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Health and Wellness


When it comes to muscle, use it, lose it, or build it! Muscle plays a crucial role in human health; it allows us to stand, walk, balance, lift and breathe. Building and maintaining muscle is important for both men and women, because strong muscles help reduce back pain, prevent falls and more. Registered dietitian nutritionists, personal trainers and physicians agree muscle mass is important for optimal calorie burning, dense bones and increased energy.

Consistent resistance training at all ages plays an important role in preventing both sarcopenia and osteoporosis. Sarcopenia is a slow muscle loss that occurs with aging. An individual that is not physically active can lose an estimated 3% to 5% of lean body muscle per decade after the age of 30. Sarcopenia contributes to loss of strength, mobility issues and disability, and falls are particular concern for older adults with sarcopenia. Resistance training at least twice a week and consuming an adequate amount of high-quality sources of protein may help to slow or partially reverse the effects of natural, gradual sarcopenia.

Resistance training may help prevent osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak, porous bones, which then become prone to fractures. Similar to sarcopenia, osteoporosis has a gradual onset, with inadequate nutrition and lack of physical activity being some of the risk factors. Adequate calcium and vitamin D consumption paired with sufficient physical activity, specifically resistance training and weight-bearing exercises, can help prevent osteoporosis, reduce severity of the disease or stop its progression.

Although resistance training strengthens and maintains the major muscle groups. It does not always equate to bulking up. Resistance training does not need to happen at the gym; in fact, it is easy to do anywhere. For best outcomes, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends strength training two or three times a week, to the point at which it would be difficult  to do another repetition. While some people may prefer weight machines, free weights are often a preferred method and can be used anywhere. When using weight machines, free weights or resistance bands, selecting the proper weight is crucial to improving strength and preventing injury. Set a target of eight to 12 repetitions and work up gradually to two to three sets.

If you prefer exercises that do not require weights, exercises that use your own body weights also are a good option. Pushups, squats, planks, hip lifts and dips are just some of the numerous equipment-free resistance training options. Yoga can also build muscle using body weight while improving flexibility and reducing stress. Incorporating resistance training into a regular exercise routine is crucial for maintaining healthy muscles and bones while increased muscle mass can boost energy and metabolism.

What are you favorite money saving tips at the store or market?

Aisle by aisle, there are savings all over the store! Find out how to save more money next time you shop by following the tips below.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are great choices at the store! You can find them fresh, canned, frozen, and dried. Look for those that are on sale to save money. For fresh items that are not on sale, purchase those that are less processed. For example, buy a head of lettuce that you would need to cut up at home instead of bags of pre-cut and pre-washed lettuces. Canned, frozen, and dried items are often just as good for you as fresh! Limited canned, frozen, and dried fruits that have added sugars.

Grains and Cereals

Choose grain products, like breads, cereals, pasta, and rice, that are on sale. Stock up if you can when a good price hits! Breads can be frozen for longer storage. Look for store versions of name-brand favorites.

Protein Foods

Check the sales ads before you go shopping to plan meals based on these. Canned meats (such as chicken or tuna), beans, peanut butter, and eggs are also great protein choices to try at home.

Dairy and Eggs

Check the advertisements and different stores to find the best milk and eggs prices in town. If you eat shredded cheese, it is usually lower cost to buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself!

Overall Tips

  • Make sure to check the sales advertisements each week before shopping.
  • If you favorite store has a savings card or program, think about signing up for additional savings.
  • Compare prices between store brands and name brand items to get the best bang for your buck.
  • If you use coupons, make sure they are for items you really will use at home and that are really saving you money!

New 3/21 - Family and Human Development

Did you kow that approximately 31% of Montanans report not getting enough sleep? This statistic is worrisome, since getting enough quality sleep every night can help to improvve health. For example, quality sleep reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases, is beneficial for mental health, and even sharpens focus at work. Being well-rested can improve things from mood and memory to the ability to fight off infection. But what exactly is good quality sleep, and how much of it is needed? This MontGuide provides answers to these questions, and strategies to Improve sleep habits to wake up rested, and help improve overall health and wellbeing.

Why is Sleep so Important?

Sleep is essential to physical and mental health, as it helps our bodies and minds recover and rejuvenate from the stressors of everyday life. As a result, when we sleep well, research suggests that are more energetic, happier, and able to better concentrate. Everyone, from children to adults, can benefit from getting better sleep.

How does a body know when to sleep?

Human beings are built to be active during the day and asleep at night. Our sleep patterns are regulated by circadian rhythms. Carcadian rhythems are internally driven cycles that work like a 24-hour clock, telling when we should go to sleep and when we should wake up. At night, our brains produce melatonin, a hormone that helps with the timing of circadian rhythms. This internal clock also regulates processes within the body such as hormonal activity, body temperature, and our digestive system. If we don't get enough quality sleep, these internal processes may be disturbed. In turn, this disruption can negatively affect sleep quality.

