The Healthy 10: WNY’s top wellness events for this week

The next Buffalo Slow Roll, a mid-week meditation class and a free dinner program on knee pain treatment options are among WNY Refresh Top 10 Picks of the Week when it comes to health, fitness, nutrition and family events in the region. To see this week’s complete calendar, click here.


“Walk This Way”: Catholic Health dinner program on treating knee pain, 5:30 p.m., GrapeVine Banquet Hall, 333 Dick Road, Depew. For more info and to register, click here. Free. Catholic Health invites area residents to attend up to three free dinner programs per calendar year. After that, admission for each program is $20 and includes dinner.

Slow Roll: Slow Roll Buffalo. Meet at 5:30 p.m., roll at 6:30 p.m., African American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave. Roughly 10-mile guided ride for all ages and abilities. Free. To register for your first ride or more info, visit


WheelWorks outing: 6 p.m., Campus WheelWorks, 744 Elmwood Ave. Five categories range from fast-paced, 30-mile course to a shorter “ice cream ride.” Bike helmet mandatory. For information on this and other excursions, visit


Meditation and relaxation: 11 a.m., Karuna Yoga Buffalo, 5225 Sheridan Drive, Amherst. Learn and practice traditional meditation to cultivate joy, happiness, relaxation, concentration and skill in everyday living. For more info, visit


Dementia caregiving training: Offered by the WNY Alzheimer’s Association, 9 a.m., Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 345 Main St., Aurora. The church respite care program seeks compassionate volunteers to assist those with dementia. Those wishing to attend training should call 652-0500.

NAMI family education meeting: 7 p.m., St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 4007 Main St., Snyder. Guest presenter Kelly Gotham, a Mental Health Court attorney, will give a talk entitled, “How to Navigate the Court System When Your Loved One is Arrested.” For more info, call the NAMI office at 226-6264.


Williamsville Farmers Market: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in its original location at the Old Mill, Spring Street, Williamsville.

“Buprenorphine Waiver training – Prenatal Care, Pregnancy and Addiction Focus”: The Western New York Public Health Alliance will host a free class at Catholic Health, 144 Genesee St., for physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, which includes Continuing Medical Education credits. The class will focus on managing prenatal care and special issues associated with pregnant women who have opiate use disorder. For more information, email [email protected] or call 858-4941. To register, visit

Taoist tai chi: Free open house 10 a.m., Taoist Tai Chi Society of USA, 968 Kenmore Ave. Demonstrations, talk to instructors, learn about beginner class time. For info, visit, email [email protected] or call 876-7218.

We Can: 1 p.m., The Genesis Center, 2161 Seneca St. Peer-run support group for teens struggling with mental health disorders and drug and alcohol addiction. For more info, visit

Wellness & Recovery Symposium is June 30 | Local News

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — A Wellness & Recovery Symposium is June 30 at New Beginnings Church of God, 13226 Leslie Road.

Anyone who has received, currently receives or may be interested in receiving social, mental health, addictions, corrections, child welfare, domestic violence, education, juvenile/adult criminal justice or intellectual disabilities services, as well as other supports through community, faith-based, professional or volunteer organizations, groups or agencies should attend, organizers say. 

Attendance is free, but registration is required. Seating will be limited to 300 attendees. Registrations will be accepted, pending seat availability, until noon on June 22. 

Community and professional organizations are invited to reserve tabling space.

The event is sponsored by the Crawford County Suicide Task Force, a community initiative of Crawford County Human Services, and the Crawford County System of Care/Safe Schools-Healthy Students Partnership.

• More information or to register: Visit or contact Mela Calomino at [email protected] or 724-8380.

