Home Exercises To Tone Arms

Home Exercises To Tone Arms

When you move your arms a bit, does the flesh continue to sway? Have you lost weight and now find there’s loose skin that needs some firming? It’s time to take charge. Here are some simple ideas to help. These exercises to tone arms can be done at home. When you stick with a workout program, before you know it, you’ll see significant changes and look forward to those sleeveless days.

You don’t need special equipment to tone your arms at home.

Many exercises for arms use dumbbells. You can still do them and don’t have to buy any special equipment. You probably have soup cans in your cupboard or water bottles you can fill to substitute for dumbbells. You can use that substitute dumbbell to do a tricep overhead extension. Hold the bottle or a dumbbell with both hands over your head and bend your arms at the elbow, lowering it behind your back at a 90 degree angle. Lift it back to starting position and repeat.

If you’re stuck in an office, you can still workout.

A chair dip can be done in your cubicle, but not if your chair has rollers. You need a stable starting point to do a chair dip. Sit on the edge of a chair with your legs extended and heels touching the floor. Grasp the sides of the chair with your hands and lift yourself forward, then slowly lower yourself to the floor until your arms are at a 90 degree angle. Lift yourself back up again to seated position. It’s tough. So go as far down as you can without losing control until you build strength.

Push-ups are great workouts for the arms and total body.

You’ll tighten your core muscles and build your arms by doing push-ups. Push-ups have been around for a long time and one reason is that they work. A tradition push-up get into plank position with your toes touching the ground and hands placed directly under the shoulders, with elbows at a 90 degree angle. Keep your body straight as you lift your upper body until your arms are straight with weight on hands and toes. There are traditional push-ups and modified ones. One modification is for people that aren’t fit enough to do a traditional push-up, is done with bent knees and the weight on knees and hands. To work your arms for bat wings, simply place your hands close together in starting position.

  • You can have your free time watching TV and still tone your arms. Do a plank. Get into push-up position but have the weight on your toes and forearms, keeping body straight. Hold for a minute or one commercial! Lower the body. Simple but effective.
  • If you want to use equipment, but don’t want to spend the money, use resistance bands. They’re super cheap. One arm exercise has you hold one end of the band in each hand, push your arms out in front of you and pull the bands, making your hands further away from each other.
  • Use the soup cans or water bottles for a bent over row. Have one weight in each hand, bend at the waist. Try to push your shoulder blades together as you lift your arms, pulling the dumbbells to the chest.
  • One way to improve your arms is to make sure you get plenty of collagen and that means eating healthier. Collagen is a protein necessary to boost skin elasticity and build muscle tissue.

For more information, contact us today at Travel Trim

At Home Butt Exercises That Work

At Home Butt Exercises That Work

You don’t have to envy Jennifer Lopez or Jamie Dornan for their perfect posterior, you can score a point in the best bottom column with some extra work on your derriere. These at home butt exercises offer options to get you started on the road to looking great as you walk out the door. It’s all about getting exercise to build the muscles. If you’ve lost weight recently, it’s even more important to exercise. None of these exercises require equipment and can be done at home.

You can build your core muscles and tone your butt at the same time.

If you’ve never heard of the exercise the bridge, it’s a great opportunity to learn it. It tones almost all the muscles in the body. Just lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your arms should be at your sides with your palms facing upward. Lift your hips off the floor as you put the weight of your body on your heels. Your body should form a straight line angling downward from the knees to the shoulders. Hold and squeeze your bottom muscles and slowly lower your body back down to start position. Repeat several times.

Keep it simple and do this one anywhere.

If you’re at your desk setting for a long period, this is the perfect way to break the monotony. Stand next to the chair, holding the back for support. Keep your back and one leg straight as you swing the other behind, lifting that leg as high as you possibly can without bending forward. Hold the highest position you can reach and tighten your butt muscles. Lower the leg, but don’t let it touch the floor and repeat. Then switch to the other leg.

Work your core and your butt with a plank.

If you have ever done a push-up, you know what plank position is. It’s the upward most position in a push-up with arms extended directly under the shoulders, body straight and weight on the hand and shoulders. With a plank, you simply hold that position or do a modified plank, where the weight is on the forearms and toes. Both are good workouts. Make it tougher and work your bottom at the same time by trying to lift one foot off the floor and point the heel toward the ceiling. Hold, lower and do the other leg.