How much sleep do we need?

Although the average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep per night, some people may need more to feel fully rested. Inaddition to quantity of sleep, the quality is critical.

In order to get quality sleep, our bodies must progress through the sleep cycle, composed of four seperate sleep stages. Sleep scientists think that each sleep stage serves a different purpose. For example, most of our dreaming occurs in REM sleep, which helps us process the events that have happened to us. If we do not properly cycle through these four stages (anywhere from four to six times per night), our bodies are unable to get high-quality rest. Some signs of not getting quality sleep include:

  • Feeling tired despite having slept long enough
  • Having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Waking up repeatedly through the night
  • Snoring or gasping for air while sleeping
  • Needing an alarm clock to wake up
  • Falling asleep within five minutes
  • Feeling groggy or dozing off during daily activities such as watching TV, riding in a car, sitting quietly
  • Feeling irritable, anxious, or having a difficult time paying attention during the daytime

Read the full MontGuide on Sleep here

2021 Winter - Lives & Landscapes Magazine

Twenty-four communities across the state participated last year in Reimagining Rural, a Montana State University Extension program that focuses on providing Montana's small towns with opportunities to shape their future.

The program recognizes that Montana's small towns are facing challenges of shifting demographics and evolving economics, according to Tara Mastel, MSU Extension's community development program leader.

"The Reimagining Rural program features speakers with stories of success in rural communities and the positive trends in rural demographics to help local leaders see a path to a vital future for their community," Mastel said.

At the conclusion of the program, the Montana Community Program Foundation, a program partner, awarded $32,000 in grants to the community to support projects that were identified or discussed during the series.

The grants will fund a variety of initiatives, including training for local leaders; local arts development; community-sponsored activities for all ages that are designed to provide inclusion for newcomers in small towns - including a permanent, covered location for a farmer's market; a history trail project; tourism promotion of rural areas; community beautification efforts; interpretive signs; and a community visitor kiosk.

Read full article on the ReImagining Rural program here

During power outages, food spoilage can be a serious problem when refriderators and freezers loose power. Consumers can help avoid spoilage and foodborne illness in their homes by making sure foods stay properly refridgerated during a power outage.

Be Prepared

Make sure - before an outage - that the refrigerator is set below 40oF. Stock up on nonperishable foods that don't require refrigeration, and choose single-serve sizes if available to avoid the need for refrigeration of unused portions. Consider these easy, nutritious, shelf-stable foods:

  • Breads and Grains
    • single-serve boxes of whole-grain cereal, trail mix, energy bars, granola bars, cereal bars, bagels, crackers, and popcorn.
  • Fruits and Vegetables
    • carrot and celery sticks and other cut-up raw vegetables, grapes, single-serve applesauce, whole fruit (apples, peaches, bananas) dried fuit mix and juice boxes
  • Dairy
    • single-serve milk or soy beverage boxes and non-refrigerated pudding cups
  • Meat and Other Protein sources
    • cans of tuna, peanut butter, nuts and single-serve packages of peanut butter and crackers

When the Power Goes Out

During a power outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed and open them only when necessary. If power is restored within four hours, items in the refrigerator should be safe to ear. A full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for two days if the door remains closed. A half-full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for one day if the door remains closed.

Once the Power is Restored

When power is restored, check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. If it has risen to 45oF or higher, discard any potentially spoiled foods. Such foods include meat, poultry, fish, dairy and egg products, soft cheese, cooked beans, cooked rice, cooked potatoes, cooked pasta, potato salad, custard and pudding. 

Allow time for the refrigerator to reach below 40oF before restocking. And, of course, when in doubt, throw it out.

To view article and other related articles, click here

What is the Well-Connected Communities Program?

"Well-Connected Communities (WCC) nationwide program goal: Communities become healthier through the inclusion and participation of the residents helping each other at all ages."

Coalistions, including youth and adult community leaders, will:

  • Identify community health strengths, challenges, and priorities.
  • Develop and implement a community action plan to address a priority health issue.
  • Participate in action plan and volunteer leadership training opportunities.
  • Receive content and technical support from MSU campus specialists across all content areas and the National Well-Connected Community Team

The National Well-Connected Communities program information may be found on the website linked here

Keeping Infants Safe in Midst of Formula Shortage

There are few things that worry a parent more than their children’s health and safety. The ongoing infant formula shortage due to supply chain issues, which worsened due to a major formula recall in February, has left many caregivers feeling concerned and anxious about their options for safely feeding their infants.

Families receiving formula through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC, are among the many affected by the recall. The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service are taking many actions to help ensure WIC participants can get safe formula to nourish their babies.

Some steps you can take to ensure the safety of your infant’s formula include:

Please note: Only medical professionals are qualified to provide advice on acceptable alternatives to formulas that may currently be difficult to find. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips for parents and caregivers who are struggling to find baby formula during the shortage

. Please talk with your pediatrician about safe and appropriate feeding alternatives for your child if needed.