Laker Secondary Schools achieves gold wellness award

PIGEON – Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Secondary Schools recently became a Michigan School Wellness Gold Award recipient because of the work the school does every day to ensure students’ health now and into the future.
“Laker (Secondary) School is a shining example of what it takes to build healthy school environments,” stated an email from Lonias Gilmore, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Laker Secondary School Principal Jon Good and Scheurer School Clinic nurse Susie Irion attended the Michigan School Wellness Award Ceremony at the Michigan State Capitol Building recently. State Rep. Ned Canfield attended the event and congratulated Lakers on its accomplishment.
Lakers has received two bronze school wellness awards in previous years. This is the first gold award the school district has received.
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized for all the hard work that has been done by many people,” Good said. “It is a testament that the Laker District and community as a whole are committed to doing what is best for our students.”
Irion said Scheurer Hospital, which partners with Lakers to offer the clinic at Laker Secondary School, is proud to work with a school that addresses more than just the basic educational needs of students.
“(Lakers) provides the nutritional, physical and emotional support students need to be successful in school and in life,” she said. “The support the staff has given the Scheurer School Clinic has been a huge part of the positive response we have seen in the students and faculty.”
Irion said the award represents the district’s open-mindedness, as it was the first school to establish the wellness clinic in partnership with Scheurer.
“With this being my first year in the clinic, I can honestly say I am proud to be a part of what our hospital and school offer, which supports the success of our kids,” she said. “With the presence of the clinic, the students are able to take ownership of their health and well-being. The motto of the clinic says it all – ‘Students must be healthy to be educated and educated to be healthy.'”
To achieve gold status, Lakers had to complete several steps when applying for the wellness award. Some of those steps included completion of the HSAT School Core Assessment and other assessments; an HSAT Action Plan with at least one action that has been worked on or completed; a School Health Team that meets at least four times a year; and submission of a school success story that meets the School Wellness Award criteria. The school needed to achieve an overall score of 275 or above.
Laker Superintendent Brian Keim said the gold award was something several staff members worked hard to achieve.
“There was a determination to reach the gold level after earning bronze the past two years,” Keim said. “I can’t say enough about the efforts of our staff and students, the Scheurer School Clinic, our food service group, our school board, and everyone else who has made school wellness a priority here at Lakers.”
As for the success story, Lakers submitted information about the district’s Farm to School program, led by coordinator Cinamon Marker. She was hired by the school as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School planning grant the school received.
“Students are being introduced to a variety of fresh produce and lunch specials using fresh ingredients twice a week by the Laker Farm to School coordinator,” the success story stated. “A network of organizations and individuals work together to provide local produce and develop new fresh recipes for the students. One of the most popular lunch specials was a non-processed version of Lunchables. Students receive a plate of whole-grain crackers, ham, turkey, a variety of cheeses, fruit and vegetables, such as carrots and sugar snap peas.”
In addition, Laker students at all grade levels receive a snack of fresh, in-season produce once a month as part of the Chef Ann grant. Some of the snacks so far have included grapes, sugar snap peas and jicama. Marker shares nutritional information as the snacks are distributed.
The success story also shared details about cooking classes for secondary school students, which was made possible through a grant from the Huron County Community Foundation. The participants have been learning many basic cooking skills, and during an upcoming cook-off event, the students will compete to see which one of their lunch entrees will be chosen to appear on a future school lunch menu.
“Farm to School activities help students learn more about where their food comes from and what it means to eat healthy,” the success story stated. “Also, getting the student’s input on what they like gives them more ownership of what they consume at lunchtime.”
Marker said she has enjoyed coordinating the Farm to School program, especially the Chef Ann grant.
“Exposing students to new fruits and vegetables gives them the opportunity to try them, and this has been a wonderful for the kids,” she said. “The kids are so excited when we have our tastings.”
Marker said the Farm to School program offers another way to teach lifelong wellness.
“I am honored to be a part of a compassionate, caring school district that has so many options for educating our students on health and wellness,” she said. “We are what we eat. A nutritional, balanced meal keeps kids focused so they can perform well in school. It takes a village to raise a child, or so the saying goes. I am certainly proud to work with a staff of people that promote what is best for kids’ education, health and wellness.”
In other school wellness efforts, Laker Secondary School offers gym classes, which include weight lifting, to all grade levels 6-12. Special seminar time activities for junior high students include physical exercise activities, such as walking, floor hockey and basketball. Secondary school students also receive health classes, including a freshmen health class that covers a variety of subjects, such as sexually-transmitted diseases.
Keim said he hopes the gold award communicates that Lakers cares a great deal about students’ overall well-being, because in order to learn well, students must be in good health.
“We’re not perfect, but we make an honest effort to promote a school culture where students can grow and develop into healthy individuals — physically, mentally and emotionally,” Keim said. “That’s not something you can accomplish alone. Everyone has to do their part, so this is a true team award. That makes it extra special.”
The School Wellness Award program is conducted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Education, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Action for Healthy Kids.

