Archive for the ‘Womens Health’ Category

Work Out at Work!

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Our bodies are made for motion, yet many of us spend a good portion of the day at our desks. Some studies have shown that people who sit for extended periods of time without taking short breaks are at a higher risk of developing heart disease than those who take time to stand up and walk around. Here are some fast and easy ways to keep your mind and body energized during the workday.

•Get Outside: Take a quick stroll over the lunch hour.
•Take the Stairs: Use the stairway instead of the elevator.
•Switch it Up: Use a restroom on another floor.
•Try a new seat: Sit at your desk on an exercise ball, which works core and back muscles, for short periods of time, if appropriate for your work environment.
Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program or significantly increasing your level of activity.

Support Your Partner’s Healthy Habits

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

No one ever claimed that changing a behavior is easy. Losing weight, revamping a diet, or making a commitment to exercise takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It also helps to have a good support system. And the support of a partner is the most important of all.

Health and the power of two
Weighing too much, being inactive, or eating unhealthy foods increases a person’s risk of medical problems. So as people strive to get healthy, you might assume that the ones who love them the most would be their biggest cheerleaders. Not necessarily, say researchers.

A study of overweight adults looked closely at weight stigmatization. “Weight stigmatization” includes weight-related bullying, teasing, harassment, and hostility. The people in the study said they got the worst teasing, bullying, and negative comments about their weight from their friends and family members.

If your partner is trying to make healthy changes, not supporting him or her could hurt you in the long run. Research shows that our health status mirrors that of our partner’s. If your partner has a condition like high blood pressure or diabetes, chances are you also have the illness, and vice versa. If you don’t support your partner’s weight loss or other health goals, you could be sabotaging your own health, too.

Be a team player
Many studies show that social support from friends or family is key for getting a new behavior to stick. If your partner is trying to make healthy changes, offer support in these ways:

•Jump on the health wagon, too. Having a buddy can make eating well or exercising seem a bit easier. What’s more, you’ll both get healthier. If you slip up, don’t pressure your partner to “cheat” with you. Acknowledge your setback, but encourage your partner to stick with the program.
•Be a fitness buddy. Even if you don’t need or want to increase your activity level, offer to join your partner sometimes. Go on walks around the block, take weekend bike rides, or do exercise DVDs together. Better yet, find activities you both enjoy. A fitness buddy may be all the incentive your partner needs to get moving. Make sure you and your partner check with your doctors before starting an exercise program.
•Suggest helpful solutions. If your partner won’t work out alone, suggest he or she take a yoga class or join a local running club. If your partner’s work cafeteria doesn’t offer healthy options, offer to help pack a nutritious lunch.
•Embrace healthy eating. Don’t turn up your nose at the extra greens on your plate. Instead of proclaiming you don’t like a meal, search for healthy recipes and offer to cook a nutritious dinner for your partner one night. Or take a healthy cooking class together. You may even find a new favorite dish.
•Sing your partner’s praises. Express that you’re proud and impressed by how hard your partner is working. This extra motivation may really be needed during weeks when the scale doesn’t budge or slip-ups occur.
Even if you choose not to join in your partner’s healthy efforts, you may benefit anyway. Research shows that when one spouse participates in a weight-loss program, the other is likely to shed some pounds, too. Be a supportive partner for the health of your loved one – and yourself.

Why Do Men Skip Health Tests?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Former president Bill Clinton admitted he ignored his chest pain for several months. He had also stopped taking a drug his doctor prescribed to lower his cholesterol. But extreme symptoms finally got him to a doctor – who rushed him into heart surgery.

Women across America sighed knowingly: Why is it many men won’t follow medical advice or go to see a doctor before a crisis?

The difference between men and women
It’s a fact that women are quicker to see a doctor when they develop symptoms. In contrast, men are more likely to ignore symptoms and hope they go away. Often, by the time a man sees a doctor, his symptoms may be severe and harder to manage or treat.

Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor in the past year, according to recent U.S. government statistics. For an African American or Hispanic male, the odds of having seen a doctor are even lower. Ditto for men ages 18 to 44.

Women live 5.1 years longer on average than men. Could men’s avoidance of doctors and routine checkups have anything to do with that?

Not seeing a doctor regularly means that you lose out on important health screenings or early diagnosis. You can feel fine, but still have conditions, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, that need treatment. Men may also miss out on preventive care. They are a lot more likely than women to need hospital care for preventable illnesses (pneumonia, for example) or disease complications from diabetes or heart failure.

Is seeing a doctor like asking for directions?
The rap on men is that they don’t ask for directions when lost. Perhaps they think they don’t need a doctor’s help either?

