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Sunshine House

14 Tips to Get Healthy in 2010

Small Steps for Women Can Make a Big Difference.

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January 01, 2010

Make yourself a priority. "You are the foundation of the family, so you have to take care of yourself first or the others will crumble," emphasizes Dr. David Argo, orthopedic surgeon at Beacon Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. When you have a blueprint to follow, the road to wellness becomes easier to travel.

Get moving. "You should establish time in your schedule on a regular basis for exercise," encourages Dr. Regina Whitfield Kekessi, obstetrician/gynecologist at Group Health Associates. Make a plan and strive to increase the time gradually. "If you are walking, go to a different park, ride a bike one day or go to the mall. Keep it interesting, fun and make sure you have a good, stable sturdy shoe," suggests Argo.

Recognize the benefits of exercise. "Studies have shown that being active increases and improves the overall wellbeing by increasing circulation, decreasing blood sugar which lessens the chance of diabetes and lowering weight which decreases the chance of high blood pressure. It also increases energy and stimulates the body to release all those great chemicals like endorphins that make you feel good, give you more energy and reduce chance of disease," shares Argo.

Exercise and nutrition go together. "You can regulate your weight either by taking in less calories or burning up more calories. I recommend that you do both," says Brehm. Be sure to include your doctor in your plan and discuss any underlying medical conditions.

Dieting trends have shifted. "I believe there is a move towards eating healthier," observes Whitfield Kekessi. When the diet becomes part of your lifestyle, you can be successful. "The heart healthy diet consists of high contents of fruits, vegetables, fibers and avoiding high cholesterol foods such as greasy fried foods," says Kathy Noyes, doctor of nursing practice at The Christ Hospital. This is not the only option. "The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and Mediterranean diet, which is high seafood fish intake, seem to help get weight and cholesterol numbers down," notes Noyes.

Find a diet that is satisfying. "Fad diets may give you a quicker response but it is a short-term outcome. If you do not maintain good healthy eating habits, you regain the weight—if not gain more than what you started with," warns Whitfield Kekessi. Low carbohydrate or carbohydrate-restrictive diets are fads of the past.

Be aware of what you should be eating. "The key is moderation and portion control," reveals Dr. Bonnie Brehm, dietician. Nutrient-dense foods, or choices that offer a lot of nutrients for the calories, are recommended. You do not have to eliminate items from your diet. "If you are going to have dairy products like milk, yogurt or cheese, try to go with the skim or low fat versions. If you are choosing protein sources, try to focus on the lean choices like chicken, fish and lean beef," suggests Brehm.

Get your vitamin D levels tested. You may want to get your vitamin D level checked and should optimally be in the fifty to sixty range. "Vitamin D helps protect bones, guard against insulin-resistance and helps the immune system so you do not get infections. It is a hormone that affects insulin receptors, thyroid function, immune system and bone, muscle, joint and tendon health," educates Dr. Gary Huber of Lavalle Metabolic Institute.

Preventive care is critical. "We encourage patients to be in for their annual pap smear and mammogram if those are applicable to their age. You should also have good hygiene as far as dental and eye care is concerned," says Nancy Von Benken, nurse at Springdale Family Medicine. It is advised to have your lipids tested for a baseline in your twenties and then yearly so you know your cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides especially if you have a family history of heart disease. "For women, one of the organs that often can malfunction is the thyroid gland so I recommend you get a thyroid test at least every other year in your forties to make sure the thyroid is functioning well," says Dr. Kellie Flood-Schaffer, associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Screenings like the clinical breast exam* have proven to save lives. "Cancer survival has increased from fifty percent in the seventies to sixty-seven percent today because we are catching more cancers early before they spread," tells Peter Osborne of American Cancer Society.

Take care of your bones. "As you get closer to menopause, a good bone density study called a DEXA scan helps judge about osteoporosis and makes sure you are not at risk for stress fractures," says Argo. Weight baring exercise like aerobics and swimming are great for heart and bone health.

Be in tune to your body. "We recommend the breast self exam for women to know their body and come in if they find something abnormal. The majority of patients that come in with a breast issue have found it themselves," says Flood-Schaffer. The optimal time to look at and feel your breasts is a few days after your period. Knowing your body also means recognizing the often-vague signs of heart disease. "Subtle cues and symptoms that women frequently have resemble breathing difficulties and changes in activities with more fatigue. They do not usually have the typical chest pain pressure," says Noyes.

Do not underestimate the power of a good night's sleep. "A good night's sleep is seven plus hours of uninterrupted sleep for your body to repair itself. We know from studies that when sleep trends down from seven to five hours there is a seventy-three percent increased risk for obesity. If you are sleeping less than five hours a night, your immune system suffers and you are more at risk for colds and infections," shares Huber. Cortisol, your stress hormone, also increases when you have a lack of sleep, which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and weight gain.

Remember that you are a model for your family. "Take an active interest in your own health. There are a lot of things you can do," insists Huber.

Cheers to a healthy New Year!

Jamie Lober's passion is for health promotion and disease prevention. As a speaker and author of Pink Power (getpinkpower.com), she has empowered others to modify health behavior through knowledge.

* The United States Preventative Services Tasks Force has recently changed suggestions on screening mammograms. For more information visit: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspsbrca.htm

Tags: In this Issue, Family Fitness

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