Employee wellness is serious business 

Today’s workers spend most of their time sitting behind desks. In the early 1960’s, almost half the jobs in private industry in the U.S. required at least moderate physical activity. Now less than 20% of those occupations require this level of activity, causing Americans’ level of daily energy expenditure to drop significantly.  One survey suggests that inactivity is as dangerous as smoking!  

Current research continues to show that companies with fit and healthy employees have a distinct advantage over companies that don’t. Let’s look at some statistics.  According to a 2013 report on a study conducted by the Health Enhancement Research Organization, employees who eat healthy are more engaged at work and 25% more likely to have higher job performance. The same survey also found that employees who exercise for 30 minutes, three times a week, are not only more engaged, but also 15% more likely to have higher job performance, lower levels of stress and increased mental resources. Further results of the study indicated that healthy employees take fewer sick days. Absenteeism is 27% lower for those workers who eat healthy and get regular exercise.  Another report conducted by the Northeast Business Group on Health found that overweight employees cost their employers $73.1 billion a year and file twice the number of workers’ compensation claims.   

As the previously mentioned research shows, having healthy employees is important for productivity, culture, and cost containment. So where does a company start?  First of all, upper management must be supportive of the program. Researchers found that people who had a highly supportive environment at work not only exercised more, but also engaged in increased levels of leisure time activities while they were away from the office. Once the company’s leadership is on board, the focus should be on stress management, nutrition and exercise programs. Wellness programs don’t have to cost a fortune – there are many low-cost options that cover these three areas.  Studies show that the key to success with wellness programs is consistency. Programs were more successful when offered to employees on an ongoing basis for a long duration. Web-based programs, when administered for three plus years, saved employees an average of $332 annually in personal costs. The study also found that wellness program participants are more likely to take responsibility for their own health and have regular physicals and preventative screenings.  

When starting a wellness program, it’s important to remember that employees come in all shapes, sizes  and fitness levels. The program must allow everyone to comfortably participate at their own level.  Companies who make the effort and offer quality programs in a supportive environment will definitely see the many benefits that will ultimately boost the bottom line and make positive changes in their employees’ lives both at work and at home.    


Bob Carpenter is the Principal at Hockessin Athletic Club. HAC has been serving the Hockessin community since 2007 and will celebrate its tenth anniversary on June 10, 2017. For more information go to Bob also sits on the Corporate Board of Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware.To learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, visit

Citizen Scholar Adannekwu ‘Ada’ Dibor: Leading the way to wellness | Citizen Scholar

Of the dozens of school and volunteer endeavors Pennridge High School senior Adannekwu “Ada” Dibor is involved in, Students Against Destructive Decisions Club is what she’s most proud of. 

“We raise awareness of mental health issues, bullying, the effects of drunk driving,” she explained.

To drive the point home, the club hosts a yearly Grim Reaper Day, when one student dresses as the iconic death character and goes classroom to classroom tagging other students, who are then considered “dead” for the rest of the day.

The idea is to show how many students will fall victim to premature deaths due to suicide, homicide, drunken driving and drug overdoses, said the teen. At the end of the day, the chosen students line up holding death certificates.

“It’s a pretty powerful thing,” Ada said. “Even if people aren’t serious, they’re at least paying attention to the message. They take a second look and realize that what they are doing could damage not just themselves but their relationships.”

Additionally, Ada has volunteered for the Bucks County Free Library, The Color Dash for Salvation Army Kids, 5K for Mental Illness, Red Ribbon Week, school clothing drives and campus cleanups. She’s served on the school’s executive council, is a top 1 percent National Honor student and has won the Presidential Academic Award.

She’s been accepted into Penn State’s accelerated six-year medical program and hopes to become a pediatrician when she graduates.

“Ada has been the ideal student, balanced and well-rounded,” wrote her guidance counselor Eric Herpen. “She is on her way toward making a major impact on the world.”

Her advice to upcoming seniors is to have confidence.

“Don’t sell yourself short. I think I did a lot of that. I never dreamed that I would have gotten into this Penn State program. When I  made it, I thought, ‘Oh wow, there’s something here to be proud of,’” she said.

“Be confident about everything you do. You can have whatever you want if you work hard and try to achieve it.”

