What Exactly Is the ImagineCare Experience?


We get this question a lot.

On the surface of it, ImagineCare sports a nifty mobile app that syncs and organizes health data sent from your activity tracker—or blood pressure cuff or weight scale or inhaler sensor—creating an easy-to-use platform for you to manage your personal health goals.

Now you're asking, "Okay, so if tracking my steps and heart rate is just the surface of ImagineCare, what's underneath it all? What's the bedrock? What's under the hood?"

You really want to know?

It's the people—yes, actual human people, not a legion of bots—who are available when you need it. Literally any time of day, an ImagineCare customer can call, email, or send a text through our mobile app to connect with one of our stellar Health Navigators or Registered Nurses.

And why would you want to connect with a Health Navigator or Nurse?

Let’s make a list of acceptable reasons to connect with someone at ImagineCare:

  • Honestly, all reasons are acceptable. We’re born listeners! Whatever you got, we’re listening. But okay, here are some reasons why you might call or text us:
     
  • You’re trying to get started on an exercise routine or establish a new health goal and need some coaching from a trained professional.
     
  •  Maybe your app or devices are giving you trouble and you need some tech support.
     
  • You're trying to quit smoking or manage your weight or figure out why you’re having trouble going to sleep at night.
     
  • You have a doctor’s visit coming up, and you're looking for guidance on how best to talk about your condition with your doctor in the few minutes you’ll have with them.
     
  • Feeling blue, not sure what to do, and need someone to talk to (even if this three-part rhyme didn’t cheer you up).
     
  • You’re feeling physically ill or had an accident and would love a Nurse to triage you toward the urgent care you need.
     
  • You can’t believe Game of Thrones decided to kill off that character and you just need to vent.

See? Any reason at all.

And while we’re at it, here is ImagineCare’s guarantee—the cornerstone of our service: your health data is secure. We will never send personally identifiable health data to a third party (e.g. your employer or other company). Data we share is always only in aggregate and de-identified—population-wide totals for clients wanting a “big picture” sense of health outcome trends. Neither your name nor your individual set of data will be singled out. And that’s not just our word. It’s the law.

Good? Good.

 

Five Benefits of Exercise If You Have Type 2 Diabetes


Type Two Diabetes, or non-insulin dependent diabetes, affects millions of Americans and can lead to damage of body organs, including eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and blood vessels. Fortunately, the disease can be managed and almost cured with proper changes in diet and exercise.

Let’s talk about one of those—the benefits of exercise if you have Type 2 Diabetes.

Of course, before beginning an exercise program, if you do have Diabetes, you should complete a medical evaluation to assess your glycemic control and to screen for any complication that may be made worse by exercise.

And with that go-ahead from your doctor, if you are looking for ideas about exercise and how to get started, check out these tips.

And here are gains you stand to make against Type 2 Diabetes by incorporating exercise into your lifestyle:

1. Improve insulin sensitivity

This means that the insulin that your body produces works better when you exercise, making your diabetes more manageable.
 

2. Lower your blood sugar

Exercise uses glucose, therefore lowering the amount that is in your blood. It will be important to monitor your glucose levels before during and after exercise as you work to control your diabetes. You can record your blood sugar levels by using the ImagineCare app, ensuring that you have a record to see your progress over time and can share it with your care providers.
 

3. Lose Weight!

Almost everyone wants to lose a little bit of weight, but few can benefit more than someone who is overweight and living with Type 2 Diabetes. Luckily, weight loss is a nice side-effect of exercise, so choose a form of exercise that you really enjoy (e.g. walking or skiing) and get moving!
 

4. Control your blood pressure

It is quite common for folks with Diabetes to also have high blood pressure. Getting the recommended amount of weekly exercise (150 minutes of easy to moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of high intensity) can help reduce blood pressure.
 

5. Increase your energy and improve sleep

Exercise is really quite invigorating, and people who do it consistently tend to feel more energized AND sleep better, which can only help to improve outcomes of someone living with Diabetes.


If you wish to speak with one of our excellent Registered Nurses here at ImagineCare, we are here 24/7 at 844-346-2446. We can discuss your condition in depth with you and work to make a plan with your provider.

~Marco

Marco Day, an ImagineCare Health Navigator, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Movement Training Specialist. Prior to joining ImagineCare, he worked with clients at River Valley Club in Lebanon, NH, on exercise program design and prescription, weight-loss corrective exercise prescription, and personal training. He loves any opportunity to help people make positive health changes.

Tips for Beating the Freeze and Staying Fit

So you’ve done it: you consulted with your doctor, you created a wellness plan that included regular exercise, and you’ve managed to stick with it so far. Fantastic! But now it’s winter, and not only are you struggling for new ideas to keep active, but the weather isn’t helping your motivation. No worries—ImagineCare is here to help!

The winter months can make finding the time and energy to exercise feel like an overwhelming task. Between the shorter days and frigid temperatures, sometimes it just seems easier to set your exercise and wellness goals on the backburner...but don’t! While it’s okay to take the occasional day off, sticking to your normal exercise routine will help you maintain your gains and keep you from feeling sluggish over the holidays.

Not sure what activities you can do in this winter weather? Here are some ideas from the ImagineCare team:

Cross-Country Skiing
Calories Burned Per Hour: 576

This is a great workout for both your upper and lower body. If distance skiing isn’t your thing, try downhill skiing for an equally effective workout.
 

Snowboarding
Calories Burned Per Hour: 429

Tired of skiing and looking for a new challenge? Try snowboarding to strengthen your legs and core.
 

