 200 category topics and start working towards your personal health goals today with Digital Coaching—available 24 hours per day!

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Recipe of the Month: Overnight Oatmeal


Overnight soaking cuts down on prep time in the morning so you can enjoy a healthy and hearty cooked breakfast, even after hitting the snooze button. Get the recipe…

Source: USDA, What's Cooking?

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Exercise of the Month: Overhead Press

The overhead press works the deltoids, which are the main muscles of the shoulders.

This exercise can be performed on a stability ball, seated on a bench, or standing (shown).

Try it out...

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Overhead press

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