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Jumpstart the next phase of financial wellness at work

Financial scarcity is the gap between an employee’s wants and needs and the resources (money) required to get those needs, which can affect mental, physical and emotional health in the long run. Of the more than 10,000 employees AFS 401(k) Retirement Services, a retirement advisory firm, has met, most are only one life event — such as a catastrophic medical incident or premature baby — away from experiencing it.

It’s up to employers to keep their employees protected, said Jim Keenehan, senior consultant, retirement plans at AFS, at a retirement symposium sponsored by the Bethesda, Md. company last week.

Employers are receiving the message, he said. Ninety-two percent of employers responding to a 2017 study by Aon are planning on enhancing financial wellness programs beyond retirement savings mechanisms. For example, combining existing financial literacy education with technology that allows an employee to take a more holistic look at their financial picture. This includes areas such as budgeting skills and emergency savings planning, added Alex Assaley, managing principal at AFS.

“Employees are asking for help,” Keenehan said. “[But] most importantly, it is the right thing to do. Putting in effective financial wellness programs can place an employee on the path to financial freedom.”

The next phase
The challenge — one advisers need to lead — is taking what plan participants have learned so far and combining it with technology that will better understand an employee’s financial life, Assaley said. It’s what he calls financial wellness 2.0.


The 50 best places to work in 2017 – Part 1

Jobs resource website Glassdoor has released its annual rankings of top employers based on workers’ evaluations. These companies top the list.

“A very simple way to jumpstart financial wellness 2.0 is to informally survey … an employee base and ask three to five questions on health benefits and financial needs,” he explained. “Get a good picture of what is most important. With just [that information], we can do a better job on what programs to deliver.”

As employers move into phase 2.0, Assaley suggested items to consider:

First, understand a client’s culture and what the mission and value of the organization is and how that shapes benefit offerings. “How can you align retirement benefits with culture?” he said. “That is the first step of introspection you have to have to understand what to deliver to employees.”

The program also needs to be customizable. “To date, financial wellness broadly can mean a lot of things,” Assaley said. “But in many cases, it is just recycling general education topics.” In version 2.0, it is more about customized programs, contents and resources deployed in a way that aligns with the unique demographics of an employer. It has to have engagement, which includes friends and fun, he said.

Last, results need to be measured using technology. “We can create challenges that measure engagement,” Assaley said.

At Many Companies, Employee Wellness Is Serious Business

Move Along

Mike Morin says sales of adjustable sit-stand desks are soaring as employers discover their health and wellness benefits.

It’s no secret that workers who struggle to stay healthy and fit can cost employers in myriad ways, from absenteeism to lowered productivity. That’s why more forward-thinking companies are launching wellness initiatives aimed at boosting their staff’s health and — by extension — their morale and job satisfaction. While they can take many forms, these efforts often start with a simple goal: get moving.

Attention, desk jockeys stuck at uncomfortable workstations: Mike Morin feels your pain.

“I’ve had jobs before where you get hired, go to the office and sit down at the computer, and you realize, geez, this is not how I naturally work,” said Morin, marketing and communications coordinator at Conklin Office Furniture in Holyoke. “I’ve had that moment where you step back and realize you’ve been hunched over the desk, staring at a computer screen for two hours.”

Many employers, however, are giving desk workers some relief by installing adjustable sit-stand desks, so employees have the option of working on their feet, which can improve blood flow, reduce tiredness, and avoid the long-term drawbacks of being largely sedentary for eight hours a day.

“People are definitely more concerned about health nowadays, in general and in the workplace,” Morin said. “We offer a sit-stand, height-adjustable desk, and sales are going through the roof with those. People are spending more time at the office — not just at their workplace, but at the home office as well. And they want desks they can stand at.”

One selling point, he said, is giving employees a choice, convincing employers they don’t have to go with a one-size-fits-all mentality. Sit-stand desks can often be incorporated right alongside traditional desks and tables, and can be designed to match the existing décor and furniture in the office.

Lisa Bowler says Baystate takes a holistic approach to employee wellness, as reflected by its wide range of programs to that end.

Lisa Bowler says Baystate takes a holistic approach to employee wellness, as reflected by its wide range of programs to that end.