Snowshoeing
Calories Burned Per Hour: 576

Similar to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is another alternative to running during the winter months. Take a friend and enjoy the scenery during your adventure.
 

Sledding
Calories Burned per Hour: 468

Unleash your inner child and spend an afternoon sledding. All that walking uphill and steering burns calories and helps strengthen your core.
 

Ice-skating
Calories Burned Per Hour: 504

The great thing about ice skating is you that you can participate outdoors AND indoors! It’s also a great activity for families and children.
 

Have a Snowball Fight
Calories Burned Per Hour: 520

Another great activity to do with children, a good old fashioned snowball fight will get your heart rate up. Any activities that involve playing in the snow accomplish the same goal.
 

Ice Hockey
Calories Burned Per Hour: 549

Take ice-skating to the next level by playing ice hockey. This fast-paced activity can also be played outdoors or indoors and is sure to get your blood pumping.
 

Meditate
Calories Burned Per Hour: 71

Although meditation doesn’t burn a lot of calories, using it to block out distractions, manage stress, and focus on relaxation has long-term health benefits such as lowering heart rate and boosting immunity.
 

Yoga
Calories Burned Per Hour: 300

Yoga is also a lower-calorie burning activity, but in addition to its stress-reduction benefits, yoga can also build muscle strength, improve flexibility, and increase blood flow.
 

Our ImagineCare Year: Super Powers, Pet Peeves, and Dogs vs. Cats

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Back in 2014, a small group of people at Dartmouth-Hitchcock were charged with the task of shaping a new way for people to engage in the health care system. In those early days, the vision took many shapes, but no matter the shape it took, one thing always remained at the center: You. The patient. The person.

Thousands of hours of development by a core team of doctors, nurses, coders, designers, and customer service pros led to the official launch of ImagineCare in May 2016—the start of a mission to offer a health service that lowers the cost of care, makes it more efficient, and puts more of your care in your own hands than ever before. With ImagineCare, you decide how and when you'd like to engage with your care community, meanwhile being assured that our nursing staff is keeping an eye out for when you need us most.

And as a population of our customers, you represent results that attest to ImagineCare's effectiveness already, according to this handful of statistics:


50% reduction in poorly controlled high blood pressure
95% satisfaction rating for ImagineCare's Health Navigator and Registered Nurse services


But how did we get to these encouraging numbers? What are their nuts and bolts?

The numbers reflect all the work that you put into your health in 2016. They're the steps you took, the miles walked, the activity points earned, the calories burned. And wow, did they add up!

Take a look at our ImagineCare-wide totals in those core areas of healthy achievement. Basically, we walked to the moon this year:


We answered some Daily Questions, too.

Every day you opened the ImagineCare app for a refresh of your health data, we dispatched another set of questions. Some asked about your health habits, some about your current mood, and then there were those that helped us know you even better as a person. Fun questions, which you gave GREAT answers to.

So we went through some of our favorite questions and tallied the top responses...

And good times never seemed so good (so good, so good):


Apparently, the dream of voluntary flight is as strong as it ever was. (Cape optional.)


Pet peeves are healthy. Because knowing you're absolutely right to feel annoyed by that thing other people do—it's the ultimate self-esteem-builder.


If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

Let's make "Warm Ocean Vermont" happen somehow.


Well, aren't we just a bunch of optimists!


And the single most important piece of data you'll read this year. Even though the internet is made of cats,  the real-life people of ImagineCare prefer the tails that wag. 

 

Here's wishing everyone in ImagineCareLand a happy and healthy 2017!

~The ImagineCare Team

 

Morgan's DiY Journal: Thrifty, Last-Minute Holiday Crafts!


The holidays are a great time to get together with family and friends and eat delicious seasonal food. It also happens to be a time of the year when many of us spend a lot of money. So I wanted to offer a couple of cost-effective ways to create fun, festive—and easy!—décor as you head into the holidays. Here are two crafts that we were able to finish for very little expense.

Little Wooden Snowman

I found this idea on Pinterest! The one I saw used oak for the snowman bases, but I decided to use birch because the bark is already white (no paint required!) and, besides, Rex had to cut down a birch tree in the yard anyway.

What you will need:

  • Black and orange felt (for noses and eyes)
  • Ribbon, or your choice of material, for the scarf and snowman “accessories” (belt, vest, etc.)
  • 1/4”- or 1/3”-diameter stick for wooden dowels
  • 3 distinct-sized (small, medium, and large), 1”- or 2”-thick round sections cut from a tree of your choice
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Drill with drill bit(s) that are equivalent size/diameter to dowels

Step 1:
If you have a nice, big, rounded piece of firewood handy, make three cuts that are all the same width: one large, one medium, and one small—just like you are building a snowman, but with wood!

Step 2:
Once you have the three wood pieces, drill a hole in the "top" side of the largest wood round. Make sure that your drill bit is the same size as the wooden dowel, whether it's 1/4 or 1/3 of an inch. (If the drill bit is too small or too large, the dowel will either not slide into place or the fit will be loose, so carefully select the correct-sized bit!) 

Drill a hole into the “top” side of the base (largest round), then drill holes in both the top and bottom of the middle round (directly across from one another), and one hole into one side of the smallest round (the head) of the snowman.

Step 3:
Now cut your wooden dowels to about 4 inches long, which allows for a good, snug 2 inches to fit into each wooden round when you finally join them together.

Step 4:
With holes drilled and dowels cut to length, you're ready to start assembling the snowman! Using a rubber mallet (or even a scrap of wood), align a dowel over the hole you drilled into the base wood round, then gently tap the dowel to set it into the hole. Once in place, you should still have about 2 inches of dowel protruding. 

