Creating Healthier Neighborhoods

By Krista Ehasz What does a healthy neighborhood look like to you? What does it feel like? Taste like? Smell like? These are the questions that lead conversations when Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative asks residents to envision what they ...

Tips and Cautions for the Weekend Warrior

If you find that weekends are your only time to exercise, take heart, especially if you engage in longer, more intense activities on Saturdays and/or Sundays. “The good news is that a recent study showed that exercisers like you have a lower risk of mortality compared to sedentary adults,” said Bruce Naughton, M.D., Univera Healthcare chief medical officer for Medicare.  “However, the jury is still out as to whether other benefits of daily exercise, such as controlling conditions such as high blood pressure, blood lipids and diabetes, hold true.” Naughton adds that there’s likely a greater risk of injury, since most sports injuries occur when physical activity is inconsistent or infrequent.   If being a weekend warrior is the only way you can fit in physical activity, Naughton recommends these basic tips to reduce the risk of injuries:   Be realistic. Don’t attempt to run a long race or lift heavy weights if you haven’t worked out in a month. Pay attention. Form and technique are always important when you exercise, but even more so when you do an activity inconsistently. Listen to your body.  If you’re feeling fatigued, slow down or take a short break. Warm up and cool down. Begin with a 10-minute walk or jog followed by some stretching. At the end of your activity, cool down slowly with less intense movement to bring your heart rate back to normal. Include some gentle stretching.   Take your time. Start your activity slowly, working up to more intensity over time. Stay hydrated and properly fed. Split your time. Rather than spending two hours in an activity, split it into smaller workouts throughout the day.  

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The Skinny On Sweet and Salty

by Peter Kates Food cravings are rarely for kale or cauliflower. More likely, they’re for something sweet, or salty. Here is what you need to know about these two substances. Sugar: Sugar is a carbohydrate that gives you energy. The healthiest form i...

Shake that Booty! Hip Hop Aerobics!

Hip-Hop Dance Aerobics is All The Rage By Shannon Traphagen Working out doesn’t have to be boring – and it isn’t when you set foot inside a class taught by Rishone Todd and Susie Kushner, energetic dance instructors who derive sheer joy from a unique form of exercise integrating hip-hop dance and aerobics. Hip-hop dance aerobics is a blast – just ask the enthusiastic students who follow them everywhere. Todd and Kushner have truly started a movement. “You have to keep moving, while your body takes in oxygen and helps burn fat, while you’re building muscle strength, joint flexibility and elasticity. It can help with losing weight, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and boosting energy,” says Todd. Most of all, it fun. Hip-hop dance aerobics has become popular world-wide, and Todd and Kushner, who have been dancing together since their college days at Niagara University, make a great team. “My classes are a reflection of my journey with all forms of dance. They embody all of the styles I’ve learned – from my home in Jamaica, to New York City, and now Buffalo, says Todd. Kushner, a Buffalo native, adds, “I’ve always been drawn to movement and making up my own routines. I love dance. It’s a part of me, and when I teach I get to share that with the world.” Sharing it with the world is exactly what Todd and Kushner are doing – having recently participated in a performance at the White House, where they shared the stage with dancers across the nation. “Touring the east wing of the White House before our performance meant the world to me. I never thought a kid from Jamaica who danced just for the love of it, could actually have the opportunity to dance on one of the biggest stages this country was built on,” said Todd. Many people shy away from the words hip-hop believing that a dance background is a necessary prerequisite. But after taking a class and meeting others who travel as far as from Clarence to Hamburg and Buffalo to experience this unique workout, I can say that isn’t the case. Shaking my booty across the dance floor, and feeling the energy of old and new tunes blast through the air, I couldn’t help but smile the whole time. “There are two types of classes, each geared toward different audiences, depending on personal goals,” explains Kushner. Both agree that the most important thing to remember is, “Everyone has a unique learning process and we help with that. Our goal is to have people feel comfortable in expressing their movement, while getting a great workout. We believe in community and lifting one another up. That’s what Buffalo is all about, and we exemplify that in our classes. If you love to move, we can help or inspire you to master your own movement.” WNY Reference Classes include Hip-Hop for Starters, Intermediate Hip-Hop, Booty Work Hip-Hop Aerobics, and Advanced Hip-Hop. Try a class at Future Dance Studio in Hamburg ( or at Studio 990 at 990 Kenmore Avenue in Buffalo. Call 649-5905 or 570-6553. You can also check out their Facebook page at Musicality Central, which is their brand name and where you can watch some of their videos.    