It’s one way employers are taking a harder look at workplace wellness, incorporating not just equipment, but programs and incentives to keep their workers healthy, reduce absenteeism, and, in theory, lower costs in the long term.

Lisa Bowler, manager of Wellness and WorkLife at Baystate Health, says her employer has offered a raft of wellness benefits for many years, and sit-stand desks are an option many workers have chosen — but emphasized that they’re a very small part of the equation in a system where 60% of employees are clinical staff who are on their feet all day, not behind desks.

“It’s such a vast array of roles and types of jobs … the challenge is, how do we deliver wellness programs that make the most sense?” Bowler noted. “We offer a whole host of programs — a great variety — and we provide those resources to support our employees’ health and well-being because we know, in many ways, that contributes to a healthy organizational culture and also makes for a great place to work.”

Lisa Verville would agree. As Human Resources director for the O’Connell Companies in Holyoke, she has overseen a formal wellness committee launched two years ago that partners with Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) to offer wellness-related apps, challenges, and incentive progams where not only employees, but their spouses can earn money for reaching activity and fitness goals. Employees are also reimbursed up to 75% for annual gym memberships.

The O’Connell Companies have always had a culture of caring about their employees,” Verville said. “This is another facet of that — making employees aware of things they can do and listening to what they want, and trying to provide resources that make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Culture of Health

Mary Ellen Shea, Marketing manager at O’Connell, told BusinessWest that wellness efforts at the firm stretch back well before the formal committee. “There’s always been a culture of health,” she said, “but now I feel it’s been ramped up.”

SEE: List of Office Furniture Dealers in the Area

Employees earn points through the BCBS partnership for walking, hydration, and nutrition challenges, as well as completing online workshops, scheduling wellness visits, and other tasks.

“It encourages a holistic approach,” Verville said, noting that employees were surveyed on the types of programs they wanted to see. “It’s actually been a lot of fun. We also had our health fair last November, and it was fun to see people from all our companies get together. We provided incentives — gift cards, gift baskets — to get people to come, and we had a great turnout, and got a lot of good feedback; we’re looking forward to doing it again this year, with hopefully an even bigger event.”

While many employees try to participate in many wellness activities, one challenge for O’Connell is that it’s a geographically dispersed company, with several affiliate companies spread across the Valley. “So it’s hard to get everyone to participate in a lunch and learn, with so many employees out in the field,” she went on. “But the committee has representatives from every subsidiary, we get direct feedback on what works and what doesn’t work. Not every program is tailored to the same group; we try to offer a lot of variety while still focusing on what the needs and interests are.”

This fall, it will be easier to bring employees together for wellness activities when O’Connell moves into a newly built headquarters on Kelly Way in Holyoke, consolidating more of its operations under one roof. The project allows the company to incorporate wellness initiatives right into the building design.

“We have a great opportunity there,” Verville said. “When we move, the plan is to install, for those who want them, the adjustable workstations. We’re also thinking about walking paths and things of that nature, a fitness room with equipment in it, and there will be an area dedicated to the wellness seminars.

“It’ll bring more people together,” she went on. “The new building will provide a lot of new opportunities, and having more employees in one location will help encourage more collaboration and cohesiveness, and get more people involved.”

Bowler said Baystate has built a similar emphasis on wellness into its operations, which are even more spread out than O’Connell’s.

Lisa Verville

Lisa Verville says employees at the O’Connell Companies have taken enthusiastically to the wellness programs launched two years ago.

“We would define a culture of health as a work environment where our employees have the resources and tools and support that empowers them and motivates them to take steps to benefit their health,” she said. “We’ve evolved the program over the years, and we think it’s important to view health holistically. Programs are designed in such a way to help our team members learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices and help them manage their responsibilities at work and at home.”

The effort includes access to a WebMD portal that provides not only health information but access to fitness challenges. In addition, “we have walking clubs, mindfulness classes, two or three educational webinars each month, confidential counseling for employees and family members, Weight Watchers memberships free of charge, and a whole host of resources for parents,” Bowler said, not to mention smoke-free facilities since 2007.

