Category Archives: Health

How to Avoid Tobacco Use

h2Tobacco use is the most important preventable illness and cause of death in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Tobacco use was estimated to be the cause of 443,000 deaths in 2010 in the U.S.

Tip:

Stop smoking tobacco; start to stop today (it takes about 15 years of nonsmoking behavior to achieve a “normal” risk level for heart disease for those that smoke).
Stop using chewing tobacco to avoid oral cancers.
Adverse consequences of tobacco use:

Tobacco use causes or contributes to a large number of cancers in the U.S. In men, 90% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to smoking; 80% in women. Tobacco use causes cancers of the lung, mouth, lip, tongue, esophagus,kidney, and bladder. It also further increases the risk of bladder cancer in subjects occupationally exposed to certain organic chemicals found in the textile, leather, rubber, dye, paint, and other organic chemical industries, and further increases the risk of lung cancer among subjects exposed to asbestos.
Tobacco use causes atherosclerotic arterial disease (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and lack of blood flow to the lower extremities. Tobacco use causes an estimated 20%-30% of coronary heart disease in the U.S. It also further increases the risk of heart attacks among subjects with elevated cholesterol, uncontrolled hypertension, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Tobacco use causes an estimated 20% of chronic lung diseases in the U.S., such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and causes pneumonia in those with chronic lung disease. The CDC, in 2011, estimated that 90% of deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) were due to smoking.
Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to deliver babies with low birth weight.
Secondhand smoke can cause middle-ear infections (otitis media), coughing, wheezing, bronchitis, and pneumonia in babies, and aggravate asthma in children. Secondhand smoke (sometimes referred to as passive smoking) can also cause lung cancer.
Comments and recommendations (tips):

Quitting smoking is difficult to accomplish; tobacco contains nicotine, which is addictive. Some smokers can quit “cold turkey,” but for most, quitting smoking requires a serious life-long commitment and an average of six quitting attempts before success.
Quitting smoking efforts may include behavior modification, counseling, use of nicotine chewing gum, nicotine skin patches, or oral medications such as bupropion .

Informations About Physical Activity and Exercise

h1Physical activity and exercise is a major contributor to a healthy lifestyle; people are made to use their bodies, and disuse leads to unhealthy living. Unhealthy living may manifest itself in obesity, weakness, lack of endurance, and overall poor health that may foster disease development.

Tips:

Regular exercise can prevent and reverse age-related decreases in muscle mass and strength, improve balance, flexibility, and endurance, and decrease the risk of falls in the elderly. Regular exercise can help prevent coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Regular, weight-bearing exercise can also help prevent osteoporosis by building bone strength.
Regular exercise can help chronic arthritis sufferers improve their capacity to perform daily activities such as driving, climbing stairs, and opening jars.
Regular exercise can help increase self-esteem and self-confidence, decrease stress and anxiety, enhance mood, and improve general mental health.
Regular exercise can help control weight gain and in some people cause loss of fat.
Thirty minutes of modest exercise (walking is OK) at least three to five days a week is recommended, but the greatest health benefits come from exercising most days of the week.
Exercise can be broken up into smaller 10-minute sessions.
Start slowly and progress gradually to avoid injury or excessive soreness or fatigue. Over time, build up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
People are never too old to start exercising. Even frail, elderly individuals (70-90 years of age) can improve their strength and balance with exercise.
Almost any type of exercise (resistance, water aerobics, walking, swimming, weights, yoga, and many others) is helpful for everybody.
Children need exercise; play outside of the home is a good beginning.
Sports for children may provide excellent opportunities for exercise, but care must be taken not to overdo certain exercises.
Exertion during strenuous exercise may make a person tired and sore, but if pain occurs, stop the exercise until the pain source is discovered; the person may need to seek medical help and advice about continuation of such exercise.
Most individuals can begin moderate exercise, such as walking, without a medical examination. The following people, however, should consult a doctor before beginning more vigorous exercise:

