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Exercise Your Way to a Better Self-Image

by Bob Curley on July 24, 2014

stationarybikeflickrExercising for just a half-hour a day can make you feel better about how you look independent of your weight, a new report from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index finds.

The survey found that 70 percent of those who exercised daily strongly agreed that they always felt good about their appearance, compared to 50 percent of those who exercised just one day a week and 49 percent of those who got no weekly exercise at all.

However, only 14 percent of Americans get 30 minutes of exercise daily.

Normal weight people were more likely (67 percent) to feel good about their appearance than underweight (62 percent), overweight (60 percent), or obese (44 percent) individuals.

“Certainly, while regular exercise can help Americans maintain a normal weight and thus make them feel good about their appearance, those who are most concerned about their physical appearance may also be more motivated to exercise to maintain their appearance,” researchers noted. Still, “Physical activity releases endorphins into the brain that act as natural pain killers, and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition to helping individuals control their weight, exercise could also have a positive effect on how confident they are in their looks.”

(Photo © USAG-Humphreys via Flickr)

Sun Safety: Don’t Forget These Tips

by Bob Curley on July 31, 2014

protect skin from sun

Protecting your skin from deadly solar radiation requires more than a big floppy hat and sunscreen: you may need to adjust your thinking about what constitutes healthy behavior, too.

Today reported July 29 on some common mistakes people make when it comes to the sun, including:

  • Tanning: all suntans are a form of skin damage.
  • Using a tanning bed: it causes skin cancer.
  • Getting a “base tan” to protect against sunburn: it doesn’t.
  • Forgetting to reapply sunscreen throughout the day.
  • Failing to apply a second coat of spray-on sunscreen.
  • Thinking that sunscreen is waterproof: it isn’t — water resistant is about all you can hope for.
  • Neglecting to have a doctor check out a suspicious mole.

Fruits and Veg: A Simple Formula for Longer Life

by Bob Curley on July 31, 2014

fivestrawberriesFive is the magic number when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables for good health, NBC News reported July 29.

Each of us should have five servings of fruit and vegetables daily, and each of those servings of fruit will reduce your odds of dying young from heart disease by 5 percent, according to researcher Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Every serving of vegetables reduces heart-disease risk by 4 percent, a study by Hu and colleagues found.

No additional benefit was seen for eating more than five daily servings, however.

The research was published in the British Medical Journal.

(Photo © the_moment via Flickr)

moneysushiinaFlickrHow much bang you get for your healthcare buck is determined in part by where you live.

Fox News reported July 30 that a new study from WalletHub ranked U.S. states by their return on investment (ROI) for healthcare dollars. According to the report, the states with the best ROI were:

  • Minnesota
  • Utah
  • Kansas
  • (Tie): Hawaii  & Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Nebraska
  • Arizona
  • Maryland
  • Idaho
  • Oregon

States with the worst healthcare ROI were:

  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Arkansas
  • West Virginia
  • Indiana
  • South Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • Tie: Ohio & Alabama
  • Nevada
  • Alaska

Researchers noted that Minnesota has the nation’s lowest average healthcare insurance cost, while Alaska has the highest.

(Photo © sushi ina via Flickr)

CSPI Names Least Healthy Restaurant Meals

by Bob Curley on July 31, 2014

CSPI_LogoLooking for a healthy meal out? In case the name wasn’t enough of a hint, it’s best to avoid the Cheesecake Factory.

CNN reported July 30 that three Cheesecake Factory offerings made the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) list of unhealthiest restaurant meals: the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic in a cream sauce, and custard-filled French toast. The latter, for example, has an entire’s week’s worth of saturated fat, CSPI said.

A Cheesecake Factory spokesperson noted that the restaurant does offer some lighter options, but added: ”Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate and not be concerned with calories.”

Other dishes that made the list include:

  • Red Robin Monster burgers
  • The Big Slab of spareribs at Famous Dave
  • Signature Deep Dish Pizzas at BJ’s Restaurants
  • Chevys’ Super Cinco Combo, with two enchiladas, a taco, a tamale, a fried stuffed pepper, rice, corn pudding and beans
  • The Big Hook Up platter from Joe’s Crab Shack: crab balls, fish and chips, coconut shrimp, stuffed shrimp, hushpuppies and coleslaw
  • Steak at Maggiano’s Little Italy served with Italian sausage links, potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, roasted onions, sun dried tomatoes, sauce and garlic butter

RADM_Boris_Lushniak_acting_Surgeon_GeneralSkin cancer affects 5 million Americans annually, a public-health problem that demands greater attention and education, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

CNN reported July 29 that acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak — himself a dermatologist — said, ”We have to change the social norms about tanning. Tanned skin is damaged skin, and we need to shatter the myth that tanned skin is a sign of health.” Lushniak also warned of the dangers associated with indoor tanning.

The call to action from the Surgeon General includes five goals:

  • Increase Opportunities for Sun Protection in Outdoor Settings
  • Provide Individuals with the Information They Need to Make Informed, Healthy Choices About UV Exposure
  • Promote Policies that Advance the National Goal of Preventing Skin Cancer
  • Reduce Harms from Indoor Tanning
  • Strengthen Research, Surveillance, Monitoring, and Evaluation Related to Skin Cancer Prevention

Rates of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, increased 200 percent between 1973 and 2011 and is now one of the top types of cancer among young people.

Congress this week also passed legislation designed to speed up the process by which new types of sunscreen are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

(Photo by USPHS licensed under public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Exercise Helps Depressed Smokers Quit

Depression and smoking often go hand-in-hand, but depressed smokers may have more success in quitting cigarettes if they engage in an exercise routine, Science World Report reported July 22. An 18-month study found that people with depression who took regular walks were more successful in quitting smoking than those that did not exercise, in part […]

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When to Clean House: Some Guidelines

Most people wash their bedding every 10-14 days, but doing so weekly — using hot water and a hot dryer to kill germs — would be a healthier practice, AllYou reported July 30. As for other common household cleanups, here’s a wash-day schedule you might want to adopt: Cars: weekly if you live near the […]

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Don’t Let Hair Stand in the Way of Exercise

Is your hairdo keeping you out of the gym? It may sound bizarre, but a study finds that coiffure concerns are a barrier to fitness for a significant number of African-American women. Obesity is a big problem for this population: four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese, MedicalXpress reported July 21. Researchers […]

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More Americans Cut Fat Than Carbs

Carbs may be more threatening to your waistline than fat, but more Americans try to reduce their fat intake than the amount of carbohydrates they consume, a new Gallup survey finds. Researchers found that 56 percent of Americans say they actively try to reduce the fat in their diet, while 29 percent try to limit […]

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Run for Your Life, Researchers Say

Doing any type of running on a regular basis could reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke, Reuters reported July 29. A study of 55,000 people ages 18-100 found that those who were runners during a 15-year study period were 30 percent less likely to die of any cause and 45 […]

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