Rising Tide

Many of the initiatives at Baystate and O’Connell mesh with the top workplace-wellness trends recently outlined by the Corporate Health & Wellness Assoc. These include:

• Lifestyle management, which may include cholesterol screenings, flu shots, sleep-management programs, and incentives (like gift cards or insurance-premium discounts) for participating in corporate wellness programs;

• Weight-loss programs, from yoga and Zumba classes on site to gym and Weight Watchers memberships, to offering healthy sbacks in the office;

• Redesigned workspaces, which include standing or treadmill desks, ergonomic chairs and headsets, and FitBit trainers and pedometers;

• Smoking bans in the office and accompanying smoking-cessation programs to help employees kick the habit for good; and

• Stress-management programs, including meditation instruction and guidance in everything from personal finance to parenting.

And programs don’t have to be tied to specific company initiatives, Shea said. “Usually twice a day, team members or employees meet in the lobby, go out, and walk together around the block.”

She and Verville said wellness programs conceivably lower costs for companies by reducing absenteeism — or presenteeism, where tired or ailing employees show up but are far from productive.

“We certainly have seen that,” Bowler added, noting that Baystate has won recognition from national business groups for its wellness policies. “Employees who regularly participate are more engaged, healthier, and more productive. Beyond that, having these programs available is the right thing to do. As an organization, we’ve taken the view that achieving a culture of health is not something that occurs overnight. We are in this for the long term and are committed to it.”

From talking to Conklin’s clients, Morin can tell interest is rising.

“Nowadays, people are obsessed with health, and for good reasons,” he said. “People are paying more attention to what they’re eating, so it’s natural they’re noticing how much time they’re sitting at a desk each day. Studies have come out claiming that sitting down for long periods of time is as unhealthy as smoking.”

That’s why he’s gratified that employers are increasingly tailoring office design to individual worker needs through flexible workstations. “In the past, offices were set up a certain way, but not everyone works like that. There’s a new focus in ergonomics where it’s more customizable.”

Bowler said companies of any size can make changes to improve employees’ health, and some — from walking clubs to lunch-and-learn sessions — don’t take much financial investment. “But to really get that return and change the culture, there needs to be a comprehensive approach.”

And it’s happening more and more, she told BusinessWest. “The concept of worker wellness has been around a long time. It just seems to be gaining more energy and visibility the last several years.”

And it can begin with something as simple as standing up.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Your guide to health and wellness during pregnancy

A healthy baby is the goal for mothers-to-be, and as such, a happy pregnancy should also be high priority.

While expectant mothers are tasked with making many important lifestyle changes, a healthful pregnancy does not need to be overly restrictive. “Pregnant women have 40 weeks to make healthy decisions for her baby and herself, and many of the good habits picked up during pregnancy stick around long after delivery,” said Matthew Grolle, MD, OB/GYN at Sunrise Children’s Hospital.

While the topic of pregnancy can be fraught with concerns, following a balanced, intuitive lifestyle can contribute to the overall wellness of both mother and child.

The pillars of pregnancy health

Pregnant women need to be conscious of their health by maintaining a nutritious diet, exercising, getting plenty of sleep and avoiding harmful substances. “The most important lifestyle changes are self-explanatory — be good to yourself!” Grolle said.

For some, this means breaking bad habits: Alcohol, tobacco and drugs should be avoided completely. Even in moderation, these are linked to dangerous complications and serious birth defects.

If you’re struggling to kick a habit, talk to your doctor about addiction treatment options that can help.


Pregnant women should focus on a well-rounded diet including lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, veggies and healthy fats. However, your changing body may draw its own limits as well.

“Each trimester poses different challenges, and it’s important to keep realistic goals,” Grolle said. “Maintaining a diet rich with fruits and vegetables can be difficult when nausea peaks in the first trimester.”

If you’re unable to eat certain foods, you may need to supplement those nutrients in different ways.

• Important nutrients for pregnancy: Folic acid, iron, calcium, protein

• Foods to limit: Artificial sweeteners, caffeine and fish with high-mercury content such as tuna, swordfish and king mackerel

How much caffeine is safe? The recommended maximum for pregnant women is 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, about a 12-ounce cup of coffee.

• Foods to avoid: Unpasteurized milks, cheeses and juices; processed meats including hot dogs and cold cuts; raw or undercooked seafood, eggs and meat; smoked seafood.

These foods may carry listeria, a bacteria that can cause serious infections in pregnant women and jeopardize the baby’s health. Listeria also can be found on fruits and vegetables that have not been properly washed, so be thorough while preparing meals as well.