Men over age 40 or women over age 50
Individuals with heart or lung disease, asthma, arthritis, or osteoporosis
Individuals who experience chest pressure or pain with exertion, or who develop fatigue or shortness of breath easily
Individuals with conditions that increase their risks of developing coronary heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoking, high blood cholesterol, or having family members who had early onset heart attacks and coronary heart disease
Individuals who are morbidly obese
Consequences of physical inactivity and lack of exercise:

Physical inactivity and lack of exercise are associated with heart disease and some cancers.
Physical inactivity and lack of exercise are associated with type II diabetes mellitus.
Physical inactivity and lack of exercise contribute to weight gain.
Mental health

Healthy living involves more than physical health, it also includes emotional or mental health. The following are some ways people can support their mental health and well-being.

Tips:

Get enough sleep daily; the CDC recommends the following by age group ; 12-18 hours from birth to 2 months, 14-15 hours from 3-11 months of age, 12-18 hours for 1-3 years of age, 11-13 hours for 3-5 years of age, 10-11 hours for 5-10 years of age, eight and a half to nine and a half hours for 10-17 years of age and those 18 and above need seven to nine hours of sleep. Elderly people need about seven to nine hours but do not sleep as deeply and may awaken at night or wake early, so naps (like kids need) allow them to accumulate the total of seven to nine hours of sleep.
Take a walk and reflect on what you see and hear at least several times per week.
Try something new and often (eat a new food, try a different route to work, go to a new museum display).
Do some mind exercises.
Try to focus on a process intensely and complete a segment of it over one to several hours, then take a break and do something relaxing (walk, exercise, short nap).
Plan to spend some time talking with other people about different subjects.
Try to make some leisure time to do some things that interest you every week (hobby, sport).
Learn ways to say “no” when something occurs that you do not want to do or be involved with.
Have fun (go on a trip with someone you love, go shopping, go fishing; do not let vacation time slip away).
Let yourself be pleased with your achievements, both big and small (develop contentment).
Have a network of friends; those with strong social support systems lead healthier lives.
Seek help and advice early if you feel depressed, have suicidal thoughts, or consider harming yourself or others.
People taking medicine for mental-health problems should not stop taking these medications, no matter how “well” they feel, until they have discussed their situation with their prescribing doctor.

Tips to Managing Stress

Stress reduction is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, just like diet and exercise. These tips will help you keep your stress levels under control.

When you’re stressed, your head may start to hurt, or you may feel nauseous, dizzy, or just plain overwhelmed. Stress can have a huge impact on every aspect of your life, so stress reduction is necessary for maintaining both your physical and emotional health. Since you can’t simply wish stress away, managing stress is a vital skill to develop.

Managing Stress: When You Experience a Sudden Spike

Certain situations create stress instantly, such as a major issue at work or a crisis at home that needs to be addressed right away. When there’s an urgent problem that requires your immediate attention, managing stress is important so that you can think clearly. Try these stress reduction tips to help you deal with anxiety-provoking experiences:

Put it in perspective. Maybe you’re disappointed that you didn’t get a promotion you were up for or concerned that money is a little tight this month because of an unexpected medical bill. Feeling stressed is a natural reaction. But try to take a step back and ask yourself: will this issue still matter in a year? In five years? If the answer is no, take a deep breath and try to move forward. Keeping things in perspective is crucial to managing stress.
Come up with a plan. If there’s a specific problem you need to fix, make a list of all possible solutions and pick the best one for your situation. Realizing that you have options and coming up with a concrete plan will have a direct effect on stress reduction.
Accept what you can’t control. Some circumstances are simply beyond our control, and we have to learn to cope with and accept them. Fortunately, you do have control over how you react to stressful situations. Staying calm and being willing to accept emotional support from others can help in managing stress.