Do the same thing with a dowel and one of the holes you drilled into the middle wood round. Again, gently.

Step 5:
By now you're getting the picture, right? Place the middle wood round—dowel side up, hole side down—on top of the base round. Then take your top (head) round—hole side down—and place it on top of the middle round. If those dowels fit snugly into their holes, you'll know you've done it well!

Step 6:
Small branches can be used for arms. Drill additional holes (about 1 inch deep) on either side of the middle section of the snowman that are—same as the dowels—equal in diameter to the sticks that you intend to use as arms.  Slide the sticks into each hole to make arms.

Step 7:
And finally, it’s time to bring this faceless, featureless snowman to life! Use the orange and black felt to cut out a nose and eyes. Then dress the snowman up by adding buttons, a scarf, hat, belt, pipe, or even feet. We went so far as to cut a few extra wood rounds to fashion some hats.

Check out how ours came out!


Little Old Lanterns

I'll admit, there was a good deal of luck involved with this one. I found these lanterns at the dump! Can you believe someone was throwing these away?! I knew immediately they needed to be rescued.

The first thing to do was to remove the little panes of glass and polish those up. A wash with regular dish soap and a sponge worked well. Then to work on the lanterns themselves, which were rusting and caked in grime. To remove it all, I used sand paper and made sure to get into as many nooks and crannies as I could. Any grit of sand paper will work— just be sure you get rid of all the rust and grime!

After sanding them down I grabbed a can of textured spray paint we had left over from spray painting bedside tables. You can use any color spray paint, of course, but the textured kind worked nicely to give these lanterns a "surfaced" look. It took about ¾ of a bottle for the four of these. And make sure you spray into all the crevices! You want these to look as good as new.

W gave the lanterns time (a few hours) to dry completely, and we're so thrilled with how they came out!

Good as new, right?!


I hope these crafts inspire you to make the most of what's lying in the yard or, well, lying in the dump! And I hope your holidays are warm and bright!

~Morgan

Basic Stretches to Help with Flexibility and Joint Pain


Millions of people suffer from joint and muscle pain due to a lack of flexibility or a limited range of motion in a certain joint or series of joints. For example, if you’ve ever suffered from back or knee pain, this can be a result of tight muscles in the legs and hips. And many factors affect your flexibility, including age, sex, lifestyle, joint structure, activity level, and past injuries.

Having good flexibility will prevent injuries from occurring during activities like running, walking, gardening, or even something as simple as bending over to pick up something off the floor. My goal here is to show you a series of stretches that you can work into your daily (or weekly) routine.

There are many types of stretches, but the four most common are ballistic, dynamic, static and P.N.F. We are going to explore static stretching techniques because they are the simplest to perform and are quite safe for people of all abilities.

I will be providing you with two variations of each stretch, so if you have an orthopedic injury or are less flexible, please use the modified stretch. You can do these stretches every day, but to get good results, try for a minimum of three times a week doing each stretch 2-3 times.

And say hi to Andrea (in purple) and Morgan (in blue), who will be demonstrating the stretches for us!


(Tips: Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds, or less if you are a beginner. Emphasize slow, smooth movements. The best time to stretch is after physical activity when the body’s core temperature is warmest.)

Calves

Having tight calves can affect the way you move which can lead to knee and back pain as well as poor posture. This stretch will fix all that business.

Standard: With good upper-body posture, place your hands on the wall, and put one foot on the wall with the heal on the ground. The opposite foot should be flat on the floor and both legs relatively straight. Your hips should be level and not rotated.

Modified: With good upper-body posture, place your hands on the wall, and put one foot forward on the ground and the other back behind you flat on the floor. The front knee should be bent at a 45-degree angle and both feet should be facing forward with the hips even and not rotated.
 

Hamstring

Screaming “I pulled a hammie!” will be a thing of the past after this one.

Standard: With one foot flat on the floor, place the other heel on the chair with the toe pointed straight up. Keeping your back straight and hips square with the wall, reach towards your foot until you feel the stretch in your hamstring.

Modified: The only difference with this one is to keep a slight bend in the top leg, while still making sure your back is straight.
 

Quadriceps

Runner’s knee, arthritis, and tendonitis can all be resolved or relieved by lengthening your “thigh,” or quadriceps muscle.

Standard: Steady yourself with your hand, keep your abdominals engaged, bring one foot up behind you on to the chair. Bring above your head the same arm as the leg you are stretching.

Modified: We modify this stretch by simply using a lower chair, which prevents the knee from flexing as much. This can be helpful for beginners or folks with knee injuries.
 

Hip Flexor

This stretch can help with hip and back pain, so give it a go.

Standard: Keeping your abdominals engaged, kneel on one knee with the opposite leg bent at 90 degrees. Push your hips forward just a little bit until you feel a slight stretch in the hip flexor muscle.

Modified: Not kneeling for this one, keep one leg back and straight. Bend the front knee.
 

Shoulder

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It’s always a good idea to loosen up the shoulders. Besides, this stretch just feels good. 

There’s only one version of this stretch. Be easy on this one. Bring one arm over very gently until you feel a gentle stretch behind the shoulder.
 

Chest/postural

Because we spend so much time sitting at the computer or driving, it’s important to open up our chest and shoulders to reverse the damage we are doing. Don’t slack on this one.

Standard: With one foot back and the other forward (doesn’t matter which), place hands on a doorway and walk through until you feel a nice stretch in your chest muscles (NOT IN THE SHOULDERS)

Modified: Very similar to the standard stretch, just bend the elbows and don’t walk as far into the stretch.
 

