Health e-News
February 2013
Find Your Target
Healthy Travels FitPak
Smoking Is Worse for Women's Hearts
Heart Health Interventions
myAffinity Online
Walk to Beat Stress
Breakfast With the Experts
Heart Healthy Foods
Quick Links

Did you know?

  • Smoking is harder on a woman's heart than a man's.
  • Sodium is in many processed foods--even if you can't taste it!
  • You should be able to carry on a brief conversation while exercising.
  • Workplace meetings don't require chairs.

Read on for these and more fascinating facts!


In this February edition of Health e-News, we're celebrating American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness of cardiovascular health and its many risk factors. 


Please share the news with your employees. Their version of this month's newsletter is available at:

To your good health, 

Connie Mahaffey

Director, Wellness and Employer Solutions

Affinity Health System

TargetFind Your Target

What's one of the best ways to boost your heart health? Exercise! But be careful not to over-do it. Pushing too hard can deprive your muscles of needed oxygen, which leads to soreness and fatigue. In order to gain maximum health benefits from working out, the key is to reach--and maintain--your target heart rate.
It's best to exercise within your target zone for 20 to 60 minutes per session. To find your target heart rate, choose one of two methods:
1. The Talk Test
You've found the right intensity if you can carry on a brief conversation while exercising. If you can easily carry on a long conversation, try pushing a little harder. But decrease your intensity if you have trouble getting out a sentence.
2. The Formula
For those who prefer the scientific method, follow this simple formula: 220 minus your age, multiplied by .55 to .85. In other words, your target heart rate is between 55 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. 
For example, for a healthy 40-year-old, target heart rate is between 99 and 153 beats per minute.
220 - 40 = 180 (max heart rate)
180 x .55 = 99
180 x .85 = 153

Be aware these numbers are for the average person. Seasoned athletes or people with a heart condition may follow different guidelines. Ask your doctor what's right for you.  

SignHealthy Travels FitPak 

A creative solution for improving driver health 


According to the National Institutes of Health, a shocking 54 percent of male truck drivers smoke cigarettes, 92 percent don't exercise regularly, 50 percent are overweight, and 66 percent are unaware they have high blood pressure. 


Lowering the percentages of these statistics in commercial motor vehicle drivers will reduce health costs, work absences, and short-term disability. 


How? Introducing the Healthy Travels FitPak, a wellness tool kit to help your employees live healthier and gain a successful renewal of their federal medical exam card. This FitPak will give your drivers the education, tools, and resources needed to stay healthy at home and on the road.


FitPak The Healthy Travels FitPak includes:

  • Helpful guides on stress and fatigue management, nutrition, health and fitness
  • "Stop and Go Fast Food Guide" - to assist drivers in making healthier dining out options with an easy-to-follow stoplight format
  • A 10-Minute Stretch & Flex Program along with a resistance band
  • Water bottle and hydration tips to encourage drinking water rather than sugary beverages
  • Access to a telephonic health coach to help develop a personalized action plan
  • And much more!

Affinity will work with you to deliver the FitPak program based on your company's culture and needs. 


Promotional materials, wellness challenges, interactive quizzes, and incentives are available to you through this program to help roll it out successfully and motivate your population to take advantage of these great resources. 


If you are ready to get your drivers moving in the right direction to improve their quality of life, ease the process of obtaining their cards, and reduce health care costs, the FitPak is a great program to get you started. Call Affinity Occupational Health today at (920) 628-1532.  

WomenSmoking Is Worse for Women's Hearts 

By Brian Harrison, MD, Affinity Occupational Health 


Have you heard the old saying that "figures will not lie, but liars will figure?" This seems especially accurate in the area of heart disease risk in female smokers. The truth of the matter is that smoking adds an even greater heart disease risk to women than it does to men. The figures don't lie. Yet corporate tobacco advertizes to women with lies about their "figures!" That is, tobacco makers entice women to smoke using slick packaging and advertising that makes promises of slender figures to women who smoke.