Managing Stress: When It’s at a Slow, Steady Boil

Sometimes it’s not one specific problem, but rather nagging concerns about your job, health, finances, or family members that create a steady build-up of stress. Try these tips to help you with stress reduction:

Give yourself a break. Daily stressors can creep up on you before you realize it, so treat yourself to at least one relaxing activity every day. Listening to music, meditating, writing in a journal, or enjoying a soothing bubble bath are all great ways to relax and relieve stress. Taking time for yourself is important for both preventing and managing stress.
Get regular exercise. Exercise is one of the best methods for managing stress because it can relieve both the physical and emotional effects of stress. Consider fitness choices that also deliver specific stress-reducing effects like yoga, tai chi, Pilates, or one of the martial arts, all great ways to get rid of pent-up stress and negativity.
Express your feelings. If something’s bothering you, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to people you trust, like friends, family, or co-workers, about what’s on your mind. Even if you’re not looking for specific advice, it usually feels good just to get your feelings out into the open.
Managing Stress: Keeping Stressful Situations to a Minimum

Being prepared for difficult situations, managing your time well, and solving problems quickly can help you avoid unnecessary stress:

Set reasonable expectations. Being busy is sometimes inevitable, but regularly taking on more than you can manage can cause unwanted and unwelcome stress. Tell yourself that it’s okay to say no to activities at your child’s school or to extra projects at work — you are not obligated to accept every request made of you. Additionally, don’t take on more financial responsibilities — such as a new car or a bigger house — if you think they’ll be a stretch. Being realistic about your finances is an important strategy for managing stress.
Resolve issues before they become crises. It’s human nature to avoid unpleasant topics and circumstances, but if you’re concerned about a brewing situation, whether it’s at work or at home, address it early to keep it from becoming more serious, harder to solve, and more stressful for you. Problems are always easier to handle before they develop into full-blown calamities.
Everyone feels stress — it’s impossible to avoid it all the time. But it is possible to keep stress under control by setting realistic expectations of yourself, learning how to keep problems in perspective, and enjoying relaxing breaks from the daily demands of life.

The Best Ways to Take a Mental Vacation

Small stressors can quickly add up to major stress and one big stressful event can send you reeling, with no idea of how to start addressing it. If you could just get away for a little stress relief, you know you would be okay. But too few of us have the time — or the money — to run off on an impromptu vacation.

Well, you don’t have to spend a dime or go anywhere other than a quiet spot nearby to take a mental vacation.

Stress Relief: Take Off on a Mental Vacation

If you don’t find a way to reduce stress, your health will pay the price, both mentally and physically. It’s not necessary to get a lengthy massage or head to a beach to relax — you can unwind every day in simple ways and still get a major benefit.

“People who are under a lot of stress have physical problems related to constantly being under stress,” says Sally R. Connolly, a social worker and therapist at the Couples Clinic of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. “And if you don’t find ways [to relieve it], even in small periods of time, you can have long-term consequences.” It’s crucial to add stress relief to your everyday routine, she says.

Connolly suggests learning techniques to reduce stress and trying to sneak in one or two each day. “Even if it’s five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night, just find time to do that,” she says.

Stress Relief: Six Quick Mental Trips

Visualizing a stress-free place and other relaxation techniques are quick and easy ways to help your whole body calm down and give you just the boost you need to get on with your day. Connolly suggests these six ways for you to slip away on a mental vacation to reduce stress:

1. Read a book in bed. Connolly says this is a great escape and can leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready to face whatever is outside your bedroom door. Your bed is warm, cozy, comfortable, and a peaceful place for you. It feels luxurious, and getting lost in a good book is a perfect way to forget, then refocus, your own thoughts.
2. Visualize relaxation. Steal a few quiet moments to close your eyes and think of an image that relaxes you — such as the warm sun on your skin and the sound of the ocean, a big country field sprinkled with flowers, or a trickling stream. Connolly suggests thinking back to a time when you felt peaceful and relaxed, and focus on releasing the tension from your toes to your head.
Look at pictures from a happy time. Connolly recommends pulling out snapshots from a photo album of a family vacation or a fun dinner with friends. Reflect on your memories of that occasion, and what made it so enjoyable. Spend a few quiet moments reminiscing, and you’ll find yourself more relaxed.
4. Look out a window. Distract yourself by focusing on something other than what’s stressing you. Grab a steaming cup of coffee or tea, close the door, and take a mental break. Do a little people watching, appreciate any birds within view, or enjoy some fluffy clouds rolling by. Allow yourself to daydream for a few minutes.
5. Listen to a relaxation CD. Invest in a couple of these CDs for a short daily escape, says Connolly. You may like to hear chirping birds, rolling waves, or gentle rain — whatever your choice, closing your eyes and listening to these soothing sounds while doing some deep breathing can help you relax and de-stress.
6. Take a walk. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress because it’s a great escape for your mind. Head out for a quiet early morning walk or lace up your sneakers on your lunch break. Walking along a trail, waterfront, or other peaceful place when possible may offer even more relaxation.
Treat yourself to a 5-, 10-, or 20-minute mental vacation each day and train your body to relax and reduce stress — you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after taking just a few luxurious moments all to yourself.

Tips to Get Better Sleep

Staying healthy and getting a good night’s sleep go hand-in-hand, but just getting more sleep isn’t enough. Find out how to get the best quality sleep you can.

Sleep isn’t an indulgence. Your body needs sleep, and plenty of it. But in a hectic world where you’re already pressed for time, getting plenty of high-quality sleep can be a bit of a challenge.

Better Sleep: How Sleep Affects Your Health

Your body can’t keep going without time to rest and recharge. Sleep is necessary to help regulate hormones and body processes — even the way your cells function. Without enough sleep, your physical and emotional health can suffer. Being short on sleep can make you:

More likely to catch an illness
Tired and stressed
Unable to focus and concentrate at work or school
More emotional or moody
Have trouble making decisions
Less able to get along with others
More likely to fall down or have some sort of accident
Have problems with coordination while driving, using tools, or working at the computer

Better Sleep: Get the Right Amount of Sleep

On average, most adults need seven or eight hours of quality sleep each night, but there’s no hard and fast magic number that’s right for everybody. A little quality sleep is better for you than a long night of restless sleep. The amount of sleep that you need changes as you age and varies with hormonal changes, like during pregnancy.

You should wake up easily in the morning, feeling refreshed and ready to start the day, not bleary-eyed and stumbling out of bed. If you consistently get seven hours of sleep but still wake up feeling drowsy, you probably need a little more. Once you figure out what works for you, be consistent about getting that amount every night.

Better Sleep: Set the Stage

If you’re always tired because you only allow yourself a few hours of sleep each night, you obviously need more rest. But what’s even more important is getting better sleep. Here are tips to make your bedroom a more restful place:

Keep your room dark and quiet when you sleep.
Keep the temperature on the cool side at bedtime; people don’t sleep as well in rooms that are too hot. Find your best temperature somewhere between 54 and 75 degrees.
Treat yourself to a big, comfy bed with the right pillow to support your head and neck.
Make sure your sheets are clean, soft, and comfortable.
Save your bedroom for sleeping and having sex; keep your TV and computer elsewhere in your home.
Better Sleep: Prep When You’re Awake

What you do during the day has a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Exercise is great early in the day to prepare you for a good night’s sleep; working out too close to bedtime can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Drinking caffeine or alcohol, eating fattening foods, watching TV, working, and smoking shortly before bed can all make it hard to truly relax. So to get better sleep, start getting your body ready for bed hours before you actually turn in.

Better Sleep: No Skimping Allowed

Don’t think of better sleep as a luxury to enjoy when you have time. You make time for meals, paying bills, and doing household chores because they must be done, right? The same should go for more sleep. Block off the needed hours every night just as you would for those other important responsibilities.

Getting good quality sleep does seem luxurious because it feels great to slip between those clean sheets, relax, and then feel completely refreshed in the morning. So don’t skimp on sleep, and look forward to this reward at the end of each long day.