More advanced stretches:
 

Downward Facing Dog

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This is a fairly advanced stretch with a huge return on investment. It is actually a yoga pose, and it stretches many parts of the body, including arms, shoulders, chest, back, hamstrings, and calves!

Standard: Start on your hands and knees, come up to a pushup position, then push back to form an upside-down V shape. Keep breathing deeply in through the nose into your belly, then out through the mouth.

Modified: Almost the same as the standard version, just place a pad or block under your heels to make the stretch a bit easier. You can also have a slight bend in the knees.
 

Child's Pose

Very good for bringing all of your major joints through a full range of motion.

Kneel down with your feet together and knees apart, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Bring your body down, keeping your arms above your head. Breath diaphragmatically (in through the nose into your belly, out through pursed lips). If the stretch feels like too much, place a blanket in between your feet and your backside.

~Marco

Marco Day, an ImagineCare Health Navigator, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Movement Training Specialist. Prior to joining ImagineCare, he worked with clients at River Valley Club in Lebanon, NH, on exercise program design and prescription, weight-loss corrective exercise prescription, and personal training. He loves any opportunity to help people make positive health changes.

Follow These Tips to Avoid Catching the Flu


Is something going around the office? Or did your kid bring it home from school? The sounds of coughing, sniffling, noses being blown—these are signs that flu season is back.

 We thought it would be a good time to offer some tips on how to avoid and/or contain the spread of flu in your immediate world. Take note:

  • Get a flu vaccine. The vaccine protects you and the people around you from three to four different strains of the flu that experts predict will be the most common this flu season. This means, of course, that the vaccine is not 100% effective, so keep reading for other ways to stay healthy.
     
  • Wash your dang hands. And do it a lot! Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizers at your desk. Use it frequently. Clean your keyboards, mouse, and telephone, too.
     
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Or if you’re worried about phlegm all over your good cardigan, keep tissues handy. Keep your tissues next to your hand sanitizer.
     
  • Stay hydrated and eat well. Drinking plenty of water and maintaining a good diet have been shown to boost the immune system and help rid your body of toxins.
     
  • Be mindful when in “flu zones.” Wherever lots of people congregate—at the mall (especially during the holiday shopping season), in the lecture hall, on public transportation—be extra aware of all the things that all the people touch! Think of door handles, light switches, table tops and other surfaces. Keep your hands away from your face and mouth. Have a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer on you.
     
  • Get plenty of sleep and stay active. Your immune system will thank you. And stay on top of your weekly Activity Points goals!
     
  • Remove stressors from your life when and where you can. The flu loves nothing more than when you’ve pushed yourself past your limits. Stress can hamper your immune system’s ability to fight off the flu. Here are some tips on how to stay chill during the holiday season—or anytime, really.

Obviously, we can’t guarantee you’ll successfully avoid the flu by following these tips, but you may protect someone else from getting sick.

If you do get sick, stay home! Don’t go to work, keep your distance from frail loved ones like small children or elders, and don’t plan on rejoining civilization until you’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours.

For more information on influenza, including symptoms and other prevention techniques, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Stress-Busters for Surviving the Holiday Season


The holidays can be an exciting time filled with fun, family, and friends, but for many, it can also be stressful. Some common signs of stress include muscle tension, racing heart, trouble sleeping, headaches, irritation, and trouble concentrating. So what can you do if you’re feeling stressed during the holidays (or any other time of the year)? Here are some tips to keep your days merry and bright:

  • Be Mindful: Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Sometimes we ignore our stress until it overwhelms us. Instead, notice when you’re feeling stressed and try to manage it earlier.
     
  • Exercise: If you already have a physical fitness routine, stick to it, and if not, it’s never too late to start! Try going for walks or participating in other physical activities you enjoy (remember: always consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine).
     
  • Eat Smart: Try to eat a well-balanced diet and avoid skipping meals. Avoid using alcohol and/or other drugs to reduce your stress.
     
  • Sleep: Try to maintain a consistent sleep routine. Try to avoid sleeping too much or too little.
     
  • Relax: Practice deep-breathing and relaxation techniques to help manage your stress. Start by deeply inhaling for three seconds and then completely exhaling for three seconds. To relax your muscles, continue your deep breathing; then, start at the top of your head and work your way down to your toes, picturing the tension slowly leaving each section of your body. Repeat these steps until you feel less tense and more relaxed.
     
  • Set Priorities and Plan Ahead: It’s impossible to do everything and be everywhere, so decide which obligations are the most important and plan for those. Set realistic expectations for what you can do and leave yourself ample time to accomplish tasks and meet your holiday goals.
     
  • Seek Support: Sometimes talking about your feelings can help relieve some of the pressure and make things feel more manageable. Seek out a trusted friend or family member, or consult with a trained counselor (he or she may be able to help you figure out how best to manage your specific stressors).
     
  • Have Fun: Make time for fun activities – participate in your favorite hobbies or get involved with local community groups.
     
  • Take a Break: Take a time-out if you start to feel overwhelmed, and recharge by doing a different activity or taking a deep breath. Come back to the original task once you’ve had a moment to regroup.

~Shelby

Shelby Bohn is the Customer Experience Director at ImagineCare. She began her career in the field of psychology and earned an MA in Clinical Psychology in 2010. Prior to ImagineCare, she worked as a mental health counselor, and later in customer relations in the hospitality industry. Shelby is trying to take her own advice and set priorities this holiday season!