  • Squats are perfect for the legs and bottom. Lower your body bending your knees and then stand up. Try to push your bottom out as you lower your body and keep your knees from extending beyond the feet.
  • Try a lunge for your backside. Step forward with one foot about three feet, bend your knees and lunge forward and down so your back knee touches the floor and front is at a right angle. Stand up and repeat with the left foot.
  • Lunges and squats are versatile and varying the way you do them can work a variety of muscles and make them fun. You can do a walking lunge or squat and adjust the width of your feet to add variety and work muscles on different planes.
  • Take the stairs. Just walking up and down stairs can help form great glutes. If you don’t have stairs, find a table or box that allows you to put your foot on with the knee bent at a 90 degree angle. Step up with one foot, tap the opposite toe on the box and lower yourself to starting position.

For more information, contact us today at Travel Trim

Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Safe Toys and Gifts Month

It’s the holiday season, and that means toy-sharing and gift-giving are in full swing. But before you give that special child a new toy, it’s important to stop and consider: Is this toy safe and age-appropriate? Unfortunately, thousands of children are hurt or even killed each year due to an interaction with an unsafe or developmentally inappropriate toy. December is known as Safe Toys and Gifts Month in order to create a happy, healthy, and safe gift-giving experience for all involved.


·         2012 – Minnesota took a stand

o    Minnesota law states that all toy manufacturers provide a report of children’s products that contain chemicals like lead, formaldehyde, and cadmium.

·         2010 – ER visits jumped

  • Hospital emergency rooms treated more than a quarter of a million people due to unsafe toys (72 percent were less than 15 years old).
  • 2008 – CPSIA was passed
    • The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act imposed what are arguably the toughest toy-making standards in the world.
  • 2007 – Massive toy recall
    • Manufacturers recalled more than 19 million toys due to safety concerns like small magnets and lead paint.
  • 1988 – Lawn darts were banned
    • The Consumer Product Safety Commission took action after three children died while playing with them.



1.     Inspect toys before purchasing

Look for sharp points, edges, and parts that can fly off. Also, check for durability should a child attempt to break, crush or pull toys apart. Furthermore, do not give toys with ropes, cords, or heating elements — and make sure crayons and markers are labeled “nontoxic.” Finally, it is important to NEVER give small toys with removable magnets or “button” batteries. These can cause serious injury or even death if ingested.

2.     Make sure the toy is age-appropriate

Not every toy is meant for every child. Keep in mind the child’s age and development level (most toys offer an age range for guidance). If shopping for infants and children with special needs, look for toys that appeal to the senses (sound, light, movement, texture, etc.) And, finally, remember the rule: If the piece can fit in a toilet paper roll, it is not meant for children under 3 years of age.

3.     Spread the word

Even the best parents can get it wrong. That’s why it’s crucial to share your knowledge about unsafe toys with fellow parents, grandparents, babysitters, etc. You can also use the hashtag #safetoy on social media.



1.     Toy hazards are real

Every year, more than 40,000 accidents occur involving unsafe toys (and that’s just in the UK).

2.     The manufacturer isn’t the only one to blame

Faulty design isn’t the sole cause of toy-related deaths and injuries. Usage and chance also play significant roles in these incidents.

3.     And the winner is…

Every year, a TOTY (Toy of the Year) Award is presented to the top toys and games. These awards are known as the “Oscars” of the toy industry.



A.    It alerts us to choking hazards

Choking is a major risk for children when playing with toys — specifically when they’re under 3 years old. Let’s thoroughly inspect the level of choking risk for each toy we give.

B.    It emphasizes child supervision

Toy manufacturers have come a long way in making their products safe for kids to enjoy. However, the best way to manage and reduce risk is to have an attentive adult watching.

C.    We’re more likely to pay attention

Buyers will want to make sure the toys have an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) label. This means that the toy has met the national safety standards.


Safe Toy Checklist

Too often, accidents involving children and toys occur and may result in eye injuries. Each year, thousands of children age 14 and younger suffered serious eye injuries, even blindness, from toys.