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Healthy Fall Snacks!

WNY Women’s Foundation Presents What She’s Made Of

WNY Women’s Foundation presents the 9th Annual What She’s Made Of Celebration featuring Teresa C. Younger, activist and advocate for women’s justice on May 22 Teresa C. Younger, the current CEO and President of Ms. Foundation for Women, will be the keynote speaker on May 22 for “What She’s Made Of,” an annual fundraising event for the WNY Women’s Foundation. Proceeds from the event will benefit programs that help women and girls achieve success through pursuing their education and gaining economic independence. This year’s theme is “Everything is Possible.” Younger works tirelessly on behalf of women and their economic and social place, always envisioning a present and future where Everything is Possible. Her work with the Ms. Foundation focuses on marginalized women and advocates national and statewide policy change to address these barriers to achievement. Under Younger’s leadership, the Ms. Foundation has joined other leading women’s organizations, including the WNY Women’s Foundation, at the White House to announce a $100 million funding commitment to create pathways to economic opportunity for low-income women and girls. A champion for women or all ages, Younger is an accomplished leader and advocate with over 20 years of experience. She helps build strong partnerships amongst diverse communities and constituencies, and approaches problem-solving with creativity and innovation in addressing organizational challenges. What She’s Made Of takes place at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on Monday, May 22nd at 5:30 pm, and will feature exquisite cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and scrumptious dessert after-party, catered by Delaware North Companies. Co-chairs of the event are WNY Women’s Foundation board members and City of Buffalo residents Nicole Nobel and Rebecca Collins. The presenting sponsor is M&T Bank. Individual tickets for this signature networking event are available for $150 per person, and a limited number of VIP tickets are also available. For additional information, please visit

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Smash Talks: Ya Little Squirt

This is super gross and I’m sorry, but is squirting real?

Groundbreaking Treatment for Post-Concussion Syndrome

by Sharon Press John was 26-years-old when he suddenly fell to the ground while at a football game with his buddies. He didn’t think much of the incident but woke up the next day feeling hungover. It turned out that John had a concussion, and his “han...

Stress Less this Holiday Season

STRESS LESS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON Tips from BlueCross BlueShield Health and Wellness Experts Provide Simple Tips to Stay Healthy and Energized Buffalo, NY- The holiday season is officially upon us. Most people feel a sense of joy and anticipation toward...

Stay Cool at the Amherst Senior Center

Why Join the Center?The Amherst Center for Senior Services wants to help area seniors beat the heat by enjoying the numerous activities and events at the Center, which is delightfully air conditioned.To become a member, you must be age 55 or older or t...

Stop the Pain – UBNS Physician is Easing the Agony

Stop the Pain and Get the Help You Need – UBNS Physician is Easing the Agony By Annette Pinder Pain is an enormous local and global problem. It is estimated that one in five adults suffer from some type of pain, and 10% are newly diagnosed each year. There isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t hear about pain, methods for relieving pain, and the dangers associated with addiction to pain medications. The National Institutes of Health notes that there are many different types and causes for pain. The four largest causes are cancer, osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, operations and injuries, and spinal problems. Pain can be sharp or dull, constant, or on-and-off, burning or aching. Acute pain is the body’s way of alerting us to a sudden injury, but it usually doesn’t take very long before that kind of pain subsides. Chronic pain is completely different – it persists – often for months or even longer. It can occur as a result of an injury or other health problems, and in different areas of the body, and it is often debilitating. Pain experienced over a long period of time wears people down, can interfere with their sleep, appetite, mental wellbeing, flexibility, strength and stamina. People who suffer from chronic pain often feel despair as they are no longer able to enjoy the life and activities to which they were accustomed. Jafar Siddiqui, M.D., of UB Neurosurgery (UBNS), understands that when people experience relentless chronic pain they want to be helped as soon as possible, and it is a need he is anxious to address. “Since chronic pain can occur in many different parts of the body for different reasons, patients and their health professionals need to work together to identify the causes and symptoms of that pain, and how it can be relieved,” says Dr. Siddiqui. He adds, “UBNS has the technology to help us diagnose the pain so that we can develop the best course of treatment that is tailored to each person. Our goal is to reduce pain and improve function, so that they can get back to living and enjoying their daily activities.” “While there is usually no cure for chronic pain, there are effective interventional pain management techniques,” says Dr. Siddiqui. With fluoroscopic guidance, he treats and diagnoses spinal conditions using epidural steroid injections, facet joint injections, medial branch blocks, radiofrequency ablation, nerve blocks, epidural blood patches, spinal cord stimulation, sacroiliac joint injections, trigger point injections and Botox injections. He does prescribe medication, when necessary, noting that “medication is a privilege.” Some of his patients also find relief in alternative therapies such as tai chi, acupuncture, chiropractic care, physical therapy, meditation, and massage. “Above all,” says Dr. Siddiqui, “It is important for those experiencing chronic pain to become invested in managing their own treatment, and communicating with their health care provider because there is help and there is hope.” WNY Resource: Jafar Siddiqui, M.D. practices physical medicine and rehabilitation at UB Neurosurgery. He is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, a Diplomate of the American Board of Pain Medicine, and received Compassionate Doctor Recognition. Dr. Siddiqui sees patients at 180 Park Club Lane in Williamsville and at 5959 Big Tree Road office in Orchard Park. To make an appointment call 716-218-1050.    