Are You Putting Activity Points On the Board?

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Counting steps on your Band is one thing. Get up, move around, and steps add up. You know that already.

But the key to moving for optimal health benefit is raising your heart rate. Heart rate increase allows for better oxygen and blood flow to your muscles, including your heart. More oxygen to your muscles helps your body adapt in ways that are known to improve health.

And a faster heartbeat means greater calorie burn. We call this Activity.

ImagineCare has designed an easy way for you to log how much Activity you do each day and to earn what we call Activity Points.
 

How do Activity Points work?

Anytime you set out for a run, a walk/hike, or a bike ride/spin session, scroll over on your Band to icons designated for these Activities (see image at the top) and start one!

Or scroll a bit further to the barbell icon, and select from a long list of Activities, including rowing, yoga, elliptical, stairclimber, and more.

When you complete an Activity and sync your data with the ImagineCare app, we calculate Activity Points earned for that Activity. The longer the Activity, the more points. The more intense the Activity (i.e. the higher your heart rate), the more points.

 

So set some Activity goals! On the ImagineCare app's Health Monitor screen, scroll to the bottom and tap on "Settings & Devices." There you can set your weekly Activity Goal.

And as you add Activity Points throughout the week, we'll be rooting you on!

 

ImagineCare Town Hall: Who killed Microsoft Band?

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You have questions. We can answer them.

Though we make every effort to explain all the ins and outs of ImagineCare up front, some things will need clarifying. And we're always glad when you ask!

These are questions we're hearing a lot lately, and here's what I can tell you:
 

I heard the Microsoft Band has been discontinued. What does that mean for ImagineCare and for me as a customer?

You heard correctly. Microsoft recently announced that it is ceasing production of the Microsoft Band device. What this means in the near term is, simply, that nothing will change. ImagineCare has Bands in stock, and they will still be included in new enrollees’ Welcome Kits. If your Band breaks, we can still replace it, and the Band will remain fully functional.

Bottom line is this: Activity trackers (and all their versions) will come and go, but ImagineCare will always be there. No matter which wearable device we happen to offer, it will perform all the functions you need to manage your health, to interact with the ImagineCare app, and to connect with one of our support staff.
 

I’m worried about the privacy of the personal health information I share with ImagineCare. Does ImagineCare share my health info with my employer or other third parties?

No, ImagineCare does not share your identifiable personal health information with anyone without your permission. Not your boss or company. Not a data-collection agency. Your identifiable personal health information is protected by law—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a.k.a. HIPAA, to be exact. This law establishes privacy standards to protect your medical records and other health information.

In the context of ImagineCare, this means that we’ll never share or publish personally identifiable health data that is collected through the ImagineCare app. In other words, your boss can't see how many steps you take, or geolocate your activity, or find out how many hours you slept last night.

Data that we do share is always only in aggregate and de-identified, from which an employer can gain a "big picture" sense of how well ImagineCare is working and how effectively the service is helping you and your colleagues as a group. Again, neither your name nor your individual set of data will ever be singled out.
 

I know I can call ImagineCare for technical support with my devices, but what else can your staff assist me with?

When we talk about the ImagineCare Experience, our staff of Registered Nurses and Health Navigators are what we’re talking about. Yes, they’re here to troubleshoot any issues you may be having with your devices or the ImagineCare app, but they represent a wealth of knowledge that goes well beyond tech support.

I mentioned that we have Registered Nurses on staff? And that they're here when I need it? And that they're just a phone call, email, or app chat away? The truth is, whether you contact us directly or not, we've always got your back.

The way we built the ImagineCare system allows us to see—in real-time—when you may be having a health event that requires clinical intervention. Say you submitted a blood pressure reading through the app, and say that blood pressure reading was really high. A Nurse on our end is going to receive that information immediately and will reach out to you to see if you're all right. We're keeping an eye on you when it matters most to your health.

And then you've got our Health Navigators, also here when you need it, to email, chat, or call for health coaching, to guide you through a difficult time, to help you get in touch with a doctor or pharmacy, or to show you "hidden" features in the Band or app. We've had customers who designed a workout routine with a Health Navigator...entirely over chat


If you have other questions about how ImagineCare works, or if these answers are still unclear, feel free to email us at info@imaginecare.com

~Tom

Tom Haushalter is Communications and Brand Manager at ImagineCare.

Five Things You Need to Know to Lose Weight


Losing weight is often difficult to do, especially if you have tried in the past, maybe even shed a few pounds, but failed to keep the weight off. This feeling of failure makes it even harder to build up the motivation to give it another go.

I am here to quell some myths about weight loss, and to empower you with the knowledge you need to lose weight healthfully—and to keep it off!

Here are 5 things you need to know to lose weight:


1. Calories in, calories out.

For the most part, the only way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you burn from exercise, daily life, sleep, and the thermic effects of food (i.e. calories burned while digesting). If you consume 500 calories less than you burn every day for a week, you will lose one pound. If this sounds difficult or confusing, here’s a way to make it easy: Your Microsoft Band will accurately estimate the number of calories you burn throughout a day, so all you have to do is track the calories you consume. And there are great apps for tracking calorie consumption, such as “Lose It” and “MyFitnessPal.” And, really, all you have to remember is to eat 500 fewer calories than you burn!

 
2. Exercise is your friend.

While not necessary to lose weight, exercise will make your body burn more calories and therefore speed up the process. It’s just that simple. Check out my tips on how to get started with an exercise routine. There are also numerous other health benefits associated with exercise, including reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and it increases bone and muscle strength.