The fact is that women smokers suffer a greater risk of heart disease than do men, by 25 percent (Huxley and Woodward, 2011). Women smokers run this greater risk even though they smoke fewer cigarettes on average than male smokers do. Either gender-related sensitivity to toxins or gender differences in smoking behaviors, or both, put women at more risk. Other research showing greater risks to female non-smokers from second hand smoke (Bolego, 2002) seems to tip the scale in the direction of blaming yet-unidentified differences in male and female physiology.

The Million Women Study conducted in the United Kingdom (Pirie, 2012) recently showed that even women who consider themselves just "social smokers," and not regular, pack-a-day users, run substantial risk nevertheless. Even smoking just a few cigarettes a day doubled the risk of heart disease death above that of women who had never smoked.

The same study showed that the earlier a woman started smoking in her life, and the more years she smoked, the greater the excess heart disease risk she ran compared to that of a man. For every year that a woman continued smoking, her risk of developing a heart condition increased at a 2 percent higher rate than that of same-aged men. That's 2 percent extra risk, added each and every year a woman smokes, beyond the already high risk run by men who smoke.

Thankfully, this massive study underscored the fact that stopping smoking works extraordinarily well at reversing these deadly trends. When women stop all use of tobacco by age 30, they go on to normal life expectancies, avoiding essentially all of the excess mortality that smoking causes. If they do not quit until age 40, they still can avoid more than 90 percent of the excess death risk. But with each passing year beyond that, some risk remains. Quitting at any point in one's life helps, and it never becomes too late to achieve benefits from quitting. But beyond 40, women who smoked seemed to come near a "tipping point," after which some risk will remain the rest of their life. Still, these residual risks pale in comparison to the risk of continued smoking (for example, a 20 percent increased lifetime heart disease risk if a woman quits at age 40 compared to a 200 percent increased risk if she continues).

Huge studies like these have churned out large figures that tell the truth of the matter, namely that as bad as smoking is for men, it is worse for women. It seems unfortunate that science has discovered this gender discrepancy only lately, considering that the alarms sounded over 50 years ago that tobacco kills. Consider though that the popularity of smoking among young women did not peak until the 1960s, several decades later than for men. Only lately has research shown the "shadow" cast on women by their more recent acceptance of tobacco. Unfortunately we now find tobacco casts an even longer shadow on women's health than it does on men.

One may also wonder, how much "knowing better" does it take before we finally come to "doing better?" Everybody seems to know the dangers of tobacco already. This brings me back to my opening, namely that although these figures do not lie, liars do figure, and that one way they spin their lies is to capitalize on women's worries about their own "figure." Slick packaging and advertising that makes both stated and implied connections between the "slimming" effects of smoking and glamour can pull young women into this lifelong addiction. Once addicted, "knowing better" does not automatically lead to "doing better."

Speak the truth to your daughters, nieces, and any young women in your lives. Let them know that despite tobacco's false advertising targeting women, this ugly habit places an unfair burden of disease and death on women. Girls who haven't smoked should never start. Women who have started should quit, and the sooner the better. The truth about their health, self-esteem, and lives clearly matters more than false promises. Beware of "smoke and mirrors!"


1. Huxley RR, Woodward M, "Cigarette Smoking Is A Risk Factor For Coronary Heart Disease In Women Compared With Men" Lancet 2011 October 8; 378 (9799):1297-305.
2. Pirie K, Peto R, "The 21st Century Hazards Of Smoking And Benefits Of Stopping: A Prospective Study Of 1 Million Women In The United Kingdom," Lancet 2012 October 26 (12) 61720-6.
3. Huxley RR, Woodward M, "Full Hazards of Smoking and Benefits of Stopping for Women," (commentary) Lancet 2012 October 27.
4. Bolego C, Poli A, Paoletti R. Smoking and gender," Cardiovascular Research. 2002;53(3):568-576.  

