Two boys with lifejackets in shallow water (photo by iStock)
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio: July/August 2023

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources offers advice for staying safe on Ohio’s inland lakes, and a doctor shares how to help protect the health of your brain. 

Swim Smart
Taking a dip in one of Ohio’s numerous inland lakes is a fun way to enjoy summer, but be sure to follow these simple guidelines.

For Ohio families looking for a fun way to  spend a summer day, there is a lake — either natural or manmade — with a swimming beach no farther than an hour away, and usually much closer, says Lt. Dawn Powell of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and Watercraft. But lake swimming is different than plunging into a pool and requires precautions. “You don’t necessarily know what is under the water’s surface,” Powell says. Wind and weather can also make lake swimming unpredictable. Here’s how to navigate the variables so you can focus on enjoying your time in the water. 

Wind. A light breeze can accelerate into strong wind quickly, pushing you out farther than you planned. For this reason, floaties like rafts are not allowed in the state parks’ inland lakes. Wind can quickly carry a raft beyond the safe swimming zone, where depths can drop drastically, Powell says. When lake swimming, always bring along a life jacket and require children to wear them. 

Weather. Keep an eye to the sky for signs of a storm on the way. “If you see dark clouds coming from any direction, exit the water,” Powell advises. Never go in the water if there is thunder or lightning and stay out of the water for 30 minutes after the last lightning strike. 

Warmth. Consider how far along summer has progressed when planning a swimming outing with the family for optimal water temperature. “Most of our inland lakes do not start warming up until mid-June,” Powell says, “and water is warmest in September.” 


Cartoon brain walking on a treadmill (photo by iStock)
Brain Power
World Brain Day is July 22. Follow these five smart strategies for protecting the health of yours. 

The brain is the control center of our bodies and the interpreter of everything we see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Although it only weighs around 3 pounds, the brain carries major weight in our quality of life.

“[The brain] needs to function well in order for other organs to perform,” says Dr. Imran Ali of ProMedica Neurosciences Center in Toledo.

As humans grow older and live longer, the prevalence of disorders impacting brain health are more likely to touch us or someone in our lives. Stroke, dementia and migraines cause the most disability due to brain disorders, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease study.

Ongoing research related to prevention and treatment of brain diseases includes initiatives to understand the impact of gut bacteria on the nervous system, new medications to manage Alzheimer’s disease, stem cell and gene therapy in various neurological disorders and minimally invasive endovascular treatments.

World Brain Day is July 22, but every day is an opportunity to care for yours. Here are five strategies Ali says can help protect the brain and ensure its health as we age.  — KH  

Eat Smart. “A balanced diet that is low in saturated fats, carbohydrates, sodium and sugars is a preventive measure,” Ali says, explaining that hypertension from salt and high cholesterol can block blood flow and exacerbate conditions that lead to neurological disorders. 

Get Moving. “Exercise has a positive effect on brain function, and it doesn’t have to be strenuous,” Ali says, adding that consistency is the key. Exercise increases heart rate, meaning more oxygen is pumped to the brain. It stimulates cell growth in the brain, improves cognition and it releases feel-good endorphins that also trigger cell growth.

Exercise Your Mind. Working out the brain in different ways might include puzzles, reading, building with Legos, listening to podcasts, playing chess or cards, meditation or tai chi. Socialization is also part of keeping the mind sharp. “People who have social networks of friends and family do better in terms of overall mental health and also with neurological illnesses, which have a similar brain-related basis,” Ali says.

Protect Your Head. There is a link between repeated concussions and dementia, Ali says. Wear a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike or scooter. If you experience a concussion, contact the doctor and refrain from that activity until cleared by a healthcare provider. 

Keep Your Appointments. “Regular visits to a primary care physician are important to measure cholesterol and blood pressure, and to look out for your health to identify modifiable factors and medical history that might make an impact,” Ali says.