3. Watch what you put on your plate.

There is no one-size-fits-all meal plan for every person, and we all have different dietary needs, based on age, sex, cultural/religious beliefs, activity level, and health history. But here are some tips that everyone can adopt as positive eating habits:

  • Choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods, dairy (unless otherwise specified by a dietician), and oils.
  • Make sure to monitor portion size and track calories using a food diary or an app like "Lose It."
  • For more information about how to balance your meal plan, go to https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

 
4. Drinking your calories is a no-no!

This may be a tough one for a lot of us. Drinking sugary drinks like soda, Gatorade, and sweet tea is a quick way to consume too many calories! In fact, did you know that one 20-oz. bottle of soda contains your maximum recommended sugar intake for 2.6 days?! Stick to water, low-fat milk, and coffee and tea without sugar to achieve fluid balance.

 
5. Don’t stress about it.

Don’t try to do it all in the first day. Make incrementally healthy changes every week, and over time you will gain confidence and your hard work will begin to pay off.

~Marco

Marco Day, an ImagineCare Health Navigator, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Movement Training Specialist. Prior to joining ImagineCare, he worked with clients at River Valley Club in Lebanon, NH, on exercise program design and prescription, weight-loss corrective exercise prescription, and personal training. He loves any opportunity to help people make positive health changes.

Introducing: Morgan's DiY Journal!

morgan house.jpg


Hi! I’m Morgan, the Lead Health Navigator at ImagineCare. As a Health Navigator, I get to chat with all of our wonderful customers about health-related topics, wellness coaching, tech troubleshooting, and anything else they need assistance with!

On top of that I also work with a licensing agency to ensure that all of our Registered Nurses are licensed in all 50 states, which is quite a process, but I love a challenge. I have been with the company for a little over a year now and am looking forward to growing with ImagineCare as we develop exciting new ways to help people stay healthy.

That’s just a quick glance into my work with ImagineCare, which I am so passionate about. But can I tell you about one of the things that keeps me healthy, active, and motivated—both in body and mind—outside of work?

That passion is (pardon the all-caps) HOME IMPROVEMENT!

The house in the photo above—that’s my house. It was built in 1843, and despite how good it looks here, it’s in desperate need of some TLC. When we took over the property, there was no heating, plumbing, and the roof was about to cave in. Those were the first things we tackled, so the house is now officially livable (YAY!), but there’s still so much to do.

The construction crew—Rex, me, Roxy (our beagle), and our 25 chickens—spend most of our time outside the office working on this house. Our goal is to turn it into a bed and breakfast, which may be way down the road, but I admit I’ve truly latched onto the idea of it and can’t imagine striving for anything else!

I grew up doing projects around the house with my dad, from gardening and landscaping to carpentry and room remodeling—you name it, we have worked on it. I have always loved the idea of taking on these projects, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity to practice my skills on this historic structure.

This undertaking is something that would typically be unbelievably expensive, but Rex and I are both very frugal and are finding ways to make everything work on our slim budget. And I will share all our secrets with you!

So stay tuned for some insights and ideas on how day-to-day projects around my old house might inspire you to do similar ones—without breaking bank. And if you have kids, get them involved! This can be a fun way to spend time with family while bettering your home and opening the little ones’ eyes to an honest day’s work.

See you soon!

~Morgan

Tackling Vitamin D Deficiency and a Case of the SADs


If you live in the northern half of the United States, you're noticing the air getting cooler, the leaves on the trees in full color (and falling), and the birds heading south. Yes, fall is definitely here, winter’s on the horizon, and with that comes shorter days and longer nights.

You (or someone you know) may be noticing that during these shorter, darker days you’re feeling symptoms of depression, less energetic, and more irritable. No, you’re not going crazy. What may be happening is that you’re experiencing the lack of a rather underappreciated vitamin: Vitamin D.

Vitamin D, created by the body when UVB rays from the sun come in contact with the skin, is best known for being responsible for helping the body absorb calcium, and in this way it helps to strengthen bones. Vitamin D is also partially responsible for control of genes related to different cancers, autoimmune diseases, and infection.

And although research is still being developed around the link between depression and Vitamin D, researchers have pinpointed a correlation between people who are battling depression and lower-than-normal levels of Vitamin D in their blood. Conversely, people who have higher levels of Vitamin D in their blood have a lower risk of becoming depressive.

Location Matters

If you live above the 37th parallel (37 degrees latitude) anywhere in the world, you are at an increased risk for Vitamin D deficiency between the months of September and May. During these months, the angle of the sun does not allow for our bodies to synthesize Vitamin D from UVB, and at the peak of winter we are lucky if we get 10 hours of daylight per day. This combination leads some individuals to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD can cause irritability, tiredness, anxiety, depression, poor appetite, weight loss, and excessive sleepiness, to name a few symptoms.

Food Matters

So now you’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, Nat, I can’t move south every winter like the birds, so what should I do to reduce my risk of Vitamin D deficiency?” Well, you’re in luck!

Preventing Vitamin D deficiency—and the negative health aspects associated with it—can be easy. A study published in Harvard Women’s Health Watch has shown that by taking 1100 IUs of Vitamin D and 1400-1500 mg of calcium per day, you can reduce your risk of Vitamin D deficiency and other diseases by up to 77% after four years.