There are three important ways you can protect your child’s eyes from injuries while playing with toys:

  1. Only buy toys meant for their age.
  2. Show them how to use their toys safely.
  3. Keep an eye on them when they play.

Toy Selection Guidelines

Before you purchase a toy:

  • Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
  • Ask yourself if the toy is right for your child’s ability and age.
  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.
  • Check the lenses and frames of children’s sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries.
  • Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
  • Look for the letters “ASTM.” This means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
  • Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.
    Remember that BB guns are NOT toys.

Before letting children play with toys:

  • Inspect toys for safe, sturdy construction.
  • Explain how to use the toy.
  • Fix or throw away broken toys.


  • Keep young children away from toys meant for older children.
  • Supervise your children while playing.
  • Store toys properly after play to avoid risks or falls.
  • Supervise children’s craft projects (scissors and glue can be extremely dangerous to a child’s eyesight).
  • Have children wear the right eye protection for sports (face shields, helmets, eyeguards).


Choosing Safe Toys

Toys are a fun and important part of every child’s development. But each year, many kids are treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries. Choking is a risk for kids ages 3 or younger, because they tend to put objects in their mouths.

Manufacturers follow guidelines and label most new toys for specific age groups. But the most important thing a parent can do — especially when it comes to younger children — is to supervise play.

Toy Guidelines

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys. Any toys made in — or imported into — the United States after 1995 must follow CPSC standards.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for toys:

  • Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Stuffed toys should be washable.
  • Painted toys must use lead-free paint.
  • Art materials should say nontoxic.
  • Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Steer clear of older toys, even hand-me-downs from friends and family. These might not meet current safety standards.

And make sure a toy isn’t too loud for your child. The noise of some rattles, squeak toys, and musical or electronic toys can be as loud as a car horn — even louder if a child holds it directly to the ears — and can damage hearing.

The Right Toys at the Right Ages

Always read labels to make sure a toy is right for a child’s age. Guidelines published by the CPSC and other groups can help you make those buying decisions.

Be sure to consider your child’s temperament, habits, and behavior whenever you buy a new toy. Even a child who seems advanced compared with other kids the same age shouldn’t use toys meant for older kids. The age levels for toys are determined by safety factors, not intelligence or maturity.

Read more about choosing safe toys:

Keeping Toys Safe at Home

After you’ve bought safe toys, it’s also important to make sure kids know how to use them. The best way to do this is by supervising kids as they play. This teaches kids how to play safely while having fun.

Parents should:

  • Teach kids to put toys away.
  • Check toys regularly to make sure that they aren’t broken or unusable:
    • Wooden toys shouldn’t have splinters.
    • Bikes and outdoor toys shouldn’t have rust.
    • Stuffed toys shouldn’t have broken seams or exposed removable parts.
  • Throw away broken toys or repair them right away.
  • Store outdoor toys when they’re not in use so that they are not exposed to rain or snow.

And be sure to keep toys clean. Some plastic toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher, but read the manufacturer’s directions first. Another option is to mix antibacterial soap or a mild dishwashing detergent with hot water in a spray bottle and use it to clean toys, rinsing them afterward.


13 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Whether you’re a die-hard Christmas fan or someone who just wants to get it over with, the holidays are full of stress-inducing moments. We tend to forget that the holidays are on the same day every year, and we allow ourselves to get crushed both emotionally and financially. Instead of being a season of rest and celebration, the holidays are often stressful—and even painful. Even when we plan ahead, holiday stress can sneak up on us without a moment’s notice (just like last night’s chili).

And with new travel regulations thanks to the global pandemic, extra financial strain, a heated election, and the general dumpster-fire chaos of 2020, we’re all feeling a little more raw and exposed than in “normal” holiday seasons. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of hoping Clark Griswold will show up to bring some order to a season already out of control.

What Is Holiday Stress?

Holiday stress (or any kind of stress for that matter) is our mind and body’s response to the pressing responsibilities and demands of our lives. Stress is normal. When we experience a threat—whether it’s holiday traffic, passive-aggressive family members, or a family fight over Christmas dinner—our brain floods our bodies with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Our bodies prepare to take action. Our heart rate spikes. Our pupils dilate. Our muscles tighten.