ExerciseFocus on Employee Heart Health With These Effective Interventions 
February is National Heart Month, and Affinity Occupational Health is here to help you zero in on cardiac health risks among your employee population. We offer a wide range of heart-related interventions. Here's a sampling.
Tobacco Free Workplace Solutions
A multi-dimensional motivational and educational campaign focused on everybody in the workplace and their families, not just those who use tobacco. This program is a three-month "presence" aimed at changing the culture of tobacco. We employ a multimedia approach to help you create meaningful awareness in your organization that benefits everyone.
A hands-on, 52-week worksite campaign designed to promote healthy attitudes toward weight management. The Live LEAN program uses multiple modalities to engage and educate participants including challenges, learn-its (brief presentations), rewards and more. Looking for a shorter program? Try Live LEAN Lite--a compact version with effective results.
On My Weigh
An interactive program that teaches participants how to self-manage their weight loss efforts. Our 10-week series provides participants with the tools and information they need to make a lasting change. The program covers key topics such as dieting vs. lifestyle, setting goals, planning, overcoming obstacles and setbacks, and key nutritional and exercise information. Each session encourages open dialogue and provides activities and visual displays to reinforce the concepts.
Get Fit in :30
Affinity Occupational Health has designed a new and creative concept for worksite fitness, the "Get Fit in :30" program. Get Fit in :30 is an exercise program for employees to participate at work during work hours! Exercise can improve a long list of health concerns, including risk factors associated with heart disease. This circuit training program incorporates both cardio and strength training exercises into one workout. We also offer a personal, at-home version of this program.
Nutrition Journaling Programs
Affinity offers a wide range of nutrition journaling programs designed to motivate your entire workforce to start eating healthy. Examples include "Bite It and Write It," "FiberFit," "Naughty or Nice" and more. Call us for a full range of options.
Fitness Challenges and Programs
Affinity offers a wide range of on-site fitness programs designed to motivate your entire workforce to get active. Examples include customized walking/pedometer programs, "Walk It Off!" and "Deskercises." Call us for details and more options.
Wellness Presentations
Our wellness experts will come on site to share helpful information on a variety of topics, from fitness and food to stress, blood pressure, and much more. These are perfect for a lunch and learn or for your next all-staff meeting.
For more information or a comprehensive menu of interventions, call Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532.

KeyboardWhat's Happening at Affinity 

Welcome to myAffinity!

Affinity now offers a personalized online portal called myAffinity: 


When you create a myAffinity account, you'll gain access to a variety of services at your fingertips. From myAffinity, you can:

  • Access information about your health records, medications, visits and more
  • Request an appointment
  • Request a referral to a specialist
  • Request prescription refills
  • Update contact information
  • Pay bills electronically
  • Send a secure message to the billing department
  • Send a non-urgent secure message to your Medical Home team
  • Request medical records

How to sign up
To register for a myAffinity account, stop in your clinic and pick up your personal instruction letter, which contains your PIN. You may also call to have the letter mailed to you directly. (This letter must be obtained in person or by mail to maximize the security of your personal information.) Your letter will direct you to the myAffinity website and give you all the information you need to create your secure myAffinity account.

WalkingTry This! Workplace Wellness Tip:

Got Stress? Take a Walk!

Stress is one of the biggest threats to your employees' health. Help decrease their stress by encouraging walking throughout the day!
Walking breaks, even for 10 minutes once or twice a day, will help employees increase physical activity and clear their mind from the day's stress. These short breaks will allow employees to return to their work station rejuvenated and ready to tackle the rest of the day's tasks.
Take it one step further by encouraging meetings on the go! Who says all meetings need to take place in a conference room? Boost your wellness culture by encouraging walk-and-talk meetings.   
Cereal with blueberriesBreakfast With the Experts


Health Care Reform: Should You "Pay" or "Play"?
Presented by Robert Simandl, JD
Simandl Law Group, S.C.

Wednesday, March 13
7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah

Robert Simandl, of the boutique labor and employment firm of the Simandl Law Group, S.C., will lead a discussion on the health reform act provisions on "Pay or Play" and the business decision points in health plan design and operation. Bob will discuss the requirements for "Pay or Play" and the hidden pitfalls for employers. He will also explore plan design and operational issues to accomplish plan exclusion of employees and how the exchanges can become a part of the planning process for employers. Also, a discussion on the effective use of wellness plans in cost containment will be included in this timely presentation.
Robert Simandl is the founding member and principal at Simandl Law Group. He has over 25 years of experience advising clients on a wide range of employee benefits, labor and employment law issues. He counsels employers on all aspects of workplace law compliance. He earned his undergraduate degree, with honors, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his J.D. from Marquette University Law School, graduating cum laude.
To register for this free seminar, contact Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532 or

AvacadoHeart Healthy Foods: What You Need to Know 

By Rachel Johnson, RD, wellness account specialist


Want the basics on eating right for a healthy heart? Affinity wellness account specialist and registered dietitian Rachel Johnson gives us the "skinny" on fats--and other nutrition factors.