“Exercise during pregnancy will lower blood pressure, promote healing, help with sleep and fend off gestational diabetes,” Grolle said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that healthy pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread evenly throughout the week.

Women with high-risk pregnancies require different exercise considerations and should strategize with their doctor to create a safe regimen.

• Exercise that should be avoided during pregnancy: Contact sports, hot yoga/other heated workouts, high-weight, low-repetition lifting.


Staying hydrated is especially important during pregnancy. The Institute of Medicine recommends women get 10 cups of water daily (about 2.4 liters). Grolle notes that during summer months, this should be increased to up to 12 cups daily.

Over-the-counter medications

Only some OTC medications are safe during pregnancy. “Many of my patients try to avoid medication altogether, however that’s not always possible. Medications like Tylenol and Robitussin have never been shown to have adverse side effects on pregnancy,” Grolle said.

Acetaminophen medications are generally fine, but pregnant women should avoid nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as ibuprofen — which can damage the baby’s cardiovascular system.

Vitamins and supplements

High-quality prenatal multivitamins are safe and recommended, but any additional vitamin supplements/herbal remedies should be discussed with your doctor before use during pregnancy. These products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and aren’t subject to safety testing.

Cleaning supplies

Keeping surfaces germ-free is smart during pregnancy, but some common household solvents may pose a risk. While the effects of cleaning chemicals on pregnant women have not been clinically studied, Grolle recommends erring on the side of caution.

Clean only in well-ventilated areas while wearing a mask and gloves, and use natural cleansers (such as vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide) whenever possible.

Personal care products

Skin/hair-care products, makeup, nail polish and other similar products should be re-evaluated during pregnancy.

Anything applied to the skin can reach the bloodstream and circulate to the baby.

While most personal care products undergo general safety testing, there is little research about their effects during pregnancy. “Because some of the chemicals can be so caustic and the research is lacking, I tell my patients to avoid things like hair dye and self-tanner until after pregnancy. I also strongly recommend discontinuing use of any acne products, especially during the first trimester,” Grolle said.

There are plenty of natural alternatives to use while pregnant, so make an informed decision about which products to keep in your rotation and which to replace.


If you have a pet cat, avoid cleaning the litter box while pregnant. Cat feces can contain a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, which is a rare but serious illness.

Healthy choices: Bike rides, 5Ks top this week’s WNY wellness options

Early week bike rides, and two 5Ks and fundraising bike ride next weekend, are among the WNY Refresh Top 10 Picks of the Week when it comes to health, fitness, nutrition and family events in the region. To see this week’s complete calendar, click here. xxx


Slow Roll Memorial Day Ride: Meet at 5:30 p.m., ride at 6:30, Buffalo Naval Park, Canalside. Roughly 10-mile guided ride for all ages and abilities. Free. First-time riders should register at


Respiratory health talk: 12:15 p.m., Dale Association, 33 Ontario St., Lockport. The Educational Respiratory Wellness Program, by Middleport Family Health Center, is designed for people with asthma, COPD, sleep apnea or other respiratory issues and their loved ones. For more info, visit [email protected] WheelWorks outing: 6 p.m., Campus WheelWorks, 744 Elmwood Ave. Five categories range from fast-paced, 30-mile course to a shorter “ice cream ride.” Bike helmet mandatory. For information on this and other excursions, visit


Meditation and relaxation: 11 a.m., Karuna Yoga Buffalo, 5225 Sheridan Drive, Amherst. Learn and practice traditional meditation to cultivate joy, happiness, relaxation, concentration and skill in everyday living. For more info, visit


Jack H. Wisby Jr. Veterans Memorial Walkway Ceremony: To honor veterans who have died, 11:30 a.m., VA Western New York Healthcare System, 222 Richmond Ave., Batavia, New York. Four veteran graduates of the PTSD program also will have their names added to the walkway, joining 51 other veterans who have been honored since it was unveiled in 2006. “The camaraderie amongst veterans is strong,” said Caryn Dilandro, program manager. “That bond carries years after veterans have graduated from PTSD treatment. This walkway and ceremony is one of the many ways our VA community honors, and advocates for, the hard work it takes in recovery from PTSD.” Following the ceremony, the annual picnic will take place. All are welcome.