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Benefits of plant-based medicine

By Shannon Traphagen Across cultures, herbal medicine is a part of our human heritage. Herbs are an important tool in conventional medicine throughout Europe, Asia, and India, and have been used since the 1800’s. In the early 1900s, American doctors commonly used naturopathy, homeopathy, and other holistic practices to help alleviate or combat certain ailments and diseases. While it has taken some time to gain popularity again in mainstream medicine, there has been renewed interest in plant-based medicine due to evidence-based support of wellness. A living plant is a complex system with hundreds of interacting chemicals, balancing each plant’s strengths– creating a greater impact than the effect of consuming isolated components. Using the whole plant or whole plant extract, influence how each of the plants work, offering several different ways they may work in synergy. For example, they may help stabilize each other, enhance each other, or modify the impact of certain elements. Sarah Sorci, of Sweet Flag Herbs in Buffalo NY, says, “There are so many plants right in our own backyard that can heal or promote health.” Sorci has a passion to foster deeper connections with plants, especially medicinal and edible plants in our local ecosystem, and enhance individual well being and environmental sustainability. A graduate from Denison University in 2007 with a Bachelors in Environmental Studies/Sustainable Development, Sarah went on to obtain certification as a graduate of the Holistic Herbalism program at the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine. “Becoming an herbalist is the perfect combination of natural gardening and permaculture, forest ecology, counseling skills,  anatomy/physiology, nutrition, world culture, botany, and chemistry all rolled into one,” states Sorci. Sorci says she is asked all the time how she uses plants to promote personal health. “I love incorporating medicinal plants into cooking, whether eating the leaves in a salad or adding the root of a plant into a soup or tea.” Some of her favorites that offer healing benefits include, lemon balm, peppermint, and dandelion root. “Lemon balm is a garden herb that I’ve found grows wild here in WNY. It’s part of the mint family and can help alleviate digestive symptoms, balance mood, or be used to cook with–for example as a marinade in salad dressing. It’s also great as an antiviral.” She explains that with education, many plants are edible and beneficial, “Peppermint can be used as an anti-microbial, and dandelion root supports liver health, stimulates the gallbladder for fat breakdown, and is an excellent source of prebiotic which feeds our gut flora.” According to the Mayo Clinic, prebiotics are non-digestible fiber compounds that are key for managing immune and digestive health. They nourish the probiotics in the digestive tract and fortify the protective barrier between the gut and the rest of the body. I, myself have eaten dandelion leaves and tend to saute them as a side dish with dinner. While they have a mild bitter taste, they are truly delicious and have helped ease digestive upset. Sorci says plant-based medicine is truly a passion of hers. “Not only have I developed richer relationships within my community, but it’s helped me connect with people and the environment on a deeper level.” Sorci teaches classes to help educate the community on the impact of plant-based medicine, both personally and ecologically. She works part-time at Lockwood’s Greenhouse in Hamburg, NY where she occasionally teaches classes. She has also partnered with several continuing education program, including, Jamestown Community College. Sorci offers nature hikes and walks through Greystone Nature Preserve in Fredonia, and offers education classes at the Dawnfire Sanctuary in Williamsville and Creative Wellness in East Aurora. Sweet Flag Herbs next two education classes are: Springtime Herbal Remedies on May 15th and 22nd at the beHealthy Institute in Hamburg NY, and Backyard Remedies May 23rd and 30th at Creative Wellness in East Aurora. For more information about Sweet Flag Herbs education classes and plant-based medicine, visit or call 716-997-2007.

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