In the short term, stress can be helpful. It keeps us focused and alert. But living in a chronic state of stress causes horrific damage to our mental and physical health. It’s like slamming your foot on the gas and the brakes at the same time. Eventually, the car engine melts, the brakes fail, and we run the car into the ground.

The holidays should be wonderful, but they’re often demanding. And in light of all the extra shopping lists, the travel plans, the awkward family conversations, and the millions of little expectations we place on ourselves, this season will require that we give ourselves and others some grace—a lot of it.

Stressful events will happen, make no mistake, but here’s the exciting thing: We get to choose how we respond to those events.

And let’s be honest: 2020 was filled with financial challenges, travel restrictions, health concerns, and political nonsense, among other things. This makes Christmas 2020 the perfect time for a holiday season reset. Holidays shouldn’t be stressful and so filled with drama. By taking back control of your attitude, your approach to conflict, and your actions, you can cut holiday stress in purposeful and dramatic ways!

13 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

A few years ago, Healthline did a survey that found that 62% of people said their stress level increases during the holiday season.1 And that was before the chaos of 2020! Imagine that number after experiencing job losses, health crises, a global pandemic, an election and canceled . . . everything.

The American Psychological Association has shone a light on America’s mental health in their latest Stress in America survey. They found that 78% of Americans are stressed out about the coronavirus.2 They also found that one in five adults are worse off mentally now than they were this time last year.3 Makes sense, right?

This year, let’s put in some extra effort to get our minds and hearts in a good place before we head to Mom and Dad’s house for Christmas dinner. Refusing to let stress run your life is a daily choice.

To help you along your journey, I want to share 13 ways you can reduce the holiday stress (before it comes) so you can spend your time on what really matters to you.


1. Set boundaries for your schedule and spending.

Over the holidays, you get to decide where you go, how long you stay there, who you invite into your home, and how much money you’ll spend. It might feel like your mom, your father-in-law or your second cousin will be calling the shots.

Wrong. You choose.

It’s so important to set boundaries before you’re knee-deep in Christmas festivities. The last thing you want is to find yourself talking politics with an idiotic second cousin or making your fifth gingerbread house for the church bake sale and using resentment as frosting. Let me repeat myself: Choose to set your boundaries now! Decide what’s important to you and protect it with everything you’ve got.

Before you commit to travel or hosting plans, decide what your limit is. Is it three days? What about two weeks? If you’re married, talk to your spouse and create a plan that works for both of you.

By the way . . . don’t drive or fly thousands of miles to a place that’s inhospitable and threatening. You can say no. Just don’t go. But once you decide and commit to seeing family, you must do it with a good attitude. It’s called acting like a grown-up.


2. Avoid family conflict.

Holidays expose our need for boundaries with our families. Even the best families can drive you crazy.

So this year, before you even pack your bags, spend some time thinking about the potential conflicts that will pop up with family. If your Uncle Eddy has a pattern of talking bad about a particular group of people, don’t be surprised when he begins one of his rants. You can’t change him—but you do get to decide how you respond. You can ask him to stop, or you can get up and leave. Settle in your heart and your mind what you will and won’t tolerate.

This year, people will be talking about politics, COVID, the economy, race relations, etc. Decide who and what you want to discuss before you’re stuffing your face with mashed potatoes at the dinner table. Believe it or not, it can be done. You don’t have to subject yourself or your family to a heated argument you don’t want to be in—boundaries, remember?

Create a plan of action and send an email ahead of time to make it clear that you don’t want to talk about politics or your little brother’s addiction. And if someone violates that boundary while you’re there, you get to walk out. Pay attention to when you feel uncomfortable, awkward, unsafe, embarrassed or trapped. If someone is drunk or angry or using foul language, you get to decide to walk away.


3. Focus on what you can control.

There are only two things on planet Earth you can control: your thoughts and your actions. That’s it. You can’t control what your parents say around the dinner table. You can’t control your kids’ attitudes. And when you choose to let go of what you can’t control, you’ll automatically reduce the amount of stress in your life by refusing to carry other people’s problems.

