Sunday, August 31, 2008

4 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Health

According to Paula Kue, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, it's important to have a self-care checklist to attain an improved health.

Here's a list of the 4 most important activities that she urges her patients to stick with until they accomplish them:

1. Smoking cessation. This bad habit, I know, is one of the most challenging to break, but its negative implications are immense, and include an increased risk of stroke, clots, heart attacks, and cancer. Further, when pregnant women smoke, their risk of having a low-birth-weight baby increases significantly. And children with asthma have their problems worsened when exposed to secondhand smoke.

And yet, the relaxing and addictive effects of nicotine can make the challenge of quitting smoking pretty brutal. Few people are successful on their first attempt to quit, but they will be victorious if they keep making repeated attempts. So, if you smoke, plan to quit (again) — and feel free to ask your doctor for help, too!

2. Exercise. I find many women fall off the exercise bandwagon right in the midst of anxieties at work or during bouts of personal stress — exactly those times when they really ought to continue. Exercise releases endorphins, natural pain relievers that can soothe ragged emotions and boost the energy level. Physical activity also helps condition the heart to pump slower and stronger, which increases its chances of pumping longer! Exercise is a great way to process stress and to disentangle oneself from the coils of worry. Other benefits include a faster metabolism, weight loss, and improved cholesterol and blood sugar levels. And after the physical exertion of exercise, most people sleep sounder, too! What's not to like?

3. A monthly self-exam of the breasts. Over and over, I hear women brush off this task with, "Oh, my doctor does my exam for me each year." But do you really want to wait a whole year to detect a cancer that would be much simpler to treat if caught early? Some women have trouble identifying the right day to do their exam. The day you think of it is the best day! Any date that is simple for you to recall, like the first of every month or your birthdate in each month, is a great day in which to do it and, if you should forget, you get 12 months a year to try again!

4. Important supplements for women. For women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, important supplements include folic acid (definitely), and also iron (possibly). For all women, vitamin D and calcium are crucial. Find the formulations that appeal to you; I like the chocolate chews myself. I have persuaded a few woman to at least take a children's chewable! Always check the label to verify exactly what you are or are not getting from the supplements you chose; that way, you can identify what you may need to add or avoid. Again, your doctor can help you choose.

From: Yahoo Health