One way to get your recommended Vitamin D is from a pill supplement. Or, that same Harvard study points us to certain foods that are high in Vitamin D, such as:

Salmon (3.5 oz.) = 360 IU
Mackerel (3.5 oz.) = 345 IU
Tuna (3.5 oz., canned) = 200 IU
Orange juice (8 oz., fortified) = 100 IU
Milk (8 oz., fortified) = 98 IU
Breakfast cereal (1 serving, fortified) = 40-100 IU

(Source: Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health)

Eating foods that are high in Vitamin D and combining them with supplemental Vitamin D and calcium can make all the difference in your mood during these months.

It is important that you pay attention to how you are feeling as the seasons change, and if you are noticing that you are feeling sleepy, slower, sad, or just plain lousy this winter, and if you’re north of the 37th parallel, you might just be suffering from Vitamin D deficiency. Now you know what to do.

If you’re showing symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency and want to talk to one of our Registered Nurses or Health Navigators, send a text in the ImagineCare app.

~Nat

Nat Williams, a Resource Health Navigator for ImagineCare, earned a degree in Wellness and Alternative Medicine from Johnson State College. As a wellness coach, he loves to be able to have one-on-one conversations with people about their health and is passionate about finding new ways to empower them to take control of their own health. Outside of ImagineCare, you’ll find Nat outdoors, going for a hike, riding his mountain bike, camping, or just lying in his hammock. You can’t spell Nature without Nat.

The Hidden Benefits of Gardening in the Fall

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We all think about our gardens in the spring and summer, but we also need to be thinking about our gardens in the fall.

Just imagine the cool, crisp air and the smells of the leaves and soil. Autumn is the perfect time to prepare for next spring. The efforts we put forth right now will help us to reap the bounty of next summer’s vegetable garden, as well as the bouquets for our tables in June.

And the garden landscape we leave in the fall can create visions of beauty in the darkest months of winter, when we are nestled in our homes drinking cocoa and dreaming again of the long, warm days of summer.

So here are a few hints to getting the most benefits out of your late-season gardening efforts:

  • Take a minute before you start your fall cleanup to consider what you would love to see come up in the spring, set it to paper, and if needed, read a bit about any new plants or bulbs you would like to incorporate into your garden. A little research can go a long way toward providing a glorious spring show. A great resource are various garden catalogues that begin to arrive in your mail in the middle of winter, or you can check out websites for vendors such as White Flower Farm, Burpee seed, Seeds of Change, and Fedco, to name a few.
     
  • Consider your soil. Do you need to augment with any organics this fall to help support the healthy growth of your plants in the spring? Local community extension services can be a great resource for soil enrichment advice, and often provide soil testing kits. What you don’t want is to invest in a fertilizer in the fall only to learn that it should not have been applied until the spring!
     
  • Prune plants back in the fall to prepare the vegetation to be most prolific come spring. Again, a little research from a trusted source—such as PBS Victory Garden or the National Gardening Association—can spare you from over-pruning and risking removal of the future buds you will be looking forward to. Additionally, through pruning and removal of stems and branches in the fall, you also remove the risk of nasty critters that like to winter over in the garden and create problems for your future plants.
     
  • But in your eagerness to freshen your garden, be mindful that some plants are best left alone until late winter or early spring. The winter landscape can attract birds and small animals when plants that remain viable through the cold months remain in the garden until early spring. Cone flower, for instance, is a great source of nutrition for the chickadees that remain in New England during the winter months.
     
  • And another benefit to gardening, any time of year, is your health! Gardening happens to be great exercise, an activity in which we stretch and bend and push and pull throughout the full gardening experience. Before, and even after, you enter the garden, it can be very helpful to do a few stretches, in an effort to minimize any aches that may come as a result of all that contorting you’ll be doing!
                                             CONE FLOWER

                                             CONE FLOWER

Whether you practice it independently or in a community setting, the simple act of gardening can foster a positive mental outlook and increased life satisfaction. Tending a garden can lead to a greater sense of peace in a hectic world. Whether you are creating a half acre of vegetables or simply growing a tomato plant in a pot, you are in touch with your ability to nurture something. So what are you waiting for? Go out and dig some dirt.

~Beth


Beth Whipple, RN-BC, is a lover of movies, gardening (obviously), photographing flowers, birdwatching, and longboarding. She's always up for a laugh and has a soft spot for chicken piccata.

Six Reasons You're Not Getting a Good Sleep

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In an ideal world, you finish up your evening routine, crawl into bed, switch off the lamp, close your eyes and, within minutes, feel yourself gliding toward that sweet, sweet slumbering state.

If only that were everyone’s experience. For a lot of us, and for many reasons, the path to sleep can be hard to find. There are reasons within our control and some that are harder to control, such as medical conditions.

Either way, it’s important to be aware of a range of sleep “blockers” in the event you find it difficult to get some rest, whether for one night or over the course of many nights.

So let’s try to get to the bottom of why we’re so cranky today!

Here are some things that could be keeping you from achieving those dreams:


Caffeine

Sort of a no-brainer, right? But you may not know that it’s recommended we cease consuming high amounts of caffeine as early as lunchtime. Caffeine has a cumulative effect: the more you consume throughout the day, the more it can disrupt your sleep. Now, no one’s saying you can’t have that piece of dark chocolate to get you through the afternoon, but if you’re the sort who likes a nice palate-cleansing cup of coffee or tea after dinner, make it a decaf.


Smoking and Nicotine Withdrawal

If you’re a smoker, naturally we hope you seek out smoking cessation services in your area. Yet even if you are actively trying to quit, the withdrawal symptoms can cause significant sleep disruption. You may wake frequently in the night, preventing you from achieving full sleep cycles—from light sleep to deep, restful REM (a.k.a. dream-stage) sleep. Some tobacco cessation products may also contribute to sleep disruption, but in time, as withdrawal becomes less severe, your sleep should improve.