1. Get the facts on fats!
Forget these fats: trans and saturated! Not all fats and oils are created equal. There has been a lot of buzz around the heart hazardous, artery clogging trans-fat and saturated fat. Work to decrease your intake of these "bad fats" by making some healthy substitutions.


Trans-fat is found in stick margarine, shortening, and many processed foods. To identify if a food has trans-fat, check out the food label. If it contains the words hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated, avoid it! Don't be fooled by labels that read "trans-fat free." This simply means that per serving there is less than 0.5g of trans-fat. Having multiple sources or servings of these foods daily will quickly rack up your total trans-fat intake!


Saturated fat comes primarily from animal sources including full-fat dairy, butter, ice cream, and red meat. Try to remember that most of our saturated fat comes from our four legged friends! Unhealthy fats are solid at room temperature, but heart healthy oils are not!


Focus on oil. Two heart-healthy oils to focus on are poly-unsaturated fatty acids, also known as PUFAs, and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, MUFAs. Incorporating MUFAs and PUFAs into your diet in place of their less healthy fat counterparts is a great way to improve your cholesterol values and overall heart health.


Great sources of PUFAs include oily fish such as tuna, salmon, cold water trout, mackerel, and sardines. Aim for at least two servings per week. Other foods to add to your diet include walnuts, flax seed, omega-3 fortified eggs, and small leafy greens.


Cooking with olive oil and canola oil is a great way to add MUFAs to your diet. Try substituting these for butter when cooking, or use an olive oil based vinaigrette in place of creamy dressing such as ranch or thousand island. Also, try substituting avocado on your sandwich in place of mayonnaise and snack on nuts and seeds!


2. Worth its salt?
When working to improve your heart health, take notice of the sodium content in your foods. Decrease sodium intake by cutting back on processed foods. Processed foods, whether in a can, box, or bag, have added sodium to keep it shelf stable and to preserve it. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the same preservation effect on us! Remember, just because you can't taste it, doesn't mean it isn't there, so be sure to check out the food label. For healthy adults, keep your sodium intake below 2000mg per day.


3. Eat fresh!
Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables every day? Most people are surprised to hear the recommendation is to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day!


One of the many benefits of fruits and vegetables is that they are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium. While sodium increases your blood pressure, potassium works to keep it in check. The recommendation for healthy adults is to consume twice as much potassium as sodium each day. Unfortunately, as a country we tend to get twice as much sodium as potassium! Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is a step in the right direction. Great sources of potassium from fruit include bananas, watermelon, oranges, cantaloupe, and plums. If you favor vegetables, reach for sweet potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, winter squash and broccoli.


4. Weigh in!
One of the best ways to keep your heart healthy is to maintain a healthy weight. Balance your calories consumed with calories burned. If you could lose weight, even a 10 percent weight loss can improve your overall heart health.


5. Move it!
Speaking of calories burned, don't forget to exercise! Not only will it help you maintain or work towards a healthy weight, but your heart is the most important muscle in your body. Just like any other muscle, you need to exercise it to keep it healthy and strong. 

Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team 
Holly Tomlin, lead employer health and wellness consultant for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs.  Holly's background includes 15 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. As a certified massage therapist, Holly has a special interest in educating others on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including wellness and prevention initiatives. 

Tammy Davis, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, provides corporate clients with valuable information regarding services offered through Affinity Occupational Health. She works closely with clients to determine their specific needs for health and wellness services. Tammy has a bachelor's degree in business administration from UW Oshkosh and over 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and customer service.

To contact Holly or Tammy, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail or