Valley Schools Employee Benefits Holds Annual Conference

The Valley Schools 6th Annual Conference was held at the Heard Museum last month. The annual conference provides an opportunity for its many members to meet leaders in healthcare, education and other fields that will provide them with insight and knowledge of trends affecting employee benefits and school funding.

The event was emceed by Tom Boone of VSMG and Tom Elliott of VSEBT.

This conference featured an  inspirational group of speakers with timely information on wellness, healthcare, ACA, and State and National legislation.  

Speakers included:

Dr. John A. Hensing, Banner Health Chief Medical Officer spoke on Healthcare Trends and Innovations

John Hensing, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer 

Dr. John Hensing

Dr. Hensing was named executive vice president and chief medical officer in 2009.

He joined Banner (then Samaritan Health System) as senior vice president in 1995. His current responsibilities include care management and organizational performance for Banner including medical management, care coordination, case management and management engineering.

Dr. Hensing practiced internal medicine in Tempe, Ariz. for 18 years and was awarded the Distinguished Internist of the Year Award in 1993. He is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians. He has served on multiple boards, including Samaritan Health System, The Samaritan Foundation, HealthPartners of Arizona, and Arizona Medicare Demonstration Project.

Dr. Hensing obtained his undergraduate degree at Iowa State University and his medical degree at the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1972. After completing two years as a flight surgeon in the US Air Force, he completed his residency in medicine in 1977 and is board-certified in internal medicine.

Richard Stavneak, Executive Director Joint Legislative Budget Committee, updated attendees on the state budget
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Richard Stavneak, Director of JLBC

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas spoke about her objectives for the upcoming year

Diane Douglas, Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Diane Douglas, Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas has always been passionate about the American education system and has been actively involved in Arizona’s education landscape for over twenty years. Her interest started first with her daughter’s education and continues with the birth of her new grandson. She wants an excellent education for her own family and for all families in Arizona.

Superintendent Douglas is proud to have served two terms on the Peoria Unified School District Governing Board, including two years as President of the Board.  During her tenure she worked to support the district’s parents and teachers in delivering an excellent education to all of its students. She has also served on the Site Councils for two Peoria Unified schools and on the Board of Education for church education programs.

As the leader of the Arizona Department of Education, Superintendent Douglas is devoted to improving education in Arizona so that all students have the opportunity to succeed in life. She plans to work directly with the state education community to accomplish this goal and looks forward to collaborating with teachers, parents, students, and administrators.

Prior to her advocacy and leadership in education issues, Superintendent Douglas graduated from Rutgers University and had a distinguished career as a financial expert for a variety of private sector firms.

Acclaimed author and speaker, Robert Scanlan, three time organ transplant recipient and author of “Tigers Under My Bed”, told those in attendance about healthcare from the perspective of a high cost patient.

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Bob Scanlon

Bob Scanlon

The event was well attended and at max capacity of around one hundred senior personnel.

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HOW TO GET THE MOST ENERGY OUT OF YOUR DAY (EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T GET ENOUGH SLEEP)

BY VICTORIA DAWSON HOFF

Daylight Savings is upon us once again, which not only means that we get to see the sun after 5pm—it’s also basically the benchmark that declares spring’s imminent arrival. And while November’s time shift reminded us to clock in a few more Zzzzs, we’re calling it: Hibernation is officially over. It’s time to make the most of the light (not to mention the warmth!) and take on the longer days with some enthusiasm. How? We called upon experts in sleep, nutrition, and fitness to lay out exactly what we should be doing and eating during the day to get—and stay—as naturally energized as possible. Get the lowdown below:

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ERIN TOLAND
Plus, more tips from our experts:

“Don’t worry too much about your sleep. Everyone has an occasional bad night, and the effects of a single bad night’s sleep are not serious.”—Steven H. Feinsilver, MD; Director, Center for Sleep Medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital

“Write a list of things that need to be done before going to bed to put the To Do list to rest. Keep a notepad handy so thoughts that come up can be written down quickly instead of ruminating.”—Dale Noelle, Founder, CEO, and Fitness Expert at TRUE Model Management

“Skip the afternoon coffee—it takes women 8 hours to metabolize caffeine. Green tea is mildly caffeinated but is balanced by l-theanine and catechins, which keep you zen-like.”—Dana James, MS, CNS, CDN, and Founder & Director of Food Coach NYC

Infographic: By Erin Toland

7 Simple Exercises That Undo the Damage of Sitting

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this story is brought to you by vapor-distilled smartwater, who found unique inspiration for their water by looking up to the sky. we hope the change in perspective this piece offers will help inspire you.

