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Wellness Guide for Insiders

Try a new indoor activity.

Local recreation departments offer lots of indoor fun, including open-gym volleyball and Jazzercize in Mountain View and open-gym Pickleball (cross between tennis, badminton and table tennis) and fourth-Friday dances for seniors (live music) in Los Gatos. Call your nearest mall to ask if it has a formal walking program or opens doors early for walkers and joggers.

Lace up your skates.

Show off your ice skating skills at a public skating session at the San Jose Sharks’ official practice facility, Sharks Ice at San Jose. Visit sharksiceatsanjose.com for more info.

Get your vitamin D.

If you spend lots of time indoors, you might not be getting enough vitamin D3, an essential vitamin your body produces when exposed to sunlight. A safer way to get your daily dose of vitamin D, which promotes bone and immune system health, is by taking a supplement. Instead of sunbathing, you can also eat foods packed or fortified with vitamin D, including milk, salmon, cod liver oil, and some yogurts. There’s some disagreement among health organizations about recommended dosage; the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends 600 IU per day for most Americans up to age 70 and 800 IU per day for Americans 71 and older. Consult your doctor.

Prevent CO poisoning.

Never use appliances such as ovens, gas ranges, charcoal grills, or gas-powered generators indoors to heat your home. Change the ba eries of your carbon monoxide detectors every six months, and have your heating system; chimney; and other gas, oil or coal-burning appliances professionally serviced every year.

Skip the tanning beds.

To get a sun-kissed look without the skin damage or cancer risk, try a sunless self-tanner. Topical products containing dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a tanning agent approved by the FDA for external use, are generally considered by dermatologists to be safe alternatives to tanning beds and sunbathing. Tanning pills are not FDA-approved and are considered unsafe.

Fill your home and workplace with plants.

The benefits of houseplants are not just aesthetic. Studies, including one from NASA and a 2009 HortScience study, show certain common houseplants have the potential to clean indoor air by removing harmful pollutants. Having plants around also offers psychological benefits: According to a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, office workers reported improvements in productivity, concentration, and job satisfaction when working within view of plants.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of the El Camino Hospital Health Beat magazine.

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