The Food and Nutrition Service takes seriously its role in making sure infants served by FNS programs, including WIC, have access to the safe, healthy food they need to thrive. We are committed to helping families navigate this difficult time.

Published January 26th, 2022 - Eat Right

Make this year the year for modeling healthful lifestyle and eating habits to your family. Leading by example is a great way to encourage and provide family support. Here are just a few ideas to get your started:

Nutrition that Counts

  • Offer regular meals throughout the day including a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Try starting the day with a healthful breakfast, such as oatmeal with fruit, nuts and low-fat milk or yogurt. Encourage balanced choices at lunch or help pack a brown bag lunch. Promote a supportive environment and get everyone together for dinnertime at least a few times a week.
  • Remember to put the focus on health, not weight. Kids and teenagers are very observant and tend to repeat things they hear or see. Try to avoid making comments about your weight in front of them as it can overemphasize looks and undervalue health.
  • Encourage a healthy eating style by following MyPlate recommendations at meals. Aim to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, a quarter grains, and the remaining quarter protein, along with a serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy or calcium-fortified alternative.

Ftiness and Wellness

  • Get active. Add physical activity whenever you can into your day, whether it's taking a family walk after dinner or joining the gym. Remember, children and teens should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day, and adults should get two and a half hours per week.
  • Reduce your family's risk of food poisoning by encouraging good food safety habits such as wshing hands before every meal. Having kids and teens help in the kitchen can also be a great way to teach them about food safety.
  • Stay Positive! Even if you struggle to work in physical activity or to finish your vegetables, set a good example. Your child is listening to everything you say, even if you think they're ignoring you.

By focusing on a few goals at a time, small steps can become great strides towards a healthier lifestyle.

If you're looking for more tips on improving eating habits in the year to come, seek help from a qualified health profesional.

Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Include activites that make their hearts beat faster, build muscles (like climbing or doing push-ups), and strengthen bones (like running or jumping). A guide to activites that school-aged children and adolescents can do to meet the recommended activity level is below. Encourage children to do any activity they enjoy, as long as the activties are safe and appropriate for your child's age and skill level.

Many of these activities fall under 2 or 3 different categories. Children can do moderate - or vigorous - intensity aerobic physical activity on all days of the week. Children can do muscle - and bone - strengthening activity at least 3 days each week. Also, some activities, such as bicycling or basketball, can be done either at moderate or vigorous intensity, depending on your child's level of effort.

The talk test is a simple way to measure relative intensity. In general, if children are doing moderate-intensity physical activity, they can talk but not sing during the activity. If children are doing vigorous-intensity physical activity, they will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

View activity table for age groups



Sometimes opioid-based drugs are prescribed by a doctor to treat moderate to severe pain. Here are some resources with information on safety will using opiods.

Wellness and Opiod Safety

Safe Opiod Use


Parenting in Montana

Parenting resources can be found on the Parenting Montana website including tools for every age.

Active Parenting Training Opportunities

Various training and resources for parents at all stages in child development are available on the Active Parenting website. 

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Navigating Adolescence

Grandparents raising grandchildren find themselves in an interesting position as they are parenting
“off time” meaning that their age group is typically finished
with day-to-day parenting. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Navigating Adolescence offers some insight into the teen years.

Discipline: A Parent's Guide for School-Aged Children

Discipline: A Parent's Guide for School-Aged Children discusses how setting a good example, establishing routines, using natual and logical consequences, being firm and using reminders are good tools for parenting during the school years.

Discipline: A Parent's Guide for Infants and Toddlers

Discipline: A Parent's Guide for Infants and Toddlers provides tips on baby-proofing, setting schedules and navigating the early years of your child's life.


Food Preservation

Food preservation has spanned generations and millennia as a way to safely enjoy quality seasonal food throughout the year. 

Freezing Vegetables

Freezing is a convenient method for preserving foods at home. Frozen foods will maintain most of their nutritional value and fresh flavor if frozen properly. This edition of the MontGuide gives plenty of information on safely freezing vegetables.

Water Heater Maintenance

Proper water heater maintenance will extend the life of your water heater and reduce energy costs.

Saving Energy While Heating Your Home

Temperatures can dip low during the Montana winter and heating costs can be expensive.  Here are a few ideas to save energy and money while heating your home this winter.

Preventing Roof Damage from Winter Ice Buildup

Ice dams are peculiar. In mid-winter, when most water in Montana is bound
in snow and ice, water comes running into the house. This is counterintuitive
because a roof would normally leak during rainy weather, not snowy winter. Ice
dams are annoying because sometimes the battle to remove them can last for
years. And they’re destructive, potentially causing thousands of dollars in home
damage. However, once understood, roof damage from ice dams can be prevented.



Cooking Basics: Equivalent Measures, Terms and Substitution

Buy Eat Live Better


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