If you’re like most men living and working in a techno-service economy, you probably spend a good deal of your day sitting down. You go from the kitchen table to your desk at work to your chair in front of the TV. But as we’ve discussed before, spending most of your waking hours planted on your keister is terrible for your health.

You’ve probably experienced those moments when you get up from a sitting position and your butt feels numb and your hips feel so tight that you have to lean forward at the waist just to walk. Excessive sitting leaves your hips and legs tight and your glutes inactive. Even after you stand up, the ill effects of sitting stay with you and may prevent your butt muscles from firing at an optimal level when you really need them – like when you suddenly need to chase down a purse snatcher!

Some fitness experts argue that sitting causes muscles in the hip area to physically shorten (and stay shorter), even after you stand up. While there are no scientific studies to back that claim, from my own personal experience, sitting for lengthy periods of time definitely makes everything feel tight in the groin/butt area.

If you’re an athlete (or fancy yourself one), tight hips and inactive glutes can hamper physical performance in a variety of activities, such as sprinting, squatting, and — my favorite — deadlifting. If you want to perform at your best, you need to make sure that your hips stay limber and that your butt muscles are firing on all cylinders. Even if you’re not interested in deadlifting 600 lbs. (though I hope to change your mind on that someday), keeping your hip flexors loose and glutes active can improve your life on other fronts.

First, having limber hips just feels good, plain and simple. Second, having a healthy range of motion in your hips can help prevent injury when you pursue more recreational physical activities and do household chores. For example, loose hips keep your IT band loose as well, which can ward off knee pain. Finally, taking care of your hips may help improve your posture, which can in turn alleviate back or neck pain. (Not to mention the role of limber hips in doing a mean mambo.)

Below, we provide some simple stretches and exercises that will undo the damage to your hips and butt caused by sitting.

Prevention Is the Best Remedy: Sit Less and Move More

As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The best thing you can do for your hip mobility and glute activation is to simply sit less and move more during the day.

If your employer will allow it, try using a standing desk, which keeps your muscles activated at the office. Keep in mind that, just as with sitting, standing should be done in moderation (doing it for an extended period of time isn’t that great for you, either).

If a standing desk isn’t an option, take five-minute breaks from sitting every 30 to 45 minutes. Stand up and walk around a bit. Maybe even perform a few of the exercises below. Even if you have a standing desk, you should still take breaks every now and then for some movement.

Stretch Out Those Hips

These dynamic stretches and exercises are designed for loosening tight hips that come from sitting too much. I try to incorporate a few of them in my daily workout warm-ups or even sneak some in when I’m hanging out with the kids (who think their dad is pretty odd). Every now and then I also dedicate an hour on Saturdays to just hip and glute work, along with some intense foam rolling.

If you’re really tight, take it nice and easy. As physical therapist Kelly Starrett says, “Don’t go into the pain cave. Your animal totem won’t be there to help you.”

Leg Swings

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This is a great dynamic stretch that I do before every workout. It loosens up the hips, hamstrings, and glutes.

Begin with forward leg swings. Find something to hold for balance. Start off swinging your right leg backwards and forwards as high and as far back as you comfortably can. Do 20 swings and then switch legs.

Next are side-to-side swings. Again, find something to hold for balance. Swing your right leg out to the side as high as possible and then in front of you towards your left as far as you can go. Perform 20 swings and then switch legs. Depending on how tight you feel, you may need another set.

Grok Squat

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The Grok Squat is very similar to a catcher’s stance in baseball. Simply squat down until your butt touches your ankles. Keep your heels firmly on the ground and your back straight. Hold that position for 30-60 seconds. You should feel your hamstrings, quads, Achilles tendons, lower back, and groin gently stretching. If you’re super stiff, it may take a few days of practice to sink into a full squat. Keep at it. Your back and hips will thank you.

Intersperse a few short squatting sessions into your daily routine.

Table Pigeon Pose

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If you’ve done yoga, you’re probably familiar with the pigeon pose. This stretch is the same thing, except you use a table, which makes it a bit easier to perform and allows you to stretch out your muscles from different angles. Start by placing your leg on a tabletop (you could also use your bed) with the knee bent at 90 degrees. Place one hand on the table and one hand on your foot for support. Lean forward and hold for 60-90 seconds. Then lean left to the 10 o’clock position and hold for 60-90 seconds. Lean right to the 2 o’clock position and hold for 60-90 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.