Race for Scholarships: Alden Scholarship Foundation’s 12th annual 5Krun and walk at 6 p.m. Friday, 13190 Park St., Alden, outside Alden High School; kid’s fun run at 5 p.m. at Alden Town Park. After-party will coincide with “Taste of Alden” and include a family friendly kids’ zone, basket raffle, 50/50 split,  beer tent, and live music by The Yesterday Band. For more info and to register, visit the calendar page at or On-site registration at the high school runs from 3 to 6:15 p.m.

Boys Run On 5K: 7 p.m. race for students who have participated in the Boys Run On program, as well as those of all ages from the general public, Buffalo Harbor State Park (formerly Small Boat Harbor), 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd. This event will be timed for the general public but the goal of the BRO Program is for the boys to make it across the finish line supporting each other as they go, so program participants will not be timed. Registration on site from 5 to 6:30 or in advance at


Taoist tai chi: Free open house 10 a.m., Taoist Tai Chi Society of USA, 968 Kenmore Ave. Demonstrations, talk to instructors, learn about beginner class time. For info, visit, email [email protected] or call 876-7218.

Tour De Cure: Cycling fundraising event to benefit the American Diabetes Association, noon, 101 Old Falls St., Niagara Falls. To register and for more info, visit

Camp Happiness: Register by today for this camp designed for developmentally disabled residents of Niagara County, which will run from June 26-30. Register by calling 434-4050, Ext 424 or on the “Resources and Camp Information” tab at

email: [email protected]

Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

Teen hosts free wellness event for cancer survivors | Frisco Enterprise

Wakeland High School junior Piper Byers recently became old enough to drive a car. More importantly, she dreamed up, developed and is hosting a free event to aid recovering cancer patients and survivors.

“It’s kind of been a crazy process,” Byers said. “I didn’t know what I was in for when I started this, I just knew what the end goal looked like.”

Last year, Byers took a sports marketing class through her high school. From there, she qualified to interview for a class called sports management, which she then entered. This class allows her to intern off campus for two class periods.

“It’s really cool, and I don’t think a lot of people get to do this in high school,” she said. “I think the whole program is just really special.”

She has been interning with EXOS, a national company dedicated to wellness and training. The Frisco facility, housed by FieldhouseUSA, is EXOS’ fourth facility to open. The staff trains a significant number of elite and professional athletes, as well as top high school and college sports programs, according to the EXOS website. 

“I’ve had a really great team at EXOS,” Byers said. “They’ve been really helpful and they’ve gone out of their way to try to make this happen.”

Byers’ mentor encouraged and challenged her to come up with an event or program. Byers decided to develop a program she calls REGAIN. While the only thing set in stone for REGAIN is today’s event, Byers said she hopes to see it become a long-term program. 

Part of her inspiration to tailor a program toward cancer patients and survivors is derived from her personal experience. A woman she lovingly describes as her “second mom” passed away from cancer about a year ago. Byers was devastated. 

Now, around a year later, Byers is doing her part to take a stand against cancer and help those afflicted by it.

“I’ve always just had a feeling about cancer and that I need to be doing something involved with cancer,” she said.

Her vision for the REGAIN event is an educational experience that provides attendees with knowledge and practices they can take home. It will involve physical therapy, a group workout and an emphasis on nutrition. Her goal is to help survivors and recovery patients regain their physical, emotional and nutritional well-being in conjunction with the staff at EXOS.

After she came up with the idea, Byers entered into a two-month season of research. She had to look up health concerns for recovering cancer patients and tailor workouts to them. She had to consider age groups, who to invite and what transportation would be involved. 

“There was a lot of trial and error and having to find out what works and what doesn’t really quickly. I think I kind of had to grow up a little fast,” Byers said. “It took me a little while to realize that this is a very serious thing and I need to know what I am doing for this to work.”

The event kicked off at 9 a.m. today with a full spread of food and a meet and greet at Fieldhouse USA, 6155 Sports Village Road #400. Byers said seven men and women are slated to participate. The event is free to participants, in part due to the volunteer efforts of EXOS staff. REGAIN ended at 1 p.m. after covering nutrition, Functional Movement System Training and a group workout.

Byers doesn’t plan to stop after the event. While she said she is unsure about what to major in at college, she does know one thing:

“I know that I love to help people,” she said. “That’s the only thing I’m completely sure about.”