In seasons of stress in my life, the first thing I do every morning is make a list of what I’m stressed about. Then I write down the things that are in my control. Everything else gets tossed in the trash. Take control and ownership of your thoughts and actions and do what’s best for you and your family.


4. Know your role in the situation.

Sometimes we experience stress by taking on roles we were never meant to shoulder. For example, if you’re going to your girlfriend’s house for Christmas and you have to sleep on the uncomfortable couch and eat their weird food, remember that you’re not the star of the show. It’s not your house. Keep your mouth shut and know that your role is to support your girlfriend. Not only will you score major brownie points with your girl, but you’ll also score points with the parents.

If you travel to your in-laws’ home but they don’t really like you, choose before you arrive to not absorb the passive-aggression, their opinions on your parenting, or their decision to make meals with extra gluten. Choose to be kind. Choose to let dumb criticism roll off your shoulders. Choose to heap coals of kindness.

And if you’re the one inviting your significant other to family dinner, be a gracious host or hostess. Remember that your guest is missing out on their traditions. Ask them what they normally do and recognize they might be a little sad to miss out on time with their family.


5. Say no.

I love Christmas as much as the next person, but no matter who you are, it’s absurd to try to attend a million white elephant parties, ornament exchanges, and cookie decorating parties. Especially during COVID.

Listen: You can’t be everywhere at once. Be really honest with yourself about what you can handle, and speak up if it’s too much. Instead of going to five Christmas parties, pick one or two. Prioritize your family’s time and only commit to what you want to do. It’s all about quality, not quantity.


6. Limit your time on social media.

There’s an overwhelming amount of information, nonsense and news in our country right now. Not only do we see it on our TVs, but now we’re seeing it through our social media feeds. It’s literally making us insane.

If you hear anything from me, hear this: Stay off social media if you’re stressed. Those perfect Instagram and Pinterest feeds won’t do anything but cause you to compare your holiday plans to your weird co-worker’s (who you don’t really even like anyway). Social media pictures are generally lies. Fantasy. They’re not real. They don’t show the burned turkeys, the family fights, and the mounting piles of credit card debt.

This Christmas, spend more time looking into your loved one’s eyes than staring at your screens. Hold hands, not video game controllers. Throw a football or kick a soccer ball—in real life. I hope you choose human connection, joy and laughter over thumbs-ups and retweets. Each one of your electronic devices comes with an off button. Use it.


7. Picture the Christmas you want to have.

As I said above, this is the perfect year for a holiday reset.

Set expectations for yourself and others by painting a picture of what you want your Christmas to look like. Who is sitting around the table at mealtime? What are you all eating? Talking about? Are you laughing with your kids as you make Santa-shaped pancakes? Or are you holding hands with your spouse in front of the fire? Maybe you dusted off the old vinyl Christmas album and you’re jamming away.

Whatever it is, keep that picture at the front of your mind. Share your picture with your loved ones so they can understand where you’re coming from. Ask them to paint a picture of what they want, too, so you can choose to honor them.

And if something comes up that threatens to take the place of what’s truly important to you and your family, give yourselves permission to say no. Let your calendar and your to-do list reflect the Christmas you actually want to have this year.


8. Make a Christmas budget.

Do it. Right now.

A budget is creating boundaries for your wallet (or bank account). And budgeting helps reduce stress because it gives you a plan for your money. Make a zero-based budget every month before the month begins.

Remember, you get to control your thoughts and actions—including your spending. You get to decide where every single dollar in your bank account goes. Budgeting for Christmas will help you avoid the impulse purchases or spending too much on those white elephant gifts. There’s nothing worse than waking up the day after Christmas broke with no idea where your paycheck went. So make a budget and stick to it. You’ll be glad you did.


9. Don’t overdo it on the sugar.

You really can have too much of a good thing. And when it comes to the holidays, that often looks like late nights of hot chocolate and Mom’s famous sugar cookies. But too much sugar messes up your natural hormone responses, your blood sugar and insulin levels, and your brain’s neurotransmitters (the body’s chemical messengers).

Mix that with a lack of sleep (from all that caffeine) and a packed schedule, and you’ve got the perfect storm for a rush of anxiety. Limit how much sugar you eat and feed your body with nutritious food as much as possible.