Men’s attitudes about physicals may have come from their own fathers who avoided doctors. And some boys grew up with the message that expressing pain or sickness was a sign of weakness.

According to more than 1,000 men taking part in a 2007 survey commissioned by the American Academy of Family Physicians:

•Thirty-six percent said they see a doctor only when “extremely sick.”
•Fifty-five percent did not have a routine physical in the last year.
•Almost one in five, age 55 and older, had not been screened for colon cancer.
Men also tend to be less willing than women to discuss their health. Women may talk freely about breast lumps, depression, or urinary problems to a friend or a doctor. For some men, talking to a doctor or spouse may be embarrassing if the subject involves their genitals, bowels, or mental health.

Men’s health is women’s work
Women are usually the gatekeepers of health in the family. They are often the ones who make medical appointments for other family members. Many men will not see a doctor unless prodded by the women in their life.

If you’re a man, you can learn from women that getting suggested screenings and checkups can lead to a longer, healthier life. Early detection and treatment of cholesterol and blood pressure problems can prevent a heart attack or stroke. Detecting a tumor before it has spread can make the difference in whether or not a cancer is treatable.

If you are a woman with a man in your life, keep nudging your guy to exercise (with his doctor’s OK), eat nutritiously, and seek appropriate medical care for his age and family history. In the AAFP survey, 80 percent of men with wives or girlfriends said their partner helped convince them to see a doctor. Being accused of nagging in this case is a small price to pay for possibly saving a loved one’s life.

Exercise: Rx for a Healthy Menopause

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

For women who reach menopause, questions about hormone replacement therapy often loom as large as worries about symptoms. But, is there a natural alternative?

Doctors are looking for the answer to this question. In the meantime, a simple option may help some symptoms. Exercise.

Why workout?
Exercise is a powerful ally for women who have menopausal symptoms, such as irritability and sleep disturbances. It also helps lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and weight gain.

The best types of exercise
According to the North American Menopause Society, three types of exercise can help postmenopausal women stay healthy:

For the best results, experts recommend getting about two and a half hours of activity each week. That could break down to 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise most days of the week along with muscle strengthening exercises twice a week. Be sure to check with your doctor before you start or increase your activity level.

Aerobic exercise promotes the loss of abdominal fat, the place where most women more readily gain weight during menopause. It can also elevate mood and relieve tension. This helps reduce the depression and irritability that can come with menopause. Some women also report fewer hot flashes and more restorative sleep with regular exercise.

Weight-bearing exercise, such as using weights to build muscle, delays, or prevents bone loss. It does so by preserving the minerals that keep bones dense and strong. The effect that weight-bearing exercise has on bone mass depends on age, hormonal status, and nutrition, as well as the type of exercise.

Move it, don’t lose it
There is one sure fact about exercise and bone density, though. If you don’t use it, you lose it. A marked decrease in physical activity will lead to a significant decline in bone mass. For example, total bed rest can lead to some loss of calcium from bone in a matter of a few days and a detectable drop in bone density after only a few weeks.

Weight-bearing exercise increases bone mass. It also increases muscle mass, which puts more weight on the bones. Over time, this slows bone loss.

If you have been an avid exerciser during the years leading up to menopause, you already have an advantage. You will you have a leg up on bone health because of strength training. Also, aerobic activity during childbearing years lowers the risk of breast cancer, which increases with age after menopause.

To get the most out of exercise, plan a balanced program of weight-bearing aerobics, strength training, and flexibility. And make it consistent. Try to get some moderate activity on at least most days of the week.

The Low-Down on Rub-Downs

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Think massage only belongs among the luxuries like pedicures, facials and seaweed wraps found at an upscale spa? Think again. Today, massage is considered by some to be a complementary alternative medicine (CAM) to be incorporated in a wellness routine along with regular exercise and eating right. In fact, some studies have shown that regular massage may help some people control pain and manage anxiety. Here are other possible benefits of massage that might make you want to incorporate it into your wellness routine.

Wake up: Even a quick 15-minute chair massage may make you more alert.

Bust back pain: A review of back pain studies found that massage such as acupuncture massage may be more beneficial for non-specific back pain than other treatments, including physical therapy or acupuncture alone.

Recover faster: Swedish, deep tissue or athletic massage may reduce recovery time after some types of injury.

Stress relief: According to a 2010 study, massage may significantly decrease levels of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol.

Like all types of alternative therapies, it’s best to discuss massage with your doctor. Some people may need to avoid certain types of massage — for example, people who are pregnant or who have bleeding disorders.