Alcohol

Drinking alcohol up until bedtime increases the frequency of waking up and/or light sleeping during the second half of the night, preventing you from achieving the necessary periods of deep sleep. Some sound advice: if you’ve had a few drinks, down 8 ounces of orange juice before you conk out. OJ speeds up the breakdown of alcohol and will reduce the likelihood of reawakening after a few hours into sleep.


Food

Cut out those midnight snacks! Actually, if you can, avoid eating food up to 3 hours before bedtime. If that’s not possible, sip on a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted with water, about 30 minutes after dinner, to help increase gastric flow through the stomach and to reduce acid reflux. Another way to combat acid reflux is to lie on your left side, which will assist the stomach in emptying and prevent reflux in the esophagus.


Your Environment

Noise and temperature and light—take all of these things into consideration for a good sleep. The best bedroom is a cool, dark, quiet one. In warmer months, and if you’re without A/C, put on a fan—and although not always quiet, at least a fan creates an environment of white noise that can drown out other disruptive sounds. If you have to use the bathroom in the night, avoid having to flip on the bright overhead light by plugging in a nightlight with a red, blue, or green filter. But come morning, let the light in! It’s good to be exposed to bright light for 20-30 minutes before you rise, helping to solidify your natural circadian rhythms.


Medical Conditions

A number of ongoing or chronic medical conditions can impact your sleep. These include hypertension, congestive heart failure, COPD and asthma, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, angina, cognitive dysfunction, and mood disorders such as depression or bipolar. If you are currently managing any of these conditions and experiencing problems sleeping, contact your physician for advice and assistance.

How to Get Started with an Exercise Routine—TODAY!


No matter your age, fitness level, or what your motivations are, it can be difficult to get started with an exercise routine. It may be partly because we're constantly bombarded with health and fitness information, a lot of which can be incorrect or misleading. This leads us to taking no action at all, when in fact just a little bit of activity can have a profoundly positive impact on our short-term and long-term health.

As an ImagineCare Health Navigator and a Certified Personal Trainer, I want to make it easy for you to get started with an exercise routine today, and by using the Microsoft Band 2 and ImagineCare app you can enjoy tracking your workouts and monitoring your improvement.

Even short, 10-minutes bouts of moderate-intensity exercise can help lower blood pressure, burn calories, improve sleep, and improve mental health.

To see a marked improvement in your health from exercising will not require as much time as you think.

So let’s get started!

If you have the Microsoft Band 2 on your wrist, slide over to the “running” tile, press the action button, and go for a 10-minute walk at a moderate-to-vigorous pace twice a day. Just by doing that much, you will receive the cardiovascular benefits of exercise.

If you have more time, try walking 20-60 minutes at a time, twice a day, or turn it into a light run 2-5 times a week.

You will notice that, in just a few workouts, what used to feel very difficult is now getting easier, and soon you’ll want to increase the intensity of your workout by walking or running faster, or trying out some of the hills in your neighborhood. This is called “Progression,” and this is good!

Honestly, you don’t need to invest a great deal of time in your exercise program, as long as you get your heart rate up with some moderate-to-vigorous cardiovascular activity.

What do I mean by moderate-to-vigorous activity? At a moderate intensity, it should feel like you are working harder than a normal, leisurely walk, but it's still relatively easy to have a conversation. Vigorous intensity should make it fairly difficult to have a conversation.

I tend to recommend that beginners start at a moderate intensity and work their way toward vigorous intensity over a period of a month.

Maintaining the routine is key. After a little while, I think you’ll notice how much better you feel and how much you enjoy doing it!

If you already take part in a regular exercise program, that’s awesome! Stay tuned for future blog posts to help elevate your game.

And if you have any health conditions that would prevent you from safely practicing this exercise routine, I definitely recommend consulting with your physician before you start.

Still have questions about how to get started? You can always contact ImagineCare’s support at support@imaginecare.com. 

~Marco

Marco Day, an ImagineCare Health Navigator, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Movement Training Specialist. Prior to joining ImagineCare, he worked with clients at River Valley Club in Lebanon, NH, on exercise program design and prescription, weight-loss corrective exercise prescription, and personal training. He loves any opportunity to help people make positive health changes.

Welcome to the ImagineCare Blog!


Ahem. Testing. Is this thing on?

. . .

Hi there! Welcome to the ImagineCare blog.

So where do we begin? How about this way:

We love people. We love our ImagineCare customers.

Sure, that's easy to say, and harder to do. But it's you, our customers, who inspire us to keep searching for better, smarter ways to help you manage and maintain your health. From you we learn how to do our jobs better.

And just like our customers, we're a mix of backgrounds and interests and experiences. The ImagineCare staff of Health Navigators and Registered Nurses, even some of our product designers and marketing team, are sitting on heaps of useful knowledge that could make your experience with ImagineCare all the richer—and all in the name of a healthier life.

So we’ve started this blog, and we think you’ll like it. Look for posts covering everything from how to get started with an exercise routine, tips on how to sneak in extra steps while at work or gardening or doing a home improvement project, and ways to unlock your (maybe hidden) creative potential. Some of us like to tell stories of our life adventures, so look for those too.

We'll also keep you in the loop on important ImagineCare announcements, including updates to the ImagineCare app, its added features and how to make the most of them.

All in all, we hope you enjoy what you find here and that it inspires you to keep seeking out your best life possible.

And as always, whenever you need us, you can contact us at info@imaginecare.com.