Get outside and move. I don’t care how cold it is—put on some extra layers and just do it (or at least get into the gym as often as possible). Nature is important for our emotional and physical health. And exercising gives your body a way to process and release stress hormones. Bundle up and go on your own Christmas lights walking tour or get an epic snowball fight going in your neighborhood. Don’t forget that play is exercise too. Even in the small things, you can prioritize movement. Anything is better than nothing!


10. Get plenty of sleep and stay healthy.

Anxiety affects at least 40 million people in the U.S.4 And one of the most powerful tools you have to reduce anxiety is sleep. When you’re not sleeping, your brain’s emotional centers become overactive, which increases anxiety levels. So instead of staying up late for the third night in a row to binge those Hallmark movies, prioritize your sleep. Not only will it keep your stress and anxiety at bay, but it will also help your immune system stay healthy.

Being sick at Christmastime is the absolute worst, so you need to do what you can to avoid it! As you all know, washing your hands and doing immune boosting activities (exercising, getting outside, and resting) will help you feel strong, peaceful, and healthy. Don’t burn the candle at both ends by staying up late and getting up early. Get enough sleep. I can’t stress this enough.


11. Protect your downtime.

This is a season of giving, but don’t give so much of yourself away that you have nothing left to give. Keep your peace and quiet, and you’ll keep your sanity. Make time to enjoy the things you love. Read a book. Do a Christmas devotional. Or dive into some of your favorite Christmas movies that put you in the holiday spirit.

To keep your joy intact, create some breathing room between parties, travel schedules, deadlines at work and shopping trips.

Try to stick to your normal routine. If your average day starts with waking up, pouring yourself a cup of coffee, and reading the newspaper, don’t skip that. Having some normalcy can help keep you calm and focused on the day ahead. Plus, it’s a great way to stay sane—especially when you have a houseful of extended family (and in-laws).


12. Dealing with canceled plans.

2020 has been the year of canceled plans. We all know what it’s like to deal with the disappointment of canceled plans. We’ve had canceled vacations, canceled family gatherings and birthday parties, canceled paychecks and even canceled church.

As we get into the holiday season, you might be facing more canceled plans. Maybe your annual Christmas at Grandma’s isn’t happening this year because you want to keep Grandma safe. Or maybe your kids and grandkids aren’t going to make the trip this year because they lost their jobs. Whatever you’re going through, it’s important to reset your expectations. Give your family and friends grace (let them off the hook), because these circumstances aren’t “normal.”

Don’t put the guilt trip on them just because you can’t see your grandkids. You might have to let go of the picture-perfect Christmas you had in mind for this year . . . and create a new picture. Like I’ve already said, this is the year of the Christmas reset.


13. Make connection your number one priority.

I like to say that relationships are your emergency fund for life—so I invite you to think of this season as a chance to stockpile those funds. Make people your top priority. Christmastime is meant to be filled with joy and thankfulness and lingering conversations over the dinner table and lots of laughter. But connection doesn’t happen by accident: You must be intentional.
Don’t let the month go by in a total blur. Slow down and think about what you really want to do this season. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that you forget to enjoy the people you’re doing all this for.

Good folks, make every effort to respond well to holiday stress this year. Yes, it’s super annoying when Great-Aunt Becky keeps pinching your kids’ cheeks—so honor her and protect your kids by being prepared with a polite request for her to stop. Stress is part of life, so let’s do our part to be gracious and generous with ourselves and the people we care about.

While stress is normal and even healthy for us, if we don’t listen and respond to it, our stress will quickly morph into anxiety. I’m super passionate about helping people be well, and as someone who is personally prone to anxiety, I’m excited to share my new Quick Read, Redefining Anxiety, with you. In this short book, I’ll break down the four biggest myths we believe about anxiety and give you some practical steps you can take to start getting your life back.


National Handwashing Awareness Week Activities and Facts

Personal hygiene begins and ends with our hands. And though we’re taught as youngsters to wash our hands before dinner, it’s important to remember that germs don’t care what time of day it is. Clean hands prevent sickness. So it’s especially important to learn the basics about hand hygiene so that you, too, can become a champion hand washer! Let’s examine some handy (see what we did there?) tips and info in honor of National Handwashing Awareness Week, which takes place each year during the first week of December.