If you have knee problems, rotate your body so that your ankle hangs off the table and place a pillow underneath your knee. Aim to do two pigeon poses a day (I personally do one during my workout and another at a random time).

Couch Stretch

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This stretch is a killer. I didn’t realize how unlimber I was until I tried doing the couch stretch. It’s basically a quad stretch ratcheted up a few notches. Starrett argues that this will undo years of sitting.

You actually don’t need a couch for this stretch, it just makes it a bit more comfortable (if that’s even possible). You can also do it on the floor by putting your knee against a wall.

For the “easy” version, place the knee of the leg you’re stretching against the back of your sofa. Place the foot of your other leg on the floor. Slowly raise your torso to a neutral spine position (i.e. standing straight and tall). As you raise your torso, squeeze your butt and abs. Hold the position for up to four minutes. Switch and repeat on the other leg. You should feel things really stretch in your hip flexor area — just don’t push yourself too hard.

To up the ante, bring your non-stretching leg up onto the seat of the couch. Keeping a straight, neutral spine, squeeze the butt and abs and work your way up to holding the position for four minutes. Keep in mind that it may be awhile before you can get your torso to a straight position. When I first started doing this stretch the “hard way,” I could only raise my torso to a 45-degree angle and I’d have to support myself with my hand on the floor. I was eventually able to move to a straight position after two weeks of dedicated stretching. The difference in the mobility of my hips was (and continues to be) significant.

This stretch is so good that I try to do it every day, sometimes before a workout, sometimes when I’m just hanging out while Gus watches Paw Patrol.

Activate Those Glutes

Barbell Bridges

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This is another exercise that makes you look goofy but does wonders for your glutes and hips. It has been a great support exercise for the deadlift.

Lay on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put a padded barbell across your hips and grab it with an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart. Raise your waist off the ground while squeezing your glutes until your hips are aligned with your body. Return to the starting position, and complete three sets of 10 reps.

Aim to do this exercise one to two times a week. You can add weight as you get stronger. If you can’t do it with the weight of the barbell, try un-weighted bridges.

Clamshells

Fair warning: You’re going to feel a bit ridiculous doing this exercise. But it’s one of the best for activating your glutes. If you’re self-conscious, do this at home before you go to the gym so no one sees you.

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Fire Hydrants

Hey, look! Another glute activation exercise that makes you look goofy! It’s called the fire hydrant because you’re going to mimic how a dog pees on a fire hydrant. For real.

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I learned these moves from a few sources: Becoming the Supple Leopard by physical therapist Kelly Starrett, paleo guru Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple, and weightlifter Medhi from Stronglifts. If you’re looking to increase not only your hip mobility, but your all-around limberness, Starrett’s book and website are especially helpful.

Illustrations by Ted Slampyak

New diabetes breakthrough ‘bigger than the discovery of insulin’

New diabetes breakthrough 'bigger than the discovery of insulin'

In this April 29, 2012, file photo, a 19-year-old diagnosed with diabetes gives herself an injection of insulin at her home in the Los Angeles suburb of Commerce. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

There’s no known cure for Type 1 diabetes, so for 3 million Americans, an insulin pump or regular insulin injections form an imperfect and temporary solution. And it’s one that doesn’t always keep some of the disease’s worst outcomes, including blindness and limb amputation, at bay.

Scientists have long sought a better solution, and a team at Harvard is now announcing that, 15 years into its research, it has successfully coaxed human embryonic stem cells into ones that produce insulin.

When those cells were transferred to diabetic mice, they behaved as healthy cells do and regulated blood sugar. “We can cure their diabetes right away—in less than 10 days,” researcher Doug Melton tells NPR.

Six months later, that was still the case, reports CBS News, which calls the research possibly “the biggest breakthrough in years toward a cure.” Because while scientists have been able to achieve a similar end with insulin-producing cells sourced from cadavers, they’ve struggled with how to get the quantity they needed.

Now researchers have “the ability to make hundreds of millions of cells,” Melton says. “It’s a huge landmark paper,” an outside researcher tells NPR. “I would say it’s bigger than the discovery of insulin.” For Melton, the issue is deeply personal: Both his children, now in their 20s, were diagnosed with the disease as kids.

Among the next steps is to move to clinical trials in humans, possibly in as few as three years. (Another announcement related to blood sugar made waves last month.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Huge Breakthrough in Quest for Type 1 Diabetes Cure

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