1.   Do it right

Experts recommend washing your hands with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to get a good lather going and clean the back of the hands, between the fingers and under the nails. Dry them using a clean towel. There is a lot of science behind these recommendations, so be sure to follow them each time you wash your hands.

2.   Memorize the five steps

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls hand washing “a do-it-yourself vaccine” and suggests remembering five easy steps: Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry.

3.   Learn the Four Principles of Hand Awareness

Endorsed by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians, the four principles are: 1) Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating; 2) Do not cough into hands; 3) Do not sneeze into hands; and 4) Don’t put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.


1.   Handwashing equals happiness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 infections, including the flu.

2.   Beware the twin killers for kids

About 1.4 million children under age 5 die from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia — the two most deadly afflictions for children worldwide.

3.   The dirty secret of public restrooms

The CDC also reports that only 31 percent of men and 65 percent of women washed their hands after using a public restroom.

4.   Handwash your way to health

Using antibiotics creates antibiotic resistance. Handwashing prevents many sicknesses, so people need less antibiotics. Therefore, less antibiotic resistance.

5.   Sneezes are mini hurricanes

A typical human sneeze exits the body at about 200 miles per hour and emits around 40,000 droplets into the air.

Brief History on National Handwashing Awareness Week

In short, washing hands saves lives.

If you had given birth or been born in 1847 in an overcrowded hospital in Vienna, Austria, you’d probably agree. The infant mortality rate was 26 percent at the time, and the average life expectancy was less than 40 years.

A young Viennese physician, Ignaz Semmelweis, was recently appointed as house officer for two Viennese obstetric clinics. He noticed that the clinic in which doctors hurried straight to the birthing room from the autopsy room — where puerperal fever was a frequent, fatal visitor — had a very high infant mortality rate of 16 percent compared to 7 percent at the other clinic.

Semmelweis supposed that “cadaverous particles” might be causing the significant infant mortality rate. He suggested that doctors scrub their hands with a chlorinated lime solution before leaving the autopsy room to kill the deadly particles. After practices were implemented, the mortality rate at the clinic immediately fell to 3 percent.

It was decades before the lifesaving practice of handwashing would be commonly accepted, but eventually it was. Handwashing could be indirectly instrumental to your very existence!

National Handwashing Awareness week, celebrated this week, keeps the spotlight on the importance of this basic disease prevention method.


Hand Sanitizer Use Out and About

When should I use?

Soap and Water

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers, or cleaning up a child who has used the bathroom
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
  • If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy

Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer

  • Before and after visiting a friend or loved one in a hospital or nursing home, unless the person is sick with Clostridioides difficile (if so, use soap and water to wash hands).
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and wash with soap and water as soon as you can.

DO NOT use hand sanitizer if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy—for example, after gardening, playing outdoors, fishing, or camping. If a handwashing station is available, wash your hands with soap and water instead.

After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, you should clean your hands by immediately washing your hands with soap or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer to avoid spreading germs.


How should I use?

Soap and Water

  • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  • Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and childcare facilities.

  • Put enough sanitizer on your hands to cover all surfaces.
  • Rub your hands together until they feel dry (this should take around 20 seconds).

Do NOT rinse or wipe off the hand sanitizer before it’s dry; it may not work well against germs.


Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like avoiding people who are sick, covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent flu

The tips and resources below will help you learn about actions you can take to protect yourself and others from flu and help stop the spread of germs.

  1. Avoid close contact.
    Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  2. Stay home when you are sick.
    If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose.
    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and COVID-19, are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.
  4. Clean your hands.
    Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

    • Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
      Tips on hand washing and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers
    • It’s a SNAP Toolkit: Handwashing
      Hand washing resources from the It’s A SNAP program, aimed at preventing school absenteeism by promoting clean hands. From the School Network for Absenteeism Prevention, a collaborative project of the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Cleaning Institute.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
    Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  6. Practice other good health habits.
    Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments or public health departments may recommend additional precautions be taken in your community. Follow those instructions.